Best and Worst Life Hands Dealt to Poker Players in 2018

The role of luck in poker means that gamers are always facing ups and downs, as a couple good pitches can be the difference between winning a major tournament and breaking prior to the cash. Exactly like everyone else, though, poker players also have their fair share of highs and lows from the felt.

Poker Players fortunes 2018

Poker players faced a variety of good and bad fortune from the felt throughout 2018. (Pictures: Dan Bilzerian/Instagram, PokerTube, World Poker Tour, PokerStars)

Exactly like in our favorite game, sometimes players can’t help the cards they’ve been dealt, and sometimes, individuals play a major role in shaping their own destinies. Here’s a look back at some poker players who were dealt life hands that ranged from pocket aces to deuce-seven off-suit over the course of 2018.

Bilzerian Creates International Incident

Dan Bilzerian is no stranger to creating headlines by pulling outrageous stunts. But none of his previous shenanigans had nearly the impact of his visit to Armenia, where he was granted citizenship due to the Armenian legacy of his father.

As is his nature, Bilzerian made sure to fire off some heavy weapons while he was on his trip. The only problem: his shooting spree took place in a disputed territory that is internationally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan. Because of this, the Azerbaijani government filed criminal charges against Bilzerian.

For once, though, Bilzerian might be right in saying that this episode is more about politics than anything he did wrong: Armenia and Azerbaijan don’t have diplomatic relations, and officials might well have charged Bilzerian just for the headlines which were certain to come in the episode.

Poker Players vs. Taxista España

In March, Spanish professional baseball player Francisco Vallejo Pons made waves in the poker world after sharing that he had been facing a $500,000 tax bill from his home country for supposed poker winnings — in spite of the fact he wasn’t a winning player. However, when he played in 2011, Spanish law did not allow for losses to be offset against wins, meaning he could legally be taxed on every winning session he had, even though he had been basically a breakeven player.

That story didn’t stop with Vallejo Pons, or even within the borders of Spain. Over the summer, reports came in about players being tracked down in other European nations and getting letters saying they still owed money to Spanish tax authorities, suggesting that the country isn’t planning on giving up on collecting every cent it feels it is owed by poker players.

Hellmuth Unfazed by Heart Condition

Great players can find potential in even the worst hands, and that’s exactly what Phil Hellmuth failed in May, when he told the poker world which he has a heart condition known at atrial fibrillation (or AFib). Hellmuth took the news in stride, moving past it quickly on Twitter saying it was”just a lil AFIB.”

Some of his fellow experts were somewhat more concerned, with Linda Johnson informs Hellmuth that AFib can become an issue if it’s not taken seriously. But the Poker Brat didn’t allow the condition impact his poker schedule or alternative activities like golf, and for now, he seems to be in great health.

Liv Boeree Takes Poker Thinking Mainstream

There may have been few high-profile off-the-felt wins for poker players this season, but one expert who made waves in the world at large was Liv Boeree. The English professional gave a TEDx Talk in Manchester this March on how poker players rationalize the world through thinking in terms of probability. She followed up in April with a lecture at a TED2018 event in Vancouver, where she shared more about her decision-making process.

Those looks have established the highly intelligent Boeree among the leading intellectual ambassadors from the poker community, a person who can help show mainstream audiences that poker isn’t only a game of luck for degenerate gamblers — it’s a helpful tool for developing skills which could help us better live our own lives and understand the world around us.

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