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“Friend or Foe” – Most Heated Disputes Between Poker Players

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Poker is a game where emotions are almost always running high. When there is big money on the line, players are even more involved in the action. Even the slightest thing can cause an argument between players. While this definitely makes for great entertainment from the fan’s point of view, it can lead to the demise of any player.

Controlling tilt and emotions is incredibly important in poker. In fact, many of the best players in the world claim that emotional stability is the single most important skill that a poker player can possess. It makes plenty of sense, though, as without emotional stability at the table, a player is prone to a number of mistakes and missteps. When you get frustrated, it is likely that you will start playing well below your potential. Anger is the worst thing for a poker player to experience, and it can create an argument or fight in no time at all.

Sheikhan vs. Matusow

Shawn Sheikhan and Mike Matusow had one of the funniest disputes in World Series of Poker history. The argument boiled over from one hand to the next, and eventually sent both players to the rail for a timeout. Oddly enough, their punishments were for two different offenses. Sheikhan and Matusow are both known as instigators in the poker world, so it is no surprise that they clashed with each other in the Main Event. Even after their negative experience in the Main Event, the pair of players continued to cause problems in other poker events around the world. This is just the way that some players always are, for better or worse.

Sheikhan and Matusow seemed like they were just looking for trouble. There didn’t seem to be a particular reason why they hated each other, but there may have been some prior action that was not televised by ESPN. Either way, when Sheikhan asked Matusow if he would fold his hand to a re-raise, Matusow essentially laughed at him and mocked him. Sheikhan threw away his hand, but was still visibly frustrated. When the flop was dealt, Sheikhan immediately pounded the table, so as to indicate that he would have improved his hand.

Now Matusow was clearly upset, and he proceeded to curse at Sheikhan. When the tournament director came over, he decided that both players needed a timeout. Unfortunately for the other player in the hand, Matusow was playing quite angry. When his opponent made a bet, Matusow instantly went all in. Maybe Mike had a big hand, or maybe he went all in to help release some of his pent up aggression. Regardless, this dispute is one of the best that the game has seen:

Hellmuth vs. Dragomir

Phil Hellmuth is no stranger to disputes at the poker table. Wherever he goes, trouble seems to follow. This might be a reflection of Hellmuth’s general attitude, or it could be due to his arrogance. The most likely reason is a combination of the two. It takes little for Hellmuth to get upset, but it doesn’t take much for his opponents to become fed up either. Hellmuth is like the whiny player in your local casino or home game. He thinks it is his God-given right to win every single hand that he plays, but we know that this just isn’t how it works.

In the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, Cristian Dragomir got tangled with Phil Hellmuth. Dragomir opened with a raise to 80,000 holding T 4 suited. Hellmuth gave a speech about how he thinks Dragomir has aces before he re-raised to 255,000. Dragomir didn’t take much time to think before he made the call in position. Hellmuth, meanwhile, was holding AK.

The flop came ten high, Phil checked and Dragomir bet out. Hellmuth complained and then folded, at which point Dragomir showed that he called a re raise pre flop with T 4. This set Hellmuth off and he went off on a tirade about how Dragomir was an idiot. Dragomir eventually called him an idiot as well, and Hellmuth walked away with a little less respect than he had before. I bet you’re surprised that was even possible.

Molina vs. Gold

Eric Molina is nothing more than a complete idiot. He is nothing special at poker, he talks like 15 year old girl at the table, and he likes to cause trouble. When Jamie Gold and Molina got into a fight during Gold’s Main Event run, it was one for the poker comedy record books. Molina eventually tossed a chip at Gold, who was none too pleased. Ironically enough, the two were contemplating a last longer bet. I think we all know who would have won that.

Molina would eventually go on to bust in the tournament a short while later, but Gold would end up walking away with the biggest first place prize in World Series of Poker history. Actions speak much louder than words, even if it is just a donkament (fast-forward to 2:23 in the video to see the action... unfortunately there was no video of Molina and Gold's feud, but you can see Molina act like an idiot for a few minutes):

Friedman vs. Lisando

Prahlad Friedman is one of the most popular players in poker. He has experienced a fair amount of tournament success, but is also known for his accomplishments in the high stakes online cash games. His ability to win in both forms of poker demonstrates just how solid he is. With that said, he was also the reason that Jeffrey Lisandro wanted to, and I quote, “take his head off.”

In the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event, Friedman was convinced that Lisando had forgotten to put his ante into the pot. Friedman thought another player had been forced to pay his ante twice, while Lisandro got away without having to pay at all. Of course, this would be unfair, but it did not directly effect Friedman. Nevertheless, he was on a mission to get Lisandro to put in his ante.

He kept talking, and talking, and talking about it. Eventually, as you might expect, Lisandro had enough. He called out Friedman and the two were officially engaged in battle. Friedman had a word with a floor man, at which point Lisandro left his seat to interject his own input. The two got into a verbal battle, but both players were threatened with punishment when they finally decided to call it quits:

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Written by Jonathan Wanchalk on July 22nd, 2010

One Response to ““Friend or Foe” – Most Heated Disputes Between Poker Players”

  1. Kobi P. says:

    Very nice summary of heated disputes…
    Well done

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