Biggest poker controversies in 2014


We are 9 days into the New Year 2015 and poker world is going placid but it was not the same last year. When we look back at 2014, a bunch of controversies surfaced across the year in the world of poker. Be it a social media brawl between two poker pros, departure of players from sponsored teams or the shutdown of poker rooms, all such incidents made 2014 an year of controversies. We at OPN decided to sum up all such poker controversies as the last story in our series of 2014 poker round-ups.

Let’s put these controversial stories in a bottle and throw away to drift out of the New Year and look forward to interesting stories in 2015.

Daniel Colman, the controversy king of 2014

Colman won $15.3 million, the biggest prize in his poker career at World Series of Poker in the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop by defeating Daniel Negreanu heads up. Following such a huge win, he could have become one of the best ambassadors of the game but his denial of interview to media made it one of the biggest poker controversies of the year. Later, he wrote on a forum, “First off, I don’t owe poker a single thing,” Colman wrote. “I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit financially from this game, but I have played it long enough to see the ugly side of this world… I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro.”

Again, toward the end of the year in November, Colman drew a new controversy by attacking Phil Hellmuth with filthy comments on “Two Plus Two”. He used “embarrassing”, “pathetic”, “spineless” and “charlatan” to personify Hellmuth which was condemned by thousands of poker lovers on the forum.

PokerStars announcing Spin n Go and Casino games

After Amaya Gaming took over the management of PokerStars, the ultimate motive of company behind any move or announcement seems to be acquiring huge revenue irrespective of the goodwill of poker. PokerStars announced Spin n Go, an Ultra Turbo 3-player poker game where the prize is determined randomly by the spinning wheels to draw more traffic from casual players. It drew huge criticism from the best of industry experts saying this game will encourage more luck based players hence degrading the skills of new generation.

Another controversial announcement came from PokerStars when it declared the plans to launch Casino table games like blackjack and roulette on its global site which faced huge opposition from the poker lovers across the globe as well as its own sponsored players. The site is believed to launch sports betting too in 2015.

Poker Pros parted ways with sponsors

2014 saw numerous poker pros quitting their sponsorships for which several reasons could be trace back. 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Joe Cada along with Marcel Luske and Alex Kravchenko left the Team PokerStars Pro. Ultimate Poker too restructured its sponsorship list as a result of which 2012 November Niner Jeremy Ausmus and three other players lost their sponsored perks. Continuing the trend, 888 Poker also parted ways with 2006 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) winner JC Tran.

The biggest poker controversy of such partition between sponsors companies and poker player came in form of Victoria Coren announcing departure from Team PokerStars Pro following the announcement of Casino games by the online poker giant on its global site. “I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it”, she wrote in her official blog. The poker community came together on Twitter to extend their support to this leading female ambassador of poker.

Shutdown of Online poker sites

2014 saw online poker sites closing operations in few countries. Ultimate Poker shut dwon its poker portal in New Jersey after its offline partner Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC filed for bankruptcy in September 2014. The company hit rock bottom in its revenue in 2014 in NJ. Betfair Poker was another poker site to pull out of New Jersey after the traffic dropped to insane levels. PokerStars too ceased its operations in Malaysia and other Asian countries following legal implications.