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Top Ten Tilting Poker Players of All-Time
If you play a lot of live poker tournaments or cash games, you will find that some players just have “it.” And by it, I mean the ability to get your rage flowing, make you go for that bad hero call, or even call floor by how much they are grinding your gears.
It extends from your local $1/$2 game of recurring weekly tournament, too - we have seen some of the best and most popular poker players build careers of doing one thing: tilting.
So with that being said, here are the top ten tilt-inducing poker players of all time:
#1 Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth, known as the “Poker Brat,” is regarded as one of the best tournament poker players to have ever played the game. Despite how many view his game in today’s poker, he has won 16 World Series of Poker bracelets since he burst onto the scene as a 24-year-old in the 1989 WSOP Main Event.
With all the accolades and illustrious poker achievements, Phil certainly has a knack for frustrating opponents with his table demeanor. Whether it is him berating an opponent for how they played a hand or criticizing dealers, Phil cannot control himself sometimes.
One thing Phil has done is stay consistent. In 2022 he threatened to “burn down this casino” if he didn’t win a tournament and relished playing the heel character during the Heads-Up battle for his 17th bracelet when he went off against David Jackson in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event.
He even took his tirades to cash games and heads-up events, where he got into a ranty dispute with well-known high-stakes cash player Eric Persson during a PokerGO Heads-Up tournament. Regardless of how much he tilts the poker world, people still can’t get enough of Hellmuth - it’s white magic.
#2 Tony G
Tony G is an Australian-Lithuanian poker player who developed a poker cult fan base for how he would needle and tilt against his opponents. With a spell in Lithuanian Parliament and now running his CoinPoker poker site, he does not get as much time to play poker. But when he did, he had fans howling and opponents red in the face.
It can be him goading an opponent for making a bad call, like his infamous hand with Ralph Perry. He is a true poker heel, as he’ll laugh at an opponent even after winning the hand as he did with Rob Yong (champagne for the casino!) or Mikita Badziakouski (“I’m the BEST! THE BEST!”).
Tony G has been a figure in televised nosebleed stakes, whether it is a partypoker LIVE stream or a Triton Poker cash game. He makes the games so much better with the action he drives and the table talk he inflicts. It’s safe to say Tony G is a tilting poker legend.
#3 Martin Kabrhel
The Czech esports squad Entropiq was founded by poker player Martin Kabrhel. During his poker career, he has amassed over $8.5 million in live earnings, winning two World Series of Poker bracelets and five WSOP Circuit rings. He ranks first on the Czech All-Time Money List, having become a mainstay in the high-stakes poker tournament scene.
When you watch Kabhrel in action at a poker table, he revels in tilting his opponents. Whether it is tanking unnecessarily or engaging in table-talk to put his opponents off, the Czech poker player will try and gain any psychological advantage.
Kabhrel breaks the mold by doing things to draw ire from his opponents in high-stakes tournaments, where players are often buttoned up and silent. We cannot wait to see him appear at the 2023 World Series of Poker.
#4 Will Kassouf
Will Kassouf is a British poker tournament grinder well-known for his speech play during hands. This undoubtedly helped him gain much attention, particularly during his long run in the well-reported 2016 WSOP Main Event. His run-in with Griffin Benger down the stretch became folklore in poker, and his tagline was “9-high like a boss”.
His famous moment came during Day 5 of the 2016 WSOP Main Event when he went for a pot-sized bet of 490k on a dangerous look board 5 3 2 8 10 . Stacey Matuson was put in the blender with Q Q and was deep in the tank while Kassouf threw some of his speech play, saying to her monikers like “I want you to call” and “if you and show, I’ll show,” drawing the ire of WSOP officials and Matuson. In the end, Matuson folded her Queens, and Kassouf flipped over his missed double-gutter, saying “9-high like a boss” before WSOP tournament director Jack Effel gave him a time-out.
#5 Mike Matusow
Mike Matusow is often known as "The Mouth” because he often talks, moans, or criticizes other poker players at the table. He was one of the best-known poker players in the early 2000s, during the rise of Full Tilt and the boom of High Stakes Poker.
People have often goaded Mike “The Mouth” for when he “blows up” during a poker game, whether going overly aggressive and losing chips in the process or getting frustrated at other players. You can go back to 2004 when Mike Matusow drew fans’ ire for his behavior at the WSOP Main Event. The Mouth berated soon-to-be WSOP Champion Greg Raymer, telling him he has “little cojones” and would run up a stack to put himself in with a chance of getting to the final table. The downfall would ensue when Raymer jammed all-in on a board of 10 9 3 with A J and his 241k stack; Matusow would be in the tank with 9 7 before making the hero call. The 2 on the turn would put Matusow dead, and this ambitious call would ignite a blow-up.
Later on the same table, Ed Foster would 3bet his A Q , and the action would fold to Matusow in the Big Blind with his A K , and he would push in his remaining 100k. Raymer folded, and Foster made the call. The runout of 8 7 5 7 and a killer river of the Q left Matusow screaming and in tears, as his WSOP run ended.
The same story almost repeated 18 years later. Matusow went for a crazy triple-barrel bluff in the 2022 WSOP Main Event, which was completely unnecessary, including a 3-bet bluff on the river into a flush, and ended a promising WSOP Main Event run.
