Top global poker player dies in Girne
POLICE have launched an investigation after a Malaysian poker player died while in North Cyprus last Saturday.
Leow Seng Yee, who also went by the nickname “Ivan”, 40, was reportedly exercising in the gym of a hotel in Alsancak at around noon when he “suddenly fell ill”, a police statement said.
After receiving first aid from hotel health staff, he was taken to Girne Dr Akçiçek State Hospital but passed away despite the best efforts of doctors, the statement added.
A further statement provided by the police on Tuesday said that a post-mortem had been performed on Mr Yee, which determined his cause of
death as a “heart attack and heart failure”.
Mr Yee had travelled to the TRNC to take part in the “Super High Roller Series” poker tournament at the Merit Royal Diamond Hotel in Alsancak, organised by promoter Triton.
According to the Global Poker Index, Mr Yee was a high-profile poker player whose total career earnings stretched to over $13 million.
He once ranked as highly as 58th in the world, and just before his demise he was ranked as the second-best poker player from Malaysia.
Triton paid tribute to Mr Yee in a statement on Twitter, which described him as “a hugely popular member of the Triton family” and “warm, generous, and enormous fun both at the tables and off — a loyal friend to us all”.
Mr Yee’s friends also expressed their shock and sadness at his death, with fellow poker player Sam Greenwood writing that “Ivan and I were joking around at the table this trip and he said to me ‘You know, I love you very much’. I was taken aback and gave a meek response that I immediately regretted”, according to the website PokerTube.com.
The “sudden death” of Mr Yee was one of three that occurred in North Cyprus on the same day.
In reaction to these and previous sudden deaths, the Health Ministry released a statement in which it pointed out that the number of cardiac-related deaths in the TRNC actually fell between 2019 and 2021 and that this year’s figure of 54, as of the end of August, is still lower than in 2019 or 2020, when there were 80 and 73 cardiac-related deaths respectively. In 2021 the number was 51.
In addition, the Health Ministry pointed out that “not every death which is reported as sudden in the media is actually a sudden death in medical terms”, and that so far this year there has been no “significant” rise in the overall death rate when taking into account other factors such as population increase and the relaxation of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.