Two World Series of Poker Bracelet Winners Make Headlines for Very Different Reasons

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Over last weekend’s flagship World Series of Poker (WSOP) event in Las Vegas, AP “Sweet Lou” Garza bagged a $1.3 million win – and then proposed to his girlfriend directly after the game.

The Pot-Limit Omaha Championship game winner dropped to one knee in front of celebrating spectators at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas, and she said, “Yes.”

“I don’t think any other time would be right besides now, because I don’t think I would even be right here without her,” Garza said, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Also this week, it was revealed that an amateur online tournament winner from Traverse City, Michigan, won $20,000 and a tournament bracelet at a online event. The victory came while awaiting trial on charges of assault with intent to commit murder.

Rudy Gavaldon, 36, was arrested in July 2022 and charged in August. WSOP winners’ information revealed his name and location, which reporters at PokerNews linked to his police records.

Ringing Victory Bells

Going into the final day of his WSOP tournament in Las Vegas on Saturday, Garza was bottom of the pile, with the least chips of all remaining players. However, a good early start built up to a swift turnaround. On the last hand, Garza beat out fellow Texan Arthur Morris after making a triple four off of the final river card, confirming himself as the last player and tournament winner.

Despite having previous tournament winnings of well more than $1 million, Garza had never before claimed a full tournament winners bracelet. He had claimed a circuit ring in 2018.

His $1.3 million win, from the shared WSOP event prize pool of $6.9 million, bumped his career winnings up to more than $3 million. More than 761 players competed in the tournament, which had a $10,000 buy-in.

Straight after his winning round, Garza bought out a different type of ring when he proposed to his girlfriend in front of the live crowd.

That’s certainly living up to his nickname of “Sweet Lou.”

Morris, meanwhile, still walked away with a cool $809,167 for second place.

Related: Our experts rank the best online poker sites in Nevada

Intent to Murder

From one story of new marriage over the poker table this week to one of attempted murder.

Poker media began reporting on Monday that a WSOP online tournament winner in Michigan claimed a top prize while awaiting trial on charges of attempting to murder his wife.

Rudy Gavaldon, 36, of Traverse City, MI, bagged more than $20,000 as the bracelet winner of the No-Limit Hold’em Turbo 6-Max tournament.

However, less than a year earlier, on July 30, 2022, Gavaldon was arrested for brutally assaulting his wife, Lara Gavaldon, to the point of her losing her right eye.

Gavaldon was charged on August 1, 2022, with one count of assault with intent to commit murder, according to the Traverse City Record Eagle. He pleaded not guilty and was scheduled for a pretrial hearing last week, June 23.

In the intervening time, he clearly continued playing online poker, and is doing quite well. He also racked up a $1,200 winner, and a $2,500 ring win just a week before got his top spot win.

This sad story is not the only time Michigan, poker, and violence have hit the headlines in recent years. In 2020, rising poker star Susie “Susie Q” Zhao was found dead in a Michigan conservation area.

In 2022, Jeffrey Morris, 62, was found guilty of assaulting and murdering Zhao. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

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