I say money is the root of all stupidity.
Why else were 150 poker players forced to fear for their lives, locked in the card room of the Khreschatyk Club in the heart of Kiev as the country fell apart at the seams?
Why was the tournament event being held? Why did the players decide to travel?
This is Not a Weather Forecast
On February 16 the organizers of the Russian Poker Tour (RPT) posted on its website to advise players that the political news on the Ukrainian mass media was very good.
The message was that the confrontation between the government and the opposition was showing positive changes and that "the situation in Kiev is getting better and there are no reasons to worry for the guests and participants of the RPT.”
Nothing to worry about? How about civil war?
I am writing this five days later and so far over 75 armed police and demonstrators have been killed, hundreds injured and many parts of the city reduced to rubble as the country teeters on the brink of civil war.
This is not the weather forecast. You cannot get decisions like this wrong.
Events are cancelled for a myriad of reasons and I would expect players to understand "potential for civil war" to be a valid reason for the postponement of an event.
"How to Play in a Country Where People Are Dying?"
On February 19 the same RPS website issued an apology.
It was in written in Ukrainian and I had to use Google translate to understand it. Basically it said stay the hell away and that the prize pool would be distributed based on remaining stack sizes and some sort of financial settlement would be reached.
One poster commented, “The feeling is that, to put it mildly, you did not care about the guests and players, as you never paid attention to the comments of those who a week before the new date of the tournament expressed concern.”
Another posted, “How to play in a country where people are dying?”
Safety Must Come Before Profit
The lives of tournament staff and players should not have been risked.
On February 18 another post on the website continued the same "stay away" theme and promised those who were stuck at the ‘Kreschatyk’ club a "supper at the expense of the organizers."
As if someone was going to whip outside for a McDonald’s run. I wouldn’t have liked to lose that game of credit card roulette.
One of the wonderful things about the life of a poker player is that you get to see parts of the world that most don’t. But safety must come before profit at all times.
The lives of the tournament staff and players should not have been risked like this.
All we can hope now is that everyone gets home in one piece and lessons are learned by every organization in the world.