By now, most of the world knows about David Dao, the man who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday. Dao refused to give up his seat and officers dragged him out of the plane and he suffered injuries in the process.
The incident has gone viral worldwide and is a PR and financial nightmare for UA. What some did not realize until last night is that this is the same David Dao who has enjoyed moderate success in the poker world over the last few years.
Connecting the Dots
When I saw the original video, before Dao’s identity had been revealed, I thought he looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place the face. Frankly, I was paying more attention to the way that United handled the matter.
Then late Monday night, I was contacted by Sky News in the UK regarding “poker player David Dao.” I quickly realized why I recognized him. Back in 2009, I covered the WSOP-C Tunica Main Event for PokerNews with Eric Ramsey – an event in which Dao finished runner-up. Matt Stout and Mike Leah also made that final table and it was Dao that crippled Stout three-handed.
The rest of the world began discovering Dao’s poker past on Tuesday as several media outlets started posting about his poker history. Matt Stout took to Twitter and further confirmed that it was Dao that was forcibly removed from that flight.
Matt Stout Says Dao Was Fearless at the Tables
I spoke with Stout over the phone on Tuesday. He said Dao was “quiet and reserved”, but that he made “some wild and unorthodox plays” at the Tunica circuit event.
He recalled the hand that crippled him in the Tunica Circuit Main Event. Dao came into the pot with 6-2 offsuit and Stout held A-Q suited. The flop produced a deuce for Dao and a flush draw for Stout. Dao ended up shoving on Stout, who called with the nut flush draw and two overs. The board bricked out and this led to Dao’s showdown with Kai Landry. Dao finished runner-up for $117,744.
Matt also spoke with TMZ on Tuesday about Dao. Check out the video of their conversation below:
Dao a WSOP Regular with Over $266k in Career Earnings
Pulling up Dao’s Hendon Mob profile, he has live tournament scores dating back to 2006 with the majority tied to the WSOP or WSOP Circuit. His largest career score came from his runner-up finish in Tunica in 2009. Dao also has 8 WSOP Circuit final table appearances.
He also has a couple of impressive runs at the WSOP in Vegas. In 2008, he cashed in the Main Event and finished in 453rd. Last year, he went deep in the Crazy Eights Event, finishing 30th.
Despite being a recreational player, he currently ranks 25th on the Kentucky All-Time Money List.
United’s Actions Costing Them Hundreds of Millions in Value
Sunday’s incident is not only a public relations nightmare for UA, but it is also costing them dearly on the stock market. After the incident went viral, stock prices dipped to the point that the company had shed $1 billion in value.
United CEO: I am not sorry— Aaron Wudrick (@awudrick) April 11, 2017
Advisor: Our stock is diving and we've lost $1 billion in value
United CEO: I am truly very sorry
UA has now recovered a bit of that lost value, but the long-term damage is already done to their reputation. As the video went viral, a number of investors removed the stock from their portfolio and some are reporting that investor confidence in airlines as a whole may be shaken by this incident.
The sad part about this incident is that it could have been avoided. First, the flight was not overbooked as originally assumed. UA wanted to remove passengers in order to accommodate some of their employees.
Second, why didn’t United up the offer for others to leave? Had they upped the offer significantly, someone would have jumped at it. Offer $5,000 to $10,000 for someone to leave the plane and they would have probably had to turn away volunteers.
Instead, United’s inability to negotiate coupled with poor decision making will cost the company dearly, and that’s not including whatever legal actions that Dao winds up taking.