Poker And Our Moral Responsibility
Let me begin by saying I am not a journalist or blogger but simply a 44 year old female poker player who loves the game. What I love about poker is not just the game itself but the social experiences it allows us as people to enjoy. When I sit down at a cash game or tournament I love to talk and meet friendly players and even try to have some fun with the grumpiest of them all. The game of poker is not just a game in my opinion, it is a complete social experience.
Poker has allowed many companies the opportunity to showcase and sell their apparel, gear and various products to us, the consumer. Some of these companies are small and rely on social media to fuel their growth. I joined Twitter a few years ago during the WSOP
to keep track of how some friends were doing and for its instant access to news. Since then I have seen the power of all social media as a means to market and promote even the smallest of start ups and ideas.
I have, unfortunately, also seen the negative side of this instant access to the whole world and the poker community.
That brings me to one big question: what is our moral responsibility when we represent the game of poker? (By "our" I refer to both players and companies representing the game in all ways.)
Two experiences have compelled me to write this. I will not use names, though, so as to stay focused on the main issues.
The WSOP is fast approaching I decided to spend my day doing research for the player draft I play in yearly. I was doing internet searches for various players who represent some of these apparel teams I have seen on Twitter. I came across a player whom I did not know and decided to Google him. The first page listed his Twitter account, poker results and that he was a registered sex offender arrested and charged for Criminal Attempt Sexual Assault on a Child a few years back. At the time of his arrest he was 26 years old. Now he was representing a poker apparel company as part of their team.
My initial reaction was shock and disgust that any company would allow a registered sex offender to represent them in the business of poker. I contacted the company privately explaining that I was doing WSOP draft research on the Internet and were they aware that this player on their team was a registered sex offender. The answer I received was "Do people deserve a second chance? Just wondering." After my initial bewilderment at this response I answered back that in my opinion second chances are not on a black and white scale. Any type of a "criminal sexual assault on a child" and a 26 year old man does not warrant such a chance and that a business owner in the poker community must use judgement on what or who deserves second chances. The answer I received was "We will follow up...thx for the info..."
I must admit I was disgusted that anyone in my beloved poker world would believe a registered sex offender was a proper and moral choice to represent them on and off the felt. My train of thought then went to question if there were others out there who believed the same as this company owner, that this player deserved a second chance to do what thousands of up and coming poker players would love to do, represent an apparel company as part of their poker team. I can't be the only person who believes your team players are the moral backbone of your company.
The second experience I had a couple weeks ago related to my topic was a tweet from a poker player who got knocked out of a tournament and then proceeded to go on Twitter to write about the player who knocked them out. The tweet written about the knockout hand was rude and very disrespectful to the other player whom I assume, based on the description, was an older woman.
I asked what this full time poker player got out of calling another player out on social media with such terrible and mean language. The answer I got was a bunch of excuses; it not being their best moment, mega tilt, they had planned on deleting the tweet and apologizing (which still has not been done) with the final excuse being "freedom of speech".
Free speech is one of the most important aspects of our beautiful country. I am all for free speech and it's incredible power. However, to quote Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, "remember, with great power, comes great responsibility". This full time poker player also represents a poker company while they play and tweet.
Do you not have a moral responsibility to the company you represent to conduct yourself with class and show respect to the other players? Have we lost, as a poker community, the ability to be morally responsible and have basic common courtesy to our fellow competitors and customers?
As we fight to have the wonderful game of poker recognized across the world let's not lose sight of the best part of this game I love...people.
I'd love for some feedback from this forum. I chose this space to have some respectful and thoughtful discussion on these issues.