Wolverhampton poker ace 'Mad' Marty Wilson dies after battle with cancer
Tributes have been paid to Wolverhampton poker legend 'Mad' Marty Wilson, who has died after losing his six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
The Wolverhampton-born gambler who spent his final days in Bridgnorth was known to poker fans throughout the UK and Ireland for his work on televised poker events in the 90s, as well as a playing career that saw him amass more than £370,000 in earnings.
The 62-year-old featured on a number of shows on Sky Sports and was also a consultant for Matchroom Sports and the floor manager for the PartyPoker Den.
Having risen to fame as one of the stars of Late Night Poker on Channel 4, he is often credited with helping kick-start the poker boom in the UK.
He has since passed on his skills to a number of celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Phil 'The Power' Taylor, Helen Chamberlain and Michael Greco.
Having earned a reputation as a raconteur in a career that saw him wager $10,000 on drinking 20 pints of Guinness in an hour, the moniker 'Mad' is thought to have been given to him by a newspaper after he ran through a polar bear enclosure at Dudley Zoo to avoid rival football fans as a youngster.
As well as being a regular on TV, he has also done after dinner speaking for Manchester United and won several top tournaments over the years including a Carnival of Poker in Rio, where he won $171,000.
Padraig Parkinson, his friend and colleague at Card Player Europe, broke the news to the poker community on Twitter, writing: "Sad, sad day. Poker lost one of its greatest characters 'Mad' Marty Wilson last night.
"The lovely Katherine was at his side. To say he was one of a kind is a huge understatement. I miss him already."
Marty was diagnosed with cancer in February after becoming ill during a trip to Thailand.
In April, a charitable tournament was held in honour of Marty in which more than 170 poker players attended from across the UK and Ireland and nearly £3,500 was raised.
A Go Fund Me page was also set up, which smashed its original target of £5,000 with help from a £1,000 contribution from multiple World Series winner Phil Hellmuth from America.
A host of poker professionals have also paid tribute on social media.
Simon 'Aces' Trumper, winner of Late Night Poker and commentator on Late Night Poker Ace, said: "It is with great sadness that I write that Marty Wilson, my friend and of many at DTD, poker legend, tournament director, host of the Grand Prix Poker stadium tour, passed away peacefully last night.
"On behalf of Dusk Till Dawn our condolences to Marty's family and friends. RIP."
Mike Sexton, chairman of PartyPoker, said: "‘Mad' Marty Wilson made you smile just entering a room he was in. He was a true character in the poker world – one of which we’ll not see again. RIP Marty."
Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Sport, said: "Rest in peace ‘Mad’ Marty Wilson.
"Responsible for a lot of our success in poker. Funny, loyal, crazy he would always light up the room with his stories and energy."