Steve Albini, Two-Time WSOP Bracelet Winner and Criticality-Acclaimed Recording Engineer and Musician, Has Died

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Steve Albini, a serious poker player whose day job was recording some of the most influential musicians of the last 25 years, died of a heart attack Tuesday, May 7. He was 61.

Steve Albini
Steve Albini won his second WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 HORSE event in 2022. He passed away Tuesday. (Image: WSOP)

Albini owned Electrical Audio, a recording studio in Chicago that became a sort of Mecca for some of the biggest bands of the 90s and beyond. The list of bands he recorded goes into the 1,000s, and includes some of the biggest cultural influencers of the last several generations — Nirvana, The Breeders, The Pixies, Superchunk, Silkworm, Slint, The Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey, Sunn O))), and The Wedding Present.

He famously refused to accept royalties on albums, instead considered himself as a sort of plumber getting paid to do a certain job. It just so happened that his job was to record rock ‘n roll bands that went on to sell millions.

Albini also played guitar and bass in several bands, the longest, Shellac, which is scheduled to release its sixth album, “To All Trains,” on May 17. The post-hardcore trio had been together since 1992 and were preparing a tour to support their new release.

Albini the poker champion

Albini was a lifetime card player who has been part of regular home games since his college years, and was known to cut recording sessions short in order to chase whales in Indiana poker rooms and beyond.

He considered his best game Stud, and he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in a $1,500 Stud event in 2018. That final table included 2000 WSOP Main Event winner Chris Ferguson and Jeff Lisandro, a six-time WSOP winner, four of which came in stud and its variants. Albini won $105,629.

Albini won his second bracelet in 2022 in a $1,5000 HORSE event, which was his final cash at the WSOP in Las Vegas. It was good for $196,089.

He thought of poker as a “betting game that involves cards” which was “an intellectual problem” to be solved. He was once a mixed-game instructor at CardRunners, and his long-running legendary small-stakes home game was known as a lab for mixed-game variants.

His home game attracted some of Chicago’s best mixed-game players, including Brandon Shack-Harris, Eric Rodawig, Matt Grapenthien, Jason Gola, and Matt Ashton. A new variant of poker called Slingo — which is named after a song by one of Albini’s clients, punk band Naked Raygun.

He also posted 100s of time as “electrical” on 2+2 forums, mostly focussing on mixed-game variants like Razz, Stud 8, Badugi, and 2-7 triple draw.

“Everything in my life comes in pieces, in parts. Poker is one part of my life,” Albini told WSOP reporters after his second win in 2022. “So when I’m playing poker, I try to commit to it. I try to take it seriously. I try to make sure I devote the attention to it that it deserves as an occupation.

But it’s only part of my year. I only play tournaments at the World Series of Poker. I play cash games informally in Chicago. It’s a part of my livelihood, but it’s not my profession.”

Albini is survived by his wife Heather Whinna.

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