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Poker's 5 Most-Hated Villains and 5 Most-Loved Heroes

28 June 2013, By:

But there are a distinct few who have earned a permanent spot on everyone's list of the most loved or hated poker players.

Here are our five top current heroes and villains in the poker world:

The Villains

Annie Duke/Howard Lederer

While each is deserving of his or her own spot on the most hated list, we decided to group them together.

Howard is on this list of course due to his part in the collapse of Full Tilt Poker. While he claims he's innocent of any wrongdoing very few people in poker actually taking him at his word. With no US players receiving their FTP balances back yet, players have nearly $400 million reasons to hate Howard.

Duke is hated for myriad reasons and Daniel Negreanu loves to use her as his personal whipping girl. Whether it's her overall demeanor or her former association with UltimateBet, many have a reason to dislike her.

If you're at a loss for a reason to hate her, though, just ask Daniel.

Russ Hamilton

The alleged ringleader behind the UltimateBet cheating scandal, Hamilton is for many the most hated man in the poker world.

After it was discovered conclusively he was using asuperuser account to cheat players the World Series of Poker removed his championship banner for a number of years to further disgrace him.

A sad end for the man who won his weight in silver after taking down the Main Event title in 1994.

Ray Bitar

About the only person that could possibly top Russ Hamilton in the minds of many poker players is Full Tilt's former CEO Ray Bitar.

Bitar is the primary reason for the collapse of the company and his lack of communication post-Black Friday just created more ill will towards him.

Even after discovering that he had a heart condition, people still would rather see him in jail than go free.

Phil Hellmuth

We hate to put Phil on this list but Phil makes most lists of most hated poker players based solely on his demeanor at the table.

Phil is brash, arrogant, whiny and, frankly, a royal pain in the ass. He's also the all-time WSOP bracelet leader and the only man to win both WSOP Main Event and WSOP Europe Main Event, which brings with it its own baggage for some haters.

Chino Rheem

Chino Rheem is the modern day T.J. Cloutier. If you don't know what that means, just ask anyone that's been in the game the last 10 years whether or not T.J. owes them money.

Rheem has built up a considerable debt load in the poker world and it wasn't until he was exposed publicly that he attempted to pay back his debts. Word is that he still owes a considerable amount and may have even taken his $111k One Drop High Roller stake and blown it on Baccarat.

Maybe he'll use some of his recent winnings at the WPT World Championship to pay players back. Probably not.


Now that we've gone over the top five most loathed poker players let's a look at the players who have, year after year, earned the respect of the poker community and its fans.

Doyle Brunson

Although he's virtually retired from the tournament poker scene, there are few poker pros as beloved as Texas Dolly.

The 10-time bracelet winner has done about everything you can do in the game and currently serves as the link to the game's past.

Part poker pro, part grandfather, Doyle is always accessible to fans and serves as a fantastic ambassador to poker.

Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negrenau is clearly one of the most dominant poker players of the modern generation.

With wins in dozens of major poker events and five WSOP bracelets, Daniel can hold his own with any poker player. He also frequently works with the World Series of Poker as a player ambassador to try and improve the quality of the event and serves as a general ambassador to the game.

When it comes to fans, Negreanu is always one of the most approachable players at the table.

Matt Savage

Matt is considered by many to be the best poker tournament director in the world and has hosted major events on virtually every continent.

The current Executive Tour Director of the World Poker Tour and Tournament Director at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, the structures of his events are among the best in the world.

Even noted poker-structure hater Allen Kessler approves Matt Savage's structures!

Linda Johnson

One of only two women in the Poker Hall of Fame, Johnson has made enormous strides for women in the poker world as a player, a publisher and as an ambassador for the game.

Along with Savage Johnson helped set up the Tournament Directors Association, the standard bearer for poker rules worldwide. She also founded which is an organization that helps poker players donate to charitable causes.

Linda is well liked by everyone that has ever known her and is truly the First Lady of Poker.

Erik Seidel

There are few poker players in the world with a better reputation than eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel.

With over $17.6 million in tournament earnings, Seidel has won just about everything you can in the game short of winning the Main Event - and even there he's come in second.

Whether he wins or lose Seidel exhibits a well-grounded attitude that is the envy of his peers.

He's one of the most consistent winners among poker pros in the last 10 years and his ethics have never been questioned, even after being a former sponsored pro with Full Tilt Poker.

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