#6 Vanessa Selbst
Vanessa Selbst is a former PokerStars Team Pro and WSOP bracelet winner but has a history of losing her cool at the poker table. One of the best poker players of the modern era and a trailblazer for women in poker, Selbst would claim her first piece of WSOP gold when she won a $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event for over $250,000 and would continue to win events like the North American Poker Tour and Parouche Poker Tour main events to amass winnings of millions.
Some of Selbst's poker tilts have been in heated pots where she aggressively battles with a player, sometimes unnecessarily, like 6-betting J7s or just being upset with how a player played against her. She even got into a leveling war during the deep stages of EPT Berlin against Kevin MacPhee when Vanessa decided to 4-bet and call a 6-bet jam with pocket fours and was somehow called off by MacPhee’s A9os. MacPhee would get there when he flopped an Ace, leaving Selbst to go to the rail and bemoan the hand with fellow Team PokerStars pro Liv Boeree.
On a streamed tournament table, she was up against WSOP Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel and high-stakes pro Scott Seiver, who limped in the Button and Small Blind before Selbst decided to jam her QTos. After getting snapped off by Seiver’s Aces, she would be dead on the turn and walk away from the table, shoving the cameraman away during the exit.
#7 Shaun Deeb
Shaun Deeb is one of the most popular poker players, having amassed five WSOP bracelets, eight PokerStars WCOOP titles, and five SCOOP Championships. He has been more selective when playing poker since 2018 (when he won WSOP player of the year with 16 cashes and two bracelets).
In a career of high-stakes tournaments and cash game success, Deeb has shown a knack for getting under his opponent's skin and can create animosity at any poker table. He did this for a whole poker venue. After showing frustration at the WSOP for splitting up women from men in poker tournaments, Deeb entered the 2010 WSOP $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Championship, and the WSOP officials could not stop him due to anti-discrimination laws.
Deeb has found other ways to stoke the fire for other players when not playing poker in drag. Notorious tilting poker player Mike Matusow became Deeb’s victim during the Poker Night in America cash stream. After cracking Matusow’s pocket Jacks with quads, Deeb tanked against Matusow’s all-in on the turn and caused the table to laugh. Safe to say, Matusow was not happy, saying, “I’ll punch you in the f*cking mouth.”
#8 Ryan DePaulo
After starting his content career by vlogging his degenerate experiences in casinos like the Borgata in Atlantic City or trips to Vegas with his friends, he began building a cult following. It would be his run in the $400 WSOP 2019 COLOSSUS event, where he made his name, finishing third for $208,643 and documenting the incredible run.
He would scream in people’s faces when he would suck out, out, and criticize players into his camera as he sat at the table. DePaulo topped his 2019 in 2020, winning a WSOP Online Bracelet in a car park in New Jersey, playing a completely unorthodox style.
While his annoying table behavior and mannerisms are playful, some people have often taken it the wrong way, with OMCs trying to fight him and security even escorting him out during a poker tournament. However, he has stood up for poker players and never backed down from his thoughts, confronting Adnan Mohammad (also known as the NY Poker King) for allegedly scamming players' funds on a poker app.
#9 Eric Persson
Eric Persson jumped into the high-stakes poker cash scene in 2022 after participating in some of the Hustler Casino LIVE cash streams. A businessman who enjoys playing at the Bellagio and Aria just as much as on live streams, he created wealth through his company Maverick Gaming. The gaming operator has over 30 properties in their portfolio in just six years.
Persson became known for his abrasiveness during the $25,000 PokerGO Heads-Up Showdown when he was matched up with the Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth. Persson found a good run in cards, and Hellmuth became irritated and began his usual muttering rants.
Persson did not take kindly to this, challenging Hellmuth and calling him a “b*tch*.
During one of Hustler Casino LIVE’s nosebleed high-stakes cash games, Eric Persson would descend on tilt which put him in the hole for hundreds of thousands. In the same game, Jean-Robert Bellande would find huge success, and it can be found in Persson’s final hands of the night.
JRB defended his straddle in a 3-way pot where Persson opened early with Aces. JRB would smash the flop, his 9-6 suited flopping trips on a rainbow 7-6-6 board. He would get much value in this hand, winning $127k against Persson. Persson began racking up but ran into a flopped set by Alan Keating. A blind bet on the turn and with steam coming out of his ears, Persson barrelled off his A-high into Keating and would end the night down huge.
#10 Wesley Fei
Welsey rose from poker obscurity to becoming a regular on the Hustler Casino LIVE stream in 2022. Someone who made his fortune from cryptocurrency trading would use an orthodox and aggressive style to win pots in the cash game. It is safe to say that he both built up an image of someone who was a maniac at the table and ran very well. These combined would see his bluffs get through at different times and also see him get hero called in the best moments.
He has a very tilting image for being blunt towards his opponent after a big pot, criticizing an opponent for how they played the hand, even if he won.
An example can be found against high-stakes cash crusher Garrett Adelstein when he set over-set the popular poker pro. He would tell Garrett he “overplayed” his hands as he scooped the pot.