Rant: The Great "Poker Must be Fun First" Hoax

Scotty Nguyen Laughs at Phil Hellmuth
The fun is in the winning, right Scotty?

Daniel Negreanu has a vision that one day poker’s primary purpose will be fun first and competitive endeavor second.

Do you share that view?

Many of you will and many of you won’t, and that’s why opinion is such a wonderful thing.

Everybody has one and here is mine …

The Job is to Win

A week ago today I watched Liverpool beat Arsenal 5-1 in the Premier League. Despite not liking either club I was suitably entertained.

If you believe the role of a footballer is to entertain the football fan, then both sets of players have done their job. Yet there's no way any of those Arsenal players, the manager, the backroom staff or the fans of that particular team agree with that sentiment.

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it -- they would have much preferred to have played woefully and won by a single goal.

Arsenal and Liverpool players are paid to win football matches and not to entertain their fans. If they do entertain them, then all well and good. But they do have to keep on winning.

The job of a footballer, still, is to win.

Negreanu is the ambassador for world poker. We might not see the crown but believe me he is wearing it.

He recently opened a thread on 2+2 entitled "My Vision for the Poker World" where he said he wanted the above -- “a world where the game is fun first and a competitive endeavor second.”

Poker fulfills two roles. For the amateur it's a place to be entertained. For the professional it's a place to win money.

It’s true that the professional also wants to be entertained and the amateur wants to win money … but it’s not the overriding purpose.

Daniel’s vision will always sit just beyond the mountains because the very essence of being human means there will never be a unified front to create a fun-filled environment for poker.

Every cell in the professional poker players body is screaming ‘PROFIT’ as is Negreanu’s … he just doesn’t know it.

Not in the Business of Fun

Why do you think Daniel wants the game to be fun? Ultimately, he wants more profit.

Daniel Negreanu2013 WSOP EuropeEV0725K NLH High RollerFinal TableGiron8JG3416
It's easier to vote for fun when you're winning.

Dress it up all you want but the call for the game to be fun in order to extract profit from those who follow that particular tune is akin to a man ploughing a women with an outpouring of charm just to get her between the sheets.

It’s deceit. Poker offers no other purpose than to line the pockets of those that benefit from the weakest in the field.

In the real world the runt is weeded out and finds a twelve-bore shotgun imprinted on his forehead. In the poker world, we fleece their pockets first.

What greater good does poker offer the world? I find it really difficult to find anything of value that we produce other than lining the pockets of the very best in the game.

We are not in the business of "fun." We are in the business of "profit."

If poker was fun we wouldn’t have to cut eight hours of footage to try and fill a one-hour show for TV. It’s not an entertaining sport or game and that’s why it has always struggled to hit that mainstream vein.

Amateurs Leave the Game When They Run Out of Money

Funny hat guy
Amateurs don't leave the game when they're flush.

Amateur poker players don’t turn their back on the game because it's no longer fun any more than Arsenal fans turned their back on their club after that 5-1 drubbing.

Amateur players leave the game because they run out of money.

There are players with money, a hell of a lot of players who are playing with other people’s money, and then a graveyard of players who love the game but just don’t have any money left because it now sits inside the piggy bank of the likes of Negreanu and others.

Should we expect the stronger players to throw a few fights and be martyrs for poker? Of course not.

Poker exists because of competition. The purpose of a poker player is to send his opponent home to his family to tell them that Father Christmas is on strike, the Easter Bunny is too busy being nailed and the Tooth Fairy is facing a problem with excess inventory.

The job of the professional is to make the amateur cry - not laugh. The sooner we face up to this the sooner we can start directing our debate onto something that will really make a difference in the game instead of this red herring.

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