We much, much preferred putting together our list of the 25 Best Moments in Poker in 2012, but we’d be remiss not to mention some of the darker ones too.
As we’re poignantly reminded every time we have a Facts of Life marathon/sleepover, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… the facts of life
There were a lot of truly great moments in poker in 2012. But there were quite a few we’d be best served to learn from and/or forget. These are them, ranked in a semblance of order.
If you're more of a brightside kind of person, try our 25 Best Moments in Poker in 2012.
25) Old Ladies in Cyprus Raided
We’ve seen this “poker raid” scenario play out in several forms across dozens of countries but this may be the lowest one yet.
Enough with the police raids. Seriously.
A group of 40+ women in their 70s and older used to meet every week in Cyprus to pass a few Cypriot pounds around in a lighthearted poker-and-bridge game.
After getting wind of this egregious breach of Cyprus law, armed officers raided the game and booked them all on gambling charges.
Included among those issued court summons were a 98-year-old and two other very old ladies WHO DIED before Cyprus police came to their senses and dropped the charges.
We get it. Archaic poker laws are still on the books in many countries. If there’s ever been a case to look the other way - and the mostly all are - this was it.
Just stop it, please. Poker is not a crime.
24) Hellmuth Cries in Parking Lot
There aren’t too many more polarizing figures in poker than Phil Hellmuth. So much to love! And then so much to wince at.
The complex entity that is Phil Hellmuth somehow managed to capture it all in just three tweets this summer after busting out of the $50k Players Championship at the WSOP. The tweets:
I played like the 12-time World Champion that I am today.The deck brutalized me, BUT I NEVER lost focus!26 left, I have 28K, ave 633K— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) June 27, 2012
I'm in my car in the Rio parking lot crying.Blessings all around me, BUT all I can see right now is that "I deserved better today..."— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) June 27, 2012
My poker calculator app is free during the #WSOP, so download it on your iPhone now!— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) June 27, 2012
Nothing short of amazing. Carry on, Phil, carry on.
23) Brandon Cantu “Robbed”
Speaking of polarizing poker figures, Brandon Cantu has long had a reputation as a guy who comes from the Hellmuth school of persecution complexes.
A little less high-profile maybe, but equally unable to get out of his own way and see things from a more reasonable point of view.
He furthered that rep this Fall after a Hellmuthian-inspired runner-up finish/epic rant post-defeat at the 2012 WSOPE.
Long story short, Cantu was dominating his heads-up match against Jon Aguiar in the €10k Mixed Max event and nearing a bracelet when they ran out of time (the casino had to close at 5 am per French law).
Because the final Main Event Day 1 was the next day, WSOP TD Jack Effel postponed the heads-up match for a day so they could still play.
When they resumed, Aguiar regained his lost momentum and went on to win. Cantu then decided the ruling was unfair as it gave Aguiar a chance to consult with his friends, adjust his game and spoil the “best performance in WSOP history."
Watch his video rant here. Cantu complained so much he even got Aguiar to agree to a follow-up match for the difference in prize money (which he won).
22) Feldman Melts Down, Quits Poker
Once a promising young high-stakes player in the UK, Andrew Feldman did little to help his already deteriorating image when he melted down in glorious fashion on the Party Poker Premier League this Spring (technically it happened in 2011 but it aired in April).
Heads-up against Andy Frankenberger for the title, Feldman was equal parts histrionic, erratic and obnoxious before he ultimately lost the match and his dignity. Nothing quite explains it like the clip:
Shortly after this aired, Feldman went down that classic road of introspection and denial involving a Twitter war with Sam Trickett over an outstanding debt, an appearance on the British TV show Secret Millionaire as a philanthropist and a cameo getting a rubdown on reality show Hotel GB.
Feldman has since "retired' from poker. It’s still painful to watch him in this clip but the Luke Schwartz/Jesse May commentary is worth it.
21. Josh Arieh Retires From Poker
Speaking of poker retirees, we like Josh Arieh a lot. He’s one of those guys that reminds us why we got into poker in the first place.
He seemed to make a good living. Had some big scores. Got a sponsorship deal. Made it look kind of easy, even. He also didn’t seem like some sort of hyper genius doing something we couldn’t do.
Just a guy who liked to gamble, was pretty good at it, and was living the dream.
He’d tailed off a bit on the big-score front lately but still seemed to be able to grind out a living. Then this tweet came in at the end of a very trying WSOP:
And that's all she wrote for me. Worst summer ever. Feeling like the game has passed me up more so than ever. Will fly back out for main— Joshua Arieh (@golferjosh) June 24, 2012
We followed up with an interview during the Main Event and Arieh confirmed he was giving up the ghost:
“I’m not thinking about it, I am [retiring from poker],” he said. “This is my last tournament until the next WSOP. To me, poker is not what it used to be.”
“Poker is really tough. Kids got so good. Instead of poolroom hustlers and gamblers it turned into freaking geniuses. Kids that are making 1600 on the SATs.”
He's since played a $10k at the Bellagio and will be back for the 2013 WSOP, we hope, but still. If we can't keep guys like Arieh in the game, we're all worse off for it.