People love scandals and rivalries. While they don’t enjoying being part of a rivalry, they love reading all the juicy dirt on other people. Poker is no exception. It’s a fact that fans flock to stories involving scandal or controversy while generally ignoring everyday news.
Poker fans love taking the side of their favorite player or cheering on the “good guy” in a particular story. There are plenty of rivalries in poker with new ones popping up every year. Below are six of the most recent poker rivalries. Make sure to comment below and tell us if we missed any others.
Mike Matusow vs. 2016 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists
When the list of finalists for the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame was released, one name noticeably absent was Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. Anyone that has seen Mikey on TV or has played with him knows that he has an opinion on many things. His snubbing resulted in a nice little rant.
Nice list Eli owes everyone doesnt Pay David uliot 1 bracelet got kicked off tv for life Todd Brunson 1 bracelet https://t.co/0iJg4wFZDa— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 9, 2016
Everyone wants Davud ulliot cause hes died he did nothing for poker this list is disgrace Brunson and Carlos period https://t.co/0iJg4wFZDa— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 9, 2016
This list is poker pc the people with power made up this stupid list https://t.co/0iJg4wFZDa— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 9, 2016
There's politics and politics of poker the HOF list is a disgrace!!! #PERIOD— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 9, 2016
If you’ve followed Mikey Twitter account in the last few months, you know he is a diehard Trump supporter. He even took a swipe at Hillary in his rant:
Lol list is about as criminal as crookedHillary thats almost impossible to be that corrupt https://t.co/mRIWho3ZDr— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 9, 2016
On Tuesday, Matusow claimed he would go down to the Bellagio doing some “HOF nominee bum hunting.”
Dear poker players in lv ill be down at bellagio at 7 looking for poker game! Please as many HOF nominees are welcome to start a game!— Mike Matusow (@themouthmatusow) September 13, 2016
Matusow even posted a couple of polls trying to see if fans thought he did more to bring in players to poker than other HOF members. Only 32% said he did.
Mike makes some good points that his stats are better than some of the players on this list, but as I have pointed out in the past, Mike does lack consistency (at least in live tournament play).
That coupled with the fact that his face isn’t as visible in the last couple of years as others is the likely reason he isn’t on the list the last two years.
That still doesn’t mean he isn’t going to rant about it.
Daniel Negreanu vs. Max Pescatori
Every year we hear a bit of clamor from certain Poker Hall of Fame members about that year’s list of finalists. It is most often the Godfather of Poker Doyle Brunson making generalized comments about how that some don’t quite fit the criteria.
This year, Daniel Negreanu took the matter a step further. After claims that this year’s list is “bizarre,” he posted a blog over at Full Contact Poker where he ranked the various Poker Hall of Fame candidates based on the criteria established.
Negreanu believes that a player needs to be considered solely on stats and that any additional factors, such as ambassadorship in poker, should not be considered. He went through and ranked various players and gave them 1 point for each HOF criteria they met.
Out of the finalists, he only gave Chris Bjorin, Todd Brunson, Carlos Mortensen and David “DevilFish” Ulliott a 5/5. Two players only received a 3/5 with one of them being Max Pescatori.
Pescatori read the blog and immediately took to Twitter to call out Negreanu on the matter and demanded that he share what was missing. Negreanu didn’t want to give that information and after some banter, a couple of folks (including myself) suggested they discuss the matter privately.
The matter reignited this past Saturday when Pescatori initially claimed that Daniel did not reveals his reason behind giving a 3/5. Negreanu called BULL on this, stating that he spoke with him privately. Pescatori then claimed that Negreanu didn’t give him what he lacked, but rather just his perceptions on others.
Daniel then posted the following:
That was followed by:
Pescatori later turned some of his frustration onto Caesars. In a reply to Allen Kessler, he wrote:
He said that fan voting was a good thing and that if you want to push certain pros or change the process, do it before voting or the following year. He then took another shot veiled shot at Daniel and other HOFs with the following:
This should be an interesting feud to following over the next few weeks. It does appear that Max and Mike Matusow are taking the various HOF controversy’s in stride as the pair played together Thursday night:
Doug Polk vs. Ben Tollerene
A feud that has been recently made public via 2+2 forums is that between Doug “WCGRider” Polk and Ben “Ben86” Tollerene. It stems from a former friendship between the two where there was an agreement at one point where Polk would coach Tollerene in NL Hold’em in exchange for coaching in PLO.
