On Wednesday, the poker world learned that Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, who had been in the game for six decades, passed away at the age of 86.
Tahoe, who earned his nickname after honing his poker skills while living in Lake Tahoe for 10 years, was a stalwart in the poker world; in fact, few players outside of Doyle Brunson have enjoyed a longer career in the game. The two-time bracelet winner was well-known for playing the World Series of Poker Main Event every year since 1974 up until 2018, a record 45-year streak (Brunson and others boycotted the WSOP from 1999-2002 amid a Binion family dispute).
Tahoe, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in math from San Francisco State University, previously told PokerNews he started playing poker at 21 years old
According to The Hendon Mob, Tahoe amassed $1,505,089 in lifetime tournament earnings dating all the way back to 1976. The database also indicates that he cashed numerous tournaments every year since 1986, a testament to his longevity in the game.
His largest career score of $250,000, his only six-figure win, came when he finished runner-up to Jim Doman in the 1987 Grand Prix of Poker $10,000 Main Event. That same year, he won $86,400, his second-largest score, for taking down a $200 no-limit hold’em event at Amarillo Slim’s Superbowl of Poker.
Tahoe captured both his gold bracelets in 1976 in back-to-back days. First, he won Event #1: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $28,000 and the following day took down Event #2: $2,500 NLH Non-Pro for $24,000. He defeated Poker Hall of Famer Dewey Tomko heads-up in the latter event.
Two years later, the 1978 WSOP Media Guide would call him “one of the World Series of Poker’s most formidable non-pros”, an industrial engineer with “a daredevil reputation”.
Tahoe also added a ring to his list of accomplishments back in 2008 when won the WSOP Circuit Grand Casino Tunica Event #7: $400 Pot-Limit Hold’em for $13,799. Tahoe’s last cash came just before the pandemic changed the live tournament landscape when he min-cashed the 2020 WSOP Circuit Thunder Valley Event #8: Monster Stack.
Poker World Shares Tahoe Stories
The combination of Tahoe’s longevity in the game and willingness to travel meant he touched the lives of thousands of poker players and dealers over the years, a fact evidenced by those who offered their condolences and shared memories on social media.
Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson, who actually won an event at the 2001 Howard “Tahoe” Andrew Celebrity Challenge at California’s Casino Europa, wrote the following:
“You are a legend in the poker world and you brought honour and positivity to our industry. I have so many fond memories of our times together on cruises and across the green felt. You were a true competitor and a wonderful human being. I will miss you.”
“Tahoe was an old-timer when I was underage, sneaking around, playing poker. Always a true Gentleman.”
Longtime poker media reporter Dan Ross shared the following on Tahoe:
“One of my absolute favourite people in the poker world … we spent a lot of time together at tournaments the past 5-6 years, and I never wanted to be at his Omaha table, for I was on my way to the rail soon. A year ago next week he was heads-up for an Omaha WSOP circuit ring at Thunder Valley, the one-day event running quite long. We joked about it, and I ended up making a run to the food court because Tahoe decided everyone still at the final table needed a milkshake to keep going. From all the autographed old photos of 1970s WSOP final tables, stories of games gone by, to the occasional random text that he’d send … I am going to miss you very much, my friend.”
Todd Brunson: “Tahoe was an old-timer when I was underage, sneaking around, playing poker. Always a true Gentleman. So sad. Rip my friend.”
Tyler Patterson: “I met Tahoe in 02 in Pendleton. I was 19 and a big showoff in NLH cash games, especially there. He was probably deep into his 70s and no-limit def wasn’t his best game, but he showed me a great bluff and laughed at me, then trapped me trying to get revenge.”
ESPN commentator Lon McEachern: “This makes me sad. Played with him so many times and always a wonderful demeanour and caretaker of a great deal of poker history while making it himself. I will miss you Tahoe.”
Tahoe married and had four daughters, who in turn provided him many grandchildren. PokerNews joins the rest of the poker world in offering their condolences to the family of a true poker legend.