California Pro David ‘Beast’ Valdez Dies Unexpectedly at 28

Sacramento-area poker pro David “Beast” Valdez has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 28. Valdez, of Vacaville, California, died unexpectedly on Saturday from what his friends reported as a likely heart attack.

David Valdez

David ‘Beast’ Valdez, champion of the WSOP Circuit’s January 2010 series, died unexpectedly at age 28. (Image: Twitter/Dval17)

Valdez was a popular player in the Sacramento area and throughout northern California, and his death sent a shockwave of sadness through the regional poker community. Valdez was best known in poker circles for capturing three WSOP Circuit rings, all at Lincoln, California’s, Thunder Valley Poker Room.

Valdez also won the Circuit Championship honor at the WSOP Circuit’s January 2020 Thunder Valley stop, where he also claimed his second and third rings. Ring #2 came in that stop’s Event #7, $400 No-Limit Hold’em – Monster Stack, where Valdez collected a lifetime-best $46,411 cash. At the time of his passing, Valdez had already won more than $144,000 in WSOP-branded events, a healthy share of his $374,000 in career tournament winnings.

‘Beast’ popular with Sacramento poker community

Valdez was a popular and friendly figure at Sacramento’s two largest poker venues, Thunder Valley and Stones Gambling Hall. His friendly and soft-spoken nature belied his physically imposing appearance, and his nickname also included a connotation involving his impressive poker skills.

Thunder Valley’s media coordinator, Dan Ross, was the first to share the unexpected and sad news via Twitter:

Players, staff acknowledge Valdez’s passing

Valdez was in the thoughts of many as news of his passing spread. Poker writer Valerie Cross, a frequent participant in Sacramento-area games, wrote, “So sad to hear. Such a nice guy and a fierce competitor.”

Former tournament reporter Sam Crosby, who also plays frequently in the Sacramento area, offered a similar thought. “@dval17 was a pleasure to play with always and an awesome competitor,” Crosby wrote online.

David’s older brother Robert, who is also a poker player, tweeted, “My brother. My best friend. You were the best person I knew. I’ll never be able to understand why God took you so early. I love you little brother.” The Valdezes’ friend and frequent poker foe, “Super” Mario Lopez, set up a GoFundMe account to help the Valdez family defray funeral expenses.

Written by
Haley Hintze
Contributing writer Haley Hintze is a 20-year veteran of the poker world, a Women in Poker Hall of Fame finalist, and two-time Global Poker Awards finalist.

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