Abuse. The Cancer of Poker.

It’s clear we want poker to thrive.  Operators are doing their best to make poker environments a safe, sanitized place to play for anyone who visits their establishments during this global pandemic. Great expense has gone into building Plexiglas barriers, hand sanitizers at every table, and additional personnel to clean every inch of a poker room.  Brick and mortar festivals have gotten creative and teamed up with online operators to keep poker traditions alive so we don’t miss a year of events. Players are masking up, carrying around hand sanitizer, practicing social distancing, all in support of being able to safely play. Why then, will we go through such great lengths to keep poker alive and NOT address the one thing that can kill the game.  Abuse.

The time has come for everyone in the game to be checked.  Players, operators and representatives of poker.  If you are part of the game, do not tolerate abuse…. From anyone. 

Poker is an aggressive game.  You have to be willing to advance on an opponent in some circumstances to win a hand.  Banter is part of the strategy.  But we all know when banter crosses the line.  

When is it abuse? Some characteristics we all recognize such as someone being downright critical, acting out in anger, using words to try to control another person or making threats. More insidious methods are constantly correcting a person’s play, interrupting the dealer when they are trying to run a game, putting down someone or demeaning them. All forms of abuse.  What’s worse is when someone tries to call out the abuse and the abuse gets redirected to them.  This is why we all must commit to zero tolerance and it starts from the top.

Operators must hold their operations to a high standard. All companies have a code of conduct. Zero tolerance of abuse must be at the top of the list. 

Management must be trained on awareness and policies to address abuse within the company. When abuse policies are breached, have consequences.  If there is an employee or representative of your company abusing someone, as was recently displayed on social media with an online platform and their newly appointed Ambassador, get rid of them. It doesn’t matter if they are wildly popular or hold celebrity status, they are a cancer to your success. To do nothing sends the message you condone abuse.  No one wants to support those who do not protect their customers and staff. You also risk the of loss with business relationships that you spent so much effort carefully crafting if you don’t treat the cancer immediately.

Players must call out abuse at the table.  Call the floor. Openly or step away from the table if you don’t feel comfortable doing it in front of others.  But do it.  It’s the right of all players to play in a safe and welcoming atmosphere. It’s the duty of the operator to protect the players. 

The Women’s Poker Association is committed to team with all groups, organizations and companies who are interested in growing the game.  Remember, women are the untapped market.  Poker PowHer, the new kid on the block, has committed to teach one million women how to play poker.  Imagine that? New interest, new players, new growth!  Let’s prepare for it…. Treat the cancer.

Not to be insensitive but Cancer is the perfect analogy.  If you diagnose cancer early, properly treat it, your chances of a successful outcome are good.  If you wait, either because you’re unaware or in denial, the cancer may be difficult to treat without radical measures. It may even be too late. Let’s do whatever it takes to treat the cancer in poker.  

#RaiseItUP people.  Raise the respect at the tables.  Raise the fun in the game…  and together, we’ll Raise the Growth in Poker.   

Do your part.  As an Operator, a Representative or a Player…. commit to a zero tolerance of abuse.  #RaiseItUp

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