Poker is an emotional game. From Phil Hellmuth to Tony G, Daniel Negreanu to Nik Airball, poker can bring out the beast as well as the best in our poker heroes. We’ve trawled the poker archive and found five moments in history where players really should have counted to ten and breathed deeply, instead of lashing ot with some very angry words… or worse!

5. Nik Airball Smokes Matt Berkey

When two big personalities clash in a cash game, there’s nowhere to run. Amid the chaos of an episode of High Stakes Poker that was dominated by discussions from players such as Lyn Ji, Eric Persson, Doug Polk and Rob Yong, Nik Airball and Matt Berkey got into it with the latter holding pocket aces.

On a board that completed Nik Airball’s flush on the river, Berkey bet $15,000 before Airball just piled the lot in – a total of $86,400. Berkey made a crying call and lost his stack. Nik Airball couldn’t help expressing himself by yelling and cheering with glee, before berating the dealer for not moving over all of Berkey’s chips.

Unperturbed by polite society – or sensing no seats contained it – Airball then proceeded to grab Berkey’s stack, leaving the Solve for Why player to cash in again.

4. Jamie Gold and Eric Molina Go to War

“You want to make a side bet who lasts longer in this tournament?”

It’s fair to say that when you’re giving poker beef to someone, you need to be careful that your words don’t come back to haunt you. The 21-year-old player Eric Molina was short stacked when he moved all-in on Jamie Gold in the WSOP Main Event of 2006. Young, brash and not afraid to act the ass, Molina talked the talk as he described himself as a “gambler first, poker player second” in rare footage from the 2006 World Series of Poker. Moving all-in against Gold late in the iconic World Championship, he flipped his all-in button in Gold’s direction, only for the eventual Main Event winner to whizz it back into his ribs.

“Hey, don’t be an ass!” cried Molina. “Just cos’ you’re losing.”

“I’m losing? Who’s sitting there with no chips?” asked Gold, a legitimate question given the difference between their stacks. Molina, short-stacked, stood up.

“You want to make a side bet who lasts longer in this tournament?”


Gold made the fold. Molina used foul language and was given a six-minute penalty.

“See you at the end… I mean, sorry, no I won’t.” quipped Gold.

Frustratingly for Molina, he was unable to meet Gold at the end, as he busted in 31st place for just over $329,000. Jamie Gold went on to cash in… oh yes, first place for $12 million. Ouch!

3. Tony G Turns into a Deportation Official

“Tony G could single-handedly reignite the Cold War.”

Some hands live forever in the hearts and minds of those who watch them. Think Scotty Nguyen telling Kevin McBride: “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby!” in 1998. Or Doyle Brunson famously winning the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Main Events with the same hand, ten-deuce. Or Tony G telling Ralph Perry to get on his bike back to Russia. Wait, ‘stoh’?

Yes, this was the Intercontinental Poker Championships in the year 2006. Sounds mysterious, exciting almost, doesn’t it? Almost being the operative word, the IPC (not that one was not a tournament that lasted and with only two players being paid, it was brutal.

All of which makes the legendary blow up from Tony G all the more impressive with four players left. Betting ace-deuce, he saw Perry raise with king-jack and re-raised all-in, telling him: “You think I’m here to give my money way to you?” amongst other things.

When Perry called it off, Tony G gloried in being able to have stoked Perry up enough to get a call.

“You’re a champion… let’s send you back to Russia. Putting all his money in king-jack, this is not someone to learn from.”

By the river, Perry needed a king or jack. Neither came.

“Yes!” yelled Tony, born in Lithuania, who leapt out of his chair. “Yeah baby, come on Russian, get out! You’re a terrible player, this is disgraceful. Bring more Russians on. You played that as bad as you can, your career’s finished. Do you feel my power, baby?”

As Gabe Kaplan said in commentary, “Ralph Perry looks like Mike Tyson when Buster Douglas got into him.”

2. Phil Hellmuth Teaches Adam Levy to Spell

“They don’t even know how to spell poker!”

It comes to something when a player nicknamed The Poker Brat is teaching spelling during a poker game. That’s what happened during the WSOP Main Event of 2008 when online poker legend ‘r00thlus’ a.k.a. Adam Levy hit a straight on the turn which also gave Phil Hellmuth a.k.a. The Poker Brat a set.

Cue a showdown after the river after another bet and call and a famous Phil Hellmuth meltdown.

“He called a raise with queen-ten, honey. I had a set, he’s supposed to bust me, anyway. Idiot player!”

Hellmuth, clearly steamed up, marched round the Rio’s famous Thunderdome before returning to the table.

“This kid probably won’t last another hour, even a half-hour!” says Hellmuth as a new dealer sits down. Hellmuth hasn’t noticed the new dealer, and takes out some of his anger on him, berating him for not giving him a winning hand in the last hour.

“Uh, I just sat down, sir.” The dealer politely replied.

As Hellmuth continues, another player ventures to suggest that having previously raised with jack-four, Hellmuth should be expecting to be called more often.

“You went all-in with king-ten, please don’t discuss poker with me.” Hellmuth snaps back.

1. Luke Schwartz Flames David Benyamine

“If you raise I’m gonna go all-in, so don’t even bother.”

A crucial heat in the now legendary Party Poker Premier League IV saw Luke Schwartz running the rule over the table. With just one heat to go, everyone there was hoping to get enough points to make the final. Schwartz was virtually guaranteed his seat so had all the power, even taking time out to walk around the cardroom. David Benyamine was one of several players yet to book their place in the final, and was about to make a move when Schwartz stopped him in his tracks.

“If you raise I’m gonna go all-in, so don’t even bother.” He said. Straightest face ever. Daniel Negreanu was sat between the two men and over the other side of the table, Phil Laak – in a Kermit the Frog mask – politely folded. Schwartz, holding pocket jacks bet the 9-5-2 flop. Benyamine bet with six-five.

“This guy, proper thinks he can angle me like this.” Schwartz raged, with Kid Poker chuckling away in the middle of them. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll smash anyone I play heads-up anyway. Just out of principle, if she (Vanessa Rousso) checks and I check and you bet, I’ll bet all-in so fast. Go on – do your angle bet. You’ll see – I’ll go all-in so quickly if you bet.”

Benyamine – yet to be a Full Tilt Poker enemy in the eyes of the poker world – did indeed make a bet, of 123,000 chips.

“You know what, I’m so confident in my heads-up game, f**k it.” Said Schwartz, pushing all of his chips over the line.

“At least you put your money where your mouth is…” Benyamine declared, moving to call, before sliding his cards into the muck.

“Yeah! And what then! I’ve got two jacks here, in your eye David Benyamine, arrogant guy. You think you can angle me!”

The irony is that both men made the final, got to the final two… and Benyamine won the heads-up for $400,000!

It’s poker TV Gold and here it is in full:

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Paul seaton


Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He’s not just a spectator; he’s been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul’s poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he’s interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton’s expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.

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