Isaac Haxton is the latest member of PokerStars Team Online to leave the employment of the world’s largest online gambling company in reaction to their decision to significantly alter Supernova and Supernova Elite bonuses.
Entrepreneur Seth Godin believes that the happy theory of business ethics is to do the right thing. If you follow that rule, Godin believes long-term profits will follow.
Flip the coin and there is an opposite view. Godin calls it the unhappy theory of well, you get the point.
“You have a fiduciary responsibility to maximise profit. Period. To do anything other than that is to cheat your investors. And in a competitive world, you don’t have much wiggle room here.” Says Godin.
PokerStars management team is in a prickling pepper of a pickle. A rock and a hard place. The once darlings of the poker community are having their eyes pecked out by the crows. Orders from above are burning the wings off the players who once flew so close to Orion The Hunter. The sulphurous smoke is slowly choking the life out of them. The crows are so fat; they can barely move. Once made of adamantine. PokerStars are wobbling like jelly at a kids party.
Isaac Haxton joined the ranks of PokerStars Team Online in 2012.
“It was one of my proudest moments in my career as a professional poker player,” wrote Haxton on 2+2.
If anyone understands the pain felt by the current crop of Supernova (SN) and Supernova Elite (SNE) players, it’s Ike. He has reached the SNE summit on four occasions. He knows what it is like to grind a million VPPs in a single year. For those not willing to make heroic sacrifices, the task is positively Sisyphean.
Isaac Haxton left the ranks of PokerStars Team Online as 2016 came smouldering into view.
I have resigned from PokerStars in protest of the changes to the Supernova and Supernova Elite programs: https://t.co/I7c49fB00D
— Isaac Haxton (@ikepoker) January 1, 2016
The announcement comes in the midst of a second player boycott. It started Jan 1 and will end Jan 7. According to news via Flushdraw.net, players will sit out of the games and cash out at least 10% of their monies. A third boycott tentatively planned for Feb 2 through Feb 11. A fourth is also in the pipeline. There is still no news of strike action at the upcoming PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) or any other further live event associated with PokerStars, although I would think it’s another logical step.
It also comes on the back of some Kentuckian maniacs decision to drive a $871 million stake into the heart of Amaya Gaming Inc. Although it may be some years before that jab proves fatal (PokerStars have appealed the ruling), it’s another pain in the proverbial ass.
The Ike Statement
Haxton followed up his tweet with a well thought out statement on 2+2 (Read the full statement here.
For the lazy amongst you here are the cliff notes that attracted my attention.
It’s not the first time that Haxton has had clashes with the vision of values of his former employer.
“I have vehemently opposed certain changes that were made or lobbied strongly in favor of changes which were not implemented.”
However, this time, they crossed a line.
“I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.”
As we have repeatedly read in volumes of verse, the Tyrannosaurus Rex size bone of contention is PokerStars handling of the SN & SNE bonuses.
“There’s a lot not to like about these most recent changes and the way they’ve been communicated, but there’s one aspect that I just can’t accept. Announcing in November that players who earned Supernova and Supernova Elite status in 2015 will not receive the benefits they had expected in 2016 strikes me as dishonest and unfair.”
Every person in employment can find empathy with this situation.
“Finding out, just as you approach the finish line, that your efforts will not be rewarded as you expected them to be is brutal.”
The way that PokerStars acted, and the negative waves of feedback that are now decimating their shores, placed members of PokerStars Team Pro and Team Online in a tight spot.
“I cannot in good conscious continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way.”
Haxton’s contract had expired. However, he has since explained that PokerStars offered him an extension, and he turned it down.
The feedback has been almost universally positive. A few dissenters are questioning his timing. The main point raised is Haxton’s decision to quit as his contract came to an end. I am sure Haxton will address that issue as soon as he can, especially now the ball gag has been removed.
One person who is not buying Haxton’s baptism into poker’s halls of martyrdom is David ‘Bakes’ Baker. You may remember that it was Baker who first rumbled Brian Hastings in the Noel Hayes scandal, and applied pressure on Isaac Haxton and Jason Mercier to come forward and admit they knew Hastings was using the account. Haxton later came forward, but not at the speed at which Baker would have liked.
Writing in the same 2+2 thread, Baker states:
“You had the chance to do the right thing when Brian Hastings told you about his multi account and you did absolutely nothing.
“The stand you are taking right now is admirable, but in my opinion, it hardly outweighs your unwillingness to act when confronted with cheating, and your silence until public pressure mounted.”
Will More PokerStars Team Pros/Team Online Members Follow?
Haxton is not the first player to leave PokerStars over their handling of the SN & SNE changes. Only last week Alex ‘Kanu7″ Millar also resigned in a values clash over the new changes. A few years ago, Vicky Coren-Mitchell also left after PokerStars decided to roll out an online casino product on their online poker site.
In his statement, Haxton writes:
“I am, however, happy and relieved to now be able to speak candidly about the recent changes. I have every intention of responding to questions, and I’m excited to join the ongoing conversation.”
There could be two reasons for this relief, and the quietness that stems from the motions of the remaining members of the team. Haxton could have been commercially bound to keep his mouth shut while in a contract. Another reason he may have stayed quiet was out of respect for his employers. As Haxton clearly indicates in his statement, although they have clearly overstepped the mark, he has had many wonderful times working for the company and owes them a great deal.
The same two reasons can be sensibly offered up as to why more members have not spoken out against the changes.
When it comes to leaving?
Unless there is a contractual reason stopping people from leaving one assumes there are only two viable reasons for staying.
A). They need the money.
B). They agree with the changes.
Neither of which mattered to Haxton.