Lee Davy shares his opinion that cheating in poker is a normal part of the game. One that we need to start accepting or go and play Bridge with your grandparents.
Rayontra McCall runs up to the driver’s side of Chad Nelson’s car and punches him in the face. As his fist crunches into a mass of flesh and bone, Nelson shoots McCall twice in the chest. He falls to the floor, dust flies into the air. His eyes close. They never open again. A life cut short by a game of poker.
This is what happened outside Willy’s Bar in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, earlier this week. Moments earlier the pair were playing poker when McCall’s uncle accused Nelson of cheating. He denied it. The pair decided to settle the matter outside. The consequences of that dispute were fatal.
I know what you’re thinking.
Another story of treachery and violence linked to poker. This constant barrage of brown smelly stuff is starting to make Alexander Dreyfus and poker look like a pair of star-crossed lovers. The Global Poker Index (GPI) owner is trying desperately to ‘Sportify’ poker. The process calls for a much improved profile. We need to be more attractive to non gambling companies. We are blowing it big time.
It’s not everyday that someone kills someone over our game. I get that. But it’s an unusual occurrence to go a week without some sort of scandal hitting both our online and live game. It’s crippling Dreyfus’s ability to promote our game as a serious sport, and that affects everyone in a detrimental way.
It was like a large bomb had gone off inside my empty head this week. Thick black smoke is still making its way past the dark brown wax that line the insides of my lobes. I realized that poker was never going to improve its image. It is a lost cause. It doesn’t matter how hard Dreyfus works, it doesn’t matter how many lives our charities save in Africa, our industry is still based on the foundation of addiction. It’s our controlling partner, and it’s choking the life out of us.
Let’s take the past fortnight as an example.
Brian Hastings is accused of using a VPN to play online poker from America. Reports surface to indicate that this is a common practice. Hastings is also accused of playing on PokerStars under an account belonging to someone else. Whilst this pissed most people off, it seems that the biggest pisser was the fact that he didn’t tell certain high stakes players of his plans. That leads me to believe that had he told everyone within the industry, then the plan is given the green light.
Then Jack Salter accused Melanie Weisner and Dylan Wilkerson of ‘soft play’ when playing at the S&G tables together at the Rio. My first instinct was to go looking for a ‘cheat scandal’. Wilkerson has since said the idea is preposterous. But people keep throwing shit at the fan.
PokerStars have this week increased restrictions on third-party software after several stories emerged over the use of various forms of electronic gadgetry invented to create an edge on unsuspected opponents.
I could go on and on.
Speaking to Talal Shakerchi this week, he said this about poker:
“There is a dark side to the industry and a exploitive element where to be successful some poker players – particularly cash game players – feel the need to find weaker players and exploit them. For some of them it’s the dream to find a rich Russian businessman or degenerate gambler they can take advantage of. That can get unsavory. I prefer poker as a competition where it’s an intellectual pursuit where people compete against other similarly skilled people. I don’t like that other side of poker.”
I echo Shakerchi’s sentiments. Our game reeks of desperation. It’s the addiction that is written into the games DNA. If the game is so tough, and there are very few winners, why is it unusual to see players fall by the wayside? It doesn’t happen half as often as you would think it would.
People don’t leave because they have nowhere to go. The poker community in itself is an addiction, never mind the game. It’s a way of life. That is why people will do whatever it takes to be a part of it. And they succeed, that’s why nobody leaves. It’s not a mystery anymore. There are no more secrets. I was interviewing Daniel Negreanu when he told me he had been blackmailed. I didn’t even interrogate him further. That’s how normalized cheating is in our game.
I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon either.
I attended a Transcendental Meditation (TM) seminar a few months ago. The speaker told the crowd that TM was having its intended impact on the world. There is less war in the world than at any other time in history. I nearly choked on my blessed coconut water. That couldn’t be true. The Internet was strewn with stories of war and chaos on a daily basis. Then I read Peter Singer’s new book and he said exactly the same thing.
Social media and the Internet means stories reach more eyeballs than ever before, but don’t let that fool you into believing everything is getting worse. We were never witness to as much atrocity because Steve Jobs hadn’t yet turned his dreams into a tangible product. The smoldering toxicity of our game was written into the rules at insemination.
It’s time to shrug our shoulders and accept the game for what it is. It’s a bad bastard. You can blame our desperate need for the accumulation of money for that. It seduces all of us at one time or another and I paint myself black along with everyone else.
Can Alex Dreyfus defuse this bomb?
The fucker exploded years ago, but we were too busy thinking up the next scam to hear it.