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5 Ways to Ruin Your Poker Career

Our author Lee Davy in his new article reviews 5 ways to ruin your poker career. Don't try this at home!

You don’t need to understand the intricacies of Boolean algebra and Pythagorean theorem to understand that poker players lose more often than they win. I would hazard a guess that the Pareto Principle applies here and that 20% of the poker community takes all of the money, with 80% left scratching around searching for peanuts.

And yet despite the overwhelming evidence that poker creates more losers than winners, you don’t see many of the losers leaving the game.

When I was sweet sixteen a British Rail manager appointed me with the assured words, “Congratulations, you now have a job for life son.

” I’m beginning to think the same is true of the poker circus, and yet there are a few who have managed to commit poker harakiri.

Here are five ways to ruin your poker career.

1. Getting Over Friendly With Live Reporters - Ali Tekintamgac

In Sep 2010, the Partouche Poker Tour (PPT) played down to its final table before taking a World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Nine style break.

One of the players who had made the final table was the World Poker Tour (WPT) Barcelona winner Ali Tekintamgac, and he made the news headlines when the PPT disqualified him from the final table, after allegations surfaced that he had used the services of live tournament reporters to view his opponent’s hole cards and relay that information to him via hand signals. 

There were no flies on Tekintamgac; however, as he turned up to play at the WPT Championships at the Bellagio, and despite in-your-face protests from Scott Seiver and Daniel Negreanu refused to budge from his seat.

The last the poker world heard from Tekintamgac he was suing the PPT for loss of earnings, and decides to spend his time away from the felts of the major poker tournaments.

2. Using Your Hands - Jean Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi

In 2009, the French duo of Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi finished first and second in the Partouche Poker Tour (PPT) (there is a theme here) where they won a combined total of $2.3m.

Four years later and the pair had to go into hiding after video footage released by poker player Nordine Bouya quite clearly showed the pair signalling to each other via hand signals, in what could have only been construed as relaying information pertaining to the strength of their hands. 

In the four years that passed since Jean Paul Pasqualini won that $1.4m first prize he went on to win a further $1m in live tournament earnings. One wonders how much of that was also won by less than moral ways?

3. Manage an Online Poker Company With Your Eyes Closed - Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer

Full Tilt Poker (FTP) became one of the largest online poker success stories of the decade when Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and a series of high profile professional players created the company back in 2004.

On September 29, 2011, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, revoked FTP’s license after an investigation by the FBI uncovered a raft of irregularities that contravened their licensing laws, a part of which was the alleged defrauding of poker players funds up to the tune of $300m.


The Justice Department labeled FTP nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that had allowed the company to pay out $444m to the likes of Lederer, Ferguson and other owners of the site.

Both Ferguson and Lederer have admitted to nothing other than being guilty of mismanaging the business, and would probably be beaten to death with bags of chips should they set foot in a live poker tournament in the foreseeable future.

US players have still not seen a dime of the money that was partly used to pay for Lederer’s golden toilet seat.

4. Take Obscene Amounts of Drugs - Stu Ungar

It’s a crying shame that in most sports it is the most troubled individuals who seem to have the God given talent to shine. Poker is no different with many people citing the late, great Stu Ungar as the finest talent to ever grace the felt.

Ungar is the only player to win three WSOP Main Event titles (we can’t count the first Johnny Moss title as legit sorry), and one of only a few players to win back-to-back titles in 1980 & 1981.

Ungar started using cocaine when his mother passed away in 1979, and wrote in his biography that he used it to help him get through his marathon poker sessions. He would later move onto smoking crack when his septum started to disintegrate.


During the 1990 WSOP it is said that Ungar was so high on drugs that he didn’t show for the Day 3 and was found unconscious on the floor of his hotel room due to a drugs overdose. He duly recovered to finish 9th in the tournament.

In 1997, Ungar was given a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat by his friend Billy Baxter and went on to win the event despite being emaciated and weak due to the effects of long-term drug use. Ungar and Baxter split the $1m first prize evenly.

In 1998, the greatest talent the game had ever seen passed away in a hotel room where it’s believed he died of heart failure. He didn’t have any assets to his name at the time of his death, and poker players had to have a whip round to pay for his funeral costs.

5. Get a Little Too Greedy - Jose ‘Girah’ Macedo

Poker loves an unknown genius that comes from relative obscurity to take on the biggest names in the world, and the young 18-year old Jose ‘Girah’ Macedo fell nicely into that bracket when he burst onto the online poker scene in 2011.


Macedo turned a €30 Betfair deposit into a HEM database that showed a $1.6m profit in games of Hold’em covering all stakes. The Brazilian wonder kid was not a secret anymore and he became quite vocal in news stories, blogs and on the 2+2 forum where a lot of people thought his story seemed to good to be true.

And it was.

After a few players became suspicious surrounding an account called “Sauron1989” which they were sure belonged to Macedo, the young Brazilian told the world that he was a cheat, promised to pay everyone back with a spot of commission and left us once again waiting for the next big thing.

16 March 2016 3:28

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