The poker world recently lost one of its finest gentlemen in Robert (Lee) Mougous. Two of Lee’s longtime friends, Lee Markholt and Mark Gregorich, reflect on their experiences with him.

I am proud to say that Lee was my dearest friend in the poker community. Although we both resided in the state of Washington, I first met Lee in the early ‘90s in Lake Tahoe at the Superstars of Poker event. Our first encounter wasn’t exactly friendly, however. On the cash game list, we both went by ‘Lee M.’ Naturally, we got into an argument about which of us was higher on the board. Following this disagreement, we quickly developed a friendship, but from that point on he insisted I go by ‘Lee MM’ on the board.

If you were fortunate enough to be Lee’s friend, you also know that he was generous to a fault. He was always there to help with words of encouragement, or a loan if you were in a slump. Lee was also known for his memorable catchphrases at the tables. “UNBELIEVEABLE,” he would happily exclaim, whenever something even slightly out of the ordinary happened. And he loved playfully referring to myself and others as “dummy,” while making sure to call himself “big dummy.”

Lee was not a full-time professional poker player, but I can’t think of anyone with greater passion for the game. He had a good day job, but likely earned nearly as much from his serious part-time poker playing. Although he preferred the cash games and seldom entered tournaments, he did have a good record at the World Series of Poker, mainly in Omaha, his game of choice. He had several cashes, most notably a third-place finish in a $1,500 limit Omaha event.

Over the years, Lee made regular trips to Las Vegas during his time off. He typically did well, but when things went poorly, he often wouldn’t sleep for the entire three-or-four-day trip. He wouldn’t even take breaks to eat, for that matter. Lee HATED to quit stuck, and somehow, he usually found a way to turn it around.

But ultimately, Lee was a family man, and his face would light up when he spoke so endearingly and often of them. Lee is survived by his loving wife Carol, his daughter Linda, and sons Robert Lee Jr. and Joseph, as well as his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and countless friends. As for me, and I’m sure many others, the poker community will not be the same without Lee. Rest in peace my dearest friend.

– Lee Markholt

Lee was my first mentor in poker. I met him when I was 18 years old and just getting started in the public cardrooms in Olympia, Washington. He took a liking to me right away, and despite my inexperience I quickly realized that he was the cream of the crop in the games.

He was always generous to a fault, which meant he allowed me to pick his brain on all things poker or life. He effectively taught me how to play Omaha eight-or-better. When we played together, anytime I made a poor play he would give me the “big dummy” expression and then later explain what I had done wrong.

Over the years, we played a million hands together, first in Washington, and then in Las Vegas. In the ‘90s in Vegas, we played $20-$40 limit holdem at the Mirage. I still remember him chastising me for an overly sloppy misplayed hand like it was yesterday.

Lee always went out of his way to look out for me and help me succeed. We played poker together for four decades, and it likely would’ve been five had there been a WSOP in 2020, as we were both fans of the $75-$150 Omaha/8 game at the Rio every summer.

Lee was a big-hearted individual who was truly one of a kind. I can’t think of anyone who influenced my success and career in poker more than him. Rest in peace.

– Mark Gregorich

*Photos courtesy of PokerNews and the Mougous family