|Artist, Margaret W. Tarrant|
The DOJ's action on Black Friday (warranted as it was) was bad enough and certainly brought to light some of online poker's worst business practices. Since then, though, and thanks to Twitter and Quad Jacks, I've learned so much more about some aspects of the poker community and about online poker, in particular, that I'm just pretty much disgusted with the whole thing.
For example, apparently it is actually a lot more common than I thought for pros to multi-account (i.e., cheat). For every Nick Rainey, how many others *don't* we know about? I can't help it. After hearing Nick publicly admit to cheating on QuadJacks this week, I am questioning *every* major win online. In my mind, ghosting/multi-accounting in online poker is no different than doping in professional sports and a fail safe mechanism to protect against the activity must be implemented when regs eventually get passed legislating online poker. If you guys want more fish in your pond, then you better clean the freaking lake. If not, how can an amateur like me encourage people like my mom or family members or friends to give it a try when, and if, it ever gets regulated? Right now, I would tell even my worst enemy to avoid online poker like the plague (yes, moot point, I know, but you see what I mean...I hope). And honestly, knowing how well our federal government regulates things...? Sigh.
But let's look at what else is disgusting...When I first read Ivey's FB page post, I admired his statement and I still do. Dude drew first blood and was able to frame the action in a manner most favorable to him. In the court of public opinion, he aligned himself with, and championed, all players wronged by Full Tilt's horrible business practices. But be clear what he's doing. This is not about my frozen FT bankroll and it ain't about yours. Nope, this is very much about Ivey protecting what's his, as *any* good businessman should do. As @Grange95 so succinctly put it, "Ivey's lawsuit is 99.44% about Ivey's contract, non-compete clause, & funds on Full Tilt. Other players? Lip service."
For *anyone* to bash Ivey for doing that, they're crazy. He's not your uncle, your counselor, your savior. He's a brand, a business man, and an entity unto himself. He made that happen. Not FullTilt and not Tony G and not Mike the Mouth or anyone else. If that were you, and your livelihood was on the line - what would you do? Seriously. Think about it. If you tried to work things out with your partners to no avail, you'd lawyer up. And that's what's happened here. Litigation, like the making of sausage, is really a gross and unpleasant endeavor and the longer this goes on the more...um...mashed up sausage casing, I guess, we're going to see. I'm sad that it won't just be us, the poker community, seeing it. I can only hope, though, that all of this will serve as a catalyst to get online poker back up and running in a safe and regulated environment (that is not raked so bad that it becomes cost prohibitive).
This post is not a "Team Ivey" or a "Team whoever" post. It's just my opinion about what I see a businessman doing, which for better or worse has an impact on a lot of other people. But it's for that reason that I think it's pretty gross to see people in the industry, especially some of the more vocal pros of late, publicly decrying Ivey's actions and laying the groundwork to, in effect, blame him for Full Tilt's failures. Ivey filing this lawsuit, sure, may not have been good for Full Tilt's ability to get funding to pay players back - but how is Full Tilt's inability to pay Ivey's fault?
Unless it is shown that Ivey is responsible for the entirety of FT's business practices, including drafting, overseeing, and ultimately approving the agreements that allowed the non-segregation of player funds, then this public blamefest is nothing more than form over substance (which, sadly, happens every day when business deals go sour and former partners become locked in a death battle to "get what's theirs"). Do you honestly believe, though, that any of the pros, much less Ivey, were involved to that extent? (Whether they should've been and/or have provisions protecting them from the actions and omissions of their partners is another issue and not the subject of this post.)
I mean, it's like one minute these pros (I'm thinking of a couple) hate each other and are mortal enemies, but the next, they're best friends aligned in support of the hate on Ivey train. Talk about your flip floppers...it's just gross guys, so please stop. Plus, I honestly can't help but see it as just another PR ploy (akin to Ivey's FB statement, but a day late and a dollar short - because IVEY GOT THERE FIRST) to "manage the damage" in the court of public opinion.
In life, everyone's always shooting for an angle. Good poker players know this better than the general public and better than even the best of lawyers. Ivey is, arguably, the best poker player in the world. The impact his most recent actions will have on the poker industry will be worth watching for a long time to come. I, like many, wish those actions could have been observed on the felt rather than in a courtroom, but you tell me, who do we really have to blame for that?