It was the hand heard ’round social media. On Day 3 of theWorld Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic in December, Cate Hallcalled Barry Hutter’s six-bet shove with and the hand was soon the talk of Twitter. Hall attempted to get in front of the firestorm that she assumed would follow but could not firmly batten down the hatches against the mob questioning her play.
New Yorker Mike Dentale was the loudest and most outspoken of that mob. Well-known on the East Coast as a cash game and tournament regular, along with his brash personality, Dentale is never one to shy away from speaking his mind. Through a series of tweets that grew in animosity with each 140 characters, Dentale and Hall’s feud reached a boiling point and they agreed to play heads up against each other to settle their dispute once and for all.
The combatants were in place but they needed an arena. Luckily for Dentale and Hall, Poker Night in America and SugarHouse Casino agreed to host the match and broadcast it live on Twitch starting this Sunday, March 19 starting at 3:00 pm EST.
It didn’t take much prodding on Poker Night in America’s part to take on duties as Rush Street Gaming’s Matt Glantz was more than willing to do what was necessary to finalize the details and provide a scene for one of the most anticipated matches in poker history.
“Once I saw Cate and Mike going at it on Twitter and challenging each other to heads up, I jumped on the opportunity so that we could make this ‘Grudge Match’ a Poker Night in America production. SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia is the perfect location for the match. It is directly in between where Mike and Cate reside,” said Glantz.
The pair have agreed to play a best-of-three series of Sit N Gos freezeouts. Each player start withs $15,000 cash and blinds will be $75/$150 for the duration of each match. Shaun Deeb and Doug Polk are teaming up to provide commentary for the live stream.
There have been many “made for TV” confrontations across the sporting world but what separates this match, according to Glantz, is the authentic hostility between the two players.
“There is real animosity between these two. This is not manufactured dislike in any way. These are two polar opposites. Cate is a highly-educated, liberal-minded, math-based poker player, who is relatively new to the scene. Mike is an extremely street-smart, conservative-minded, feel-based player, who has been around poker for twenty-plus years.”
Dentale and Hall haven’t been shy about hiding their hate for each other. In a recent interview, Dentale went as far as to refer to Hall as a “phony bitch” while Hall described Dentale as a “really bad person [who is] a pathological liar and a cheat,” and noted that there is “nothing redeeming about him.”
Both players feel they are superior to the other and are confident about their respective edge.
“I think I have an edge because I’m a better poker player than him. I think I will be able to adjust in-game better than him. On both a fundamental level and live level, I feel like I have a big advantage,” said Hall. “I have a hard time believing he is beating tournaments with relatively high buy-ins or $2/$5. Just because someone has been around for a few years doesn’t mean they’re good,” said Hall.
When faced with a similar question about his opponent’s playing abilities, Dentale responded with, “Any skilled veteran player can see that she’s a bad player. She always tries to not take responsibility for her bad play. I’ve played with her in three WPTs and found her incredibly novice. She has no clue. I firmly believe in my heart she doesn’t have the experience to beat me. There are certain things you need time to learn.”
As for the preparation that each player has gone through prior to the match, both Dentale and Hall have not received formal coaching, but Hall has done the diligence of researching heads up play. Dentale, on the other hand, believes his many years of poker experience will be more than enough to overcome Hall.
“No matter what she does, I’m going to put a lot of veteran pressure on her. I have very good hand reading ability,” said Dentale.
Hall says she considered coaching but when she weighed the cost of hiring one versus the increase in expected value, she decided studying on her own would suffice.
“Given a sample size of a few hundred hands against someone with major holes in their game, I felt I could get myself to 90 percent to where a coach would get me.”
Regardless of who wins the match, Dentale and Hall both think that their play will speak volumes in determining who is the better player. They admit the variance in heads up play is too large to where the purest of results will take form, but each player wants to prove to the audience watching of their superiority.
“I think that what I’ve tried to focus on and get mentally prepared for is, assuming many people are watching, is I want it to be apparent to people that I am playing better than him, if that is the case, it won’t be hard to acknowledge,” said Hall.
The build-up to the match has been like no other and the three months of verbal warfare will be replaced by chips this Sunday inside SugarHouse Casino. Glantz notes that this is “uncharted territory” in the realm of live-streamed poker but he is hoping that the match is able to “capture the interest of the majority of the poker community.”
The audience and social media chatter will be abuzz on March 19 and if Dentale and Hall have proved nothing else, the poker world is in for a one of a kind experience.