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With the WSOP just kicking off and the proclivity for degeneracy at an all-time high, we wanted to celebrate it with a look at 6 of pokers biggest degenerates.
These six individuals have left an indelible mark on the world of poker, embodying the highs, lows, and captivating allure of degeneracy in the game. Let’s dive a little deeper into their lifestyles and discover why they are the recipients of the title of biggest degenerates in poker.
Where better to start than the Great Dane himself? After all, he’ll tell you himself, it’s gonna be a great summer…
But what makes Gus such a degenerate? Well, you only have to look at his online poker results to see why! Over the course of his career, he’s lost over $20 million playing the highest stakes games on Full Tilt and other sites. Not only does he battle in the biggest online cash games, but he’s known to frequent Bobby’s Room, the site of one of the world’s biggest mixed games, and has regularly battled in high-stakes tournaments around the world.
However, despite the crazy swings he’s had over the years, many people would argue that poker’s not even his most degenerate game. Gus is known as one of the world’s best backgammon players and has reportedly won millions upon millions of dollars playing high-stakes backgammon.
Retired footballer turned poker player Jean-Philippe Rohr gave us an insight into the insanity of Gus’ high-stakes blackjack games back in 2014. He said that Gus was the chip leader of a Monaco high roller tournament after Day 1, but didn’t even make it back to the table for Day 2 as he was busy playing backgammon in his room. It was reported that he won $2.5 million that weekend just from blackjack – insane!
Better known online as “samrostan,” Zhou is unique in that he, as far as we know, is a pure poker degenerate. Zhou is behind three of online poker’s biggest losing accounts: “samrostan” (-$10,000,00), “patpatman” (-$2,000,00) and “patpatpanda” (-$2,600,000). You read that right, Zhou has lost a total of $15 million across three separate accounts!
When asked to describe his online poker career, Zhou said, “I played for a long time, and lost some money.” I wish I could be that relaxed if I lost $15 million! Explaining his substantial losses, Zhou said, “Before I only played no-limit hold’em games. Sometimes no one played me, so I learned other ring games and I lose a lot of money.” There’s a lesson for any aspiring poker players – stick to what you know or be prepared to endure some costly lessons!
Despite racking up huge losses online, Zhou has reportedly funded his expensive habit by crushing some of the biggest games in Macau; must be nice to take a break from owning the highest-stakes live games to lose a few milly online!
Known affectionately as E-Dog amongst the poker community, Erick loved to gamble. He would gamble on just about anything you could think of; and was even the subject of one of the game’s most talked about prop bets. Gavin Smith, Phil Ivey, and a number of other players bet Erick that he couldn’t shoot under 100 in four consecutive rounds shooting from the pro tees in one day, all while carrying his own clubs in the 100-degree Vegas heat.
With over $300K on the line, Erick got to work and made light work of the first two rounds, shooting an 86 and an 84. He started to tire as he reached the third round, but still easily made it under 100. Many of the players who bet against him bought out, but Ivey made him finish the bet, which Erick duly did. It took him 14 hours, but he collected over $300K for his efforts.
Unfortunately, Erick’s story has a sad ending. While Erick was an extremely talented poker player, the same could not be said about his other gambling exploits, and would regularly bet on sports at the rate of $50K-$100K a game. He quickly ran up large amounts of debt, and after several bankruptcies, he checked himself into rehab with a gambling addiction. While Erick made steps in his recovery, he continues to play poker to this day.
When many people think of Peter Eastgate, they think of the quiet, but aggressive young man who won the WSOP Main Event in 2008, not some degenerate gambler. Well, appearances can sometimes be deceiving, and the old Peter Eastgate would certainly tell you he was a degenerate.
Peter always loved sports betting as well as playing poker, and after winning the Main Event and taking home $9.1 million, he finally had the money to do whatever he wanted. This included heavy betting on the 2010 World Cup, which lost him over $1.7 million! Peter explained his reasons for sports betting, saying “It is slightly in a poker player’s DNA to make bets. And there are many of my friends who are doing far more bets than I do. It is a tense passion poker players need to vent.”
Despite this attitude, Peter managed to work through his gambling problems before wiping out his bankroll and is now working on finding a life after poker.
A relative newcomer to the poker scene, Mikki arguably made his name in a different game – baccarat. When Main Event Champ Qui Nguyen said that he was a professional baccarat player, we all took that with a pinch of salt. I mean really, can someone make a living playing a casino game that isn’t blackjack? Well, Mikki says he can!
He says that he’s made millions of dollars playing high-stakes baccarat, and is now banned from every Vegas casino. With his newfound downtime, he’s been regularly appearing on the highest-stakes games at Hustler Casino Live, pulling off huge bluffs and punting off massive stacks. At the time of writing, he’s down around half a mil on the HCL live stream overall, but we’re not sure if that number includes his stints at the baccarat table or not.
Anyone who can win millions of dollars in baccarat, “proven strategy” or not, is definitely a degenerate in our eyes.
No list of poker degenerates would be complete without the great Stu Ungar. Arguably the most naturally talented card player to ever play the game, Stuey won the WSOP Main Event a remarkable three times – the most of anyone in history.
Not only was he a great poker player, but he was a savant at any card game you put in front of him. He was widely regarded as the best gin rummy player by a clear margin, and could quickly memorise the order of a deck of cards. On top of all the money he’s won in poker, he’s won millions more playing high-stakes gin rummy and card counting on the blackjack tables.
However, Stu was plagued with addiction problems, his biggest being cocaine. After a decade or more of hard drug use, Stu’s body finally gave up. He passed away in 1998, just one year after his last Main Event win. A truly saddening loss for the poker world.
These larger-than-life figures have become legends among both casual and high-stakes gamblers. As the WSOP commences, we take a moment to celebrate the allure of degeneracy by exploring the lives of five prominent figures in the poker world. From Gus Hansen’s staggering online losses to Chun Lei Zhou’s multi-million dollar online setbacks and Macau triumphs, the allure of high-stakes gambling proves both captivating and cautionary.
Erick Lindgren and Mikki Mase’s insatiable appetite for gambling led them down dark paths, while Peter Eastgate navigated his own struggles with sports betting before finding redemption. Who could forget the remarkable talent of Stu Ungar, whose extraordinary skills extended beyond poker to gin rummy and blackjack, but whose life was tragically cut short by addiction. These individuals serve as cautionary tales, reminding us of the fine line between triumph and downfall, skill and degeneracy, in the world of poker and gambling at large.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.
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