Poker Player Boston Billy Duarte Passes
Lifetime Gambler Was Tough and Cordial Player
The poker community lost one of the gentlemen of the game when "Boston" Billy Duarte died of cancer on Monday. He was in his late 60s.
Duarte was a big-bet poker player with an expertise in pot-limit Omaha. In an interview he did with Card Player Magazine a few years ago, Duarte said that during the last 20 years, he probably played more pot-limit poker than any other player alive.
In fact, Duarte would travel great lengths to play in a good pot-limit game. This is what he told Card Player in 2001:
"I've played just about everywhere you can imagine. Sometimes I'd fly somewhere and the game would last only two days. Before hold'em became popular, I flew to Australia twice for a month just to play pot-limit draw poker, mostly with ranchers, once outside of Perth and another time about 100 miles from there in some desolate area."
To read the full interview with Duarte, click here.
Duarte started to play draw poker in 1962, but was introduced to poker as a child at his family's kitchen table. He went on to cash in many tournaments during his lifetime and his tournament winnings total more than $620,000. Almost $130,000 came from two cashes at the 2006 World Series of Poker, and he cashed nine time in 2005, making four final tables.
Duarte, who was raised on the outskirts of Boston, spent some time with the Marines and then three years where he served in the Color Guard. He then briefly attended Harvard before leaving to pursue a career in gambling. This eventually led him into the greyhound racing business (after winning many dollars by betting on the sport), where he raised the fast dogs for years, until he moved to Colorado, where he said he always wanted to live. He also had a home in Oceanside, California.
At the poker table and off it, Duarte was a soft-spoken man who appreciated poker etiquette, as well as the skill of the younger players he came up against in his later years. His even disposition allowed him to take his loses in stride, and he encouraged other players to do the same.
From the same 2001 Card Player interview:
"I've always thought, too, that people should be able to accept their losses, and should never lose their tempers at the table by throwing cards or criticizing dealers. As for me, if someone beats me in a pot, I know that I'm losing that money, but I sure don't want to lose anything else. I don't want to lose my self-respect. I can never blame a dealer for some hand that I lost."
Duarte was a long-time smoker, but quit a few years ago after he contracted Lyme Disease, which put him in a coma. When he came out of it, someone asked him if he wanted a cigarette, and Duarte asked him why he would want that. He had no recollection of smoking and never smoked again.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer about a month ago. After flying east to say his goodbyes, he returned to Las Vegas to play in the $1,500 seniors event held during the Festa al Lago.
Duarte lost his wife Lorraine of 44 years in 2000 with whom he had seven children. He is survived by Beverly Beller, Beverly Johnson, William Duarte III, Lori Fortin, Roger Duarte and 15 grandchildren. He will be laid to rest in Colorado.
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