Polk held up his end of the deal, but according to Polk, Tollerene would not hold up his end. Apparently, a lot of Tollerene’s success came from the use of a program that was developed by a third party. He claims that the third party did not give him permission to share the program, etc.
Some time later, there was a major drunken blowup between the two and the next day, Polk ended his friendship with Tollerene. A year later, Tollerene decided to try and play Polk in high stakes heads-up Hold’em, something that also did not set well with Polk.
In addition to posts on 2+2, Polk posted a long video on Facebook to discuss his beef with his former friend. Watch the blow video for the juicy details:
Marty Derbyshire vs. Joe McKeehen (And Cate Hall)
The 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen has renamed his account “Fire MartyDerbyshire” and has the following posted as the description of the account:
“Martin Derbyshire of Pokernews is a talentless hack of a journalist and needs to be released from his job immediately. Tweet @Pokernews to tell them this.”
Derbyshire posted a rebuttal to the account on PokerNews early last month in response to McKeehen’s smear attempt, leaving some to wonder what the whole beef is all about.
From what we can determine, it centers on another piece written by Derbyshire back in July in response to what he referred to as an “ageist” comment posted by Cate Hall on Twitter.
This is that tweet:
Personally, I am not getting how this tweet is exactly ageist. If I was sitting at a table and three random older players were replaced with three known pros, part of me would have the same reaction. Regardless of my thoughts, it apparently was viewed as ageist and Derbyshire posted about how that “People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones.”
When PokerNews posted the following the following Tweet, all hell broke loose:
To say that Hall was pissed is probably the biggest understatement of the summer. It led to the following:
Hall then accuses him of basically trying to smear her, which Derbyshire denies. Vanessa Selbst then chimes in and says that Derbyshire posted false information regarding her prop bet feud with Jason Mercier.
Derbyshire tried to defend his position saying that he was just expressing an opinion and was paid by PokerNews to do so.
This prompted pro Justin Pechie to post the following:
McKeehen continues to advocate for Derbyshire’s firing, telling people earlier this month to ignore is work and tell PokerNews to fire him.
High Stakes Players vs. PokerStars
Last year, PokerStars announced sweeping changes of their VIP program that cut the majority of benefits received by high stakes and high volume players. In addition, rakeback was effectively eliminated altogether from high stakes games. Couple that with multiple increases in rake and numerous pros have come out against the World’s Largest Online Poker site.
Dani Stern was among the most vocal of opponents for PokerStars, calling out the online giant after claiming he would lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 annually due to rewards changes.
Protests were initially planned but after the first “protest,” PokerStars reported that certain metrics actually improved and the protest angle seemed to quickly fizzle. PokerStars again recently announced changes to their VIP program, this time linking player play with other factors such as casino gambling.
Some viewed the changes made by the company as a straight money grab despite Daniel Negreanu claiming that certain “mind blowing promotions” were coming. Players are still waiting for most of these promotions.
Recently, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond announced that he would be launching his own online poker sites sometime in 2017 that will be more player-centric. It remains to be seen whether this site will be able to gain significant market share. Even if the site offers the best rakeback offer in the history of poker, it will still be hard to compete with a site that has 70% of the global online poker market.
Poker Community vs. Chris Ferguson
After Howard Lederer’s apology prior to the 2016 WSOP, most everyone expected his return. What few expected was the return of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson to world of poker.
Ferguson’s return sparked a ton of controversy due to his refusal to even speak about the matters surrounding Full Tilt Poker and Black Friday. As part owner and member of the Full Tilt Board, many viewed him at least partially responsible for the company’s demise.
What made things worse was not just the fact he ignored the issue but also that he performed well during the series. He cashed an incredible 10 times at the WSOP and made the final table of the $10k Six-Max Championship.
His prescience at the final table was met predominately with boos, but he didn’t seem to care and even waved to the jeering fans as to say, “boo me all you want, but you’re still watching ME.”
If Daniel Negreanu is one of the most beloved poker players in the game, it is safe to say that Ferguson is presently among the most hated.