Rant: Let's Get Over Our Hypocrisy in the Vicky Coren Mitchell Affair

Day 3 Field
Poker is gambling already, isn't it?

“Tell the world what you intend to do, but first show it” - Napoleon Hill.

This Vicky Coren Mitchell thing is really interesting.

I've read through her post on 2+2 and, unusually for posts on 2+2, there seems to be a widespread respect for her actions.

There is hardly a dagger in sight. No blood to speak of. The word ‘integrity’ is the theme of the thread.

Apparently, Vicky Coren Mitchell has shown that she has the qualities of being honest, with strong moral principles, for choosing to quit once PokerStars crossed that line by increasing its gambling offerings.

Vicky Coren Mitchell Takes a Stand

Everybody wants more recreational players.

Do you notice that I have highlighted the word increasing?

I was going to use the word ‘added’ but that would assume that poker is not a form of gambling. That would be wrong.

Poker will only cease to become a gambling game if it becomes a sport. When the money comes into the game from sponsorships and people don’t have to dig into their own pockets to stump up the cash.

Even then, this will only affect the professional element; recreational players will still be gambling if they choose to play poker.

Recreational players aren’t interested in HUDs, increasing their EV and learning to become the next Patrick Leonard. That’s a different brand of poker player entirely.

A recreational player is the type of person who will log on, deposit some money and then continue to hand that money to someone who is better than he or she is.

The poker community, and the organizations that create them, are desperate for more recreational players to get involved in online poker.

Why do you think that is? Is it because we want increased competition? If that were the case wouldn’t people be inclined to play with the greatest players in the game?

This is all about money.

The online poker rooms want more recreational players so they can earn more rake. The professional poker players want more recreational players so they can take all of their money and continue to break even.

Which Camp Are You In?

So where does the word ‘integrity’ stand up here?

How can you applaud Vicky Coren Mitchell for being a woman of integrity, and even suggest that Daniel Negreanu should take a leaf out of her many books, and then continue to play on the same site you hold so much vitriol for?

I guess there are three camps here.

Custom PokerStars Table
Which camp are you in?

Camp A

You hate what PokerStars has become. It really irks you that they are creating more costs.

You're choosing not to leave because you still believe it’s the best place to play online poker. This means that you are prepared to pay for the value you are receiving.

There isn’t a moral issue here. Integrity doesn’t come into the equation.

Camp B

PokerStars' recent actions have sent slivers of glass into your beliefs and values.

You can no longer endorse their behavior by playing on their site, but it’s how you earn your income. You cannot stop playing because you have a family to feed.

You swallow your pride, you sit on "integrity" and you carry on playing even though you know you are doing the "wrong" thing.

Camp C

You cheer people like Vicky Coren Mitchell. Call PokerStars a whore and then continue to play because you couldn’t really give a shit.

You are a hypocrite of the highest order and have zero integrity.

You Can't Want the Fish and Have an Issue After Eating Them

It’s blatantly obvious to me that one way of creating more recreational players is to introduce online casino games and sports betting.

If this is what it’s like for a pro, what's it like for the guy who lives in the Valley?

Anyone criticizing this move should seriously question his or her involvement in the game. You cannot want the fish and then have an issue when you have eaten them.

Poker is gambling. People harp on about the skill element in poker. They use this as a convenient wedge to separate it from the chance dominated games like roulette and blackjack.

It’s a convenient excuse. If we were to place the challenge of making a consistent profit playing poker on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ‘insanely difficult’ and one being ‘a piece of piss’ - where do you think poker sits?

I interview professional poker players for a living. Hardly any of them will endorse this as a viable profession for their friends and family.

It’s too tough, the game is getting difficult to beat and the expenses are enormous. If this is what it’s like if you are a pro, then what do you think it’s like for the guy who lives in the Valley?

He plays poker with money that he can’t afford to lose. He has a chunk of change stowed away on various credit cards. He lies to his family about the stakes he plays and how much he has won or lost.

