René Angélil, husband of world-famous singer Celine Dion and a well-known Las Vegas poker player and gambler in his own right, has died at the age of 73 in his Las Vegas home.
Angélil’s passing is the latest in a string of recent celebrity deaths that has included David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and comes 16 years after he was first diagnosed with throat cancer.
After successfully battling the disease for more than a decade, Angélil underwent an operation in 2014 to remove a tumor from his throat. Although the operation was a success, his health was always a concern, and Dion would often revolve her performing schedule around Angélil.
In fact, according to Dion, being closer to Angélil was her reason for returning to her residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for another run in 2015.
While the world at large knew Angélil for his influence in the music industry and his high-profile relationship with Dion, the poker community knew him as one of the friendliest (and best-funded) amateurs in the world.
Playing in tournaments and high stakes cash games (including games in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio) for a number of years, Angélil built up relationships with many high profile players.
Naturally, after news of his death filtered through the Las Vegas community, many of his former sparring partners on the felt offered their condolences to his family via Twitter.
@ToddBrunson: RIP René Angélil. I’ve played with tons of celebs and I would pick him as nicest and most humble. He also beat the crap out of me at poker.
@phil_hellmuth: RIP René Angélil. Good poker player, sang Elvis beautifully, member Baronets rock band and husband of Celine Dion.
@jctran23: RIP Mr. Angélil. Was fun playing some poker with you back in the day.
As well as making friends with a number of pros, Angélil also had some talent for the game, and won $750,505 between 2004 and 2014.
Looking back through his results, Angélil’s biggest cash came back in 2006 at the Fifth Annual Five Diamond Poker Classic at the Bellagio, where he finished third for $62,175.
Away from the poker tables, Angélil also enjoyed a variety of casino games. Although reports in the media often suggested he had a problem with gambling and lost huge sums of money, Dion would often defend her husband’s habits. In fact, she even went as far as to say that he made more than $230,000 in a single year between 2005 and 2006.
Angélil’s funeral will reportedly be held in Montreal in the coming weeks and a “celebration of life” ceremony will also take place in Las Vegas later in the year.