The World Series of Poker has seen its share of villains over the years.
Whether it’s their antics at the table or because they were involved in a scandal that wronged the poker community, there have been no shortage of characters to root against.
With special mention to Eric Molina of 2006 Main Event infamy, here are the top five villains in WSOP history:
1. Phil Hellmuth
He holds the all-time record with 17 WSOP tournament victories. But anyone nicknamed the “Poker Brat” automatically makes this list. Among his more notable indiscretions, he once called his opponent an “idiot from northern Europe.” And during one profanity-filled tirade in 2021, he threatened to burn down the Rio.
2. William Kassouf
The Englishman put the 2016 Main Event field on tilt, pushing the boundaries of table etiquette with his speech play. He nearly brought one player to tears, and his run ended after an infamous clash with Griffin Benger, who told Kassouf to “check your privilege” before knocking him out of the event in 17th place.
3. Chris Ferguson
A six-time WSOP tournament winner, including the 2000 Main Event, Ferguson is treated as a pariah for his involvement in the Full Tilt Poker scandal. Despite making a 42-second public apology on video, Ferguson was shunned at the 2016 WSOP. He earned the 2017 WSOP player of the year award, to the dismay of fellow players.
4. Russ Hamilton
The winner of the 1994 Main Event was ostracized for his role in the UltimateBet “superuser” scandal. A 2008 investigation revealed that Hamilton was responsible for a software cheat code on the online poker room that allowed him to see opponents’ cards. Hamilton last cashed in a WSOP event in 2005.
5. Shawn Sheikhan
He is best known for his outbursts during the 2005 Main Event, including an expletive-filled exchange with Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. Sheikhan turned his notoriety from the confrontation into several televised poker appearances, and more incidents followed. Since then, Sheikhan also has had several run-ins with the law.