Forgive Mark McGwire - Forget Russ Hamilton
In many sports, when a player makes a big mistake, many of us will forgive that player if they come clean and apologize. Earlier in the week, former St. Louis Cardinals superstar Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids during his career. While this was not a surprise to anyone, McGwire has dodged the question for a long time. The only reason he is saying anything now is because he has been hired as a hitting coach for the Cardinals.
The backlash to McGwire is mixed right now, but over time, McGwire will be forgiven and he will move on. Whether he makes the Hall of Fame is still debatable, but he will at least be able to work in Major League Baseball. As a whole, fans are usually pretty forgiving. They will forgive infidelity, murder, theft, and even dog fighting as long as their player performs and shows some type of âremorse.â
Thinking about poker, there are some instances where players have blatantly cheated or had other issues in their lives and many have welcomed them back with open arms. Mike Matusow is very beloved by fans even after his drug use history and prison stint. Amarillo Slim pleaded no contest to child molestation charges and many still welcome him with open arms. (Granted, Slim claims his innocence and many pros back that back including Doyle Brunson.)
However, there is one player that I honestly think will NEVER be welcomed back with open arms, and that is Russ Hamilton. After all that has gone on with the UltimateBet cheating scandal, it is safe to say that his career is done. He spearheaded a team of people that blatantly cheated people out of money consistently over a long period of time. This isnât a grey issue such as that with Isildur1 where people developed a strategy based on data mining practices that are âagainst a sites TOS.â This was a group of people using software to illegally look at other playerâs cards.
Hamilton didnât make decisions that affected him or a select few individuals. He made decisions that defrauded a large group of people and that cost UltimateBet millions. Nobody is stepping up to defend him. The evidence is in black and white. Even if by some chance Hamilton were to repay UltimateBet the millions he helped to steal, he will forever be marked as a cheater.
The scope of what Hamilton did is so broad that I donât think that he can ever rebound. It is sad because he did win the silver anniversary WSOP Main Event. Sadly, for the rest of his life, the stigma of being a thief and a cheater will far outweigh any accomplishment that he has ever made in poker.