Salomon Ponte, the self-proclaimed Hashtag King, crosses the line on Poker Night in America after hurling insults at everyone that got into his eye line and one person who was nowhere near him.
I was recently asked to write a list article covering the Baddest Boys in Poker. It wasn’t a request that got the juices flowing, but I asked around the community for some responses, and I can categorise the feedback as follows:
1. Players who are deemed a bad boy because they are a little cheeky at the table.
2. Players who are deemed a bad boy because they are thieves or cheats.
3. Players who are deemed a bad boy because they are nasty bastards.
One name that was sent my way repeatedly was Salomon Ponte, but I couldn’t categorise him because I had never heard of him. Then I watched the coverage of Poker Night in America (PNIA) this weekend, and I had my answer.
The last time I was involved in a physical fight was after someone said something derogatory about my first wife. I didn’t think about hitting him. It didn’t work like that. It just happened. It was instinctual. There are some lines people shouldn’t cross. I think that’s one of them.
Salomon Ponte crossed it this weekend.
As I don’t know him, I’m not sure how much of his behaviour was an act in a bid to drum up the kind of controversy that led to his spot on the show, or he is that nasty in real life.
I only know one person who can drum up that kind of controversy at the table as an act, and that’s Tony G. Not even the G-Meister General would stoop as low as to call Shaun Deeb’s wife fucking ugly and tell him that he would rather be dead than have your fucking wife.
Deeb isn’t an angel.
His words can also cut people to shreds.
But his wife?
I take my Hashtag King baseball cap off to Deeb for not knocking him out.
Oh, The Irony!
It wasn’t just Deeb’s wife who received verbals from Ponte. He called the man of the house a fucking retard, a fat fuck, and fucking ugly.
And all of this happened while Ponte and Doug Polk were trying, very unsuccessfully, to organise a heads-up match where each player would stump up a million each.
“You’re a fucking clown,” said Polk after Ponte refused to shut up and let him speak.
“I am tilting the two biggest bitches in poker,” said Ponte referring to his verbal bashing of both Deeb and Polk.
Sitting in between Polk and Ponte with spit smashing into the side of each cheek was Brandon Cantu, the man, who in February, said he was stone cold broke after Jason Mercier called him a deadbeat for not repaying his debts.
Polk was trying to get Ponte to put $50,000 into escrow.
“I think you will pussy out.” Said Polk.
“Let’s both give Matt Glantz a million each then.” Said Ponte.
“Give it to me,” said Cantu. “I’ll escrow.”
I am sure it would have gotten a laugh had Ponte not already deafened everyone.
“Do you guys have a muzzle?” Polk asked the production team.
“Yeah, for Doug because he is a little bitch.” Said Ponte.
And then I look at the flop and see As8d4c. King bets $400 out of the big blind holding AdKs for top pair, Cantu folds pocket sixes, and Deeb calls with Qd8s for the second pair.
The turn is the Qc giving Deeb two-pair. Ponte checks, Deeb bets $1k, Ponte calls. The river is the 3d, and there is $3,725 in the pot. Ponte checks for the second time and says, “Give me a number, Shaun.”
“All-In.” Says Shaun.
“Fuck.” Says Ponte.
The bet is over $20k.
As Ponte considers his decision a female friend comes over to tell him she is going for a walk.
“He might be joining you,” came a voice from the table.
Eventually, Ponte calls, sees the two-pair, shows his AK face-up and upon realising he is broke – came out with the attack on Deeb and his wife.
“I’ll be back,” said Ponte.
Doug Polk stands up, “Now he’s gone I want to say this, I was a little scared he was going to accept the bet.”
Ponte did return, but without enough money to get into a $25/$50 cash game after minutes earlier trying to get involved in a $1m heads-up match against one of the greatest heads-up players in the game. Ponte even sought to sell his watch, phone, rings, and his passport to get back into the action. He even had the audacity to ask both of his bitches to loan him some money after attacking them all evening.
The whole mess ended perfectly, after Ponte was told to apologise to Deeb, and as he did so, Deeb called the floor because Ponte was filming him, and they promptly threw him out.
Was This A Good Thing For PNIA?
What type of brand are they?
I’m not sure.
But that’s the all important question.
It would be an unmitigated disaster for the World Poker Tour (WPT) brand if Ponte were to make a televised final table and behave like that. If PNIA has similar values, then they won’t be happy with Ponte’s performance.
It’s obvious he was invited onto the show for his shock value, but nobody, not even Matt Glantz could have prepared for the amount of verbal diarrhoea that spewed out of his filthy mouth.
His incessant talking impeded the action.
It was a nightmare.
Live streaming always presents the risk of anarchy, but you assume there are officials on hand to deal with people like Ponte when the obviousness of the awkwardness starts hitting people in the face like a wrecking ball.
If PNIA are concerned with ratings, and Ponte’s appearance helps bolster that, then I guess they will be happy. But if they want their brand to be cleaner cut, then they won’t be. Only PNIA can answer that question.
Was This A Good Thing For Poker?
Nobody outside of poker would have watched this coverage, so I don’t think it’s going to put anybody off playing. By the time the PNIA editing team get hold of the tapes, I am sure most of the jibes about Deeb’s wife will remain on the cutting room floor, not just for the sake of the brand, but out of respect for the Deeb family.
I found Ponte to be both annoying and repulsive. He wasn’t funny or entertaining in the same way a Tony G, Luke Schwartz or Devilfish could be, but there was stickiness to it. It’s like The Walking Dead. You know it’s utter shit but you can’t stop watching it.
Back to the numbers game, and I am guessing that this stream, and particularly the reruns, would have had a decent number of views if only for the curiosity value. After all, it made the Cate Hall vs Mike Dentale Grudge Match look like a fight between two worms.
I don’t think it was good for poker, at all. It crossed a line that poker officials might have to start making clearer cut.
Now, what’s your opinion?
What category of bad boy should I put Ponte into?
1. Deemed a bad boy because he is a little cheeky at the table?
2. Deemed a bad boy because he is a thief and a cheat?
3. Deemed a bad boy because he is a nasty bastard?