Famed comedian and poker fan/player Louie Anderson passes at 68

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: January 21, 2022 09:21 PST

Popular comedian and occasional poker player Louie Anderson has passed away at age 68 after battling diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Anderson was receiving treatment at a Las Vegas hospital at the time of his death earlier today. The prominent comedian won three Emmy awards in a career spanning five decades, including a nod for best supporting actor for his role as Christine Baskets in "Baskets", plus two Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for "Life with Louie," a 1990s children's program that he created.

Anderson was a frequent participant in celebrity poker events, especially around Los Angeles, where he resided for decades. He was briefly sponsored by PokerStars in the mid-2000s and played in the 2006 WSOP Main Event as a sponsored player. Anderson did not cash in the event, nor did he record any tourney results as records by major online poker databases, but he loved playing and was a popular addition at the many celebrity events where he appeared.

Former PokerStars exec Dan Goldman was the man most responsible for bringing Anderson into the company's fold. Anderson was at the time most famous for his role hosting the game show "Family Feud," and though he was with Stars only briefly, his tenure was memorable. Another Stars exec of the era, Nolan Dalla, remembered Anderson today in this way: "By everyone who worked with him and knew him, he’s being described as 'a kind man.' I think that simple description fits perfectly. Louis Anderson was a kind man."

Anderson's famed F-bomb oops during the 2006 WSOP Main Event

Perhaps the most famous poker story involving Anderson involved that appearance during the 2006 WSOP ME. Early in the day at his table in the Amazon Room, Anderson blurted out a "Fuck!" during a hand as the action played out, and he received a 20-minute penalty, despite his F-bomb not being directed at anyone in particular.

Unbeknownst to Anderson at the time, the WSOP was on high alert regarding the F-word in the aftermath of a profanity-laden tirade by Mike Matusow in an earlier event. Whereas today Anderson's blurted word wouldn't have resulted in a penalty, that wasn't the case during the 2006 Main.

This writer even chatted with Anderson briefly not long after he returned to his seat, and rather than being irate, he was as congenial as always. He was even apologetic for something innocuous that just randomly happened. He asked me to count his chips -- he had about 10,900 from a starting stack of 10,000 -- which was the epitome of average for early on the opening day.

The unusual episode represented the WSOP at its very strictest moment. The WSOP itself spent much of that series being overwhelmed by the marketing efforts of prominent offshore sites whose sponsored players, hospitality suites and garish displays were everywhere, including the infamous Bodog pillow-fight boudoir scene. There was perhaps no more unusual a WSOP Main Event in a visual sense than in 2006, in many ways an unrivaled circus to this day.

Anderson's gambling escapades served as comedy fodder

Louie Anderson's occasional gambling forays didn't figure as a large part of his comedy career; he was primarily successful with less blue material than that served up by many of his counterparts. His tale of being penalized at the WSOP he summarized briefly here.

A longer and funnier Louie Anderson tale that can be found online involves the time he degened it up at a Los Angeles game, losing $80,000 in credit, and had gambling fever so bad he rented a car and drove to Las Vegas to play blackjack in an attempt to recoup the debt. (Video link below.) And it all happened on the night prior to Anderson filming a well-paying commercial for 7-11. It's Anderson at his best, self-deprecating and hilarious. He was a class act, and he will be missed.

Featured image source: louieanderson.com