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How Kevin Roster completed his dream of playing in the World Series

by Nitya Jain Posted on 11 Jun, 2020

The Ambassador of Inspiration, Gail Lynne Goodwin rightly says that “Dreams and passion are more powerful than facts and reality.” After one last dance in Las Vegas, Kevin Roster slept peacefully leaving behind a legacy in his final days at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and beyond.

One may not know Roster for his poker achievements, but we all remember for his undying spirit. Staked by 2012 WSOP Main Event winner Greg Merson, Roster entered his last ever poker tournament, the 2019 WSOP series where he had a blast, striking off a significant item from his bucket list. He cashed four events including his career best in $ 1,500 No Limit Hold’em – Monster Stack finishing 38th for $22,561.

Powering through a field and powering through physical pain are incomparable but having a chance to fulfill one’s last wishes can outlast any obstacle in the world. ‘Racks’ was suffering with terminal sarcoma and moved to California to avail himself of the state’s right-to-die legislation. The semi-pro poker player in his letter stated, “At this point, it is my belief, and the belief of my doctors, that the disease which is overrunning my body will be shortly be taking me either way.” He continued, “I missed out on many items from my bucket list, but had to take them where I could get them, as my health went downhill more quickly than I could have anticipated.”

Those of us who followed Roster’s journey knew that his time to walk away was fast approaching but his zeal kept him busy with poker. In fact, he also competed in a live-streamed cash game at Stones Gambling Hall in Northern California a week before his death. In his letter he also wrote, “The proximity to Las Vegas allowed me to live out my dreams of going to summer camp and chasing that elusive World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet awarded to the tournament winner. While I may not have brought home the win, I got to meet my heroes and had several deep runs, including being among the chip leaders of the WSOP “Monster Stack” deep into Day 3.”

Despite his struggles, he was still able to play cards. In a video posted on ‘goodbye’ blog, Roster said how tired he was on most days taking about 40 pills daily. With his declining health, the poker pro took the advantage of California’s right-to-die law and was assisted in dying by a medical professional. “I get to die the way I lived, which is in charge.”

“It’s a sad reason to be famous,” Roster said about the attention he received that summer, “But it’s still fun to be semi-famous for a little while and I’ve been received so well by everyone. People are asking for selfies and it makes me feel like I’m Daniel Negreanu.” Roster changed the aura of 2019 WSOP with his positive nature despite knowing he had limited time in hand.

In the end, he thanked the poker community by writing. “I also need to thank individually 2012 World Series of Poker champion Greg Merson for free rolling me in the main event of the World Series of Poker & Phil Helmuth for putting me into a couple events as well. Last, but not least, Justin Kuraitis from the Stones Gambling Hall, who invited me to be on the stream and gave me a home away from home to distract me from the worse of my days.”

Accomplishing his mission to spread awareness for sarcoma made him feel like a winner that day even though he could not triumph the prestigious WSOP Main Event. The poker industry lost a gem with the demise of Roster. “The support has been amazing for the campaign and for myself this summer. Thank you, that’s really all I can say.”

For more Thursday Throwback articles and similar success stories, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com and stay tuned!

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