Top Poker Stories of 2023

December 31, 2023
Mark Patrickson

As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to cast a glance back at the year’s biggest stories. We have the usual mix of good and bad — mostly bad, as is usual — and this year we also got the sad news that the great Doyle Brunson was no longer with us.

Doyle Brunson Passes Away

It was in May that we heard the news that Doyle Brunson had passed away, ending an era of the game stretching back more than 50 years.

The Texan was a double WSOP Main Event champion with 10 bracelets to back it up. We will never see another player like him.

His tales from the Texas road game would send shivers down the spine of the youngsters starting their careers today.

Record-Breaking WSOP Main Event

It took some doing but finally we hit new heights at the World Series of Poker in the summer. The 2006 record stood at 8,772 and the 2022 figure of 8,663 came oh so close. But this year, a whopping 10,043 players came along for the ride, destroying the record.

Although Covid was long gone, it wasn’t until 2023 that the inconvenience of travel restrictions finally got out of the way.

Tournament winner Daniel Weinman took home $12,100,000 for his efforts, just pipping the $12 million that Jamie Gold won.

Martin Kabrhel Accused of Marking Cards at WSOP

Czech high-stakes regular Martin Kabrhel is one of those characters in the poker world that seems to have a canny knack of upsetting people wherever he goes.

It’s one of those cases where after the event people kind of think whoever was moaning overreacted, but there are an awful lot of cases to look back at.

In this story, Kabrhel was flat out accused of cheating by marking cards with his nails during a $250,000 super high roller at the WSOP.

There was an investigation by the organisers but no foul play was discovered to have taken place despite many of the high-stakes community protesting strongly.

Multi-Million Dollar Marked Cards Scandal in Private Game

Marked cards scandals are more for the screen than real life poker but somehow we’ve ended up with two of them this year.

Most recently, Hustler Casino Live regs Nik Airball and Wesley Fei fell victim to a scam involving UV-marked cards in a private game hosted in California. The perpetrator was none other than a supposed friend of Airball, Tony Mars, who also made appearances on Hustler Casino Live.

The gang won millions of dollars from that game and were said to be owed as much as $15 million by a group of celebrities who were conned.

It is thought that this debt will remain unpaid due to the exposure Wesley Fei gave the case, earning him multiple death threats for his trouble

Accused Attempted-Murderer on Bail Wins Bracelet at WSOP

Poker has more than its fair share of shady characters but a man out on bail for attempting to murder his wife winning a WSOP bracelet takes the biscuit.

Rudy Galvadon is charged with attempted murder and is now awaiting his fate in a jail cell after testing positive for opiates.

Earlier this year we reported:

“Gavaldon was arrested at the scene of the crime in Traverse City, Michigan at 12.05 am on July 30, 2022. Police arrived to find his wife Lara Gavaldon in a critical condition while he wandered in the street holding their child.

“The 28-year-old was taken to a local hospital before being med-evaced with life-threatening injuries to Grand Rapids Hospital.”

Superuser Scandal at GGPoker after Hacker Breaks into Software Client

This is still a breaking story at the moment but it is potentially the biggest poker headline of 2023. Online poker’s greatest fear came true this week when a hacker reverse engineered GGPoker’s software client to access the all-in equity all players in the hand.

A 2+2 thread explained:

“User "MoneyTaker69" is alleged to be superusing on GG Poker.

“In December, Moneytaker won at 90bb/100 on GG Poker in 8,900 hands playing 53% VPIP. Soon after, he binked a $150 Sunday MTT for $47,586 while playing an extremely volatile strategy, which aroused a lot of suspicion.

“GG Poker has acknowledged the situation privately and is preparing to address it, but it's important for the public to know immediately due to the significance of superusing.”

GGPoker posted a statement admitting that this really did happen, and promised that security would be improved with the team size doubled.

At the time of writing, the internet is awash with commentators pointing the finger at GGPoker’s recent ban of tracking sites from collecting data from its players. Many think this could have been move one of an inside job.

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