There’s nothing wrong with a little playful ribbing in poker, or in any sport. However, when it goes too far, it can be seen as bullying and attacking for attack’s sake. Poker Night in America (PNIA) has apparently gone too far, routinely calling out amateurs for their lack of experience (news flash—that’s why they’re called amateurs).
PNIA has become the target of poker pro Jake Cody’s ire after commentators ridiculed an amateur participating in a final table that the show was broadcasting live. The tournament was the C$2,200 buy-in World Cup of Cards Canadian Poker Championship from September 2017 and the player was Sebastien Labbe. The treatment Labbe received by PNIA’s hosts was nothing more than “disgusting,” asserts Cody.
Going into the game, Labbe only had a single cash to his credit, per Hendon Mob, for just $374. The commentators felt it necessary to point this out to the viewing audience (within the player’s earshot) and added that he was intentionally slow-playing. One commentator added, “Labbe, wasting our time for no reason.”
PNIA later posted the video on YouTube, providing it with a title of “Embarrassing Play By Amateur at Final Table.” This is where Cody really got incensed. He called out PNIA on Twitter, saying, “Headline reads “EMBARRASSING play by AMATEUR at FINAL TABLE” the commentator mocks the guy for having $374 in live cashes on Henson mob. This is a completely unnecessary and disgusting.”
The PokerStars pro also came across a couple of other PNIA videos that seemed to enjoy shaming players. In a separate tweet, he exposed the titles, tweeting, “Some more video titles from PNIA. ‘RICH FISH invited to Ladies night!’ ‘AMATEUR makes MASSIVE MISTAKE at his first FINAL TABLE.’”
His tweets received a lot of positive response, including one by Summer Tobie, a recreational poker player. She stated, “I actually agree that’s so gross. It’s so embarrassing already as a new player without being picked on like this. Everyone says poker needs new players but with attitudes like this it’s not surprising so many people don’t get into it.” Poker player and streamer Kevin Martin added, “Man, that’s so brutal for a poker brand to do that.”
PNIA made an attempt at saving its reputation, but it probably didn’t help. It responded to the thread, posting, “Hey Jake, thanks for the feedback. Tongue in cheek tone didn’t come through. We’ll change the title, and drinks on us next time we’re in town.” The title of the video now simply reads, “He Called with What?” Nice try, PNIA, but better luck next time.