A social-media rift between high-profile pros Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu has seemingly deepened, with Hellmuth blocking Negreanu and many others on Twitter in the wake of widespread criticism of Hellmuth’s ongoing behavior at the tables. That behavior included the recent heated exchange between Hellmuth and Eric Persson in an early round of the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown in Las Vegas.
The public rift included Negreanu writing, after discovering he’d been blocked by Hellmuth, “Embarrassing, Phil, even for you! For decades you have ruthlessly berated people at the table, and now one guy (Persson) gives you a taste of your own medicine and you cry like a child. No one in poker history is more deserving of behavior penalties than you.”
Negreanu’s Tweet was one of just several castigating Hellmuth for his behavior, both past and present. Other examples included these:
Hellmuth goes on blocking rampage after ego bruising
For Hellmuth’s part, Negreanu was far from the only person he blocked on Twitter when the criticism of his actions began rolling in. Hellmuth defended his parade of Twitter blocks even as he announced it:
Hellmuth had many fans supporting him in this latest online spat, although it appeared that the detractors outnumbered the supporters. Many noted that Persson’s behavior — which included a matching pair of middle fingers and calling Hellmuth a “bitch” — was over the line in general terms, but was more aptly viewed as just desserts in Hellmuth’s case. For those who haven’t seen the exchange between Hellmuth and Persson, PokerGO itself (in which Hellmuth and Negreanu both own minority stakes), excerpted the outburst for the public to view:
Hellmuth and Persson exchange apologies
Despite the opening-round animosity, Hellmuth broached the Round 2 set to offer an apology to Persson, who responded in kind. Hellmuth also posted video of that moment:
Nonetheless, #POSITIVITY or not, the episode will go down as the latest in a long, long line of abusive outbursts by the “Poker Brat” at the table. Among those are the classic 2008 WSOP main event moment when Hellmuth was given a one-lap penalty for abusive behavior as play ended for the evening, only to have that penalty rescinded overnight.
Last year, in another such instance, Hellmuth erupted into a lengthy F-bomb tirade at a WSOP final table, targeting Anthony Zinno, that went unnoticed at the time by tourney staff, due to the way the WSOP final-table stage is constructed as a sound-enclosed set. Hellmuth’s tirade made the live stream of that event, however, and Poker.org broke the story of how the WSOP’s execs finally learned of and reacted to Hellmuth’s outburst.