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Midwest Poker Community Mourns Loss of Poker Player & Advocate Steve Verrett

June 29, 2023
Steve Verrett

Steve Verrett, a well-known Wisconsin poker player and activist, passed away on June 25 at the age of 53.

According to the Hendon Mob, Verrett amassed $67,554 in tournament earnings, including a career-best $21,026 for finishing 27th in the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em. He was also respected throughout the Wisconsin poker community, and was good friends with online poker legend Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon, the two even hosting a poker radio show at one time in Madison.

While Verrett enjoyed poker as a hobby, he showed a real passion for the game as an advocate serving as the president of the Wisconsin Poker Players Alliance. In 2015, Verrett and Kroon challenged the Wisconsin Department of Justice to decide on the skill-versus-luck debate on the game. They raised $10,000 from local players and hired attorney Stan Davis to force a judge to rule on poker’s legality in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the judge did not rule in their favor.

Steve Verrett
Steve Verrett at a MSPT.

"I think it's a very narrow view," Verrett told PokerNews back in 2015 immediately after the ruling. "To uphold a 1964 conviction in the case that he mentioned, it's very vague on what other games were being played there. There were other activities that the place was closed for. Poker happened to be one of them and lumped in. Again, that's what this is about, taking poker away from being lumped in with other types of casino or house-banked games.

"We just had a circuit court ruling that said poker is not a criminal offense in Wisconsin, which is completely contradictory of what he is holding. At what point given the landscape and everything that's happened between 1964 and now, which is over 50 years, that they'll have the ability to change the law. We'll have to look into it.”

While it wasn’t the verdict the Wisconsin poker community hoped for, all were appreciative of Verrett’s valiant efforts in standing up for player’s rights.

Players React to Passing

“Long before the Moneymaker effect and the mass transition to online poker, to me, poker was about being part of a community,” said Michael Hanson, founder of the Madison Poker Community (MPC). “The Madison Poker Community has lost a pillar of the community and I have lost a dear friend and confidant.”

"Future generations won’t know the extent of what he did for poker statewide but they will definitely reap the benefits of his diligence to our community."

Pam Wilson offered: “I can say for certain the most fun period of my life were those years we all played together and so many fun nights with Steve and Missy. Steve is a great man who impacted so many and will always be remembered.”

Zachary “Posso” Lane said: “Future generations won’t know the extent of what he did for poker statewide but they will definitely reap the benefits of his diligence to our community. An influential and integral part to the Madison Poker Community and I, for one, will always be grateful to get to experience his presence in my life.”

Tony Nardi shared: “Always enjoyed talking strategy with him as he had his specific play style that he made work that was unorthodox at times as a short stack, very similar to Phil Hellmuth.”

Speaking of Hellmuth, a Wisconsin native, Verrett was a frequent collaborator on charity events hosted by the "Poker Brat" in the Dairy State.

Steve Verrett
Steve Verrett with Hellmuth at a charity event.

Successful Businessman & Loving Family Man

Born October 12, 1969, Verrett was a veteran of the Gulf War and a successful businessman who traveled around the world for over 20 years, most with his own company, Executive Sales Service.

“Beyond the professional achievements, Steve had a genuine interest in the well-being of others and always extended a helping hand to colleagues in need. Steve was a mentor and a friend to many, offering guidance, support, and encouragement that touched countless lives,” Verrett’s obituary read.

Indeed, in addition to those sharing poker stories of Verrett, there were even more remembering him as a soldier, friend, father, and husband. Verrett is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Melissa Verrett; children, Christina (Steve) Zajicek and Aaron (Brianna Rose) Verrett; grandchildren, Paul Zajicek and Diana Zajicek; and brothers, Carl (Margie) Verrett, John Verrett and Ryan Verrett.He was preceded in death by his father, Racy Verrett; mother, Kathy Payne; and his brother, Jim Verrett.

A funeral service will be held at GUNDERSON STOUGHTON FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 1358 Highway 51 N. @ Jackson St., Stoughton, at 12 noon on Thursday, July 6, 2023. Military honors will follow. A visitation will be held at the funeral home from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Thursday.

PokerNews offers its condolences to the friends and family of Verrett, and recognize his contributions to the game.

Name Surname
Chad Holloway
Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.