Poker’s Dumbest Moments

Poker’s Dumbest Moments

Monday, 23 June 2014

Showboating morons to idiot super-users.

From nose-diving Russians to accidental champions, Bluff Europe examines the top ten crimes against poker.

10. Premature Showboating
Everyone hates a show-boater – the triumphant braggart parading around, arms raised, squawking like a hen, celebrating the favourable outcome of a random event. It’s simply not cricket, and that’s why it’s always hilarious when the showboating proves to be premature.

Dwyte Pilgrim is a polarising kind of man – an impossibly baller entertainment spectacle to some, a vainglorious buffoon to others. Here, we see him calling a shortstack’s shove on the final table of the WPT Borgata Poker Open, with Js10s. His opponent, Ofir Mor, tables Kh8s and is ahead but at risk.

Pilgrim goes mental on the Jh10d4h flop, and flounces off to the rail to high-five and hug his friends and generally indulge in some distasteful and self-regarding douchebaggery. But woah there, Skippy! It’s not over yet. Mor is till 10% to win this hand and, had you been paying attention, Pilgrim, you’d see that the 8h on the turn has just given him quite a lot of outs, one of which, another king, arrives on the river. Har-har! Pure karma! Except that it isn’t really because Pilgrim’s progress sees him go on to win the whole thing. Bah!

9. Out First Hand

No one wants to be “that guy” – out on the very first hand of a major tournament, especially not in the manner of Oliver Hudson. Hudson is one of those Hollywood types who were all over poker in 2005. He’s possibly best known as being the son of Goldie Hawn and the brother of Kate Hudson, and we’re sure his Wikipedia page would reveal he’s been in “stuff” if we could be bothered to look at it. With 5,619 entrants, the 2005 WSOP Main Event was one of the biggest and longest ever, but not for Hudson, who managed to cram his chips in against Sam Farha with 10-10 on an A-A-10-Q board on the very first hand of the tournament, on the TV feature table, with nary a moment’s thought.

Farha revealed A-10 and a shit-eating grin.

“He just blew through ten grand in about 90 seconds,” marvels Norman Chad.
OK, so it’s a bit of a cold-deck, but this is a deepstack tournament that lasts for days and you only have, like, the fifth nuts, Oliver.
Your mum is hot, though.

8. Double Brain Farts

Anyone can make a mistake, especially after having played for days on end in a gruelling tournament. Your humble author’s entire poker career, for example, is a litany of mistakes punctuated by rare moments of lucidity. We’ve even seen Phil Ivey accidently muck a winning hand. And our own Jennifer Tilly scarcely needs to be reminded of the day she gave rather too much credit to Patrick Antonius. Brain farts is what we call ’em, and they occur and can be forgiven, but what happens when they befall two heads-up players at exactly the same time? Here’s what…

At the NBC Heads-Up Championship 2007, Kristy Gazes and Chad Brown are locked in mortal combat. Brown raises with A-2 suited, Kristy re-raises with pocket nines and Chad calls. The flop is a satanic 6-6-6, which is perhaps what throws Gazes slightly off kilter. She checks her full-house, and the turn is another six, giving Chad the nuts. Kristy can only play the board — except she misses a beat and thinks she’s still got some kind of weird full house. She checks and then Brown checks the nuts on the river. Gazes thinks it’s a split pot. It’s not. What the hell just happened? Definitely the work of the devil.

7. WSOP blow-ups

We’ve seen many memorable blow-ups in the WSOP Main Event; those players who seem to be streaking into the final leg with huge stack only to implode in a mushroom cloud of chips when it really mattered: John Shipley (2002); Amir Vahedi (2004), Andy Black (2005), Scotty Nguyen (2007), Philip Hilm (2007); Joseph Cheong (2010), etc, etc. But for the clumsiest Main Event blow-up of all time, we have to go back to the 1993 WSOP, and John Bonetti’s ICM suicide.

Bonetti, Jim Betchel and a dentist named Glenn Cozen are three-handed for the title. Cozen, with six big blinds, is clinging on for dear life against the two big stacks, when Betchel, who has Bonetti covered, raises 3x pre-flop with pocket sixes. Cozen, the amateur, just calls, despite his tiny stack, with what he later said was a pocket pair, while two-time bracelet winner Bonetti overcalls with A-K.

The flop comes K-6-x and Bonetti comes out betting. Cozen gets out of the way and Betchel re-raises. Somehow all the chips find their way into the middle and Bonetti is eliminated in second place. It’s a rash, crazy mistake that costs him a quarter of a million dollars for a second-place that was practically locked up, and the chance to play for the championship.

They may not have heard of ICM in 1993 (many haven’t in 2014, as far as we can tell), but the experienced Bonetti knew he’d made the dumbest play possible here.


6. Hal Fowler

Hal Fowler was the worst World Champion poker has ever known []. One day, in 1979, ripped to the tits on goofballs and hard liquor, he wandered into Binion’s Horseshoe and staggered out the following day a world champion. Many of the assembled pros that day say they had never witnessed such a streak of miracle outdraws, nor have they since. At one point, heads-up against Bobby Hoff, Fowler decided he was simply too baked off his arse to continue and asked to go to bed. When Hoff refused, Fowler began moving all-in every hand, eventually cracking Hoff’s Aces with 6-7os.

