Professional Poker's Biggest Assholes

4 years ago
Top 5 Pokers Biggest Assholes
09 Jun

Every walk of life has its assholes, but the poker world often seems to have more than its fair share of them! Whether it’s because of the money involved, the ego-driven individual nature of the game, or just that it attracts a certain type of person, I don’t know – but whether you agree or disagree, here are my top 5 biggest assholes in the professional game – enjoy!!

Prahlad Friedman

I hate people who accuse others of cheating unless they are 100% sure, and I hate people who know they’ve broken the rules but don’t admit it. I hate pretty much anyone who acts like an over-privileged brat too!

For anyone who has followed the poker scene for many years will know, Prahlad Friedmann has ticked all those boxes in his pro career – and yet he was one of the brightest stars both live and online before Black Friday hit, though even his behaviour there left many people seething.

So, Jeff Lisandro…would you pick on the big Aussie during theWSOP? Accuse him of cheating by not putting in his ante? Continue to question his integrity to the stage where he was seriously considering smashing your face in? NO? Don’t blame you, but Friedmann did exactly this….and was shown to be 100% in the wrong!

Maybe it was his rap career which made him act so stupidly? After all, gangster-talk at the poker table historically sounds a bit different from Friedmann’s brand of rap. But to be honest, the Lisandro incident isn’t the only time he’s been out of line.

I recently wrote about the top 5 terrible poker rulings, and the third one down saw Friedmann calling an all-in while on the clock, but being ‘timed-out even though he definitely called before the minute was up.

Now, although Friedmann didn’t make the ruling (which rather ridiculously went in his favour) he didn’t admit to his mistake either, not until later when he confirmed in interview that if he had had a winning hand he would have argued the point that he called at 0, but since the ruling stated it was dead at 1 he left it alone to keep himself in the tournament.

Real asshole behavior is all too prevalent in the poker world.

Now, if you look up his result on the Hendon Mob, you’d be forgiven for thinking he hasn’t played at all since 2012, or at least hasn’t cashed. Apparently, he regularly plays cash games in LA but skips the tournament circuit. Definitely a good thing for the tournament circuit in my opinion.

He apparently lost a ton of money when the cheating scandal hit Ultimate Bet in 2008, but then decided to promote them as a replacement when Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke left, incurring the wrath of Daniel Negreanu who stated:

So disappointed in prahladfriedman signing with the devil who stole millions from him. He was so ‘anti-sellout’ and then he did the unthinkable… They must have paid him a lot to join the dark side and endorse the exact same people who ruined him. So sad and so mind-boggling… The current owners of AP/UB are spending Prahlad’s money. They must be mocking him at this point. Cheat the dude and watch him endorse us!”

Although there are a lot of people who said Friedmann was or is a decent enough guy, from where I am sitting, he has acted shittily too many times not to make it onto the assholes roster.

Shawn Sheikhan

It’s not often you see Mike ‘the Mouth’ Matusow arguing at the poker table and it’s not HIM who’s being the asshole, but when I watched the WSOP back in 2005 that’s exactly what I saw! His opponent in the asshole-stakes was Shawn Sheikhan, and I was to discover over the next few years what a real douchebag (as they like to say in the US) he could be.

Everyone knows, or should know, that when you’ve folded and aren’t in the hand you need to keep quiet about the cards. This includes not only not saying which cards you had, but giving any indication at all that you may have, for example, missed out on a great flop.

Not our Shawn, oh no. Look at this clip and tell me why Mike the Mouth deserved the same penalty as Sheikhan? What a joke!

In any event, this certainly wasn’t an isolated incident for the Iranian –turned – US citizen, who only narrowly avoided deportation in 2007 for some seriously criminal behaviour back in 1995 which saw him spend 9 months behind bars and receive five years of probation.

The same year saw him snap Matusow’s sunglasses on an episode of High Stakes Poker, bullying behaviour which seems to be part-and-parcel of Sheikhan’s approach to life and cards. Some people never change, of course, and 2011 saw Sheikhan involved in some fisticuffs with David "Viffer" Peat, and two years later it happened again!

