Thursday, February 16, 2012


Lots of interesting stuff made the rounds this week in the poker world.

Of note was this post by poker professional, Jason Somerville (@JasonSomerville), in which he comes out as a gay man. It won’t be the last time in his life that he comes out, but hopefully it will be one of the sweetest.

I was glad to see Jason get a lot of positive feedback to this information, which is as it should be (imo)! The world, it is a-changing, and I think most people understand that being gay is just one of many things that make up the whole of a person. So, good on you, Jason, the courage it takes to be honest and real is an inspiration and admirable.

Hard-Boiled Poker did a nice job of covering the story and reminds us what a discomfiting thing it can be to play poker. Shamus wrote, “it is a most self-conscious thing to play poker.” To play it seriously, we must be willing to think about “(1) who we really are, (2) who we are perceived to be, and (3) the relationship between the reality and the image.” Quoting Anthony Holden, he further shares:

Whether he likes it or not, a man’s character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life.
Matt Glantz also laid out some honesty this week in a post from Saturday, in which he calls on FullTilt Poker to do the right thing by players and break what has become a nearly year-long “black hole of silence.” He didn’t sugar coat things:
Your continued public silence is a disgrace. It is not only irresponsible, but also thoughtlessly unfair to the thousands of players who have money tied up in your ongoing debacle….I am embarrassed for you and I am ashamed of you.
Kid Poker brought his own brand of “real talk” to the fray in a video blog in which he also didn’t mince words:
I don’t think I would have any problem with somebody who had $15,000 dollars of their hard earned money on your site come up to you and bash you in the nuts with a baseball bat.
It should be noted, Negreanu seems careful to be sans any patching or sponsorship logos (I can’t tell if his hat has a logo blocked out with tape or if that’s just the hat) and he does clarify:
I’m not gonna personally do it, ok, and I’m not Charles Manson so I’m not gonna be, like, sending messages to people to go “Hmm! That’s a great idea!” If somebody wants to bash you in the nuts for what you did, they’re gonna bash you in the nuts whether I say so or not. And like I said, for me, that’d be ok.
In essence, Glantz and Negreanu are saying the same thing – FullTilt’s silence is despicable. I think Negreanu’s brand of “real talk” gets more play, though, because when people get wronged we automatically want to lash out. And right now, there are a lot of people who’d love to take a baseball bat to FullTilt Poker and all associated with them. We like real talk. We want people to tell us how it really is, because by God we can handle the truth. And besides, there's a huge difference between saying you want to kick someone's nuts in - and actually doing it. 

Unfortunately, while bashing somebody in the nuts (or talking about it) might feel good in the moment, it’s not going to bring back the money. Ultimately, all a bashing would do is serve to get the basher a criminal record for assault and battery, a hefty bill for legal fees, and maybe some prison time of his or her own. But, geez...people are crazy, and who knows whether someone will take the bait and apply some knee to the 'nads back alley justice one of these days.

Calling him "the most important voice in poker", Glantz recognizes that the words and actions of poker's top ambassador carry weight, when he tweeted:

But, that's Daniel Negreanu, the royalty of real talk, as we've come to know him and as Somerville coined him in his recent post.

Still, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another high profile person who took some flack for using some questionable rhetoric and propaganda in an altogether different arena. That person was Sarah Palin. And her targets were Democrats. Gabrielle Giffords, who had predicted there could be repercussions for the escalation of violent rhetoric in the media, ended up in the crossfire.

Making the decision to come out publicly, even in a society that is becoming increasingly tolerant and accepting, takes guts. It's real and it's admirable.

Calling a thief a thief, is just the truth (if it is indeed the truth, otherwise, it's just slander). 

Rhetoric from high level representatives that encourages people to "reload and take aim" or incites anger or ill-conceived action in some already well-pissed off people is just noise and nonsense, at best, and irresponsible, at worst.

There were some good take-aways in both Glantz and Negreanu's missives. Namely, their speaking up about an injustice that's impacted a lot of people. That's always a good thing. But instead of a bat to the balls, it's Negreanu's other idea that could, perhaps, better (and without physical injury!) convey his disgust.

Concerted shunning is often more powerful than any word or any weapon could ever be.


  1. I don't disagree with your general theme, but want to make a point of clarification: There is no evidence that Jared Loughner's shooting of Giffords and the others was politically motivated. We just have no idea why he did it. Attribution of motivation is nothing but speculation at this point.

    As usual, the writers at Reason magazine (my favorite political publication) nail it from every angle:

  2. With all due respect, I think the comparison of Negreanu's way over the top rhetoric to Sarah Palin is misguided, and frankly beneath you. The language that Palin used, ie, "targeting" congressional districts, is very common in politics, used by both Republicans and Democrats. It is very clear what she meant, and many, many political terms are taken from war (ie, the "war room" and "battleground states.") Negreanu is is not using poker terms at all in his hyperbole, unless you think he means taking a baseball bat to Chris Ferguson's "nut flush." I don't think that's what he meant.

    He is clearly going right up to the line of advocating violence, albeit then walking it back a tiny bit by saying he isn't really suggesting anyone would do it, but he'd be ok if someone else did. Yeah, right Dan-o.

    There's no analogy between that and Palin, and it is particularly funny that Palin was so falsely accused of this considering the absolutely unprecedented amount of venom and vitriol that has been hurled at her.

  3. Gross. Sometimes what I mean to convey and what I actually convey is really, poorly executed. Sounds like this is one of those times. I will resist making things worse by trying to clarify here, but did want to say thanks for the feedback.

  4. Don't sweat it. I think your comments about Negreanu were perfectly valid. Perhaps there was a better anaology to make than the one you chose?

  5. For sure, Rob. Maybe the better idea would've been for me to just avoid analogy altogether!


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