The poker world lost a unique and talented player this week with the passing of Steve Albini. At the age of 61, Steve had become a multi-talented individual, well-known in many communities.

Albini was best known for his groundbreaking work as a music producer, performer, and recording engineer. His talents shaped the sound of seminal albums by Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey, and countless others, but he also left an indelible mark on the poker felt.

Steve was born in Pasadena, California, then settled in Montana, before moving to Illinois, Chicago to study journalism.

Steve inside his studio, Electrical Audio

He first learned poker from his great-grandmother and honed his skills in college dorm rooms and musician home games in Chicago. But it was during the online poker boom of the early 2000s that Albini really caught the bug, grinding on now-defunct sites like Reefer Poker and Full Tilt.

It was on Full Tilt where Albini connected with fellow mixed game aficionado Brandon Shack-Harris. The two struck up a friendship that would span decades, with Shack-Harris becoming a regular at Albini's home game in his Electrical Audio recording studio. That peer group pushed each other to improve. Following the news of his passing, Electrical Audio posted a heartfelt message to their website, finishing with, "Thank you, Steve. We love you".

This would be just one of countless farewells posted after Tuesday, May 7th.

Steve Albini's Time at the Poker Tables

The WSOP has paid off for Steve and he's been cashing in the tournaments since 2010. Along the way, he picked up two coveted WSOP bracelets and cashed several times.

"I owe an awful lot of my own development as a player to my peer group, to my group of friends," Albini said after winning his first WSOP bracelet in 2018, defeating six-time bracelet winner Jeff Lisandro heads-up in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event for $105,629.

Steve's 2018 bracelet win

Albini's studious approach to poker mirrored his exacting methods in the recording studio. He was a stickler for analog in a digital world, and staunchly anti-establishment, famously refusing royalties for producing Nirvana's final album to maintain his indie credibility. That principled mindset carried over to the poker felt.

Far from a casual and non-thinking amateur, Steve's understanding of poker was deep. At times, it was philosophical.

“In order to succeed in poker, you need to be pointedly deceptive. You need to be pouncing on the weaknesses of other people and you need to exploit other people’s mistakes,” he said during a post-WSOP interview. “Those are sociopathic tendencies.”

While he only played tournaments at the WSOP, Albini attacked them with the same diligence and perfectionism that made him a sought-after producer. Four years after his first bracelet win, Albini captured his second piece of WSOP hardware in the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. for $196,089.

Steve's 2022 bracelet win

True to form, Albini literally broke his second bracelet while still in the winner's circle, later gifting pieces to his rail of supporters. He had some choice words for the quality of the bracelet, which he shared on the DAT Poker Pod:

"Okay, shame on the WSOP for the bracelets being such tacky trash in the first place. They are they are just like fairground gimmick caliber bracelets you know. They're not jewelry. They're like not even anything on the top shelf".

Among the rail on that day was comedian and poker commentator Joe Stapleton. The two first connected online during the COVID pandemic over a few contentious PokerStars Zoom sessions.

"After that, we bonded over comedy and I eventually learned his history and saw how unapologetically progressive he was and it made me respect the hell out of him," Stapleton wrote in a tribute on social media.

Albini's sudden passing from a heart attack, just days before his band Shellac was set to release their first new album in nearly a decade, sent shockwaves through the music world.

But the loss is felt just as deeply in poker circles, where Albini's talent, integrity, and quirky presence made him a true original.

The poker community was clearly saddened by Steve's passing and gave heartfelt tributes on Twitter/X.

But as much impact as Steve had in the poker scene, he had magnitudes more in the music world.

The Music World Shares Steve Albini Moments & Memories

Longtime followers of Steve's music career went online. In their goodbyes to the icon, they posted their favorite moments, the things they loved about Steve, and paid their condolences.

Bands spoke of his influence:

Readers posted snapshots of his time as a journalist and editor:

Ex-colleagues showed his unusual way of prioritizing:

...and commuting:

...and corresponding:

Record labels praised his effect on their industry and lives:

We even saw an old video of Steve's feet engulfed in flames:

And Albini apologizing for a "fascist haircut" with a completely straight face:

One user posted a snippet from a great interview between Anthony Bourdain and Steve, where capitalism and the term "jagoff" are explained.