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The 20 Worst Moments in Poker in 2014: #5-1
You know what they say: Into every poker year a little grand jury indictment, prop-bet stiffing and gross media exaggeration must fall.
In a lot of respects 2014 was another banner year for poker. Attendance was up at major events around the globe. Dan Colman won $22(!) million in tournaments, large and small. The Battle of Malta went off like a rocket.
We'll save talk of all good that stuff for our "Best Poker Moments of 2014" series, though. This is where we delve into the dark side of poker in 2014.
5. Durrrr Has Issues; Stiff Arms Jungleman
He was once poker's equivalent to the "Human Highlight Reel" and maybe the most electrifying poker player ever.
To paraphrase Daniel Negreanu, he just "durrrred" people at the poker table.
Now he's, well ... we're not exactly sure what Tom Dwan is these days. High-stakes cash-game specialist? Full-time Macau resident? Retired?
Sightings of Dwan at poker tournaments have been few and far between on the poker circuit since a virtual no-show at the 2014 WSOP.
He's been spotted playing in Vegas and we assume hits up his usual Macau haunts. Otherwise it seems he's reading CIA torture reports and avoiding his neverending durrrr Challenge with Jungleman.
About that Challenge ... after numerous chances to resume play and gain back some of the $1m+ he's lost since it started -- plus attempts by Cates to force the action with penalties -- there's no doubt durrrrr is now ducking it for good.
To some that's made him a scammer; mostly it just makes people bummed out. He's alluded to lingering issues with Full Tilt and he's been connected to two high-profile indictments over the past couple years, so who knows what's going on.
Worst of all - maybe Phil Hellmuth was right all those years ago when he said "we'll see if you're even around in five years, kid."
4. Gus Drops $5.5m, End of the Professionals
Speaking of fallen poker idols it's been a very tough year (or years) at the poker table for Gus Hansen.
Despite the occasional mention of some big cash-game wins or binking a squash result Hansen has had nothing to report in 2014 but losses it seems.
Massive, massive losses. At last tally Gus was down over $20m on his Full Tilt account - $16m or so of that since Nov. 2012 when FTP resumed its services.
Along with his losses Hansen also saw the termination of his Professionals sponsorship contract with Full Tilt.
Does he have any money left at all? Has the game (and his game selection) quite literally passed him by? Is Hansen done with poker altogether?
Rumors are, of course, rampant and not seeing Gus at recent EPTs has only furthered talk of the end of Gus' glory days.
Only time will tell but any way you read it the Gus Hansen story was not a heartwarming one in 2014. Let's hope for a return to better times for one of poker's most entertaining and memorable players.
3. Newsweek Publishes Sham Article on Online Poker
It pains us to even bring it up again for the simple fact it deserves to be put to bed and never spoken of again.
But it happened, so we have to.
In August mainstream newsmagazine Newsweek published a pretty ludicrous hatchet job on the "dangers" of online poker.
It clearly tried to manipulate its findings and its readers with a sensationalized headline and image of a child holding an iPad on its cover.
To make it even more cliche, the iPad had an image of Royal Flush on it. Blergh.
Thankfully the piece was poorly researched and haphazardly put together so it shouldn't have much long-term resonance.
Not a pleasant image to have lingering in lawmakers minds as state-by-state legislation continues its slog towards poker freedom.
2. US Poker Players Still in Exile
Progress has been made; new routines have been settled into; online poker players continue to find silver linings in the forced exodus from the US after Black Friday.
Still, it's 2015 and thousands of Amercians who just want to make a living playing online poker are exiled from homes, family, friends and their chosen career because of outdated laws and hypocritical cavemen.
Can we please stop that, please?
1. Johannes Strassmann and Chad Brown Pass Away
Very different circumstances; equally painful losses to family, friends and the poker community.
German high-stakes genius Johannes Strassmann went missing in Slovenia before being found days later, accidentally drowned.
PokerStars pro Chad Brown finally succumbed after a three-year battle with cancer.
Two inspiring people who enriched the lives of people around them, both in poker and out, won't get the chance to continue doing that in 2015 and beyond.
And there's no worse moment than that.