Don Zewin, WSOP Regular and Poker Legend, Dies at 69

04 Nov

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Don Zewin, the man who played a forgotten role in Phil Hellmuth’s 1989 World Series of Poker, has died at the age of 69. The poker legend is survived by his wife and three children.

Zewin was born in Niagara Falls but moved to Las Vegas in 1979 to pursue poker full-time and lived there until his passing. He played a wide array of different poker games and has had success at both cash games and tournaments.

Despite never winning a bracelet, Zewin exhibited exceptional skill during his WSOP career. He has 38 total cashes for a total of $1,142,521 in earnings in the WSOP alone, with his most significant WSOP score in the 2015 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship where he placed third for $210,629. Zewin also amassed a little over $700,000 in other tournaments.

Zewin finished third in the 1989 WSOP, when Phil Hellmuth defeated Johnny Chan heads-up and became the youngest winner of the Main Event. Hellmuth shared his thoughts on his passing in an interview for PokerNews.

“Don Zewin was a poker legend,” Hellmuth said. “He played high-stakes poker for decades, and was liked by all. [The first time I met him] it was a $10/$20 limit hold’em game and everyone was whispering about how Don was a high-stakes player. I remember watching him play $400/$800 at the WSOP in 1988, with Johnny Chan at the table.”

He also shared his thoughts in a tweet.

Bummed to hear the poker world lost a good one: Don Zewin. Don was a good guy and a poker legend! He played high stakes poker for decades, and was liked by all. I remember first time I played w him: at Stardust in 1986. I played high stakes w Don 50x, and enjoyed him

— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) November 1, 2021

Zewin shared his memories of the 1989 final table in a 2012 interview.

“It was exciting, but when the end result isn’t first place, it’s just a huge letdown,” Zewin said. “Everybody was aware Johnny Chan was going for his third title in a row, but I was really tuned in that year, and I wasn’t intimidated at all. When you get that deep in that particular tournament, you’re just tuned in and nothing is really going to rile you” Aside from continued success in cash games in tournaments, Zewin also tried his hand at creating his own gambling game. Called “Ace-Away” the game was a revamped version of a cards-and-dice game called Four-Five-Six. However, after having to alter the original design of the game, him and fellow entrepreneur Yosh Nakano ultimately abandoned the idea.

The impact Zewin had on other professionals is quite evident. Chad Holloway and Allen Kessler shared their condolences on Twitter, along with a host of others paying respects to the poker legend. He will surely be missed.

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