People News: McDonald’s chess bet; Negreanu about VPNs; RIP Sam Grizzle; Trickett & Elias fathers; Seidel’s first podcast interview; Kevin Martin folds the nuts

In this column, we deliver you the latest and most interesting news and gossip from our favourite poker people.

Mike McDonald’s chess bet

The basketball is still warm and already Mike McDonald has been involved in prop bet talks on Twitter. This time it’s about chess.

It all started with Vegas pro Dan Smith tweeting a reminder that a year earlier Mike had offered a 10-1 bet to become chess GrandMaster and Dan was the one who “chickened out” and still regretted it.

The poker world jumped on it, of course, trying to edge on McDonald to offer this bet again. Mike started considering that it would be a lifetime bet with at least $4 million for him if he made it. Bill Perkins briefly showed interest and everyone thought this would mean it’s gonna happen now as Bill is known to place some interesting bets in the poker community.

But the majority of Twitter replies said it was crazy that Mike even the thought that he could make GrandMaster was almost an insult to those who made it.

Apparently to become a GrandMaster you have to start from a real early age and it might need at least 10 years of solid work to even get close to it. Mike has even been a chess player when he was a kid, but got “side-tracked” by poker.

Daniel Negreanu about VPNs

A Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is a tool that enables you to mask your IP address, giving you online privacy and anonymity. By using a VPN you can so play on online poker sites that would otherwise not be available in your country.

Daniel Negreanu Rozvado
Daniel Negreanu. Credit: King’s Casino Rozvadov

When the topic around VPNs came up in the beginning of the WSOP Online discussions Daniel Negreanu did point out already that he didn’t know why it was such a big deal.

Now he used even clearer words on the latest episode of The Orbit, a round-table discussion hosted by Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Robbie Strazynski. DNegs said that he “didn’t give a crap” where players were located, as long as they were playing their own accounts.

The main point that Daniel makes in the discussion is that it shouldn’t be on the poker sites to police the use of VPNs if it’s the country or jurisdiction that doesn’t accept the use.

He does have a point, but it’s simply not what the world looks like. The poker sites receive their licences and they should leave those places where they are not licensed. If they still offer their services in jurisdictions that clearly forbid online poker the governing body is allowed to sanction and we might have exactly what we had with Black Friday in the United States.

Most VPN usage can’t be detected though and neither the poker sites nor the governments will be able to completely eradicate it. All the poker sites can do is promise they’ll do their best to prevent VPN usage. And in most cases this means putting it in the T&Ds and then making examples of big cases that don’t follow the rules and close their accounts and/or seize money.

This sucks, but it is the only way this is doable at the moment – whether Daniel Negreanu likes it or not.

RIP Sam Grizzle

Sam Grizzle poker
The late Sam Grizzle. Credit:

The poker world has lost another legend with Sam Grizzle passing away last week. He had a massive stroke and was taken off life support shortly after. It was Mike Matusow who broke the news on Twitter.

Grizzle was best-remembered for his dry wit at the poker table, most famously during banter with Phil Hellmuth. This mainly went down at the poker table, but apparently they once took it outside for an old school fist fight.

But Sam Grizzle was also an accomplished player with more than $1.3 million in tournament cashes since 1988 according to The Hendon Mob.

We’ll let Todd Brunson end this section.

Sam Trickett & Darren Elias fathers

And while some leave us, others make more. Sam Trickett and Darren Elias recently have become dads to possible future poker legends.

Sam Trickett tweeted on 21st October that he and his wife Mieke welcomed their son Bodhi Blu Trickett to the world.

On the same day Darren Elias informed the poker world about the birth of his baby girl Taylor Sant’Ambrogio Elias. He is now a 2-time girl dad.

Congrats to both!

Erik Seidel’s first podcast interview

The very quiet Erik Seidel has given his first ever podcast interview. And it wasn’t in the poker world. It was an actual big-time mainstream podcast with famous writer and producer Brian Koppelman. Yes, the guy who wrote Rounders!

In the interview they talk about Seidel’s early beginnings at the Mayfair Club in New York City, not just with poker, but also with backgammon. They talk about Rounders of course, about poker staking and many other interesting insights into Erik Seidel’s life.

Erik Seidel (left) and Brian Koppelman (right)

Kevin Martin folds the nuts

Folding the nuts happens. It’s something that still hurts many years later. But for most of us, this happens in private – no-one will ever know.

When big names in poker do this in public, however, things get dicey, as the poker world will make sure they’ll never forget about it. Most famously Phil Ivey when he folded the winning hand while playing a televised table at the 2019 WSOP.


Now it has happened to freshly baked GGpoker ambassador Kevin Martin live on Twitch.

Luckily he can laugh about it and he even made a “strategy video” about it afterwards.