The last few episodes of the PokerStars Big Game have sparked an explosive discussion in the poker world and, not surprisingly, it was Tony G’s big mouth that lit the fuse.
The issue on the table has to do with etiquette and respect, and how those two things fit into an entertainment television show like The Big Game.
We’ve got a clip of the hand that’s at the center of this discussion so check it out now if you haven’t already.
Like most issues there are two sides to this story.
On the one hand we have Andrew Robl. He’s playing for a significant amount of his own money and he’s taking the game seriously. He’s trying to make money and he’s putting that goal above entertaining a television audience.
Robl is taking his time making decisions and he’s not “giving action” by straddling, limping and playing with a VPIP over 50.
On the other side of the fence we have Negreanu and Tony G. Both are playing extremely loose, straddling every hand, and generally playing the kind of action poker everyone wants to see on television.
The question we’re asking ourselves is, “Does the need for good, entertaining television outweigh the tradition of treating people in a poker game with a certain level of respect?”
The answer, in our opinion, is a resounding no.
Andrew Robl wrote a pretty extensive post on the issue and he makes a few important points. This post was actually a sort of response to something Daniel posted on 2p2 so let’s look at Kid Poker’s argument first before we move on to Robl.
For all intents and purposes Tony G’s opinions can be ignored. We know that the G’s going to do everything he can to irritate, tilt and generally upset everyone else at the poker table.
The question isn’t whether his behavior was boorish and classless. It was. We have to decide whether it’s acceptable given that the point of the show is entertainment.
In his forum comments Daniel stresses that Robl’s nitty playing style is at the root of this controversy. Negreanu comes right out and says that Robl has a “terrible reputation for taking way too long on every decision.” Daniel knew this before these sessions were recorded.
Negreanu goes on to explain that televised poker is no place for a nit, and that Robl’s slow decisions, and his failure to straddle, make him a poor choice for TV poker.
This all begs the question; why in god’s name was he on the show?
Negreanu keeps saying that Robl would never be invited back to a game if he won’t give action. Everyone knew the way Robl acts/plays beforehand. Why was he there in the first place?
According to Robl he was an alternate, to be used on the show if two primary players get busted in the same session and they need a replacement.
As far as we can tell Robl is taking this game seriously. He’s playing his own money and it’s not in his best interest to change his strategy to help The Big Game be a more entertaining show.
Negreanu’s criticism of Robl’s nitty style, and the fact that he couldn’t have been happier about Tony G calling the clock, seem to tell us that in Negreanu believes the treatment Robl received is perfectly acceptable.
We don’t see it that way.
If you’ve been invited to a game and you’re willing to put your money on the line you should be treated with respect.
One of the oldest and most respected points of etiquette is minding your own business if you’re not involved in a hand. Tony G breaks that rule in a big way by calling the clock while Robl is in the middle of a high-pressure call.
It’s not Tony G’s clock-calling that saddens us the most, however. He’s just doing what he’s always done. It’s the fact that Negreanu approves of it all that bothers us the most.
Once Andrew Robl was accepted as a guest in the game, and his money was on the table, he must be allowed to play and act in accordance with his own wishes without being disrespected. It’s as simple as that.