High stakes poker pros, and especially those that are sponsored, have a responsibility to represent themselves and the game of poker in the best possible way. Famous poker players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are heroes to millions of recreational players around the world – what they say and how they act at the poker tables will have a heavy influence on how the next generation of poker players will behave. And, for the most part, top pros like Ivey and Negreanu are stellar role models when it comes to their behaviour at the table.
Unfortunately, not everyone lives up to that same standard. A recent example was high stakes cash game pro Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, who reacted appallingly after losing to fellow pro bajskorven87 in a long heads-up match. Cates, playing under his PokerStars username w00ki3z, said the following in the chatbox:
bajskorven87: can u reload?
w00ki3z.: need to make a transfer
bajskorven87: u sitting at PLO?
w00ki3z.: go f yourself
w00ki3z.: hope you die seriously
w00ki3z.: llucky piece of ****
w00ki3z.: insane how lucky you are
bajskorven87: broke piece of ****
It’s a disgusting read and Cates should be ashamed of himself. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, or how bad you’ve been running, there is zero excuse for saying, ‘hope you die seriously’, to another human being – even if via the safety blanket of an online poker chatbox. Would Cates say this to his opponent’s face in a live game? Probably not, but this doesn’t make the practice OK just because it takes place online. Abuse is abuse and it’s one of the biggest problems in online poker right now.
It’s especially bad when ‘heroes’ like Cates are the ones doing it. To countless online poker players Cates is an icon and someone they look up to, and imitate. Let’s look at Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan as an example of the type of influence these players wield. On High Stakes Poker Dwan debuted his trademark slow betting motion and intense glare at the centre of the table – within weeks every poker club in the world had tons of young players copying his every move (much to the chagrin of those that wanted to play faster!).
Granted, an online poker cash session does not have the same audience as a show like High Stakes Poker but if this type of behaviour from Cates is allowed to continue unpunished it will perpetuate and the problem of chat abuse in poker will only grow. Everyone surely agrees – or at least should – that wishing death on a person in real life is a heinous act. There should be no difference just because you are saying those words behind a poker screen.
Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates is not the only player to do this but, of course, when you have a higher profile, you are naturally under more scrutiny. Yet, in the words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ Cates has a lot of influence on the poker world and what he does and says will influence others. When famous players like Cates consider acting in a hugely offensive manner they should bear this in mind – not only for the benefit of their own image and career but also because it is how a good person would act.
Ross Jarvis is the Editor of PokerPlayer magazine, available online here.