The last article I posted was titled, “Top 10 Most Hated Poker Players,” and it didn’t include anyone who might be considered “just an asshole.” All of the players on that list did or allegedly did something illegal and most of them never faced any repercussions from their actions. You can’t really put Russ Hamilton and Jamie Gold on the same list because Jamie, being quite the douche, never did anything illegal. So, for those lucky pros and one-shot wonders who never got into any scandals that might have earned them prison time, but still managed to shine in the poker world, here are the Top 10 Assholes in poker:
10. Tony G
Antanas Guoga, better known as “Tony G,” is a Lithuanian-Australian professional poker player and businessman. Though considered a good player who has had undoubtable success in business, at the tables Tony can be known as quite the douche. Getting under his opponents’ skin is like breathing for Tony as is an occasional angle-shoot here and there.
For many years, a lot of poker players associated Tony G with the famous “On your bike” video:
Phil Hellmuth will obviously appear later on in the list, but even he at one point was the victim of Tony’s angle-shoot:
At this point, Antanas Guoga is officially retired from poker and is getting into politics, recently announcing his decision to run in the European Parliament elections next year as a member of the Lithuanian Liberal Party. It’s hard to say how liberal Tony’s views are, but deep down inside he is definitely a politician.
9. Ryan Riess
Taking down the WSOP Main Event brought Ryan instant fame and a cool $8.4 million. With the amount of publicity Main Event champions receive, they’re each expected to become a sort of ambassador for the poker world.
Ryan barely left the table before putting his foot in his mouth during his first post-win interview in which he stated with complete seriousness that he is the best poker player in the world.
Poker players and fans criticized the young champion for his lack of humility. Unlike many others on this list, however, Ryan did not follow up his questionable statement with any other similar statements or actions, so perhaps his blunder should just be attributed to high emotions over his historic win.
8. Luke Schwartz
Luke Schwartz burst onto the douchebaggery scene in 2008 when he gave an interview during EPT Prague (http://bcove.me/jkh5viuv).
Schwartz showed utter disrespect for his table mates along with a lot of confidence in himself, though his results never really matched up with his attitude.
Luke’s character really came to light in what might be the stupidest confrontation any serious player ever got into. At an EPT event in 2009, Schwartz busted out during Day 2 and went to order a sandwich. When his food arrived, Schwartz tried to walk off without paying, claiming something about how he’s not going to pay for a sandwich because he is a VIP. When asked to pay for the sandwich by staff members, Schwartz got into a huge confrontation with them. Rumors about Schwartz being banned from the EPT quickly started circulating, but it later turned out that he got off with a warning. For someone claiming to be so good at poker, he sure has a lot of energy to waste arguing about a $5 sandwich.
7. Phralad Friedman
Better known as a rapper before his 2006 WSOP run, Friedman gained a lot of popularity after his confrontation with Jeff Lisandro. Friedman thought that Lisandro had failed to post a $5,000 chip ante and voiced this thought for some time, essentially accusing Lisandro of robbery and being way out of line, an accusation that was completely out of line considering that Lisandro is a well-known pro with no history of cheating whatsoever. Here is the full video of the confrontation:
Friedman never really hit the news after that until the time he tried to angle-shoot Ted Bort at the 2010 WSOP Main Event.
In a brewing pot between them, Ted Bort, who had Friedman covered, shoved his entire stack on the river, sending Friedman into the tank. Bort was acting somewhat obnoxious while Friedman was contemplating the call and at one point called the clock on him. The tournament director came over and began counting down 1 minute, with an audible count of the final 10 seconds. When the tournament director got down to one, Prahlad said, “I call,” rather quietly. Bort heard the call and immediately turned over top two-pairs. At the same moment, the tournament director, who hadn’t heard Friedman’s call said, “Zero, the hand is dead.” As soon as Friedman saw Bort’s top two-pairs, he mucked his hand. At this point, all hell broke loose as the whole table and rail tried to convince the tournament director that Friedman actually did make the call. Despite everything, the tournament director insisted that Prahlad’s hand was dead since he did not make the call in time. Well, you can judge the whole situation for yourself:
6. Tiffany Michelle
For years, Tiffany Michelle has been working for Pokernews.com, interviewing many of the world’s top poker stars. However, the 2008 WSOP gave Tiffany a chance to make a name for herself as a poker player and she blew it in a spectacular manor!
Perhaps she didn’t actually blow it, after all. She did become famous in the poker community, but not in a good way. Tiffany’s moment of glory came when the 2008 WSOP Main Event was down to 19 players and she was sitting comfortably with a top 3 stack. Known only as a journalist for Pokernews before the start of the Main Event, Tiffany was then the last woman standing, poised to make history for the deepest run by a woman in the Main Event with sponsorship deals flying at her left and right.
There was one problem though, or should I say a few problems. The first problem, which ignited controversy, was Tiffany’s demeanor during the Main Event. When there were only a few women left, Tiffany would go over to their tables whenever they were involved in a big hand and would actively root against them. Another example is this video where she calls a clock on a player who is making a decision for his tournament life. Norman Chad’s commentary pretty much sums up the whole situation:
Eventually, Tiffany was knocked out in 17th place and later tried to defend her actions in an interview:
That didn’t help a lot and neither did the story of how she ended up in the Main Event in the first place. Turns out that Tony G, who owns Pokernews.com, and Jeffrey Lisandro sponsored her. Tony and Tiffany had a contract in which it stated that Tony would retain any rights to market Tiffany Michelle and, while she played, she was to represent PokerNews. Despite this, as she ran deeper in the Main Even, Tiffany signed a sponsorship deal with Ultimate Bet, the same Ultimate Bet that was in the grips of the biggest superuser scandal in online poker history. After that great move, Tiffany began showing up wearing UB gear so much so, that it was hard to see her PokerNews patch anymore. When Tony contacted Michelle to find out what was going on, she basically blew him off.
