Poker Enthusiast and TV Star Dick Van Patten Dies at 86

June 24th, 2015 | by Greg Shaun
Dick Van Patten dies aged 86.

Poker fans and Hollywood stars mourn the death of Dick Van Patten. (Image:

The father of WPT commentator and sometimes poker player, Vince Van Patten, sadly passed away on Tuesday night in California.

Dick Van Patten was 86 when he died in a Santa Monica after complications with his diabetes; however, his legacy in the entertainment world will live on well past his years.

During his career as an actor, Van Patten starred in a number of his US shows, including Love Boat and Eight is Enough, but it was his time as a commentator at the WSOP that many poker fans will remember him most fondly for.

The Original Voice of Poker

Although his time as the voice of the WSOP was brief (1993 to 1995), Van Patten’s association with the game helped give his youngest son, Vince, the means to become a legendary commentator in his own right.

Inspired by his father and often recounting stories of how his father would have him awake until the early hours of the morning learning how to play poker, Vince went on to become the voice of the WPT alongside Mike Sexton.

In fact, as well as getting his commentary skills from his father, Vince also learned a trick or two at the felt and played alongside Dick in a number of celebrity charity events. Most notable was the WPT’s Father and Sons Invitational. 

Lining up alongside the likes of Barry Greenstein and Joe Sebok, Todd and Doyle Brunson and Jeff and Barry Shulman, the pair proved they could walk the walk almost as well as they could talk the talk.

Although the Van Pattens ultimately hit the rail in sixth place the fact the father and son duo were able to play on TV together was enough of a prize for both poker enthusiasts.

A Pioneer for Poker

In addition to helping his family become well known figures in the poker world, Dick Van Patten also helped elevate that status of the game in America according to Nola Dalla.

Discussing Van Patten’s achievements with Pokernews, Dalla stated that before the TV star became a poker commentator poker was still a backroom game with a tarnished image.

“I really think before Van Patten was involved we were still the smoky backroom game. All of a sudden you have millions of people saying, ‘Gee, the star of Eight Is Enough is announcing this, it can’t be that bad of a thing,” said Dalla.

In addition to Dalla’s kind words, the entertainment world has been paying its respects to Van Patten with a number of Hollywood stars offering their condolences via Twitter. Among the acting luminaries offering their own personal tributes was James Woods, Corey Feldman and Mel Brooks.

Also adding to the chorus of praise for Van Patten was the WSOP’s official Twitter account.


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