Monday, September 16, 2013

In Memory of Jace Markgraf

Soon after I arrived back in Vegas last week, I learned the shocking, horrific news that Jace Markgraf had left this world.  He was 26 years old.

Jace was a part of the Vegas poker community, and of the MGM poker room family.  For years he was a fixture in their 2/5 NL game.  Everyone who played with him or watched him play agreed he was a terrific poker player.  He made his living “grinding” poker in Vegas.
I met Jace through my good friend Prudence.  After Prudence and I had become pals, she told me that I was one of her two best “poker buddies.”  Jace was the other one.
As my friendship with Prudence grew, she told Jace about me, and about the blog.  She told him of her blog name, and that many of Jace’s dealer pals had pseudonyms in the silly stories I told on the blog.  Without ever having read the blog, he told her that he wanted to have his own pseudonym on the blog—his own alter ego.
When Prudence told me this, I said it would be helpful if I actually met him first.  I had seen Jace in the poker room, but we never really encountered each other because we played different games.
Of course I eventually met him and one of the first things he said to me was that he wanted to be on the blog, he wanted a “secret identity.”  By this time he had read some of my blog posts and doing so actually convinced him even more that he wanted to be featured in a future blog post. I told him that for that to occur, he had to do something “blog-worthy.” 
That finally happened the first time that Jace and I played together at one of those crazy dealers games that I’ve been involved with from time to time.  My initial thought, before I had any story to write, was that I might just call him “Ace” since it was so similar to his real name and, of course, is a great name for a professional poker player.
But when the incident occurred that earned Jace his own blog identity, I came up with another name.  I gave Jace the name “Adolf.”  You can find that post here.  The story of the second dealers game that I played in with Jace is found here.
The name Adolf was of course not a reflection on Jace’s nature or personality or demeanor in any way.  It was simply my little joke, giving him the worst name I could think of because, in the first story, he hit a one-outer on me in a poker game to beat my flopped full house. 
Since learning about Jace’s passing, I’ve thought about taking down the two posts that feature “Adolf”—or editing them. I’ve decided against it.  Jace loved the posts where I wrote about him, he told me so himself.  And he actually liked the name I chose for him; he found it quite amusing.  He even told me that it was somewhat fitting since he has a German heritage—which of course had nothing to do with my picking that name.
Since Jace enjoyed those posts, and liked the joke name I gave him, I’m leaving those posts up.  I believe that Jace would want it that way. He’d want those posts to remain there as initially written—as part of the memories he left behind for all of us who knew him.
You see, among his other qualities, Jace had a great sense of humor.  He was incredibly smart, witty, and fun to be around.  He was a good guy—a really good guy.  And as I said, he was a helluva poker player.  After meeting him, I’d see him the poker room in the 2/5 game that I never played in.  I’d go over to say hi (or he’d come over to say hi to me if he saw me first) and he always had a mountain of chips in front of him.  We’d chat a bit and share our bad beat stories.
I didn’t know Jace as well as I would have liked, and I regret that I will never get to know him any better.  I can tell you for sure that everyone I know who knew him liked him and will grieve over his passing for a long, long time.  I never heard anyone say a harsh word about him—except perhaps at the poker table after he had outmaneuvered them to win a pot.  He did that a lot.
I offer my sincere sympathies to his loving family for their unbearable loss, as well as to all his friends who knew him better than I did and will miss him so much.  I feel especially sad for Prudence, who has lost a very dear friend. 
Everyone who knew him has a piece of their heart missing.  Losing him so soon is a bad beat for all of us.
Farewell, Jace.


  1. Sorry to hear about your loss Rob. Way too young. Terrible....


  2. Ditto. Way too young to go. Sorry to hear of your loss.

  3. Sorry to hear about his passing. My condolences.

    What was the cause of death?

  4. The cause of Jace's death remains unconfirmed and it is information that will probably stay between his family.

    Jace was more than a poker buddy. In a town full of scumbags and bloodsuckers, he was a true friend. We spent countless nights, far from the casinos, talking about every topic under the sun. Next to Rob and my dear husband, he was one of the few people who "got me"—even if he would always joke that I was batshit crazy.

    Given the fact that he was 7 years my junior, his intellect and edge always amazed me. It's undoubtedly what made him a poker phenom, but more important than that, it's why I let my guard down for him. No one could ever replace him.

    I'm so grateful that Rob had a chance to spend time with him at my home, away from the poker table. I'll always remember our night of spaghetti and hearts, and I'm heartbroken that we won't have an opportunity to do it again.

    I loved you and I'll miss you so much, Jace. None of these words can ever do justice to you, and I hope we meet again one day on the other side.

    1. Yeah, that was a great nite, stayed up much later playing hearts and other silly games than I ever did playing poker.

      Thank you for getting us together. I am grateful to have known him and to have laughed with him.

  5. @grouse, @Lightning, @bill, thank you all for kind thoughts. And bill, as Prudence noted, the cause is undetermined.