So to recap, not only did she act like an asshole at the tables and go back on her word with PokerNews, she also decided to sign a sponsorship deal with UB which, at that point, was heading straight into the ground. Way to go Michelle!
5. Phil Hellmuth
Phil might have more blow ups recorded than any poker pro out there. During his poker career, Phil has berated everyone from “Eastern European idiots” to most of the fellow pros he plays with on a regular basis. Youtube holds a treasure trove of Phil Hellmuth blow up moments so you can always check them out for yourself. On the other hand, you might be too lazy, so here are a bunch of compilations:
Another thing Phil is well known for is his clownish entrances at the WSOP Main Events. This video should give you an idea of what players at the Main Event have had to go through year after year:
Not only that, but Phil was also sponsored by UB when the superuser cheating scandal broke. While there is no evidence that ties Hellmuth to cheating, simply being involved with UB was enough for him to catch some heat.
At one point, Phil finally got punched in the face:
Some may think that Phil should be higher on this list, but there are several things that separate him from every other player. He actually has a proven track record of success and 13 WSOP bracelets, while most of the other players don’t even come close to the consistent results that Hellmuth has posted over the years. So, even though he is a douchebag, Phil is still one of the best players in the world.
4. Shawn Sheikhan
This Iranian-born poker pro is no stranger to controversy and has been involved in a number of confrontations and fights. In fact, Shawn served nine months in jail and was put on probation for five years after being convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery charges in 1995. He also faced deportation in 2007 which he managed to avoid.
Still, Shawn managed to get himself in a lot of questionable situations as a poker pro. For example, check out this exchange with Mike Matusow at the 2005 WSOP Main Event:
Or this confrontation with Hellmuth (who was also somewhat out of line):
The latest high-profile controversy with Shawn at the center of it happened in the Aria poker room a few years back when Shawn really went all out, annoying everyone at his table, starting multiple fights with other players and eventually being kicked out of the Aria all together.
3. Andrew Feldman
Once a promising young player, over the years, Andrew Feldman has been accused of everything, from slow rolling and performing hit and runs to bum-hunting players.
Andrew did little to help his deteriorating image when he melted down on the Party Poker Premier League in 2011. He managed to reach heads-up play and was up against Andy Frankenberger for the title. Who knew a queen on the river could embarrass someone this much. Though the way Andrew was acting before that didn’t help his case either:
A few months after the Party Poker Premier League aired, Sam Trickett took to twitter accusing Andrew of stealing a large sum of money from him. Turned out that Sam lent 25,000 Euros to Andrew who then denied that it ever happened. Before these incidents, Sam and Andrew were seen as friends, but for Andrew ripping off a friend doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
Andrew is now retired, but in his short run in the poker world Andrew managed to come across as one of the biggest douchebags out there. So, he has earned a well-deserved number 3 spot on this list.
2. Eric Molina
If you haven’t heard of Eric before, it’s because he is probably the biggest lesser-known asshole in poker. In fact, Eric only shined on the poker stage once, during his deep run in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.
During his 15 minutes of fame, Eric’s douchebaggery shined brighter than a supernova, with him berating other players, calling people amateurs even though he’d only been playing for a few months himself and bossing dealers around. At one point, Eric even shook a guy’s hand while telling him, “Terrible call”.
Still not convinced that Eric might contain the biggest amount of douchiness per square inch? Well then, watch this video of him getting into a confrontation with Jamie Gold (starts at 3:40):
The most telling sign of why Eric belongs on this list comes from his career tournament results. Well, there’s actually just one, since Eric’s 31st place finish at the 2006 WSOP ME is his only cash ever! This guy couldn’t be more of a douchebag if he tried.
1. Jamie Gold
While the 2006 WSOP Main Event winner, Jamie Gold, may come off as a pretty good guy in that last video with Eric Molina, he would later show himself in a different light.
Right after Jamie won the historic $12 million for his first place finish, he was sued by Los Angeles TV producer, Bruce Crispin Leyser, who stated that half of that money belonged to him. Turned out that Gold agreed to the split in exchange for finding celebrities to represent Bodog by wearing their logo while playing in the Main Event, but afterward was reluctant to pay up. At the time, the whole thing cast a shadow on the poker industry overall, although the conflict was eventually resolved.
While in no way being a professional player and not having any significant results except his Main Event win, Jamie sure likes to position himself as a pro. At one point, he offered coaching sessions for a $1000/hr. This is something you might pay Phil Ivey if you can afford it, but Jamie Gold? Really?
Gold’s obnoxious behavior at the tables has also been a topic of many rumors. While he is not a douchebag in the traditional sense, it’s hard not to put him in that category, especially with table talk like this:
Jamie might not be as big of a douchebag as Eric Molina, but Eric never got the amount of publicity and fame Jamie did and was never in a position to represent poker on a worldwide stage. Let’s just say Jamie did not handle his new found fame and money very well, eventually even selling his WSOP Main Event bracelet, fueling the rumors that he is broke.
PLEASE NOTE: My opinions are mine and mine alone, meaning they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer, Flop Turn River, or any of the company’s contributors, affiliates or associates.