It seems that poker cannot exist unless it has some sort of controversy going on. The 2023 World Series of Poker was highlighted by the win in the $10,000 Championship Event by Daniel Weinman, but it also showed its seedy side. Admitted poker cheater Ali Imsirovic made a return to the tables at this year’s WSOP, while Martin Kabrhel was accused by fellow players of marking cards during the $250,000 High Roller event. Just when you thought that players would calm down a bit, along comes a streaming program called Big Bet Poker LIVE.
Does Big Bet Poker LIVE Court Controversy?
For those that haven’t had the opportunity to catch the stream yet, Big Bet Poker LIVE is a program that seems to be dedicated expressly to the “high roller” crowd. Some of the biggest names in the game, including Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, Matt Berkey, Nik ‘Airball’ Arcott, Patrik Antonius, and others have made the trek to the Tropicana in Las Vegas to be a part of the program. What it has also brought is a significant amount of controversy for a program that only premiered back in late June.
At the start of July, there was a clash between high rollers Doug Polk and Matt Berkey regarding their training sites (there also could have been some bad blood regarding Polk’s taking some cash from Berkey in a hand). While these men aimed some barbs at each other, they generally kept it “respectable,” or at least weren’t advocating for homicide. That was just what happened in the latest clash on the program.
On Wednesday two players, Austin Yoo and Jason Liu, got into an extremely profane and eventually violent confrontation with each other that was only quelled by security on the floor. For its part, Big Bet Poker LIVE eventually cut the stream off when it was getting particularly grotesque, but by that point, the damage was already done. After the fact, Big Bet Poker LIVE issued an apology to its fans and temporarily suspended both Yoo and Liu from their program.
Time For Poker to Understand…
This latest black eye on poker is completely avoidable because it seems that Big Bet Poker LIVE ENCOURAGES such reactions from the players. There are rules in place that, if a player falls below a 35% VPIP (chips voluntarily put in play), then they are penalized. This encourages big pots and, along with that, big losses and big confrontations. Some players don’t seem to handle these massive swings so well.
It is time for poker to understand some basic facts.
Poker is a MUNDANE game, not made for drama, thrills, or controversy. It has its moments of brilliance and exceptional moments of personality from its participants, but it should NOT venture over into where multiple F-bombs are dropped like a personal pronoun and it CERTAINLY should not venture over into violent threats and murderous statements. Poker isn’t MADE to be confrontational…it is a competition and, as such, that should be the end of it – one person wins, another person loses, and they move on to the next hand.
Instead of inviting people with borderline personality disorders, perhaps producers of these programs should take a deep look at what they are trying to appeal to. Are they trying to appeal to people who might want to pick up the game, or casual fans who are just wanting to watch entertaining poker? Or are they appealing to a degenerate crowd that enjoys it when people threaten each other with death? It is a sad statement about the poker world if the latter is truer than the former.
But we know why streaming producers invite this type of conflict…because people eat it up like ice cream on a summer day. Instead of featuring competition, they feature conflict, which is NOT the same thing. These producers need to vet the players that are coming to the game a little more thoroughly and, if there is a situation that starts, then they need to put a stop to it immediately.
Poker has been around for over 175 years, and it has fought its way into the mainstream in the past 25 years. It is things like this that keep poker from being able to stretch out into a major network or regular role on cable (our DAMN BIGGEST EVENT, the World Series of Poker, is RELEGATED to streaming, for crying out loud). If we continue to reward the crap that is on shows like Big Bet Poker LIVE or allow for the scamming actions of some other poker streams (here’s looking at you, Mike Postle), then we continue to prevent the full growth of the game of poker – but, then again, the degenerates probably want it that way.