The highs and lows from the universe of poker in 2017 were grandiose enough to land one colorful character a movie deal while giving the rest of us plenty of news to chew on and discuss at the table with friends. Here are some of our favorites and least favorite things about poker over the past year.
Best: Return of Tom Dwan
Fans haven’t forgotten Tom Dwan who’s been absent from the poker scene for two years aside from the private cash games he played in Macau. Audiences welcomed him back to the table in August for the new launch of Poker After Dark.
Worst: Emergence of “Hashtag King”
Things got ugly in April during a live stream of Poker Night in America. Outspoken guest and self-proclaimed “Hashtag King” Salomon Ponte came unhinged, abusing the other players and calling them “bitches.” According to High Stakes DB, things got personal and “even further out of line a little while later when he really started to pick on (Shaun) Deeb, making some rather ugly and uncalled-for comments about his wife’s appearance.
Best: Getting Rid of November Nine
For the first time in nine years, the World Series of Poker Main Event played all the way down to a winner in July. It was one of the few times that poker fans almost universally agreed with a decision by WSOP executives, as the extended delay devised nearly a decade earlier with hopes of landing sponsorship deals and TV appearances seemed to have lived past its prime.
Worst: Chris Ferguson Winning Player of the Year
Daniel Negreanu bet a lot of money that he would win player of the year, but by the time it got down to the final tournaments, he wasn’t even that close. Instead, poker stud turned poker pariah Chris Ferguson led the way, cashing in a record number of tournaments to take full advantage of a scoring system that increased the importance of large-field small buy-in events.
Best: Good Times with John Hesp
The 64-year-old British amateur, brought a fun-loving attitude to the 2017 WSOP that made him a fan favorite and caught the attention of movie producers in Los Angeles, China, and the UK. Hesp showed up at the table each day dressed in a luminous multi-colored sport coat and white panama hat. His fourth-place finish was worth $2.6 million, and was his first significant tournament cash.
Worst: William Kassouf Table Talk
His called his controversial table antics a “speech play” strategy, but the seemingly endless ramblings slowed down the game and enraged opponents. Debate over his conduct began when Kassouf used table talk to pressure Stacy Matuson into folding pocket queens when facing an all-in on a 10-high board. When she laid down her hand, her nemesis taunted her, shouting, “nine high like a boss.”