Matching the Remaining Presidential Candidates With Their Poker Counterpart

Steve Ruddock : March 1st, 2016


In honor of Super Tuesday I thought it would be fun to try to match each of the presidential candidates up with a person in the poker world with whom they share certain traits and/or characteristics.

These comparisons are in no way a reflection of the political leanings of the poker players I’ve selected. Basically, it’s just for fun.

Hillary = Annie Duke

Even though she’s essentially left the poker world, Annie Duke is perhaps the most polarizing person in poker, and the same could be said for Hillary Clinton in the world of politics.

Both have been around for a really long time, and had a number of different roles. Both also have a lot of flies swirling around them from past controversies, from Benghazi to Whitewater, and from Ultimate Bet to the Epic Poker League.

One of the stranger ties the two share is they both have an immediate family member who is also very well-known, and controversial in their own right. For Hillary, it’s her husband Bill, who went through the Monica Lewinsky and impeachment hearings. For Annie Duke, it’s her brother Howard Lederer, who was one of the people at the helm when Full Tilt Poker went belly-up.

Marco Rubio = Allen Cunningham

I chose Allen Cunningham as Marco Rubio’s poker counterpart for one reason, and that reason is, both men have really strong name recognition, but if you were to ask the follow-up question, “what has Marco Rubio accomplished?” or, “What big tournaments have Allen Cunningham won?” people would have a very hard time answering that question.

Even Rubio backers draw blanks on his achievements, and I had to check Cunningham’s Hendon Mob page to see what tournaments he’s won – five random WSOP bracelets, but that’s about it.

Ben Carson = Jennifer Tilly

Like Jennifer Tilly, who went from a super-successful acting career to adopting the life of a semi-serious poker player, Ben Carson’s accomplishments come from way outside of politics, and in his new field he’s often in a bit over his head, mostly because he’s running for the highest office in the land. Tilly seems to have the same problem in poker, in that she often plays in games where the competition is overly fierce.

Tilly would likely be a big winner in smaller stakes games, and Carson would likely win a campaign for the House of Representatives.

Ted Cruz = Jamie Gold

Maybe it’s just me, but even though there is no evidence to support this, there is just something about both Ted Cruz and Jamie Gold that make them look untrustworthy in my eyes. What I mean by this is, if you asked them to hold your wallet nothing would be missing, but they probably went through every inch of it.

I should add that I know a number of people who have met and interacted with Jamie Gold and they all say he’s a likeable and accommodating person.

With that caveat out of the way, another strong tie the two share is their behavior in their chosen fields often crosses the line (for Gold it was table talk and antics bordering on rule violations, and for Cruz it’s dirty political tricks), but is never egregious enough to be disqualifying.

Donald Trump = Phil Hellmuth

This one was an absolute no-brainer, and while I would have liked to find a more unexpected and dramatic player to compare to Donald Trump, it simply has to be Phil Hellmuth.

Both men are shameless self promoters, as Trump’s name is on the side of many incredible, fantastic buildings, and Phil Hellmuth has worn clothing emblazoned with his initials since 2003, and shown up to the WSOP dressed as Patton, Caesar, a boxer, and a racecar driver.

Furthermore, both are the best (in their minds) and do huge, extraordinary things, and both men also like to whitewash their resumes and name drop all of their successful and powerful friends.

Where the two differ is Trump wants to build a wall across the Mexican border, while Hellmuth would likely prefer one built around Northern Europe.

Quite frankly, I’m actually shocked Trump hasn’t co-opted Phil’s nonsensical invoking of “White Magic” during his stump speeches, and his rhetoric about dominating debates even when everyone is attacking him is only missing a finger point to his wife and The Donald shouting, “I can dodge bullets baby!”

Kasich = Mike Mizrachi

Both John Kasich and Mike Mizrachi have a lot of accomplishments they can point to, but Mizrachi is never in the conversation of top tournament poker players, nor does it appear Kasich will be in the running for the Presidency, despite a far better platform than most of his counterparts.

Bernie = Allen Kessler

Sanders is Kessler… Kessler is Sanders!

Actually, Sander is Kessler with a dash of Phil Laak sprinkled in.

Both Bernie Sanders and Allen Kessler see systemic unfairness, and argue that it’s keeping a lot of the hardworking people down. They both also think the world they inhabit needs some serious fixing and nobody else is addressing these fundamental problems.

The two also share a similar disposition and a propensity to often sport a slightly disheveled head of hair, and a resemblance to Larry David.

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