Despite many other bigger challenges the game of poker has faced over the last few years regarding it’s image to the mainstream, it seems that flip-flops and less than semi-formal attire at TV tables or prestigious events are also of considerable concern these days…come on really?
More than a few blogs on the topic have been well shared through out the poker media in the past few months, though in fairness they focused on professionalism in poker in general; the lack of socks just seemed to be used to add merit and drive home key points made.
While I have the utmost respect for their authors and those notable persons quoted, my own personal opinions seem to be against the grain. I can’t seem any harm in players dressing up a notch to play in TV or media covered events, (I personally would like to look good on TV), but I also believe that we need to quit finger pointing at those that choose not too. Not everyone cares about the cameras, these days many could easily do without. When speaking of the iSeries on his Vlog, Negreanu mentioned that he believes the days of television’s impact have passed. We all have the Internet now.
The argument that poker pros ”need to act more like professionals” seems pretty pompous and vague to me…does every job require a collar? If I use Google to define the word professional, ”A person engaged or qualified in a profession” is the answer I am returned. No mention of a dress code, or looking sharp. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of players spend a great deal more time in casual wear when perusing their craft, than in front of a camera. Those in charge of organizing events and producing television would likely be dressed to the nines at any given time, but that is their job, not the poker players.
I don’t buy the expression ”the clothes make the man either”; let’s be honest here. The poker industry has seen it’s fair share of shady CEOs and ”smartly” dressed swindlers that have turned out to be far from ”respectable”. A small portion of the people calling the shots on the industry side of the game are holding the lion’s share of the responsibility when it comes any negative light on the game to the general public’s eyes. Operating out of tax havens and finding ways to try to process money unlawfully have had much more of an impact on major sponsors wanting to stay out of arms reach than any tacky t-shirt I would guess.
I’ve yet to see the Wall Street Journal or any national news station tackle the topic of how sweat pants are bringing the poker world down.
Neither have I read or heard about ”which individual owes who” money in the mainstream media, another hot topic in ”poker professionalism”. Terrence Chan really hit the nail on the head when tweeted; ”Chino Rheem has to be thinking, “y’all wanted to ban *me* because *I* owed too many people money? LOL.”
Of course the dig was made at the ”respectable” people behind the enlisting of an ”Ethics & Standards Committee”, having them call Chino out on his ”professional” obligations, of course not until after their TV final table wrapped up. At the same time these people in charge of the company were marketing the prestige of a ”Professionals Only” poker tour, they themselves were owing millions to creditors knowing they would most likely not be able pay early on. Oddly enough, the pros promised a million dollar free-roll are not on the list. Perhaps if Rheem had dressed up, we could simply chalk his situation off to some similar ”unforeseen circumstances or changes in the market situation”, rather than have people call him a deadbeat.
While I have never made a TV final table and I may be very well maybe be wrong in my assumptions, but are those players being paid to appear? Are there any royalty offers or final say in the production editing, player review to see how they are portrayed or what exactly is shown, et cetera? I do know for sure that the player will have to endure the interruptions to game flow and distractions that come with made for television poker; as they signed up for that possibility when they bought in.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has dabbled in organizing events and the industry side of the game, I understand the benefits to a brand if it can be appealing to a wider audience or sponsors, I just don’t remember the players getting cut in directly on that. Their incentive comes from risking their entry money to make loads more and yes, sometimes they might even get famous doing it. It can be argued that this will ”present opportunities” and yes, maybe, an online site will notice them or approach them with a deal. Obviously players should act and dress respectably with this in mind, but what exactly is the standard for a poker pro?
I can’t picture Duhamel without a Stars patch and hoodie on his fore-head, Hellmuth with out his days gone by UB jersey or Dennis Philips without a red baseball hat on his head and I certainly couldn’t recall and tell you the shirt color of any of the players on the poker television shows I have watched, let alone whether or not they were ”well dressed”.
It seems much easier to remember the personalities and became a fan accordingly; I just can’t see anybody watching not being excited about the action at the felt and prizing up for grabs because the players looked to plain. On the contrary, if a poker show looks ”packaged and made for TV” or too ”commercial and infomercial like” when I first flip to it, I’ll most likely assume it’s entertainment value to be just as dry and move on.
I can think of more than a few household poker names known for being loud, eccentric or otherwise ”unique” and don’t doubt that they have miles of TV tape in casual clothes; yet some seem to look down at ”unknowns” or young players as if they have not yet earned the ”privilege” of the same.
I also can’t remember seeing Matt Savage without a suit and tie but believe he is respected most for understanding what both sides of the felts need. One of the best tweets that puts what it means to be a professional poker player in perspective made stated; ”Every year I remind players that 9am is not early in the real world, but then I realize pros play poker so the don’t have to wake up at 9am.”
It’s also the main point to forming my opinion; pro poker players enjoy being their own boss. That means going where they want, getting up when they want and dressing for work in whatever strikes their fancy that day. From what I read, the posts of many players who earn their living at the tables, sometimes it’s already stroke of good fortune just to have you clothes arrive at the same tournament stop as you are at, let alone your Sunday best.
If these players need to be half way around the world the morning after a final table after they have been grinding hard for who knows how long, it certainly seems reasonable to want to be comfortable when making trying decisions for life changing money. Chances are they had a hard enough time sleeping and enough on their mind not to worry about picking an outfit. It seemed weird to read a poke at jerseys and shorts in an online’s company blog today, while boxer wearing MMA fighters and hockey greats are currently used by most poker companies as respectable ”spokesperson” ambassadors…what do they wear while at work on TV? What gets the job done and is natural.
Just quit hatin’ on the flip-flops.