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WSOP intrigue, plus a ‘rat trick’ top list of best poker stories of the year

Updated December 27, 2023 - 12:02 pm

Review-Journal reporter David Schoen has covered it all in his time at the paper, from high school sports to betting to hockey to poker.

Here are his five best stories from 2023:

1. ‘What I did was wrong’: Poker player lied about having cancer to play in WSOP Main Event

Rob Mercer fulfilled his dream of playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event thanks to the generosity of many in the poker community. But his cancer diagnosis turned out to be a lie.

2. How a nugget of fool’s gold ended up with WSOP Main Event winner

When Cody Daniels, a 28-year-old chronically ill poker player from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was knocked out of the WSOP Main Event in 635th place, he gave his lucky piece of fool’s gold to the player responsible for his elimination. The nugget continued to be passed on from player to player and made it all the way to the eventual winner.

3. WSOP opens investigation into player accused of cheating

Martin Kabrhel, a high-stakes professional poker player from the Czech Republic, was accused of cheating by at least two prominent competitors in the WSOP $250,000 buy-in Super High Roller No-Limit Hold’em event. Tournament officials opened an investigation.

4. Doyle Brunson remembered for poker, faith, betting on golf course

Doyle Brunson was remembered for his faith, fearsome negotiating skills on the golf course and character during a celebration of life inside Jubilee Theater at Horseshoe Las Vegas on July 2. The man known as the “Godfather of poker” died May 14 at age 89.

5. Why Panthers fans throw fake rats onto the ice after wins

Why do Florida Panthers fans throw toy rats onto the ice after each of the team’s victories? It all started Oct. 8, 1995, when Scott Mellanby scored a “rat trick.”

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