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There are times where poker players defy expectations and go on amazing runs. It is all a part of the game. Then there are those rare occasions that something happens in the game that virtually nobody saw coming.

Today we take a look at a few poker moments from the past decade that nobody saw coming.

Jeff Tomlinson Wins $5k Eight Max at 2015 WSOP

Florida football coach Jeff Tomlinson pulled off one of the most improbably victories in World Series of Poker history when he won the $5,000 NL Hold’em Eight Max event in 2015.

While he came into the final table fourth in chips, nobody expected the amateur to have a chance against a field that included Anthony Zinno, Jonathan Jaffee and Jonathan Little.

Tomlinson had to stage a comeback heads-up against Pierre Milan. He was down 3:1 but managed the comeback victory to show that “anyone can win” at the World Series of Poker.

Allen Kessler Wins Heartland Poker Tour Player of the Year in 2013

Knowing Allen Kessler’s history in the game, nobody and I mean NOBODY expected him to take down a Player of the Year title on any level, especially a seasonal POY award.

Kessler proved everyone wrong in 2013 when he took the HPT POY title. Kessler cashed 7 times in HPT events in 2013 with four final table appearances. His best finish was 3rd at the HPT stop in Albuquerque, NM.

Kessler kept up the momentum in 2014, winning a WSOP Circuit Main Event in CT and making the final table of the $50k Poker Players Championship at the World Series of Poker.

Gus Hansen Loses 22 Million Online

During the Poker Boom, Gus Hansen was the pro that every aggressive player wanted to emulate and for good reason. He could play a 9-3 offsuit just as masterfully as pocket aces and his style kept you guessing.

His style was certainly prone to swings but is there anyone that ever envisioning Hansen going on the epic downswing that resulted in his losing $22 million online? One would have assumed that he would have quit well before.

Ok, so he did quit – a few times. But he kept coming back. And he’s planning ANOTHER comeback.

Jamie Gold Wins the 2006 World Series of Poker

Jamie Gold’s win at the 2006 World Series of Poker wasn’t exactly unprecedented in the fact that an amateur won the title. What was unprecedented was the way that he won the event.

Gold dominated the Main Event for the majority of the tournament and had such a chip lead at the final table, nobody outside of Allen Cunningham was given a chance to win.

Most players taking a realistic view of the final table would admit that it would take a massive blowup or multiple coolers to end Gold’s destined run. Neither happened and Jamie Gold took the title in epic fashion.

Black Friday

The majority of poker players in the United States claim that they didn’t see Black Friday coming back in 2011. Personally, I cannot see how that was the case unless people were just not paying attention or intentionally ignoring the writing on the wall.

Regardless, most poker players were caught with their proverbial pants down and many lost most or all of their online poker bankrolls at the time. Some were able to get their money back while others, especially those on sites like UltimateBet, were left without an online bankroll.

Mike Sexton Wins His First World Poker Tour Title

No, I haven’t fell and hit my head. If you think about it, the fact that Mike Sexton was able to finally win his first World Poker Tour title is absolutely amazing and unexpected.

While a Poker Hall of Famer, Sexton hasn’t won an open-field poker tournament since 2005. To take it a step further, his last major poker tournament victory was in 1989 when he won his first and only WSOP bracelet.

Some could argue that the “third time was the charm” for Sexton, but how many 69-year-olds get a shot at a WPT or WSOP open-field title. Sexton was able to capitalize and show he is not just the voice of the World Poker Tour but also a WPT Champion.

Russ Hamilton Revealed as the Head of the UltimateBet Cheating Scandal

No scandal in the history of online poker is bigger than the UltimateBet Cheating scandal. Originally estimated to have cost players over $6 million, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission later revised that total to $22.1 million.

When the results of the investigation were released, it was revealed that 1994 WSOP Main Event winner Russ Hamilton was the mastermind behind the cheating scandal and the main person that benefited from the cheating.

While many expected Hamilton to be the mastermind, there were others that defended him including Barry Greenstein. Perhaps they were holding out hope that the integrity of a former champion hadn’t been exchanged for money, but that is what happened.

A couple of years ago, audio tapes were released of Hamilton admitting that he cheated players out of their money. Despite the overwhelming evidence proving he is the mastermind, it appears that Hamilton will never face any type of legal consequences for his crime and that may be the biggest shocker of all.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.