Barack Obama: A Tight Poker Player

Enter the term “poker” in the Google News feed and you’re likely to turn up plenty of results involving politics. And in most cases, the term is badly misused. But the Economist recently gave applying poker to politics a shot and didn’t do such a bad job. Here’s a look at what they wrote regarding Barack Obama:

HE CALLS himself a “pretty good” poker player. Barack Obama’s poker-buddies, including Illinois politicians who played with him weekly when he was a state senator, tend to agree. Quizzed by profile-writers, they have described a cautious, canny card player.

Mr Obama would bluff only if he had halfway-decent cards, they recalled. When opponents bet high, Mr Obama would not engage unless he held a strong hand of his own.

As president, he is said to favour a more demure card game, spades. That may be just as well. At a bumpy moment in history, Mr Obama is strikingly, even confoundingly, reluctant to bluff.

All during his election campaign, the poker media world enjoyed focusing on Obama’s love of poker. And many hoped that Obama would become a champion for online poker, furthering federal legislation along the way. Well, this never happened because Obama has a lot on his plate. But it’s interesting to see that the media is still harping on Obama’s poker skills almost seven years later.

This time, the Economist is trying to relate poker to Obama’s handling of the Ukraine situation. The President doesn’t want to use military action to intervene with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia/Russian separatists. But if things continue escalating, could Obama eventually play his hand more aggressively in the future? We’ll see…but for the time being, it looks like he is content to sit back and be more passive.

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