Poker feuds are nothing new. Wild Bill Hickock was murdered holding two aces and two eights, the namesake “dead man’s hand.” Although not quite as violent today, at least not most of the time, bad blood still continues to surround the sport of poker, and this year we saw more than our share of memorable disputes.
The online gambling debate continues to swirl, with politicians and CEOs deliberating its financial impact. Payouts at the top tables are larger than ever, as are the personalities. The quarrels are never-ending, but here are the top altercations from 2014.
Ted Forrest is truly the biggest loser. Back in 2010, Forrest accepted a $2 million prop bet from Mike Matusow to drop 40 pounds and weigh-in at under 140 by July 15. He lost the weight, but Matusow, who didn’t have $2 mill sitting around to fork over, told Ted he’d pay him $5,000 a month until it was paid in full.
Fast-forward to 2014, and Ted tweeted, “I weigh 180 but I’m light about $1.7 million.” Matusow claims he arranged the bet while intoxicated and never would have agreed to it in the right frame of mind.
Tired of its residents traveling to Connecticut for their gambling, Massachusetts awarded three land-based casino licenses in 2014, but seemed anti-online gambling until recently. While the vast majority of residents supported Internet gambling, the state’s Gaming Commission has been slow to entertain the idea. During the November midterms, voters turned down a referendum that would have canceled the two land licenses awarded to MGM and Wynn Resorts, as well as Penn National slots parlor.
A much-publicized battle with Caesars CEO Gary Loveman led the casino mogul toÂ disparage the Gaming Commission and its members publicly.
Steve Wynn is rich; Sheldon Adelson is much richer. The two casino magnates have had their fair share of spats over the past couple years regarding Internet gambling, but it appears Wynn has given in. Adelson, the leading opponent to online gaming, has finally gained another billionaire supporter in Wynn who now feels the negative PR surrounding Internet gaming could lead to strict regulations.
On the other side of the Internet fence sits Caesars’ Loveman, MGM’s Jim Murren and frankly, most of the poker and gambling industry.
Nothing can avoid the wrath of politics, and that holds true even for poker. The Poker Players Alliance, or PPA, released a political hit list dubbed “The Jokers” just prior to this year’s mid-term elections. Some 22 anti-Internet gaming politicians made the list, the most notable being Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Sheldon Adelson’s biggest campaign contribution recipients. Unfortunately for the PPA, 21 of the 22 were subsequently reelected in November.
The only way to make politics more argumentative is to throw in a little religion.
As the summer came to a close, the hostile relationship between Daniel Negreanu and Phil Collins was just heating up. After Olivier Busquet and Daniel Colman wore controversial t-shirts at an EPT stop advocating for Palestine in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, “Kid Poker” took to Twitter to throw his support behind Israel.
Collins quickly responded with his own tweet saying, “Obviously, Negreanu is an idiot for 100% supporting a country that used White Phosphorus on civilians,” a reference to inhumane tactics undertaken by Israel in its defense against Hamas. Some might say Hamas used a few hundred inhumane tactics of its own, of course, or that Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorists.
One thing’s for sure: poker players are never without opinions, and are seldom afraid to voice them.