Team PokeStars Pro Daniel Negreanu has released a statement on his blog giving his take on the impending introduction of casino pit games and sports betting to the .com and shared liquidity client.
In it he discusses the zero-sum nature of poker, poker as a skill game, and responds to the decision of Victoria Coren to end her sponsorship agreement with the company over her fear that adding such games will enable problem gambling.
Negreanu at Peace With Playing a Zero-Sum Game for a Living; Sees Casino Games as No Different
The post begins by listing a series of questions Negreanu says he asked himself when initially deciding to play poker for a living. All of them center around the notion that poker is a game where winners take money from losers – some of whom are almost certainly wagering money they cannot really afford to lose:
“Am I OK with the fact that some of those people are making very bad decisions for themselves and possibly their family?” he asks.
He answers that he is at peace with his decision to profit off of such players – and asserts that there is no difference between his personal choice to do so and that of a casino:
I would personally feel like a hypocrite if I justified that it’s OK for me to take money from problem gamblers, but it’s not OK for the casino to do the same. If it’s wrong it’s wrong, no matter who profits,” he writes.
Equates Skill Levels of Poker; Sports Betting; Stock Market — Views Coren’s Distinction Between Skill Based Gambling and Pit Gambling as Flawed
Negreanu continues by offering his thoughts on the gambling/skill dichotomy in poker and the similarities between the game and what he characterizes as other “odds” based activities such as sports betting, or even the stock market:
Poker, stocks, and sports, are all beatable games if you put in the hard work. The really hard work that most of you will not put in, but convince yourself that you have. When you lose, you may blame bad luck. You may be convinced by ads, marketing, or by watching other young pros win millions online, that this could be you. It could, but it probably won’t be,” he said.
He argues that when it comes to addiction this perception of skill can actually make these activities worse than straight casino gambling. He reasons that the average person will not be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to capitalize on the skill aspect, while still believing that they have an edge.
That in turn can result in a situation where the temptation for people to continue gambling even when they are losing – because they are chasing an illusory edge – is even greater than with casino pit games. This he says can be an even bigger danger to the people that Coren is most worried about protecting from problem gambling:
Examples exist in society of people we may aspire to be that have beaten the odds and made it to the top of poker, sports betting, and the stock market. I don’t know of any such delusions when it comes to casino games,” he asserts.
Respects Coren’s Stance; Disagrees with her Viewpoint
Offering his thoughts on Coren’s stance specifically, Negreanu echoed the sentiments of the broader iGaming community by expressing respect and admiration for her taking such a principled stance on something she clearly feels strongly about.
However, he makes it clear that he does not share her view:
I both respect and admire Vicky Coren’s personal stance on online casino gaming. I assume she asked herself a lot of tough questions, and in the end, drew a line in the sand that she wasn’t willing to cross. I suppose everyone has their own line in the sand and they aren’t all going to be in the same place, and that’s neither right or wrong. What matters most is that when you draw that line you also follow it up with doing what you feel is right, and Vicky deserves all the kudos in the world for doing that,” he said.
At Peace With His Involvement in Poker
Negreanu closes by saying he is aware that he had to “step on a lot of heads” to get where he is today, but that he is OK with the choices he has made.
He expresses the sentiment that ultimately, he believes his participation in the predatory nature of the game he has used to “accumulate his wealth” can be balanced out by “giving back to the world” and “encouraging others to live their dreams.”
The full blog post can be read here.