Just like many other things in life, poker has written and unwritten rules. The written rules are in place for a reason. There is a reason why you cannot put in a bet and then take it back or call and then say that you actually wanted to raise. Unwritten rules, however, are not that clear cut. Take slowrolling for example. It’s a well-established part of poker etiquette, that you don’t slowroll other players, like in a situation when you are facing an all-in bet holding the nuts.
The main reason why some rules remain unwritten is because they decisions to enforce them can be arbitrary. If a player is new to the game, he might simply misread his hand or not recognize right away that he has the best hand possible facing an all-in situation, so can you really penalize him for that?
This divide between written and unwritten rules of poker creates opportunities for unethical players known as “angle shooting”. These moves don’t go against the written rules of poker, but are widely considered to be unethical and not worthy of a true poker player. Some of them can be outright disgusting, and nothing is more disgusting when such moves are pulled off on televised events, casting a bad light on poker. Here is the list of the 5 ugliest televised angle shot.
5. Antonio Esfandiari angles the hell out of Erik “Rolex” Boneta
Season 7 of High Stakes Poker brought a lot of interesting players to the felt. Among them were the first $1 million buy-in One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari and recreational player and businessman Erik “Rolex” Boneta. At the 25-minute mark in the video, a hand took place between these two and Doyle Brunson, which ended up as a controversy.
The hand was going smoothly up until the river, where Esfandiari was holding trips and Rolex was ahead with the nut flush. After the turn went check-check, Esfandiari fired out a river bet of $31,900 and got raised by Rolex to $71,900. The video shows Esfandiari moving his money stack from side to side, after which Rolex smirks and says “How many angles are you gonna go for? I’m about to turn my hand over”.
It doesn’t seem like Esfandiari did much here, but in fact, the hand was edited, with the part that happened before this left out. Esfandiari did the same thing a few times before while pondering over the hand, one saying, “I guess I have to call” in the process. That is what prompted the reaction from Rolex, making this an angle shoot by Antonio.
Unfortunately for Rolex, he cracked under the pressure and revealed just what Antonio wanted to know by saying “I’m about to turn my hand over”. This implied that he was not bluffing, which Antonio read correctly and made a good laydown.
4. 2010 WSOPE ME Nicolas Levi tries to angle shoot Dan Fleyshman
This hand took place at the final table of the WSOPE Main Event, and just like the last hand, the controversy happened on the river.
Dan Fleyshman was involved in a hand with Nicolas Levi where he overbet the pot on the river with second pair on a very wet board. Levi was holding top pair with middle kicker and was contemplating a call when he finally picked chips to make the call, made a clear forward motion with them and pulled them back.
At that point, Fleyshman was sitting with his head down and did not see this, but the other players at the table noticed the obvious angle shoot and spoke up. Jack Effel, the tournament director was called and forward motion was ruled, which meant that Levi had called. This, however, was unfortunate for Fleyshman, who would prefer it to be the other way around.
Even though the angle was executed horribly, the ruling by Jack Effel sealed the fate of the hand, giving Levi a million chip pot. While Effel did everything correctly, it’s hard to say the same for the players at the table who started discussing the hand before it was over, especially when Fleyshman clearly did not notice the angle, not to mention the dealer, who was supposed to notice and rule forward motion in the first place.
3. Daniel Negreanu’s “mistake”
Daniel is probably the last person you’d expect to be on this list, but he did pull and angle, so a well-deserved third place spot for him.
Daniel was going strong in the 2013 EPT Barcelona €10,000 High Roller.
With blinds at 2,000/4,000, Daniel got deal AK and “accidentally” tossed in 45,000 instead of the 9,000 that he stated he intended to put in. Daniel did everything he could to make it seem like an honest mistake and got Silverman to bite by showing KJ from the big blind. Daniel of course called instantly and won the pot, which at that point catapulted him into the chip lead.
It was not clear at the time if this was an honest mistake or an angle, but in a later interview Daniel confirmed that he did it on purpose, also stating that it’s just part of the game and that it’s him opponent who is responsible for figuring out whether it’s an angle or not. He is of course entitled to his opinion, but such a move if somewhat surprising to see from the ambassador of poker.
2. Tony G finds all the angles
Tony G has earned a spot on the Top 10 Asshole in Poker list in part due to this angle shoot against Phil Hellmuth. Tony is one of the most opportunistic players out there and his angles are always unique, which he proved in Season 2 of the Big Game.
Phil Hellmuth opened the action to $6,600. While he was counting out the chips, Tony quickly glanced at his hand and went all in for almost $22,000, stating that he hadn’t looked at his cards. Action folded around back to Hellmuth, and even though it was clear that he was skeptical about Tony not having looked at his hand, he decided to believe him and call. Tony flipped over AK and was overwhelmed with joy about the scummy move he just pulled. What ensued was a long argument between the two about Tony’s angle, with Tony defending himself by saying “Of course I lied, it’s poker!”.
1. Ivan Freitez – biggest angle shooter on the EPT circuit
Ivan Freitez pulled the ugliest televised angle shoot ever at the final table of EPT 7 Madrid Grand Final against Eugene Yanayt. What made this even more tilting is the fact that he pulled this angle 4 times during the event.
Freitez rivered a full house and was facing a bet by Yanayt who had top pair second kicker. Freitez said ‘raise’ and then immediately said sorry I mean ‘call’, pretending that his English is bad and that he made a mistake. Of course, the tournament director was called and ruled that the raise stands, which is exactly was Freitez was hoping for. Freitez made a min-raise and the action was now back to Yanayt.
In hindsight, this was an obvious angle, which was made even more clear to Yanayt, when the tournament directors actually told him that this is the 4th time Freitez has pulled this move in the tournament and that he always had the nuts. For some reason Yanayt was reluctant to listen to the warning and called off Freitzer anyway.
It might seem that Freitzer actually lost value by pulling this move, since Yanayt might have paid him off bigger if would have made a bigger raise without pulling any angles, but the real plan for the angle was probably different. If Yanayt was bluffing and would have believed that Freitzer’s did make a mistake, that would give him a chance to come over the top of Freitzer, since it would be likely that Freitzer would fold. However, it would have been very amusing if Yanayt was holding pocket kings in that situation.
Unfortunately, while such behavior is considered unethical, it’s not against the rules of poker, so Freitzer was not even penalized after that move in any way. Though it might be a bit of a stretch to penalize players who have done something like this once, but in this situation, he pulled the same angle 4 times during a single tournament, which should have prompted some sort of penalty. The saddest part about this whole story is that Freitzer actually went on to win the tournament.