For all their obvious poker talent both on and off the felt, the Shulman family haven’t shown much aptitude for endearing themselves to the poker community. After years of influential media coverage at the helm of CardPlayer Magazine, father Barry and son Jeff have been on a hot streak at the world’s biggest tournaments. Jeff (the current editor) is one the nine remaining players at the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event. In the meantime, his father Barry flew over to London to take down the WSOP Europe Main Event – defeating Daniel Negreanu heads up.
Shortly after his November Nine membership was confirmed, Jeff made the headlines by claiming that if wins, he will throw his bracelet in the trash. Many believed his statement was prompted by a dispute over reporting rights between Harrah’s, CardPlayer, and Poker News. However he has since claimed that his actions would be to protest the greed of the WSOP. In particular, the fact that they have refused to funnel any of their profits back down to the players.
Barry has long been a divisive figure in the poker world, but following his WSOPE victory most of the media coverage had been focused on his shared family success. However, a recent post on the 2 + 2 forums suggests that his off the table antics may once again draw the focus away from the Shulman’s poker playing ability. The as yet unsubstantiated report comes courtesy of regular forum poster Anti-Matter. He recounts his recent interactions with Barry at a $550 tournament at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
The first incident took place in a hand where the blinds were at 300/600 with a 75 chip ante. A player in the Hijack seat raised to 6000 and the Cutoff pushed in her remaining 2400 chips. With the cards flipped, it transpired that the Hijack player was ahead with A-K against Q-9 suited. The board was a total blank and the cutoff player was eliminated from the tournament. Anti-Matter reports that, ‘as the player was gathering her things, Barry starts discussing out loud what a horrible call she had made.” Although the female player did not react, others at the table spoke up in her defense. Even the Hijack player agreed that, with 3-1 on her chips and the likelihood of facing A-K, the push had been the right move.
Reportedly, Barry responded by berating the rest of the table. After players continued to disagree with his assessment he told them, “No! You’re wrong, believe me, you don’t need to teach me how to play poker. If you think that’s the right play you’re awful and you have no chance to win a tournament.”
Later, Anti-Matter and Barry would be reunited at another table. As the level clock ticked down towards a break, the dealer was counting down chips from a big pot. Anti-Matter reports that the dealer threw the deck into the muck and 4 or 5 players left the table. After half the table had departed, Barry tossed in his blinds and demanded that the dealer play out a final hand. Shulman was adamant that the dealer had cut the deck before the level ended, signifying the start of a new hand. The rest of the table once again disagreed with Barry and the dealer denied ever making the cut. After a short argument Barry erupted at the dealer. “Yeah I know exactly what you did, you’re just a ****** lazy ass. This is what they take extra money out of our prize-pool for, to pay ****in ****ty lazy ass dealers.”
2 + 2 posters have voiced some doubts about the veracity of Anti-Matter’ account, but most forum members were in agreement that it sounded like a realistic encounter. The weight of opinion was firmly against Card Player and Barry Shulman, although a couple of people stepped in to defend the WSOPE Champion. The debate continues to rage and one recent post includes a similar story from 2002, where Barry is alleged to have berated a tournament director following a contentious ruling at the PartyPoker Millions Cruise.