The popular poker player Jan Suchanek, who had over $1.1 million in live winnings and was a celebrated player both live and online, has passed away after a short illness. Known on the European poker circuit and friends with many in the industry, the shock death of the popular live poker pro Suchanek stunned many in the game, especially those who knew him well.

A Gentleman Gone Too Soon

“That man is no whale. He’s winning in those games.”

We make no apologies for leaning heavily on our learning of the news from our friend and Gamble Online contributor Dara O’Kearney. Irish poker pro O’Kearney shared much in common with Suchanek – both men finished as runners up in WSOP bracelet events for one – and struck up a unique friendship as they explored many subjects across continents.

Suchanek, based in New Zealand for much of his later life, was detailed as something of a touchstone for O’Kearney in this beautiful blog post about his departed friend. Suchanek was, as O’Kearney speaks about, a friend to many, and his story about Suchanek’s modesty really struck home as a treasured memory of his pal.

“Always modest by nature, Jan described himself as a whale who splashed around with the proceeds of his sports betting. When I said to a pro I knew in the high stakes games I knew one of the whales, he asked me which one. When I identified Jan, he quickly informed me: “That man is no whale. He’s winning in those games.”

A Sudden Passing

Suchanek’s death clearly came all too soon, but it is perhaps the suddenness of the loss that has affected O’Kearney and will doubtless have hit Suchanek’s friends and relatives hardest of all. From suffering stomach pain to dying in a hospital in Belgrade, Suchanek’s passing has shocked so many in his circle and his loss will be felt for a long time.

Suchanek’s record at the felt is indicative of his personality in that it was quietly superb. With well over a million dollars in live tournament earnings in all, those cashes were numerous and very nearly produced a bracelet to go with them. Suchanek finished second to the now-infamous Bryn Kenney in 2014 in a $1,500-entry 10-Game Mix event.

Suchanek’s best result in his live career was worth around 10% of his total earnings. That was the $142,447 he won when finishing 49th in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event as he outlasted almost 6,700 other players. The Czech-born player was fearless at the felt, but immensely modest off it. His results may have drifted to becoming less frequent in recent years, but only due to external success, and he still cashed twice in New Zealand-based events. His last result was a win in the $660-entry Big Bounty event at the Wellington Poker Championships in Christchurch for $5,730.

A Life Lived on the Road

“He lived and loved to the full, but whatever happened, that was fine by him too.”

While he was clearly a man whose personality could warm any room, such was the apparent gadabout nature of his lively life that Suchanek was often a man on the move. Born in the Czech Republic in Prague, Suchanek moved to Canada before settling in New Zealand then in Melbourne, Australia.

Getting into sports betting and pressing his edge, Suchanek’s humility was one of his strongest suits and he played it with style, chipping up in business when “he assembled what he called “brighter minds than mine” around him as he built his empire.” As O’Kearney puts it.

Never afraid to go big or move home, Suchanek was a poker player of strong reputation but with a gentle, engaging personality, whose presence on the tour may not be as initially missed as a personality who throws himself around, but whose warmth was clearly such that a room would go up a degree.

Jan Suchanek’s death gives many who knew him in poker a chill, but as O’Kearney says, “He lived and loved to the full, but whatever happened, that was fine by him too. Whether that was getting one outered for the chip lead with 50 left in the WSOP main, or death, it didn’t matter.”

Everyone at Gamble Online would like to pass on our condolences to Jan’s friends and family at this sad time.



Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience under his belt. He's played at –and reviewed– countless of online casinos, and has written dozens of casino game guides. His strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004. A native of North Texas, Cliff is a long-suffering Dallas Cowboys fan. He enjoys sports and games of all sorts, including sports betting.

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