Chad Batista: The Documentary - Coming Soon?

Online poker legend Chad “lilholdem954” Batista is to be the subject of a documentary. A small team of poker players are currently researching his life and poker career.

Poker player Tyler Nelson reached out to the community on the TwoPlusTwo forums asking

"I am part of a small team, currently in the research phase of a documentary, on the life of Chad. Having had the pleasure of playing with Chad, both live and online, I experienced his charismatic personality and unique style of play, first hand. We are fascinated by both the successes and turmoil of one of poker's most polarizing personalities, and are confident that the story of his life would resonate with a significant number of people, both within the poker community, and outside of it."


Gone too Soon

In August 2015, the poker community was hit with the news that Chad Batista had passed away at the age of 34. After being hospitalised several times due to liver issues, he finally was gone.

Known as both lilholdem954 and M8kingmoves, Batista tore his way through the tournament scene from the very beginning of his career. From August 2008 until a year later he claimed the top spot on the Pockerfives leaderboard for MTT players, which was effectively at the time a world ranking.

Batista had one of the most spectacular records in online poker during the boom years before Black Friday. He was one of the most feared tournament players on the scene. His often brash behaviour at the table made him numerous enemies, but those who knew him well told stories of how kind hearted he really was.

One poster told how touched he was by the help he was given without ever asking for money.

“Years ago I messaged Chad on fb about getting some Mtt coaching (at a time when he could have been charging 100s/hr). He ended up helping me with a few hhs, gave me his phone number, invited me to his house to sweat him etc and never asked for anything in return...just a super nice & giving guy. Rip“


Rise to Stardom

In the early 2000’s Batista was introduced to poker and was clearly a natural. Starting off with freeroll tournaments he built a seven figure bankroll within 10 months, and never deposited a single cent. His trash talking at the table had him picking up fans right from the off.

He once claimed in an interview that he had never read a poker book, but worked on his game in his own way. In fact, there was probably very little he did in life that followed the crowd. He had his own way.

His way in poker terms was hyper aggressive. According to his aunt Louise Batista in an interview for Cardplayer Magazine

“Chad always was a sore loser; he never accepted second place. He wanted to win. His aggressive style was from an attitude that he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. He never really gave a shit; he made a call if he wanted to call. He had a fire and a passion for the game. He was always good at reading other people. In his mind, he could figure out sort of what you had, and he could be holding nothing.”

Jason Mercier can attest to how aggressive he could be after receiving a challenge to a “$20K fight with weapons” in the Rio Casino car park. We never found out for certain exactly what he did to provoke such anger, all we saw was a profanity laden Facebook post.


Never the Same Again

When Black Friday hit, it was a bolt of lightning out of the blue for Batista. The Florida native was facing a stark choice as to how he continued his career. Live poker was never really his thing, but he was also close to his remaining family so moving abroad wasn’t an attractive option either.

Louise Batista told CardPlayer Magazine

“It seemed like he was never quite the same after Black Friday. He resented the fact that in order to continue playing at the same level he would have to commit to playing live games or leave the US, which would leave him little opportunity to be around family throughout the year. When it happened, it was like the rug being taken right out from under you. I don’t think he thought something like that could happen. It affected a lot of people, but especially him, because he did not have another profession, something that he could go back to.”

“Live poker games were not Chad’s thing. He didn’t like the crowd, and he never played poker for the celebrity status. Chad really wanted to be with family.”

By 2013 Batista felt he had no choice but to move abroad, and pack up his gear and travelled to Mexico. Now back on Pokerstars he could finally try and pick up where he left off.

A chop in the $215 Second Chance for $25,000 was a nice start, but later in the year in the prestigious WCOOP he made his biggest ever score for $264,408.

Mexico wasn’t making him happy though, and after being turned over a couple of times he bit the bullet and trekked to California with his beloved dogs.  But even being back in the US and playing live poker at the Commerce Casino wasn’t the solution, so after five months there it was back to Las Vegas to stay with his family who were to move there with him.

Sadly, soon his continuing depression and alcohol abuse was starting to get the better of him which eventually led to his death. When asked about how we should remember him, his aunt Louise said

“For me, and my family, we would like for them to remember Chad as that young man with a sharp tongue, aggressive play and a heart of gold. You either loved him or you hated him, there was no in between.”

Chad Batista definitely polarised opinion, whether in his personal or professional life, but one thing is for sure, we will never forget him.