One subject that’s frequently come up this year is the level of responsibility that WSOP Main Event champions bear in regard to making poker fun/inviting. Joe Hachem is the one who kicked this discussion off when he said that Main Event champs need to be ambassadors for the game. He specifically called out Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang for “destroying the legacy of the world champion.”
He didn’t elaborate, but we can only assume that Hachem thinks both players have done a poor job of promoting poker after winning the Main Event. The Aussie may also think that Gold’s ME bracelet being auctioned off and Yang’s tax troubles have further tarnished what it means to be a champ.
In any case, 2010 WSOP Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel recently gave his take on ME champs and young players in general. Writing from his PokerStars blog, Duhamel doesn’t totally agree with Hachem, but he does point out that everybody bears some kind of responsibility in making poker fun and keeping recreational players around. He wrote the following two excerpts in his post:
Joe mentioned Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang in his comments (who won in 2006 and 2007) and how those two kind of disappeared from the poker scene after winning their titles, but to me that’s not necessarily good or bad. Sometimes a career in poker is not for everyone, especially for guys who have other jobs or families as can be the case for players who are a little older. Not everyone who wins the WSOP Main Event wants to tour all of the time or continue playing tournaments, and that is absolutely their choice.
(cont’d later) So Joe’s making a call to everyone — Main Event champions, young players, and those with more experience, too — to keep in mind when playing live to be friendly and do what we can to make sure everyone is having fun. Obviously the recreational players aren’t going to come back if they don’t have fun, and that hurts not just them but everyone.
Duhamel also cited posts that he liked from Daniel Negreanu and Phil Galfond, two more guys who present broader visions for what can keep poker entertaining.
The overall takeaway from Duhamel’s post is that all successful pros need to work at keeping both profits and fun in mind. After all, if the recreational players don’t keep coming back, the dead money drives up in poker and you’ll have less available profits, smaller game selection and a poker world that looks more like 2001.