Whatever Happened To...?
Since poker is far from a stable career choice, the nature of the game somewhat lends itself to seeing successful players just kind of disappear over time. Here are a few such players that seemed to be doing well one minute and fell off the face of the earth the next.
In the early days of the WPT, Ron Rose was one of its stars. In the inaugural season of the show, Rose appeared at a final table not once but twice. First, he finished 6th in the 2002 World Poker Finals. Later that season, he won the $5,000 buy-in World Poker Challenge in Reno to catapult himself into WPT stardom. Rose rode this stardom all the way to a victory at the WPT Battle of Champions tournament beating out the likes of Gus Hansen and Howard Lederer en route to a $125,000 freeroll score. He even wrote a book called Poker Aces: The Stars of Tournament Poker.
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Ron Rose was never had a very compelling TV presence. In fact, his winning multiple TV events probably gave WPT producers fits. Seemingly into his 60s with white hair and a drab personality, watching Rose take down a poker tournament rated somewhere between watching paint dry and vacuuming.
Following his Battle of Champions win in 2003, Rose continued logging some decent, but modest results from the live tournament trail. That all changed in 2006 when Rose apparently fell off the face of the poker universe. His last score according to the Hendon Mob? A $750 payday for a 19th place finish in a $300 buy-in tournament. Since then, Rose hasn't made the slightest splash in the poker world.
So what happened to Rose? We have no clue. He lost interest in poker, apparently. Good for him for being able to enjoy a nice amount of success and then stop playing when the going got tough.
Darrell Dicken, perhaps better known as "Gigabet", was one of the earliest online poker superstars. In the first half of the last decade, Gigabet gained a serious amount of notoriety for his online tournament prowess. At one time, he was probably considered the best online tournament player moreso than any other individual.
In 2005, Dicken started dipping his toe into the live tournament world. The results were slow at first, but he eventually started putting up results that mirrored his Internet legend. Dicken first broke through by making a WPT TV final table in the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic. He would bust in 5th place for $241,000. A short three months later, Dicken won a $10,000 WSOP Circuit event for $372,000. In 2007, Dicken made another WPT final table, this time finishing 3rd for $260,000. He also logged a $170,000 score that same year for a win in a preliminary event at the Foxwoods Poker Classic.
As Dicken gradually became known more as "Darrell Dicken" than "Gigabet", won another event for a quarter of a million in early 2008. Right when Dicken appeared to be one of the top forces in the live tournament world, he vanished. He recorded just one cash in a tournament in 2009 and did not post a single result last year. According to his profile at PocketFives, he hasn't logged on since April of 2008.
It is unclear why or how Darrell Dicken went from seemingly on top of the tournament world one minute to a mere afterthought the next. Throughout his career, Dicken was a very reserved individual. An attention-seeking, "retirement announcement" would have been out of character for him, so it's possible he just decided to stop playing and didn't feel the need to inform anyone of this.
Mickey Appleman has been a Las Vegas legend since he burst onto the scene in 1980. His first-ever cash in a major live tournament was a win a $1,000 7-Card Stud WSOP event. Appleman was the picture of consistency for years winning three more bracelets over the course of the following two decades. Anyone who gambled for a living in Las Vegas in the 80s and 90s knew who Mickey Appleman was.
During the last decade when poker took off in popularity, Appleman recorded 15 WSOP cashes and brought his career earnings up to nearly $2 million. But in the past few years, Appleman has all but disappeared from the eye of the poker world. Aside from a min-cash in a $1,000 event at the WSOP in 2010, Appleman has been virtually non-existent since 2008.
Known for his sports-handicapping prowess, it is entirely possible that Appleman simply headed off to pasture. According to his Wikipedia page, Appleman no longer lives in Las Vegas which makes a retirement from the life of a Vegas gambler seem quite probable.
Pete "The Beat" Giordano
The first player I ever interviewed for a Weekly Shuffle column on PokerTips.org was Pete "The Beat" Giordano. Pete was one of the first poker boom success stories. Along with Ron Rose, Pete appeared on the WPT TV final table for the 2002 World Poker Finals. He bested Rose by one position finishing 5th for $57,000. That lone result catapulted him into the poker community's awareness where he remained for years thanks to one of the best track records in online poker for years.
Pete was unable to duplicate the success he enjoyed online in the live tournament world. His impressive online winnings, for the most part, went to fund a losing live poker career. His largest cash in years of being a regular on the live tournament trail was just $72,000.
Recently, "The Beat" seems to have just disappeared altogether. From 2008-2009, Pete recorded just four cashes in live tournaments totaling an unremarkable $12,000. He failed to record a single live tournament cash in 2010. According to OfficialPokerRankings.com, "TheBeat" played just 206 online tournaments last year, a far cry from the thousands he used to play when he was among the most successful in that arena.
Could it be that an interview with PokerTips.org curses one's poker career? Nahhh... it worked out pretty well for Joe Cada.