WSOP Commentary: Poker and Morality
For a few weeks now, I have been pondering poker and morality. While some believe that the two are mutually exclusive of each other, it has become quite evident what crimes are unforgivable.
Abuse Can Be Overlooked
Some of you may remember my memories of John Bonetti and how I have said in the past he has reminded me of my grandfather. Well, one thing that John and my grandfather shared was a fiery temper. If you were a poker dealer, you knew, despised, and maybe even feared John because he could turn on a dealer at the drop of a pin. There have been many other instances in poker where players have been down right despicable to dealers, floor staff, etc. While this is frowned upon, and maybe penalized, John, and many others have been invited back.
You're a Drug Addict or a Criminal? Welcome to the game.
There are many other stories in the game of poker involving an array of moral and even legal issues. We have had numerous stories of drug addicts and extreme drunkards that are regularly welcomed to the tables and even heralded for their fantastic play while under the influence. Other players have been convicted or pleaded out to crimes such as statutory rape, child molestation, manslaughter, and could still find a spot at the poker table. Without naming names, there are at least 2 that are playing this year at the Main Event that fit under this umbrella.
Don't Worry, the Broken Hand Will Heal
Thang Luu was suspended for a year from the WSOP for breaking a dealer's hand. He outright caused physical injury, maybe even permanent damage to the dealer, but he very well may show up at next year's WSOP. He can clearly play elsewhere. Of course, I won't go into the different instances of fights, shootings, stabbings, etc that we have heard or maybe even experienced from players.
You Cheating Son of a Bitch
The only thing that poker as a community seems to take an firm stance on is the instance of cheating. Early in the WSOP, a player decided that it would be in his best interest to steal chips from another player's stack. The result was an instant and lifetime ban from the World Series of Poker. While it was not stated, one would assume that it also means a lifetime ban from Harrah's properties as well. Even if it doesn't, I cannot see this player having very many opportunities to play on any major poker circuit ever again.
Then there is the issue of Russ Hamilton. Russ Hamilton is a former WSOP Main Event winner. He is also the mastermind behind one of the worst cheating scandals in poker history. Since it was hinted and then subsequently proven he was involved, Hamilton has went underground and has not been heard from. He was not part of the Champions Invitational as last years WSOP and this year, his banner now has a black drape over his face. Hamilton will never be able to play live poker in any substantial way ever again.
While I have no qualms about Hamilton's treatment, it does go to show you the mentality and the morality of many poker players and the industry as a whole. You can almost get away with anything under the sun as long as you don't cheat the game or the players. If you are an honest player, everything else can be forgiven, or at the very least overlooked. However, if you are a cheat, fuck you and we hope you die.