Warren “Grumpa” Griffith, a double amputee who survived multiple strokes and heart attacks and dreamed of playing at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), has passed away at the age of 73.
A Massachusetts native and poker enthusiast, Grumpa’s story touched the hearts of poker players from Daniel Negreanu to Maria Ho when he made the trip West to the 2015 WSOP. The beloved Grumpa passed peacefully on May 12 after a long battle with heart disease, according to his obituary.
Chasing WSOP Greatness
Grumpa, who was affectionately given his nickname by his five granddaughters for his cranky temperament, was a massive poker fan who always wanted to travel to Las Vegas to take his shot at winning a bracelet and life-changing money. Despite a myriad of health problems, Grumpa achieved his goal in 2015 and played in the WSOP’s inaugural “The Colossus” event as a part of a Blaycation group.
It was at the WSOP that Grumpa, who navigated the ESPN Main Stage on two prosthetic legs, caught the attention of poker media.
“I was here to see the World Series, to see the stage and rooms, but I couldn’t afford to play,” Grumpa told PokerNews at the 2015 WSOP. “To play has been on my bucket list for a lot of years, a lot of years.”
Luck was seldom on Grumpa’s side. When he made his trip to the 2015 WSOP, he had lived with diabetes for 50 years and suffered a series of strokes and heart attacks.
“Everything that’s happened, and I’ve had a lot happen, that’s why this is a bucket list thing for me,” Grumpa said about playing in the World Series. “I just feel so good about being here doing this that I told my wife if I made the money I’ll fly her out. It’s her that let me come here.”
It wasn’t just PokerNews who Grumpa caught the attention of. ESPN, one of the biggest outlets in all of sports, profiled the Massachusetts poker enthusiast in 2017 about his trip to the WSOP two years prior.
“Although I am suffering though numerous health issues, I live every day right now for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Grumpa told ESPN. “Every day is very hard to get through, but poker makes my life so much better,” said Griffith. “My mind is moving constantly, the people I look forward to seeing and the competition drives me to get better and work harder.”
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Leaving An Impression on the Poker Community
Grumpa didn’t end up winning or making a deep run in the 2015 Colossus, which drew a record-breaking 22,374 entrants and generated $11.2 million in prize money, but he made a lasting impression on the poker players who met him.
When he couldn’t make it to the 2016 WSOP because of health complications, a handful of pros sent their well-wishes to Grumpa in the form of a video produced by Bernard Lee and PokerNews, including Daniel Negreanu, Maria Ho and Main Event champions Jonathan Duhamel, Ryan Riess and Greg Raymer.
“Hey Grumpa, hope you get better soon,” Negreanu said in the video. “We’ll see you at the World Series final table next year.”
High-stakes veteran Jason Mercier, meanwhile, dedicated one of his two bracelets won at the 2016 WSOP to Grumpa.
Lee, who presented a tearful Grumpa with the video of poker’s top players wishing him well, took to social media when he learned of Grumpa’s passing.
“Another dear friend in the poker world has passed away this afternoon,” Lee wrote on Twitter.
Another dear friend in the poker world has passed away this afternoon: @GrumpaPoker (Warren “Grumpa” Griffith). I… https://t.co/zDZ58MtoH9
Lee also did a tribute show for Grumpa, who is survived by his wife Ann Carlson Griffith, as well as his daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Several members of the poker world remembered Grumpa by sharing some of their favorite stories.