Famed online poker grinder Dusty Schmidt passes at age 40

Haley Hintze
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Posted on December 4, 2021 9:35 pm EST

Dustin O. “Dusty” Schmidt, who reached the highest levels of online poker in the 2000’s and later authored or co-authored three poker books, has reportedly passed away at the age of 40. Schmidt was a cash-game specialist who was widely renowned for his ability to put in lengthy online sessions, which led to his being tagged as “Leatherass” — actually a Rounders reference — by his fellow players.

Schmidt’s passing, which appears to have occurred on December 1, was first reported by his longtime friend, PGA Tour golfer Kevin Na. Schmidt and Na were childhood friends as competitive golfers on the West Coast golfing scene, and they were later teammates at USC.

“My dear friend Dusty Schmidt passed away last night,” Na posted on Facebook on Thursday. “I want to share a little bit about my friend. Dusty was a childhood friend of mine. We grew up playing golf together in SoCal. He was a top Jr. rank golfer who played pro golf for a short period.”

Na relayed how the two remained longtime friends, even as Na’s pro career took off while a heart condition curtailed Schmidt’s pro-golfing dreams. Schmidt suffered a heart attack at age 23, though he still managed to caddy for Na on several occasions. Instead, Schmidt found a new outlet for his competitive drive. He became one of the most successful online cash-game grinders of the late ’00s, eventual becoming one of a select number of pros to make PokerStars’ famed SuperNova Elite level.

Schmidt authored three poker books

Like other U.S.-based pros, Schmidt’s career was impacted by 2011’s “Black Friday.” Schmidt had reportedly profited by several millions by that point, however, and unlike many other players, he had invested much of his profit outside of poker.

Schmidt also added an income stream as a poker author. In 2012, his book Treat Your Poker Like a Business was released. Schmidt indeed treated his own poker as a business — he formed a limited-liability corporation (LLC) through which he conducted his poker enterprises. He also co-authored two more poker books with Paul Christopher Hoppe, How to Crush No-Limit Hold’em and Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth: Correcting the 50 Worst Pieces of Poker Advice.

As a predominantly cash-game pro, the true extent of Schmidt’s poker profitability was largely shielded from public view. Schmidt played very few live tournaments, and he was credited with only two live cashes of note, with one of those occurring in a WSOP event in 2010.

In his final years, Schmidt was as much known for his controversial presence on social media as much as he was for his online cash-game prowess. The far-right-beliefs Schmidt was suspended from Twitter on several occasions for his politically-based flamethrowing, and his Twitter account was suspended at the time of his passing.

No formal obituary has appeared as of this report for the long-time Portland, Oregon resident. Likewise, no official cause of death has been announced, despite widespread and largely unfounded speculation. Schmidt had been reported to be in contact with friends as of just a day before his unexpected passing.

Featured image source: YouTube/ DustySchmidt.net