That’s what we’ve done during our top 20 Worst Moments of Poker and today we’re finally counting down our top five most unfortunate, tragic moments of 2013.
(If you want to keep those rose-colored glasses on, you can always check out our 20 Best Moments of Poker).
The worst of the worst includes a sad end to a magnificent run by a former WSOP champ, hackers invading Barcelona and a new powerful enemy for online poker in the USA.
5. Carlos Mortensen Bubbles WSOP Final Table
For the second-straight year the WSOP final-table bubble claimed one of the most interesting stories at the final table.
Former World Champion Carlos Mortensen dominated the action leading up to the final table but wasn’t able to complete the final sprint, busting out in 10th place, painfully shy of his second Main Event final table.
No one has ever repeated as Main Event champion in the modern era of poker and Mortensen was definitely in position to pull it off.
For some reason the big-name players that were involved in poker prior to 2003 just seem to resonate much more with poker fans and Mortensen was a member of the old school.
It also would have been fantastic for Spain, which is currently one of the hottest markets in online poker.
Fortunately this year the final table had a number of interesting plotlines to follow so it wasn’t quite as painful as last year when Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille busted in 10th and 11th respectively.
4. Jerry Yang’s Bracelet Auctioned by IRS
For years it was widely joked that Jerry Yang would be the biggest all-time winner in poker because he entered the Main Event, won over $8 million, then disappeared before giving anyone a chance to win some of that cash back.
As it turns out, Yang did have a leak but it wasn’t poker, it was bad business.
This year the IRS seized Jerry Yang’s World Championship bracelet for nonpayment of internal revenue taxes.
Yang later explained in an interview with Fifth Street Radio that there were a multitude of problems including the fact he gave 10% of his winnings to charity before he paid his taxes.
From there Yang gave a lot of the money away to friends and family and got some bad financial advice. He also banked with Bank of America and had his funds frozen during the 2008 recession and paid a stiff penalty for not paying his taxes on time.
It was a surprising turn of events for a player who many thought would never go broke.
3. Jens Kyllonen's “Unbelievable” Barcelona Story
The insane story of Jens “Jeans89” Kyllonen’s incident in Barcelona caught the poker world by storm and made many high-stakes poker players question everything when it comes to security at poker venues.
For the complete story check out this lengthy TwoPlusTwo thread but these are the very-brief cliffs:
- Kyllonen noticed his laptop was missing from his hotel room but came back in 10 minutes and it was back.
- He boots up his laptop and it goes directly to the boot screen.
- Kyllonen goes to dinner but his laptop is missing again when he returns.
- Finds the laptop at hotel reception.
- Kyllonen receives strange phone calls in the middle of the night.
- Hotel security downplays incident and says camera footage of the hotel room is “missing”
- Numerous players at the Arts Hotel in Barcelona had their laptops go missing, meaning this was likely a highly orchestrated incident.
- Months later it’s confirmed that hackers planted a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) on Kyllonen’s laptop.
If you have a laptop that you play online poker on remember to take necessary security precautions.
2. Sheldon Adelson Takes Aim at Poker
Online poker got a new enemy this year and it just happens to be one of the most powerful men in the United States.
While many of the Las Vegas casino hopped onboard with online poker, Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson decided to buck the trend and declare all-out war against the game.
Adelson fired the opening shot with a piece he wrote for Forbes titled “Online Poker is Fools Gold.”
The CEO called online poker a “societal train wreck waiting to happen” and took competing casinos to task for launching online poker sites in the USA.
Adelson’s tirade has been met with ridicule from the poker world and pundits have accused Adelson of being hypocritical while attempting to protect his live casino interests.
Even mainstream media has referred to Adelson’s quest against online poker as “futile.”
Still in 2013, with legal online poker coming to the U.S. for the first-time ever, it didn’t look great to have one of Las Vegas’ most successful tycoons launching an attack on the game.
Interestingly Adelson’s campaign against online poker may eventually encourage wide-spread regulation as much of his argument works just as well for regulation rather than an outright ban.
1. Gus Hansen Posts Epic $8.4 Million Loss
Gus Hansen is a hero around these parts and it’s been tough to watch the Great Dane’s epic fall in high-stakes online poker this year.
Hansen has always been a likable personality in the poker world and his status as an ambassador for Full Tilt Poker has made him even more approachable.
His willingness to gamble is legendary and he’s actually one of the most interesting people in poker with a background in Backgammon and Tennis. Hell, he was even one of People Magazine’s most beautiful people back in the day.
That’s why it’s been devastating to watch one of our favorite poker personalities get absolutely chewed up in the online arena.
Hansen lost $8.4 million in 2013, which is terrible, but it gets even worse. Since Full Tilt Poker re-launched in late 2012 he’s down over $11 million. Those kinds of losses are usually reserved for bona fide whales.
It’s to the point where you don’t want to see Hansen at the online tables because it’s almost a given he’s going to drop a few hundred thousand dollars.
Perhaps the only bright side is that if Hansen is somehow able to dig himself out the massive hole he’s dug for himself over the last year it would be the single greatest comeback story in the history of poker.
Godspeed, Mr. Hansen.