Here's what my heads-up opponent in a recent Pot-Limit Omaha tournament said to me after just one hand:
“You are a f***ing idiot.”
Words are spoken without consciousness. I get that. I know people don’t stop to think about what they're saying because my filter broke a long time ago, too.
But when you're typing your words into an online poker chat box you have all the time in the world to process (and edit) your thoughts.
We Can Retaliate, or We Can Leave
The thoughts, opinions, judgments and beliefs that fall out of our minds and trickle into the circuitry of our keyboard can cause untold damage to the person on the receiving end.
Let’s not forget the law of cause and effect here:
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So what are the reactions to a chat box full of filth?
We can retaliate, or we can leave.
Words of separation, rejection and prejudice are words that send the fish to populate other waters. In a recent article written on CardPlayer Lifestyle several of the most respected voices in female poker spoke out about the need for change to be made to welcome more women into the poker fold.
In a recent survey by the UK Gambling Commission, created to analyze the betting patterns of punters in the UK, it was found that 61% of males who formed part of the survey gambled compared to 51% of females.
It goes to show that there is still a big market for online poker to tap into, but why would a female player want to take part in a game where she's going to be told that she is a f***ing idiot?
Again, Let's Follow Rob Yong's Lead
I'm not even talking solely about gender-biased language here.
In most cases you don’t even know whether your opponent is a women or not but I assure you that this will affect women in a more detrimental way than it will affect men.
One trailblazer who understands the damage words can have on the growth of online poker is the owner of the Dusk Till Dawn (DTD) card room in Nottingham, Rob Yong.
Back in the summer of 2013 Yong introduced club cash games to his online card room in a bid to attract the recreational player to the online cash game tables. He introduced a new set of rules and amongst them were stringent rules regarding vile online chat.
If you were found to be offensive then you would get banned in the same way that you would be banned from a live card room.
I want all online card rooms to take more positive action in this regard. I know that people can turn off the chat, and I know people can complain when they are subjected to abuse, but a lot of people won’t take the time and effort to go through these motions.
Instead they will just leave - and likely never come back.
Fun and Respect, Not Fear and Ridicule
Let’s start phasing this nonsense out.
Let’s put a stop to this lack of intention and integrity by leading with intention and integrity.
Let’s create a way of weeding out these idiots and start banning them.
I know that bans have been doled out to people, but it’s not enough. Just one hour of online poker action is enough to see that vile online chat abuse has become a common part of our game.
That’s just not good enough.
Let’s stamp this out immediately and make online poker a forum for fun, challenge and respect -- not fear and ridicule.