Getting (A)Buzzed

In the comments on my post The Online Poker Arms Race Revisited Kim Lund referenced a post he wrote about Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth leaving UB titled, Annie Duke leaving UB. So?. In that post he makes an excellent, excellent point that I want to expand on.

Kim writes:

There’s no doubt that poker has Superstars just like any sport. And that the players of the game have their favorites and their Phil Hellmuths. But when PokernewsDaily reports that “The Twitterverse has been quite active since yesterday’s announcement that the two most prominent faces of the site, Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke, would be leaving…” I think the perspective on “quite active” is a little narrower than it would need to be to cause the type of fan migration or outrage similar moves by ahtletes can cause. LeBron James anyone? Sure, we in the industry discuss it. Those with a personal connection to Annie or Phil chime in, and those with a professional tie to the affair say what needs to be said. But is that it?

My grasp of the Twitterverse isn’t yet what it should be, so I could be totally wrong. Maybe this news is flooding twitter. I’d love to be wrong. But I just doubt anyone playing on UB went “fuck you, Annie, you traitor” or “screw this place, I’m going with Annie!”

And I doubt anyone ever went, “oh boy, I need to play at UB now that Annie plays there!” in the first place.

First off, it’s a point that needs said and it supports exactly everything I’ve ever posted about this whole sponsorship problem the industry has. But more importantly, it also highlights the narrow view of the poker journalism world.

Now before I go off on a rant here let me just say that I understand the saying, Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. What I’m about to do should not be taken personally by anybody. I am criticizing the game, not the player. I know most poker journalists would love to operate under better circumstances but they do operate in a particular world and they have to play by certain rules they may not like.

Okay, with that out of the way, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people start off sentences or posts/stories saying that the poker world is abuzz or active or going crazy over some issue. WRONG! You are. Your very narrow universe is. But not the entire space which you claim.

For instance, as Kim points out, the Twitterverse is not exploding over the news that Phil and Annie are leaving UB. It is exploding in your narrow universe of other poker journalists, fans of Hellmuth, and some various industry people, but they make up a very small percentage of the total Twitterverse.

Because we work in this industry we tend to be very knowledgable about things going on in it. But to most poker players news like this doesn’t mean a damned thing. For instance, I enjoy shooting pool. I even played last season in the Bangkok Pool League. I know the names of maybe a dozen professional pool or snooker players.

Do you think for a moment that I care what kind of pool cue that Jeanette Lee uses? Not a bit. Do I care if they legalize gambling on pool competitions in California? Nope. I just like playing the game. That’s it. I don’t hang out on pool forums or follow famous pool players on Twitter. And I think that sort of attitude represents most pool players.

And I consider that a pretty normal attitude amongst poker players. They like playing the game. They might love watching Phil Hellmuth saying he can dodge bullets but do they really care about who his sponsor is? Are they “abuzz” about the announcement? Are they tweeting it to all of their friends? Posting about it on Facebook?

No and no. Only people involved in the industry are doing that stuff. Your typical poker player doesn’t know nor does he care.

Here’s someone who gets it, David Peat (around 3:30 into the video) where he talks about what a joke it is that on a certain poker forum about 300 people beat to death issues that the other 20 million people who play poker don’t even care about.

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.

5 thoughts on “Getting (A)Buzzed”

  1. Appreciate the comment lightning36. The boundaries of celebrity do seem to get crossed on far too frequent of a basis. Tiger Woods draws in people to Nike. Phil Hellmuth may or may not (need to check with UB about that). Either way, it’s not a clear cut model.

  2. Dang — talk about hitting the nail right on the head …

    The poker world has evolved greatly since the beginning of the Moneymaker Generation. Poker peaked and, unless there is a new wave of enthusiasm in the future based upon a revision of USA laws, the fascination with poker pros also peaked. The only pros that I am concerned about are the ones I might face across the table in a tournament.

    Whether Phil Helmuth and Annie Duke are shilling for UB or some other site makes little difference to me. Revise the schedule at the WSOP or change gambling laws in one of the states and I’ll take notice.

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