Poker Antagonists in 2017: Who Locked Horns and Made Headlines with Their Antics

If we learned anything from poker in 2017, it was clear that nice guys don’t always finish last and sometimes the “bad boys” end up being felted. Just ask Salomon “Hashtag King” Ponte, arguably the most controversial of all the year’s poker antagonists.

Hashtag King Salomon Ponte

Salomon “Hashtag King” Ponte was poker’s most despised player in 2017, but his 15 minutes of fame seems to be up. (Image:

Ponte had his 15-minutes of fame in the first half of the year. He burst onto the scene flashing gold chains, wads of cash, and his branded “Hashtag King” gear. But all he has left, apparently, is a bruised ego, and possibly some injured ribs.

Hashtag King claimed to be the best poker player in the world and called out poker’s biggest stars, such as Daniel Negreanu, Doug Polk, and Shaun Deeb.

He challenged Polk to a $1 million heads-up match, but couldn’t put funds in escrow to guarantee the match, which thus never happened.

Ponte continually insulted poker players and got kicked out of casinos for childish behavior. He wasn’t even a “love him or hate him” player since few in the poker community actually liked him.

When put to the test and challenged to prove his poker skills, he backed down. Hashtag King got plenty of attention due to self-promotion, but it appears the self-proclaimed “greatest player in the world,” doesn’t have any money to get back in the game.

Nice knowing you, Mr. King. He hasn’t been heard from since May, though a video did surface that has some people believing his troubles have only compounded.

Odd Couple

Mike Dentale and Cate Hall are adored and despised by the opposite groups of poker people. And unsurprisingly, at least publicly, they seem to hate each other.

Hall, a self-described “social justice warrior” liberal who hates President Donald Trump with a passion, defeated Dentale, a Trump-supporting anti-liberal, in a heads-up match in March on Poker Night in America.

The feud began late in 2016 when Dentale criticized Hall’s poker skills on Twitter. That led to a lengthy back-and-forth of insults and the inevitable “HU 4 rollz” challenge (poker Twitter-speak for, “let’s settle this on the felt”), which the so-called SJW won handily.

Both players have their haters. Liberals despise Dentale for being what they perceive is “rude” and “sexist.” And the #MAGA crowd seem to deplore Hall for her constant criticism of the president in their poker feeds. These two are proof that opposites don’t always attract, though whatever tension does exist between them was quite compelling to poker fans.

Hating Jesus

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was once a beloved member of the poker community. He’s now about as adored by poker players as getting two-outed on the river by a donkey.

To the dismay of some around the poker world, Ferguson was back in the limelight in 2017, thanks to a memorable summer at the WSOP. He left Las Vegas in July as the Player of the Year leader after having cashed in a record 17 events.

Fortunately, for his haters, he didn’t win a bracelet this summer. But he sure did ruffle some feathers along the way. And in the end. he’d would win a bracelet at the WSOP Europe, and in the process locked up his place in history as the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.


mackmasterss wrote...

Happy new year

adriantempo wrote...

Salomon Ponte is an average guy who gained ultra-confidence by winning an event. In fact, it just goes to show that he reached his full potential by his behaviour. He knows he can’t win much more, maybe he was lucky, that’s why he brags and flashes all over the place. It’s as good as it can get and he makes the most out of it. A similar thing to what is happening in MMA with Conor McGregor, the same flashiness and cockiness to get the spotlight on him. It’s kind of a strategy, it’s all for show and shows do get money, regardless if it’s a good or bad person.

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