Like the rest of the poker community at large, I was saddened to learned that one of the game’s most beloved characters has passed away. Paul ‘Eskimo’ Clark was 67 years old when he died on April 15, 2015. A man with a quiet personal life, his passing was kept under wraps as well, until now.
Paul Clark was one of those poker players you loved and hated to compete against. His quick wit and eccentric attitude was enjoyed by all around him, yet his insatiable love of the game was overflowing with tremendous skill—especially at all variations of Seven Card Stud—making him a remarkably difficult opponent to overcome.
The announcement of his passing did not become public knowledge until the 2015 WSOP was underway. Unbeknownst of the situation, poker pro Matt Salsberg made an ‘Eskimo Clark’ joke at the tables, only to be appraised of the 3x WSOP bracelet winners death by a fellow player.
Salsberg later issued his form of an apology via a Twitter post: “0 for 2 in wsop events. 1 for 1 in inadvertently being the conduit to the poker community re: Eskimo Clark’s death”.
Eskimo Clark Pro Poker Career
One might assume that Paul Clark’s nickname was derivative of his heritage, but that’s not the case. The eccentric poker pro was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Stockton, California; one of seven siblings. However, many of his friends believed that his facial features closely matched that of the logo found upon Alaska Airlines (pictured right), earning him the long-standing alias, “Eskimo”.
A real character on the felt, Paul spent time as a medic in the Vietnam War before turning poker pro. His first in-the-money finish came in the 1988 WSOP $1,000 Limit Omaha event, where an 8th place finish earned him $4,560. Clark collected another $4,770 in the 1989 WSOP Seven Card Razz event, finishing 8th again.
Paul’s poker career really took off the following year, when he cashed in 7 events across Los Angeles and Las Vegas for over $70,000, including a $49,800 2nd place finish in a Limit Seven Card Stud event at the Hall of Fame Poker Classic. Over the next two decades, he cashed in more than 150 additional live tournaments, eventually racking up a career total of $2,734,782.
Paul Eskimo Clark WSOP Bracelets
Eskimo Clark’s finest moments in WSOP history occurred in 1992, 1999 and 2002. Those were the years he collected coveted WSOP bracelets.
At the 1992 WSOP, Paul faced off with Ray Rumler in the final heads-up battle of the $5,000 Seven Card Stud event, coming out on top for a fantastic payday worth $122,000.
Seven years later at the 1999 WSOP, Eskimo Clark’s talent for Seven Card Stud remained intact. But this time, it was a Razz (Seven Card Stud Low) event that earned him a second bracelet when he defeated fellow American Simon Zhang for the top prize of $84,610.
Another three years would pass before Eskimo Clark harvested his third and final piece WSOP jewelry. The event—you guessed it—Seven Card Stud High-Low. It would seem the eccentric poker pro had mastered both the standard High and Razz Low versions of the game – what better way to complete his hat-trick of bracelets than overcoming a combination High-Low event? Clark survived Andrew Prock in heads-up at the 2002 WSOP to scoop another $125,200 paycheck.
At the 2007 WSOP, Paul Eskimo Clark was leading the stacks at a $1,500 Razz event when reports say he passed out three times. Medics on the scene believed the poker pro has suffered a series of mini-strokes, but alas, he refused to quit the game. Paul went on to finish in 4th place in that event, worth $31,186.
Unfortunately, his health began waning at that point. It didn’t stop him from competing though. Clark had another 21 live event cashes in him afterwards. His last recorded money finish came at the Legends of Poker tournament in Los Angeles, CA on August 2, 2013.
According to the limited information available on his death, Paul Eskimo Clark passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he resided, on April 15, 2015. We would like to offer our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and countless fans.