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Top 5 Poker Blow-Ups of All Time

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Everyone might like a chop-pot, but what poker fans really love is a good ol' fashioned poker player blow-up. Tilt gets the best of many in the end, and we've dug through the archives to find five of the very best explosions of temper which simply couldn't be tamed. Be warned - some of what you're about to watch contains extremely hilarious levels of petulance.

1. Luke Schwartz Sticks it to David Benyamine

British poker legend Luke ‘Full Flush’ Schwartz was always a combustible character, but no one lit his touch paper like the controversy-courting prince of pout, David Benyamine. Back in the exciting Premier League Poker format, Schwartz was ruling the roost in this heat before Benyamine decided to ‘angle’ his British foe.

Put to the test and with his street credibility on the line, Schwartz induces a bet and then moves all in just as he had threatened to do. Benyamine goes to call, positioning his hands behind his chip stack before sliding his cards into the muck. Schwartz, perhaps predictably, takes the opportunity to gloat in the victory. Watch for yourself below.

2. Hellmuth Goes Crazy at Cristian Dragomir

During the 2008 WSOP, Phil Hellmuth was playing premium hands, especially on-screen as part of the extensive coverage. Television was made for moments like Hellmuth being looked up by Cristian Dragomir, who gets involved with ten-four. When the flop hits that ten, all hell breaks loose.

Hellmuth can't stay seated. Dragomir is obviously a passionate guy too and for the other players at the table, it must have been like watching your neighbor’s bonfire getting out of control and simply enjoying the extra warmth without having to worry about what might be set on fire. See for yourself.

3. Tony G’s Thousand-Yard Stare

Losing a coin flip happens to everyone, thousands of times in their poker career if they’re in any way a regular on the scene. For Tony G then, it should come as no surprise to lose the 50/50 contest on occasion. But that doesn't stop him from erupting into complaints anyway.

“This dealer is just incredible! I haven’t won a fucking hand,” Tony G moans, storming away from the table as Roland De Wolfe sips his water, content to have paired his ace on the turn.

“Tony’s blowing up!” Jesse May revels in the commentary booth. When Tony G returns, disconsolate despite being second in chips at the table, he settles into his seat and has a good, long think about all the injustices in the world, and how meaningless one poker hand really is when stacked up against humanity’s problems. Or maybe he’s just stewing about how unlucky of a player he is.

4. The Devilfish Berates the Brat

If you ever read anything from Hellmuth where he claims to have been unlucky (it shouldn't be difficult to find examples), then we implore you to watch this amazing video.

It’s not that Hellmuth gets fortunate against Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott in this classic video from the archives. It’s that Hellmuth gets so lucky that the other players begin to look at him as if he’s descended to the table directly from another planet. Time and time again, ahead or behind going into the pre-flop clashes between the two, Hellmuth prevails.

Still, when all is said and done, the Devilfish talks on camera in a way that succinctly summarizes his class and humility when it comes to appraising his fellow poker players.

“I ran rings round Phil Hellmuth and had him screaming like a kid. I outplayed him.”

5. MacPhee and Selbst Get Personal

Back in the glory days of the original run of the European Poker Tour, part of its charm was that you felt like you knew the cast of characters who would regularly play each stop as if they were your own family and friends. There were the cool kids, there were the annoying ones you couldn’t shake off. There were players who knew each other, and fans watched ringside as relationships formed and fizzled out.

One such relationship that was still going strong at this point was between Liv Boeree and the American EPT Berlin winner, Kevin MacPhee. That it was about to crumble like stale bread might have had nothing to do with MacPhee’s call against his and Boeree’s mutual friend Vanessa Selbst in this hand. But then again, it might.

Selbst is all in with pocket fours and awaits MacPhee’s call or fold... with one of the best facial reactions outside a Jim Carrey movie. MacPhee, unrepentant, sits back to watch the show by removing his sunglasses and smirking, which only inflames Selbst’s ire even more. Brilliant.

Feeling your blood boil after those examples of raging tilt? Why not get yourself on a televised stream and give us some great insults and tempestuous tantrums. Oh, go on.

  • Don't miss some of TV poker's finest moments of absolute anger.

  • We've dug through the archives to find five of the very best explosions of pure anger at the poker table.

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Paul Seaton

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