Confessions of a Poker Writer: Online Poker Rooms, Show Some Respect to Your Former Team Members

TAGs: Confessions of a Poker Writer, Poker Writer Confessions

In this week’s confessions series, Lee Davy, compares the handling of the end of Liverpool midfielder, Steven Gerrard’s contract, with Team PokerStars Pro, Jonathan Duhamel, and he’s not happy.

Steven Gerrard has been at the helm of Liverpool FC for the past decade. At the time of writing he has made 500 appearances for the club, scored 117 goals, and played for his country 114 times, scoring 21 times. He was the main reason that Liverpool won the Champions League trophy in 2005.

Confessions of a Poker Writer: Online Poker Rooms, Show Some Respect to Your Former Team MembersAt the turn of the year Liverpool announced to the press that their very own Roy of the Rovers would be leaving at the end of the season. Steven Gerrard also made a statement to that fact. A few weeks later, LA Galaxy announced they had obtained his signature, and the Liverpool club captain would be moving to America in the summer.

Steven Gerrard doesn’t work for Rank Xerox. He is a star amongst stars. It’s important that the media, and his fans, were made aware of his contract position, and the in’s and outs of his impending departure.

So how does this compare to poker?

I recently wrote a piece, advising readers of my work, that Jonathan Duhamel was leaving PokerStars after four years as a member of Team Pro. It’s difficult to quantify his impact in terms of adding to the PokerStars player base, but what a player.

I first met Duhamel in the build up to the 2010 November Nine. I had only been in the business for a few months. My first two interviews were Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Liv Boeree – two very different English poker players. Duhamel would be my first overseas interview.

We met in the Hilton in London. We had to be quick. PokerStars had organized some media training for him. He spoke with a rapid tongue. That was nerves. Over the years I interviewed him numerous times, and that rapid tongue calmed down. He was in cloud cuckoo land. He was going to be paid to play the game that he loved. A few months later he became the champion of the world.

He won nearly $4m representing PokerStars. He was a rare breed in as much as he won the WSOP Main Event and then progressed. To all intents and purposes the man was a star of our game. Like Steven Gerrard is in his. So why are the two treated so differently?

I found out that Duhamel had left PokerStars when Google sent an article my way. That article had been written by another poker site that had picked up something after Duhamel turned up to play at the World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championships without his patch. They checked the Stars Team Pro web page and noted Duhamel’s omission. They contacted Stars directly who confirmed he had left.

Is this the way we should be conducting business?

This is not a Stars witch-hunt either. It’s rare, if at all, that an online poker room goes to print thanking a player for their loyal service, and explaining the decision to let them go. We may find some automated after-the-event response. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a process that allows the media to learn that a player is leaving ahead of time.

talkSport host Adrian Durham recently alleged that Liverpool is not doing enough for Steven Gerrard after all he has done for the club. I wonder what our online poker rooms do for the players once their contracts are up. Sure, there are some who do not deserve a resounding send off. But Jonathan Duhamel? Are you kidding me? I believe he has done a wonderful job whilst representing the PokerStars brand, and the largest online poker room in the world should honor him.

His exit smacks of disrespect.

It’s as if no one cares.

This is an online poker room that will tell you that the care of their customer is their priority. It doesn’t work like that. If you really have a heart then it shows in all of your actions. Looking after your customers, creating funds to help those in need after the Nepal earthquake, and taking care of people who were once your family.

Perhaps, I have gotten this wrong?

Perhaps, after his contract expired PokerStars organized a huge party for him. All of his teammates signed a poker table and presented it to him. He was hugged, kissed, and thanked incessantly for the contribution he made to the team.

Perhaps, that happened.

How would I know?

The process doesn’t work that way.


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