Friday, Apr 20, 2012 Two Big Steps the Poker Industry Can Take to Clean Up Its Image
Mike Sexton wrote a piece two days ago called "Poker Pros - Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" where he challenged poker players to clean up their image for the good of the game.
Poker Junkie blogger Compncards followed up with his own blog asking whether pro players know what it means to be professional.
Today he outlines a couple of things that the poker industry and the poker media can do to help clean up the game.
1) Adopt a Universal Code of Conduct
Everyone recognizes the TDA as being the authority when it comes to rules in poker tournaments. Perhaps it's time that they or another organization expand that and setup a poker player code of conduct that would be universally applied to poker events.
The Epic Poker League had its Ethics Committee and while I'm not suggesting something quite as drastic, I do suggest the following:
- Basic dress code with tighter standards for final tables.
- Harsher penalties for players who abuse other players
- Clear definitions of what classifies as abuse at the poker table
- Stricter enforcement of penalties for "professional" and "known players."
Most organizations have some type of code of conduct for its members or employees whether written or implied. If poker players refuse to behave themselves, then standards should be in place to either force them to behave or ban them from the game.
Also, if casinos adopt these standards, they need to have the backbone to enforce them and not cave when someone complains. If Phil Hellmuth gets a penalty during a WSOP event, Jack Effel should back the play of his employees and not overturn it.
If a pro gets kicked out of an event, he should not be allowed to go complain to someone higher on the management chain and get his money back. I have seen this actually happen.
Some casinos or poker room managers will not like this sort of policy as they are afraid that players will leave and not come back.
Let them leave. People that would rather play where jerks aren't allowed will take their spot.
2) Quit Feeding Pros' Egos
The poker media can help in the quest to clean up the game by a few simple steps. First, quit the continual hyping of the side of the game that is clearly frowned upon.
A vast majority of Americans do not think that getting stoned on your break is a good thing. Most Americans do not look at being a "degenerate" as being a good thing. Many Americans don't think it's funny when a person brags about conducting criminal activity.
However, when we as poker media see this, we go into "ooh, this will get us page views" and we report on it. This in turn feeds their egos and it becomes ok for the behavior to continue.
In the long term, poker pros look like degenerates, pot heads and criminals.
Can you think of the last time that we talked about poker pros giving back to the community? (Daniel telling us about his charity work on his vlog doesn't count).
How many "feel good" stories can you think of over the last two weeks that did not involve "Full Tilt reopening soon" or "Big One for One Drop?" If the "Big One" wasn't a $1 million buy-in event hyped by the WSOP, would we be talking about it?
If we want to see poker's image continue to improve, we need to give it a bit of a push. Fewer "this pro doesn't like this pro" articles and fewer "look at my mad crib yo" articles and more about the positive aspects of our game.
If a poker pro acts a fool, don't make it cool. It isn't cool. If Daniel calls out Annie, call it what it is - verbal abuse against a woman. Don't call it "Daniel being outspoken."
By the way, verbal abuse against women is also frowned upon by almost all Americans. Yet we use it for page views.
A shift in thinking is needed if we are to help improve poker's image. Whether it be casinos, poker room mangers or media members, we need to focus more on what's good for the game and a little less on what's best for our bottom line.