As reported at the time:

According to different reports, "Viffer" and "Sheikh" ran into each other at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles a few days ago. One thing led to another and soon the two were fighting, kicking and punching each other. A witness to the fight twittered "The Sheikh just had "Viffer" on the ground kicking and punching him here at Commerce. "Viffer twittered that his girlfriend had been “assaulted" by "Sheikh" and that led to a fight. Another reason might have been that "Viffer" created a website where he's accusing Shawn Sheikhan of adultery.”

Well, what to make of a guy who can’t stay out of situations like that? Poker has seen some really shady characters in its time, and Sheikhan wouldn’t be out of place at a table with the worst of them!

As one commenter stated at the time:

This is the sort of behavior that gives poker a bad reputation. It's really too bad that players like this can't be given a time out and not allowed to play poker for six months to a year. If their behavior starts costing them poker playing opportunities, they would soon change.”

A ‘grade A’ asshole by all accounts – shame on you Shawn ‘Sheik’ Sheikhan!

Andrew Robl

I have deliberately steered away from the famous, or infamous, characters in poker who robbed millions of players online in various scandals. These guys are definitely assholes, but they are much, much worse than that.

Instead I’m sticking to those players whose behaviour on and off the table rubs people up the wrong way, usually deliberately, and Andrew Robl – appearing this weekend on the Super High Roller Bowl – has fit that bill for most of his career.

He’s one of these players who writes blogs about how many women he’s laid and how many more he plans to, and then slags off characters who do exactly the same thing! Posts about how everyone at the table is a garbage player except himself, but when he gets called out on his big-mouth statements he goes all quiet and seems too scared to defend himself. Not big, not clever, Mr. Robl.

Now the internet has its fair share of trolls and others who love nothing more than beating on people they don’t know and have never met, but Robl gets comments like “this guy is such a douche... ok he might play poker well but he's unfunny, tiring to watch, and just a jerk in general. imho.”

Quite! I’ve never met Robl either, but based on what I’ve seen or heard from him I really wouldn’t want to.

He is absolutely a douche…I’m not sure how someone who plays live poker and has to read people has so little idea that the rest of the table thinks he's an idiot. Where was that talk against Tony G?”

This comment leads us on to a spat between Robl and Tony G/Daniel Negreanu which I wrote about recently.

I recently played on the PokerStars big game", wrote Robl. “For those of you who haven’t seen the episode, I was constantly and consistently abused by both Tony G and Daniel Negreanu from the moment I sat down.”

Hardly surprising given that “Robl came onto the show, basically nitted it up, refused to straddle, folding big hands against guys playing like maniacs at the time, and was awful for television.”

Now, if you think I’m being unfair, you’re probably correct. By all accounts, the online persona he created for himself was a far cry from how he acts in public, and others have pointed out that much of the asshole behavior was when he was younger and part of the party crowd. Since then he has grown up.

Still, as a lesson to all would-be assholes out there – skip the asshole behavior and move straight to adulthood, particularly if you’re not a bloody teenager to start with!

As well as avoiding the thiefs and scammers in this article, I think I have to avoid those who act like assholes, but have such a shitty life that picking them up for their lousy table behavior is the equivalent of kicking an almost dead dog.

Justin Schwartz, for example, acted really douche in last years WSOP, but having read some of his posts on 2+2, the guy has way more problems to deal with than that, so I’m giving him a pass this time. Instead I’m heading back to the 2008 WSOP Main Event to show that being a woman in the world of poker doesn’t excuse or prevent you from being an asshole at all.

Tiffany Michelle

When the Pokernews journalist tried her hand at playing the biggie rather than interviewing those who were there, she did extremely well – and made millions of enemies along the way!

Let’s start with her ‘last longer’ behavior, a traditional pool for which all the ladies in the Main Event stick $500 in, the last woman standing scooping the pot. Not much controversy there you would think?

