Jungle and Joh
Dan 'Jungleman' Cates and Johan 'YoH Viral' Guilbert clashed on Game of Gold.

The past 12 months have been one of the most dramatic years in poker history. From off the felt fights to live tournaments, online beef to glory on all sides of the globe, it’s been an unforgettable year…. or has it? We’ve taken a look back at the archives and scoured the game for 20 of the year’s most memorable moments, including some that you may have missed.

In this article, we’ll be looking at numbers 20 to 11 on our end of the year countdown. We’re about to get down and dirty with a couple of high-profile bust-ups, while the ‘Greatest Showman’ would demonstrate why he’s the king of cosplay as well as the World Series of Poker, and a big name wouldn’t be half the player they used to be.

20 – Garrett Makes Comeback with ‘The Robbi’

The long-awaited/over-hyped return of Garrett Adelstein to the high stakes cash game ‘streets’ took until December to land, but when it happened, it was worth it. In the 14 months he was away from the felt, ‘GMan’ had lost none of the anger that he’d felt at the time of Robbi Jade Lew calling his bluff with jack-four in a move he thought was laced with suspicion.

Lew of course, took a lie detector gave the money back on the night, but that was never going to be forgotten. Adelstein bought into the Bally Live Poker game with an initial $135,000 (the exact amount Lew won from him a year earlier on the Hustler Casino Live stream. Then, he used the famous jack-four to win a late hand against Eric Persson, ending up on the night by almost the exact amount he lost to Lew in that scandalous hand.

19 – Alex Botez Breaks Through

It’s been a huge year for the chess grandmaster Alexandra Botez. From beating poker players at her number one game to taking part in – and crushing – the PokerStars Mystery Cash Challenge, Botez was everywhere in 2023. No slouch at poker too, the 888poker sponsored player even cashed in the WSOP Main Event of 2023 in the summer in Las Vegas. It’s sure to be a big next 12 months for Botez as her growth in the game continues.

18 – Team Club Busts Game of Gold Early

When the teams were announced for Game of Gold, the poker and reality TV hybrid show, everyone – and we mean everyone – thought that Team Club was the strongest set-up. Four superb poker players and reality TV faves took their seats in the ‘war room’ of Team Club – Daniel Negreanu, Kevin Martin, Michael Soyza and Jason Koon. Somehow, that foursome lost the first round, Team Sit & Go, and crashed out of the tournament in South Korea first. Could they have done anything differently? Watch what happened in their final hurrah, Episode 4 entitled Do or Die. Reader, they died.

17 – Nik Airball and Matt Berkey Go To War

The beef got real between Nikhil ‘Airball’ Arcot and Matt Berkey when the Solve For Why founder bit the bait and accepted a heads-up challenge after an altercation at a live cash game. In the heads-up encounter, Berkey came out on top, so much so, in fact, that Airball quit the challenge and took his medicine. We’d call that growth… Berkey just calls it profit.

16 – Phil Hellmuth Enters WSOP as Poseidon and Ringmaster

How do you top last year’s entrance to the World Series of Poker Main Event? Commit to two of them, of course. Phil Hellmuth took on his greatest role to date as he entered the summer WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas with 17 models accompanying him as the Greatest Showman from the film of the same name. But wait! There was a further surprise when the Poker Brat ‘released’ Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, who was in character as a caged lion.

Just a few months later, Hellmuth re-entered a Main Event in a very different guise. Emerging from the Atlantic Ocean on Paradise Island, the WSOP Paradise Main Event saw the Poker Brat turn into Poseidon himself, as he brought waves of positivity – and a dash of controversy to the biggest show in town.

15 – Jungle and YoH Viral Go to War

Episode 6 of Game of Gold had everything, but most of all it had confrontation. Jungleman and Johan ‘YoH Viral’ Guilbert went to war after the latter got to play first in the Team Heads-Up Match round. Jungle wasn’t having it, angrily jabbing his finger in the direction of the Frenchman and spouting some very French language. It was poker TV gold.

14 – Lou Garza Engagement

How do you show your girlfriend that you love her and appreciate your support in Las Vegas during the summer? By winning a World Series of Poker event then getting down on one knee in the Thunderdome, of course! That’s what Lou Garza did… and she said yes! One of the most romantic proposals since the Merciers became engaged or since Martin Kabrhel professed his love for the dealers bowled over the Horseshoe rail.

13 – Martin Kabrhel Cheating Scandal

Speaking of the Czech player Kabrhel, his antics at the 2023 World Series of Poker won’t be forgotten, least of all by his opponents. Kabrhel was accused of marking the cards and taking advantage of cheating actions to make a profit. Nothing came of those accusations, but a stain remains over the man whose hair looks like a tribute to the 1998 movie There’s Something About Mary.

12 – Mikki Mase – I’m Gonna Go Broke

Dirty Goth Boi – real name Michael David Meiterman – made waves in 2023 when he… lost a LOT of money playing poker. A losing player at poker he may be, but the high roller funds his poker habit with the alleged $30 million he’s won playing Baccarat, cracking the system to leave himself able to pop out for a tattoo with the regularity that he buys a coffee. That doesn’t stop the losses hurting.


11 – Shaun Deeb’s Weight Loss Bet

Back in April, Shaun Deeb struck up a conversation with hedge fund manager and billionaire Bill Perkins about a weight loss bet. Fast forward a few weeks and the two degens had a wager: Shaun Deeb would have to get down to 17% body fat by May 2024 in order to win $1 million from Perkins. At risk? $100,000 of Deeb’s own money and a team of nutritionists, exercise instructors and friends whose reputation is on the line too, including Josh Arieh, who took some of the action for also achieving the weight loss. It’s the ongoing story that will conclude before the World Series of Poker in the coming year… but with Deeb luck out or not?