A month ago, the poker world collectively rolled their eyes when Dan Colman won the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop, then refused to do interviews. His reasoning became clear afterward: poker is a “dark game” where pros prey upon weaker players. Colman certainly didn’t have any trouble collecting the $15.3 million check for winning the One Drop, though.
I could go on about the hypocrisy surrounding Colman’s message all day long, however, his words have inspired at least one player named Amit Varma. Writing for India’s Economic Times, Varma describes an incident where he and his poker pro friend exploited a drunk builder who kept raising and re-raising hands without looking at his cards. All that he and his buddy had to do was wait for opportunities against the drunk in order to make profits. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“We pride ourselves on studying the game, cracking the math, all that other shit,” I said to J as we drove away, “but in the end this is what it comes down to. Sitting in a dark room waiting for a drunk builder to give his money away. Where is the nobility in this?” J replied, “Yeah, we’re like drug dealers exploiting people’s addictions.” I can give you all the counter-arguments to that, considering that I use them to rationalise what I do all the time. We play poker as an intellectual challenge.
Varma goes on to cite Colman’s words that, “The losers lose way more money at this game than winners are winning. A lot of this is money they can’t afford to lose.” He ends by writing that even the winners can get consumed by poker, logging many hours at the table just to turn out profits. Varma also claims that the drunk builder and a poker pro are one in the same.
This is definitely an interesting viewpoint and one that the author has obviously thought long and hard about. But comparing a skilled poker pro to some drunk with a gambling addiction is reaching a bit far.
Poker is a game that exemplifies many pursuits, from business to sports. Should people look down on a successful Wall Street trader because he/she’s put the work in to gain an edge on others? Do we admonish Kevin Durant because he’s spent his life taking advantage of inferior opponents on the basketball court? Should Tom Cruise feel ashamed because he’s taken countless multi-million dollar roles due to his superior acting/looks?
The world is a competitive place, and people who pursue any game/business are paying a cost – whether it be through their time, money or social life. The affluent builder who gets drunk and loses their money at the poker table obviously doesn’t have the dedication or willpower to win in a competitive game like poker. Those who do have the necessary dedication and drive shouldn’t feel bad that they can win in poker.