Well, there wasn’t until Tiffany Michelle took it upon herself to root against whichever female was all-in and at risk! She would leave her seat and rail the other table, fist-pumping as each of the other women fell by the wayside. Not cool!

Another ‘not cool’ incident saw her call the clock on a fellow player – facing an all-in decision for 12million chips – when she wasn’t even in the hand! Her defence? “Honey, the blinds are going up and I’m short-stacked!” Well, if being five minutes into a 90-minute level and having 50+BB in front of you is what you call short-stacked and running out of time, then yeas Tiffany, you’re spot on!

The worst was still to come however, as the PokerNews deal - which saw her staked for the Main Event by Tony G and Jeff Lisandro – became a slight problem for Michelle. You see, she had made it to day 5, then day 6, and into day 7 in 3rd place – and she was getting all sorts of lucrative sponsorship offers thrown at her – so the fact she’d signed a contract with PokerNews was just an annoyance, rather than something to actually stick to.

So, Michelle turned up with Ultimate Bet logos adorning her clothing – and caused a a massive stink in the corporate poker world. For someone young and not used to such things, her stupid decisions off the table turned into stupid decisions on the table – and Michelle misplayed and was bullied off several huge hands, and she eventually bust out in 17th.

A damn fine run of course, bettered only in the female stakes by Tiffany Williamson in recent years, but her horrible choices and actions lost her a huge fan following and massive deals with the likes of PokerStars, her chosen Ultimate Bet mired in scandal even as she signed up with them!

So, terrible asshole behavior from the so-called ‘pin-up girl’ of poker, and she paid the price – never really managing to play at a professional level since, and looks don’t last forever, so… that’s all she wrote, really!

I could finish off this article with pretty much any of a dozen assholes of the poker table, but naturally I can’t avoid one or other of the Mike Matusow/ Phil Hellmuth duo! Flipping a coin, I have decided to go with…

Phil Hellmuth

Well, if he hadn’t acted up at this week’s Super High Roller Bowl then I might have swapped him for Mike 'the Mouth' Matusow, or one of the lesser-known but equally assholey players on the scene, but…he did act up so he’s here!

Anyway, although many poker fans love him, some of his fellow players most certainly do not. In 2014, high-roller specialist Daniel Colman wrote quite brutally about big Phil.

It’s embarrassing that we have to share our profession with whores like this guy...” and continued, “It is truly pathetic that a 40 year old would behave the way he does at the table, not to mention how spineless he is, just willing to take any sponsorship regardless of the company's integrity...” before adding, “Really makes me sad to think there's a chance some people may look up to this charlatan. People of his attitude and character are a cancer to this world."

Whoa! Now that’s some serious nastiness right there! And what has Phil ever done to deserve such comments? Well…pretty much everything, but he is perhaps best known for the meltdowns which see him berating other players for their ‘horrible play’.

On one famous occasion, when his turned trip 8’s lost out to the straight it gave his opponent, Phil was off and running.

He called my raise with Q10 honey!” he stated incredulously to his wife in the crowd, before adding “fucking internet player,” and then calling his opponent an “idiot” several times and asking “How are these players even still in the tournament?”

Another occasion saw his opponent win with 5/7, having called pre-flop and calling Phil down with a pair of 5’s. Phil erupted and called him “an idiot from northern Europe!”

Not exactly classic ‘How to win friends and influence people’ behaviour! But according to Tony G – and as they say it takes one to know one - ‘Phil Hellmuth has something up his backside. He thinks he’s a God; he thinks that on and off the table.’

Entire compilations are made up, solely filled with Hellmuth rants after losing hands, every one of them being expletive-laden attacks on his opponents’ lack of poker-playing abilities and his own genius decisions and plays which somehow went wrong through no fault of his own!

Though hugely entertaining at times, Phil’s asshole antics are like watching a poker version of a car-crash, and the commentators have for years now been counting down the seconds to his next outburst!

OK folks, there you have it – my top 5 assholes of the poker world. If you can think of anyone else worthy of a spot, particularly among the new breed of players, post your thoughts in the comments section below!!

Articles 2002

Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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