Poker’s Deadly Sins: How Lust, Wrath, Envy Hold the Game Back

Poker is a veritable sexy beast; more whips and handcuffs than four-leaf clovers and daisy chains.

It wears an old Stetson hat with mercury-laden teeth chained around the circumference. It chews on a thick brown cigar. Plumes of smoke glide into the eyeballs, but poker doesn’t blink.

It has golden teeth and a snarl that would steal a lion’s roar. It drinks vodka like a Russian gangster, wrestles grizzly bears, sleeps with strangers, steals from its mother and can kill a man with a flick of its wrist.

Poker is such a bad bar steward it wouldn’t surprise me if the Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus drew up the original list of the eight mortal sins during a game of 100NL

Over time, mankind seemed to take a chill pill and it was left to Pope Gregory the Great to reduce the list of human wants, desires and downright nastiness to the seven deadly sins that we see today.

Those sins have plagued poker from the first time it rocked a steamboat and they remain the anchor keeping poker from reaching its full potential.


Online poker's strong ties with the virtual-gamer crowd mean it has a magnetic pull on the world’s young pretenders. Suddenly they're exchanging extra lives in Super Mario Brothers for mountains of virtual cash.

Howard Lederer
Trust is a hard thing to get back.

The youngsters of the modern world don’t want to lift a finger. They want the riches of the world to fall into their laps. Tapping keys on a computer is as close as they can get.

The lust for power, fame and notoriety starts the moment they win their first sit-n-go and the beast doesn’t stop growing until they have driven every recreational player out of the game with their incessant know-it-all drivel and contempt for those that have a life outside of the bedroom.


Poker is a metaphorical Augustus Gloop. It doesn’t know when to stop drinking from the chocolate river and before you know it - BANG! It becomes so fat that it might cause the whole network to come to a grinding halt.

As the Oompa Loompa’s once sang: “Full Tilt Poker, Full Tilt Poker, the great big greedy joker. Full Tilt Poker, so big and vile, so greedy, foul and infantile.”

The old Full Tilt Poker said come "‘Learn, Chat and Play With the Pros” and as soon as players sat down they unknowingly had their money siphoned off, Fagin style. Who would trust the world of poker after one of the world’s biggest sites took everybody's money?

Gluttony isn’t just confined to those dastardly devils at the former FTP; the whole world of poker has seemingly caught the bug with re-entry events and the sheer number of tournaments sucking the very bankrolls out of the bodies that keep the cogs chugging.

Hold on tight.


Poker will always be Action Man and never Ken. It will always crawl in the dirt and never date the blonde, and the reason is greed.

It doesn’t matter if you're playing your poker online or in the finest tournament rooms around the world. Every conceivable trick has been turned to cheat, steal, beg and borrow to stay in the game.

Talk of scams, backing deals gone awry, poker players going AWOL with outstanding balances that will make your balls shrink ... and that’s without going all "Greek mystical" with talk of Trojan Horses.

Poker is a game that will always have its share of greedy, manipulative people and until it is taken to the river and cleansed it will always fail to garner the worldwide attention that could see it dance with abandon.


There is so much talk about the game being pounded into Mr. Creosote’s wafer-thin mint by the grinders that you stop thinking about the laziness of the average Joe poker player.

Poker players are lazy. Recreational players will always fail to trade blows with the professionals because they can’t be bothered to work hard enough on their game.

A season of the World Poker Tour (WPT) airs on TV and suddenly everyone thinks there is gold at the end of the rainbow and all they have to do is bend down and pick it up.


I don’t care if you aced your exams and have more degrees than a 60s Motown group.

Wonders if the abuse is worth it.

You are still as dull as a doorknob if you allow wrath to take over your ego and throw forth an eruption of verbal abuse at every recreational player trying to make a move.

This self-destructiveness is a form of tilt that is damaging to the game. It’s what keeps the kids playing on Grand Theft Auto when there are free seats in the oval circle.

The constant bitching and berating is getting worse. It happens in online chat boxes, via social media networks and even face-to-face on the green baize.


If the poker world stopped trying to compete and instead worked towards a common goal, everyone within the community would benefit and the game would grow in ways it has never grown before.

Tournament organizers eye the best in the biz with envy and the best in the biz look down at the rest with a firm hand held on top of the softness of the fontanel.

This reversal of the Three Musketeers motto (All for One, One for All fyi) will stifle the progress of poker. It is shortsightedness personified.

Players also suffer from this deadly sin and this too causes our game to step into the quicksand. Members of the poker circus will do anything they can to remain in the game. ANYTHING.

This is why the name of poker will continue to carry a trail of dirty footprints wherever it goes.

The trophy
Blinded by our own success.


Poker players are infamously blinded by success. It forbids them from seeing the truth between variance and a lack of ability.

They write books and preach to the beginners of the importance of moving down in stakes, and then shun their own advice. This leads to less savory ways of earning a crust and it grows hard, black and inedible.

There is also an inflated sense of machismo in the game. A chauvinism that is impeding growth as women can’t be bothered batting away the playground vitriol whilst trying to formulate a decision.

The cameras flash, cleavage is captured, pretty faces splashed across the pages of magazines - and not a single word about the skills or foresight that allows them to sit and play with the very best in the world.

A huge untapped market and the finger is too busy wagging to do any tapping.

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