The worst angle shoots in poker history

Poker player discreetly checking his cards

Poker continues to be the most popular card game on the planet. The thousands of poker tables scattered across North America, Europe, and other places around the world are a testament to this fact. Players who master poker can go on to become not just rich, but famous and highly influential figures in the game. This is why even some of the best players resort to angle shooting or angling.

In a nutshell, an angle shoot is any frowned-upon move that can give a player an unfair advantage at the table. Whether it’s hiding chips, mis-disclosing hands, or pump-faking bets, angle shooting defies poker etiquette – the unwritten rules of the game. Although most angling is technically legal, it can get a player penalized, kicked out, or banned. Do it in front of live cameras and your angling can get immortalized on online streaming platforms alongside other viral content. In some cases, angle shooters become forever known as unethical players, which brings us to our first incident.

Alec Torelli at Poker Night in America

Before his now-famous angle shoot, Alec Torelli was a well-respected poker player and coach who appeared in a variety of reality television poker programs. In 2017, he appeared on Poker Night In America alongside amateurs and other pros. One of these players was Daniel Wolf. During a round of betting, Wolf failed to see the two $5,000 chips that Torelli kept behind his stack of low-value chips. This led Wolf to become over-confident with his weaker hand, which cost him $20,000. And while Torelli has claimed that it was an accident, poker player Doug Polk has released video evidence which has led many to conclude otherwise. The video has since gone viral as proof of Torelli’s subtle angling. While some still defend the player, his reputation’s been tarnished forever.

Armenian Mike in Live at the Bike

In a 2018 episode of Live at the Bike, a fast-moving heated round unfolds between Armenian Mike and Ryan Feldman. Mike suddenly goes all in for $10,300 by sliding his rack of chips forward, prompting Feldman to then near-instantly reveal his winning full house hand in response. In less than two seconds, Mike pulls back his rack of chips and claims that he was simply joking and not actually bluffing. It’s basically a modified pump fake bet disguised as a bluff. Mike argues with other players on the table who say that his bet counts. Meanwhile, Feldman becomes reluctant to take the winnings which he rightfully earned. It was an obvious and detestable angle shoot, as Mike was clearly just trying not to lose $10,300.

Tony G. in PokerStars’ The Big Game

This classic incident happened all the way back in 2011. Facing off this time are relentless poker shark Phil Hellmuth and the charismatic Tony G. Hellmuth decides to open the pot with $10,000 after seeing that he has a good hand. Tony G. then raises the pot to $30,000, all while claiming that he hasn’t seen his cards. But he has, and none of the other players caught the action – a form of mis-disclosing his hand. In this brilliant angle shoot, Tony actually revels in his deception by chatting up the table as Hellmuth is unaware that he’s about to lose. And when the moment came for Tony to strike, he joyfully and shamelessly went for the kill. Hellmuth could only sulk and say, “Oh, you lied,” to which Tony replied, “Of course I lied! It’s poker Phil – what do you think this is?” In a rare moment, Tony proves that angle shooting can look good, and that breaking the unwritten rules can lead to highly entertaining moments that push pro poker to its boundaries.

Whatever you might think of angle-shooting players, there’s no question that they’ve earned a place in the history of the game. As for whether or not it’s a worthwhile place to occupy in the annals of poker history, only time will tell.

Top photo: Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash

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