Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Talking Weight, Not Gravitas, With Hall of Fame Nominees

After having had the honor of being part of the panel of “poker media” invited to vote in the Poker Hall of Fame the last few years, I’m not part of the process this time around. The WSOP wanted to rotate some new folks into the mix, something I think is a great idea and thus don’t mind a bit stepping aside.

Since I’m not voting, I haven’t given that much thought regarding the list of 10 nominees (which I talked about briefly here a short while ago). I did notice, though, that two of them -- Ted Forrest and Mike Matusow -- have gotten back onto the gossip pages lately thanks to that weight loss bet from about four years ago won by Forrest.

Matusow had won a different weight loss prop bet between the pair previously, picking up $100,000 from Forrest after managing to go from 250 to 181 lbs. in less than a year. Then the pair made a second bet that would require Forrest, then 188 lbs., to get under 140 lbs. I’m not sure of the exact terms, but if Forrest could manage it by a specific deadline -- less than a year away, I believe (perhaps just a few months) -- Matusow would owe him $2 million.

Forrest achieved the feat, and then afterwards they agreed that Matusow -- who didn’t have the funds with which to pay his debt -- would pay Forrest $5,000 a month thereafter with the debt adjusted down to $1.8 million. That would still take over 30 years to pay off.

Cut to four years later, and Matusow has apparently only paid Forrest $70,500 thus far. Forrest took to Twitter earlier this month, and Matusow now seems to be referencing the collapse of Full Tilt Poker (version 1.0), the fact that the pair had been drinking when the bet was made, and other factors as lessening his obligation.

There are other details, but to be honest it took some extra effort for me just to get up the energy to look into it that far.

In terms of tourney results, both players have built up impressive, lengthy lists of wins and deep finishes, which is how both made it onto the PHOF ballot. Even with these accomplishments, I wouldn’t have been too enthused to vote for either, however.

I don’t say that because of these prop bet shenanigans, but just because when it comes to rating a super-select few above the rest, it’s hard (for me) to think of either as belonging to the toppermost tier of poker people.

That said, it’s hard to imagine “hall of fame nominees” of any other sport sniping at each other on Twitter in such a fashion. Seems to lack a certain gravitas, doesn’t it? I’m sure similar things have happened, but it still feels like an “only in poker” kind of story.

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