I have a question for you:
If the Tournament Director’s Association (TDA) had approached the Global Poker Index (GPI), or PokerStars, to help them source, and pay for, a venue that would accommodate 200 people, would they have said yes?
I’m not too sure.
But I am sure that social media creates heroes and villains faster than Stan Lee’s hand.
Matt Savage tweeted details of the 2015 TDA. It would be held June 16-17. It would be held in Las Vegas. It would be held at The Venetian.
The 2015 @PokerTDA Summit will be held June 16-17 at Venetian Las Vegas. Registration details to follow shortly. Send your local TD please.— Matt Savage (@SavagePoker) March 26, 2015
Whoa there horsey…back up a little bit. Did you just say The Venetian? The lair of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVSC) founder Sheldon Adelson. The 18th richest man in the world. The man who has vowed to spend whatever it takes to take away American’s rights to gamble online.
Now that’s how to become a villain.
The tweet circulated. The poker community drew their swords. Savage was savaged. Then, after some sort of sensibility returned, it became clear that Savage was no villain. It wasn’t his call. He is one man sitting amongst seven other vastly experienced men and women, on the seats of the TDA board.
The TDA as a whole is the villain.
Every villain needs a hero.
Anywhere, Literally Anywhere, But There
Step forward Eric Hollreiser, Alex Dreyfus and Ryan Riess. All three of these titans have taped their tackle to their inside leg, strapped on a pair of super tights pants, hung the cape around the neck, and flown into town to sort it out.
Riess has offered his home as a suitable venue.
It must be a pretty big home.
Dreyfus and Hollreiser haven’t offered up their homes, but they have vowed to set up a call and help turn this mess into the vision the TDA had originally envisaged.
“This event promises to be one of the most important and exciting in the history of the association.”
Ryan Riess’s maid can put down her mop and bucket.
I’m sure that normality will resume. The 2015 TDA will not be held at The Venetian.
Looking Beyond Money
But why does this happen? Who didn’t think twice when The Venetian offered to host the TDA Summit?
Poker can be such a paradox at times. Most of the influential and inspirational people, that I have met, have been from the poker community. We are a group of smart, intelligent and thoughtful beings. But there’s also a part of the community that puts money at the head of the value chain.
That doesn’t feel good.
The word ‘free’ is a big reason why the TDA agreed to host their summit at The Venetian. It didn’t cost anything. I hear you. I know that money is tight.
But consider this.
For the past four decades, an amazing woman by the name of Mimi Silbert has been operating, arguably, the most successful rehabilitation center in the world. Her organization, called The Delancey Street Foundation, takes drug abusers and violent criminals off the streets, and from the prison network, and changes their lives.
The foundation is operated with no staff and no funding. What started with a house and a room full of junkies, has turned into a thriving set of industries that now earns millions of dollars per year, all operated from the seeds planted by those junkies.
When questioned as to why she wouldn’t take government funding, she explains how she doesn’t trust, or believe in what they stand for, when it comes to rehabilitation of the type of people whose lives she saves on a daily basis.
She places her values ahead of everything else.
Learning to Act on Values
It’s not just the TDA who are blind to the likes of Silbert. I sensed hypocrisy on twitter when players vented their anger at the TDA for holding their summit there. How many players do the same by turning up to play at the venue? How many will turn up for the Deepstack Extravaganza during the World Series?
And why do we keep doing things backwards?
Why are we continually making the wrong call, only to learn from the feedback, and then set things right? Why don’t we get that feedback first? It would save a lot of hassle.
At the last TDA Summit – which was also held at The Venetian – there was also uproar when senior players complained that they had not been invited to participate in the event, despite some serious rule changes going ahead. Daniel Negreanu was one of the most vocal.
Will Negreanu be booking Ryan Riess’s couch for the next one?
Have lessons been learned?
Will players play a pivotal role in the conference?
I hope so.
I really do.
I hope that we take advantage of these monumental screw-ups and learn from them.
Money is great.
It helps a lot.
But we shouldn’t put it ahead of our list of values.
And if poker organizations don’t have values, or do, and money is at the top of that list, then I suggest you book a room, get a white board, some post-it notes and start creating a new set.
Just don’t do it in The Venetian.
I’m sure if you ask nicely, Ryan Riess will lend you a room.
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