He is always angling for a loan, stressed, and in dire straits. He cannot leave the game. Why? He is addicted.

I Think of the Word "Decision"

A professional poker player once told me that in his early days he would pay £5,000 to enter the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event and if he busted he would then put £5,000 on red to win it back.

Victoria Coren
Coren Mitchell knows what she wants and she is going to get it.

PokerStars is about to see a huge influx of people acting in the reverse. Why are you complaining?

When I read Vicky Coren Mitchell’s post I don’t think of the word "integrity." I think of the word ‘decision’.

The most successful people in the world are those that make decisions with haste and only change these decisions slowly, if ever.

The rest of the world are too easily influenced by the opinions of others, make excuses to justify their refusal to make a decision and are talking too much (writing too much) to find the time to take any action.

This is what I applaud Vicky Coren Mitchell for.

For taking action. For making a decision that must have been tough for her, irrespective of the fact that she is hardly figuring out how she is going to pay the mortgage next month.

If you take decisions promptly, it’s because you know what you want. And you know what? You are often going to get it.

Coren Mitchell knows what she wants and she is going to get it. Now what about you?

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Brian Masters 2014-12-01 13:14:57

@Arty Thanks for your reply. You've definitely put in a lot more effort for "the good of the game" than I have. But I think it's become pretty clear by now that the way to bring new players into the game isn't to relate it to skill at all. In fact that might actually drive more players away. I know the idea of playing chess feels like a complete and total dead end to me. The more it feels like just a fun diversion with me having almost as much chance of winning as a pro, the more I'm interested in playing.

Arty Lee 2014-12-01 12:57:06

@ Brian: Money is not my main motivation. I wouldn't have made over 6000 strategy posts on various forums, - giving free advice to newbies - if I only cared about my own profit. I play and write about poker because I think it's an interesting strategic game like chess. I'm not happy with the way Amaya is reducing the emphasis on skill/strategy and increasing the "lottery" aspect of its offerings, but obviously I understand they have a profit motive and shareholders that demand "new verticals".
@ Lee: There will doubtless be money moving in both directions, but my overall feeling is that poker liquidity will suffer. People in general seem to prefer an "instant hit" instead of a slow grind. I see nothing in Amaya's past to give me optimism about their plans for Pokerstars. Amaya pretty much destroyed the last poker site it owned, as it focused on slot machines for the gaming industry. Cutting back the poker marketing budget and increasing prices doesn't seem like a way to grow poker in my opinion.

Da Bookie 2014-12-01 12:49:08

Spot on

bell end 2014-12-01 11:52:23

my pleasure

Lee Davy 2014-12-01 11:09:49

Arty Lee - So you think that poker players will be swayed to playing online casino games, but people who play online casino games will not try and play poker? I guess we will never know the true answer, but I don't agree with your assertion.

bell-end - I haven't been called a bell-end since I was in school. Thanks, it means so much.

Paul 2014-12-01 10:52:56

Always take something from your articles as you know Lee, but would say there are players in Camp D who no longer play on PS (rightly or wrongly) and also, that poker was long ago reclassified as a mindsport - wasnt sure if you were aware. http://rt.com/news/poker-accepted-mind-sport/ That's not to say its not gambling, matter for everyone's interpretation or opinion, but the game is now officially classed as a sport, and has been for some years. As ever, good to read an article with a unique angle.

bell end 2014-12-01 01:13:04

lee davy is a bell end how about that

Brian Masters 2014-11-30 23:48:27

Real question @ Arty as a "poker player" what have you done because you "care about poker" other than try to win money off players who are worse than you? I'm really trying to see the difference. Or why you care what Amaya does at all? How does it change your opinion of the site if it offers casino games?

Mom Jeans 2014-11-30 23:21:43

Huh I thought all poker players had already left Poker Stars because of their unacceptable handling of the EPT Barcelona hacking thing

Jonesy 2014-11-30 23:13:35

lol overdramatize much arty

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