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The 20 Worst Moments in Poker From 2006-2016: #20-16
Is condensing over a decade of poker news into 20 “worst” and “best” moments a fool’s errand?
That hasn’t stopped us from attempting it, however, as this year we’re replacing our traditional best and worst moments of the year with a massive decade-spanning list that includes many of the biggest stories in poker history.
Today we’re starting with the worst poker moments but don’t worry the best moments are right around the corner.
Lists like this are obviously going to be subjective so we welcome your feedback in the comments. Let us know if there are any glaring misses or anything we overestimated.
20. World Series Europe Fails to Capture Magic
Poker was booming in 2006 and the World Series of Poker was at the forefront of the explosion.
The 2006 WSOP Main Event attracted an absurd 8,773 runners and Jamie Gold won an unprecedented $12m.
The European Poker Tour was just starting to find its stride and the WSOP naturally started to think about expansion.
The first experiment outside the USA came in 2007 when WSOP ventured to London for the first-ever WSOPE. The Main Event attracted 362 entries, which seemed like a very solid start for the tour.
From there the WSOPE hosted three more events in London before moving on to Cannes for a couple years and then one-offs in Enghien-les-Bains and Berlin.
None of these events truly seemed to capture the "poker mecca" spirit of the WSOP in Las Vegas. It's always felt like an outsider compared to the homegrown European Poker Tour.
On the other hand the WSOP seems to have found a better fit with its smaller WSOPC international events.
19. Erick Lindgren's Fall from Grace
There are plenty of regrettable stories that came out of Black Friday and the subsequent fall of Full Tilt Poker but Erick Lindgren was one of the most publicized.
Flashback to 2006-2009 for a moment and Lindgren was one of the key faces of Team Full Tilt.
He was winning poker tournaments, massive golf prop bets and putting down some serious cash on sports betting. You wanted to be Erick Lindgren. He was the man.
Then it all came crashing down.
Black Friday pulled out the legs from Lindgren’s revenue stream and E-dog was left with a mountain of debt.
News surfaced that Lindgren took a $4m loan from Full Tilt Poker and never paid it back. Numerous people, including most famously Haralabos Voulgaris, accused Lindgren of not paying debts.
It turned out that one of the most prominent members of Team Full Tilt, who appeared in numerous ads glamorizing the site, was actually broke and ended up going to gambling rehab.
Lindgren was just one member of Team Full Tilt but at this point it was becoming clear that group probably shouldn't have been trusted with multi-million dollar company like FTP.
In other words: The facade was over.
18. California, NY Fail to Legalize Online Poker in 2016
New York and California are massive, massive markets for online poker.
If the game was legalized in either state it might single-handedly kick-start another boom that would spread to the rest of the country as the rest of the USA.
That’s why it was a double-whammy in 2016 when both New York and California put online poker on the back burner after getting tantalizingly close to legalizing it.
In New York, Sen. John Bonacic’s bill surprisingly passed the senate by a resounding 53-5 vote only to be skipped over completely in the Assembly.
There is hope for 2017, however, as the state appears to be inching closer to legalizing the game.
Meanwhile in California the big issue is the so-called “bad-actor” clause that has local tribes at odds with PokerStars. Essentially PokerStars and a coalition of tribes including the Morongo Band is at odds with another coalition of tribes including the Pechango and Agua bands.
The anti-PokerStars coalition doesn't want to see the biggest gaming poker site operating in California any time soon. Obviously PokerStars' can't abide with that idea.
Neither side seems serious about a compromise and the prospect for online poker in the near future does not look bright.
17. Cancellation of High Stakes Poker, Decline of Poker TV
High Stakes Poker was pretty much the poker version of appointment television (with respect to the WSOP Main Event on ESPN).
The mixture of high-stakes pros, commentators Gabe Kaplan and unprecedented stakes was close to perfect. If you made a good play on High Stakes Poker (like Tom “durrrr” Dwan for instance) then you became a legend.
That’s why it was particularly painful when High Stakes Poker was cancelled in 2011.
It wasn’t just High Stakes Poker that went away, however.
The iconic Poker After Dark was also cancelled in 2011 (thanks Black Friday) and the Full Tilt Million Dollar Cash Game went away. Even Late Night Poker in the U.K. came to an end.
What’s made those losses particularly tough to take is that there hasn’t exactly been a rush of quality poker TV to replace them.
These days the WSOP on ESPN has been pretty much holding down the fort.
On the bright side Poker Central has made some progress with it’s Super High Roller Bowl and a cash game that actually shares some similarities to High Stakes Poker.
16. Gus Hansen Drops $20m Online
Who doesn’t love Gus Hansen?
The Great Dane has inspired poker players around the world with his trademark loose-aggressive style.
How can you not like a guy who admits his table selection is terrible but goes for it anyways?
That’s why it was tough to watch Hansen essentially get picked apart by online sharks that prowled Full Tilt Poker’s highest stakes.
The old-school Hansen didn’t bother with tracking software when he playing the biggest games in the world and it definitely hurt him.
Hansen had his up-and-downs but highstakesDB currently has him down a staggering $20,000,000. Hansen hasn’t even played on FTP for the last couple years so it seems like that may be his dubious legacy on the site.
Now you could argue that a lot of elite tier online players benefited from Hansen’s downswing but poker fans will miss the unpredictable Dane going toe-to-toe with the best players in the world.