5. Bad Bankroll Managment

Look at this fool! This is the poker equivalent of watching some hard-boiled recidivist driving the wrong way down the Interstate on The World’s Wildest Police Videos. Our antihero, a struggling low-stakes Russian player named I7AXA, whose profit line had been slowly and steadily stumbling deeper and deeper into the red, suddenly binks second place in the Sunday Million for $148k. Just like his graph, his self-belief shoots into the stratosphere. Having now mastered the complexities of the MTT, I7AXA decides to turn his awesome skills to $5k heads-up hyper-turbos, with catastrophic and bloodcurdling results.


4. Cyril “Le Frenchman” Mouly

Close your eyes and imagine, for a moment, you are an International criminal wanted by Interpol for your part in an advertising scam that defrauded businessmen of €10m. So what do you do? Go to ground? Get some plastic surgery? Hole up in a safehouse in Venezuela?

Well, if you’re Cyril “The Frenchman” Mouly, you head to the Bellagio and concentrate on your high-stakes poker career, ostentatiously spewing your ill gotten gains across the felt to the likes of Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey. You even turn up on TV to play in an episode of the Full Tilt Million Dollar Cash Game in 2009.

As well as being the subject of an international arrest warrant, Mouly was also the subject of a hilarious TwoPlusTwo internet meme, after one opening poster attempted to identify the mysterious new arrival at the high stakes tables, with this unintentionally hilarious sketch.


Mouly eventually fled to Morocco where he was arrested, extradited to France and jailed.

Anyway talking of conmen…

3. Potripper

The anger from the AbsolutePoker and UltimateBet scandals is still sorely felt by the online poker community, but let’s suspend our sense of outrage just for one second in order to remind ourselves how dumb super-user “Potripper” actually was. Widely rumoured to be the handiwork of fratboy AP management types AJ Green and Scott Tom, Potripper was able to see his opponent’s cards and therefore, rather than subtly disguising this advantage, simply decided to try to win every single hand, however improbably. By the time he picked off CrazyMarco’s nine-high all-in jam with ten-high to win a $1,000 tournament, the poker community already smelt a rat. And after a whistleblower at AP leaked the hand details of every player in that tournament, two-plus-two-ers were able to piece together a video showing the extent of Potripper’s ugly, stupid rampage. Dumbass…

2. Full Tilt

It must have been fun being Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson in the mid-noughties. They were running the coolest poker site ever – a multi-million-dollar company, with the biggest players and best TV shows and the most exciting high stakes action. They were celebrities, travelling the world, playing poker, earning millions. All they really had to do was not mismanage the company to the degree where they paid out $444 million to themselves and other owners and, if they did do that, it would probably be best to ensure that they had enough to cover the $390 million-odd of players funds they’d need to pay out if, say, the DOJ suddenly shut down the site, and, while we’re at it, it’d probably be best not to credit players’ accounts with phantom funds either. Oops!
The mismanagement of Full Tilt should be the single-most idiotic, catastrophic and ridiculous thing that ever happened in poker, but meanwhile, in Spain…

1. Face up cards

David Sklanky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker, in which he attempts to encapsulate the very essence of the game in its most distilled form, states: “Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents' cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.”

But what if the hands are face-up and you still play it like a twat?
Such is the fate that befell one “Alfredo” at the Campeonato Nacional PokerStars TV show in LaSexta in Spain. This may not be as egregious a crime as running Full Tilt into the ground, or super-using, but because it so blatantly flies in the face of Sklansky’s theorem, and because both players play so hellishly, we declare it to be a crime against poker and, by extension, the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen.

“Vincente” opens for 3x from UTG+1 with AcJc. He thinks everyone has folded and decides (for some reason) to show his cards, but he’s forgotten about our hero, Alfredo, on the big blind, who has woken up with 9-9. It’s ruled that the hand should continue with the AcJc exposed, and Alfredo, now figuring to have something of an advantage, duly calls. It’s an action flop for these two hands – 9s2hJs – except for the fact that one player has his cards EXPOSED!

Alfredo chooses to bet his trips, while Vincente raises. OK, so maybe a call might be better here, since your cards are EXPOSED, but we understand there’s a lot of potential for levelling in a situation like this, and there is a flush draw out there, so… er… whatever.

Now Alfredo min-raises and Vincente calls, and we’re not sure we blame him now because we don’t know what we’d do in this situation either. However, when the second jack comes on the turn and Alfredo bets again, alarm bells should really be ringing, but Vincente opts to stick around, figuring that, with top trips, he must have this hand locked up. While it’s Vincente’s hand that is actually face-up, Alfredo’s cards may as well be too, as he can only really have pocket nines or pocket twos, unless he is running the stupidest bluff in poker history. Either way, he’s going to end up on this list.

But what a twist! The deuce on the river reverses the fortunes of our two antiheroes, and now Vincente has the hand locked up, something that should be painfully obvious to Alfredo, since – did we mention – Vincente’s cards are EXPOSED! But it isn’t obvious, apparently. Alfredo now introduces a new move in his arsenal – the check-raise all-in!

“Excuse me, I know it’s late but I need to scream!” announces the Spanish commentator, before emitting a blood-curdling, “AYYYY!”
We know how he feels.

Tags: Phil Ivey, potripper, Sammy Farha, WSOP, Hal Fowler, Cyril Mouly