The Top 5 Most Hated Poker Personalities

07 Mar

Love and hate are among the strongest emotions and the poker world evokes its fair share of them both. Today it’s the latter we’re going to focus on, with a top 5 countdown of poker’s most hated personalities..

Of course ‘hate’ is a strong word – perhaps you’ll agree with the list but want to replace ‘hate’ with ‘dislike’ or ‘annoying’, or even intensely annoying – which brings us to our first player in the list…

5. William Kassouf

“You’re a bully, it’s rude, it’s mean – it’s not called speech-play, it’s called being a bad person! You should really check yourself, check your privilege!”

Many of you will instantly recognize these words, and if you don’t, the video is below and well worth a watch.

The English ‘motormouth’ is about as jarring a player as you could hope to meet at the tables… Kassouf aiming a never-ending stream of ‘verbals’ at everyone and no-one.

It’s not unusual that someone likes the sound of his own voice, but Kassouf’s “Nine high like a boss!” antics have often crossed the line between banter and bullying, with his 2016 WSOP deep run and exit going viral.

Having already been pulled up several times for his notorious ‘speechplay’, the showdown with Griffin Benger was the final straw.
The infamous “Check your privilege!” hand saw Kassouf exit in a kings vs aces blow-up that has gone down in poker history.

4. Daniel Negreanu

You can’t keep everyone happy all of the time, and Negreanu, as well as our next A-lister poker legend, Phil Hellmuth, it’s a polarising personality that bags them spots on this list.

Both men evoke ‘love’em or loathe’em’ tags to go with their hold’em prowess, but the reasons differ, of course, with DNegs’ politics being the main reason for his haters to go ape. A firm anti-Trumper, Negreanu even took out US citizenship in 2016 to vote against the now-former President.

For a number of poker players, it was DNegs’ PokerStars ambassadorship role that riled them, the infamous ‘more rake is better’ row with Doug Polk, and before that his wavering stance on the SuperNova Elite issue.

For many, of course, Daniel is still their favourite poker player of all time, which can also be said for our next pro on the ‘hate list’…

3. Phil Hellmuth

As with Daniel, so with Phil, the Poker Brat bringing his own special brand to the table – one that is equal parts ego, self-belief, annoyance, and skill.

You don’t get a nickname like Poker Brat without good reason, and his “Honey, did you see what he called me with?” line of disbelief has often descended into anger and insults.

In his ego-filled fashion, he claimed his book, ‘Positivity’, would “help maybe tens of millions of people”, and as the run-up to his highstakes feud match with Negreanu have shown, Phil can never quite believe it when others dismiss or overlook his record.

2. Annie Duke

Deciding on the top two was a bit of a coin-toss, as both (or all) for various reasons give excellent reasons for their detractors to boo them out of town.

So, Annie Duke, the sister of Howard ‘The Professor’ Lederer who we shall meet shortly, and one of the main players (co-founder and Commissioner) behind the failed Epic Poker League. Duke got paid while the players got short-changed on a $1million freeroll.

Allegedly nicknamed ‘Annie Puke’ by Vegas dealers, and described as a “fucking cunt” by Daniel Negreanu, she was also a spokesperson for Ultimate Bet, which had erupted in scandal in 2008, although Duke walked away unscathed.

What seems to anger the poker community more than even these incidents, however, is her re-invention as a public speaker, with Duke called upon as some kind of poker expert by the mainstream media, completely failing to acknowledge her dodgy and dubious past.

1. Chris Ferguson/Howard Lederer/Ray Bitar/FTP

Taking top spot has to be the trio of worthies behind the Full Tilt Poker scandal, Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, Howard ‘The Professor’ Lederer and CEO of the online poker, Ray Bitar.

Who exactly did what, and who was responsible for what when the site went belly up to the tune of $440million has never been fully clarified, but we do know that the players were the victims.

Once the most successful poker site of all, when Black Friday hit in April of 2011, however, the glory days turned to dust – Full Tilt Poker’s bosses suddenly unable to meet player withdrawals.

It transpired that player funds had not been kept separate, effectively being used to fund the lavish bonuses and lifestyles that the trio had become used to.

The failure to reveal what really happened, and apologise for their parts in it, have seen Ferguson and Lederer held as pariahs by the community.

Business specialist Tom ‘BizDoc’ Ellsworth, put it quite succinctly:

“Founder greed is not unique to online poker…but when you see it, it really makes you sick.”

Well, there you have it, the top 5 rundown of poker’s least loved legends. Did we miss someone? Disagree with our list? Let us know in the comments…

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