Scroll through Twitter on any given day, and politics will be a hot topic on some level, particularly regarding the current United States political scene. The campaign of Donald Trump over the past year has taken the rhetoric from its usual chatter to a high-fevered pitch. Bernie Sanders inspired many to speak, as did many of the candidates in the 2016 presidential race.
The political atmosphere is more heated than most experts can remember, as the prevalence of social media combines with unusually disliked candidates in an unprecedented race.
Poker players have feelings about politics like anyone else, and many well-known poker pros have been weighing in on the 2016 presidential candidates. Some simply take to Twitter with a joke or a simple observation, while others have decided to use their platform to express very strong and sometimes divisive opinions.
If you don't like what I have to say and it bothers you, it's ok really! Click unfollow, I won't be upset by it. Honestly.— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 27, 2016
Past Prose of Pros
When poker sponsorships were more abundant during the poker boom, pros representing a poker company generally used their social media platforms to promote the sponsor and talk about the game. In interviews, pros were usually very reluctant to talk about current events or express much of an opinion on social issues. Even though there were sponsorships left and right, those contracts were coveted.
After Black Friday, sponsorships became much harder to acquire. Many pros became even quieter about social issues and political topics, aware that their deals with online poker sites were rare and treasured.
Some pros, however, took more liberty with their positions. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu is an ideal example, as he has rarely held his tongue about any issue. He is highly regarded in the poker world by most fans of the game, and his deal with PokerStars seems to be set in stone. His outspoken nature garnered more support than it did opposition, and he seemed to grow more confident with his voice through the years.
The treasonous statement he made at his press conference is listed here. This man is a threat to civilization. https://t.co/Th6xdRXAFx— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 28, 2016
Gloves Off in 2016
The current political climate, especially with highly-debated issues as Brexit and the Trump/Clinton race, has inspired people to come out of their social media closets. Poker pros are expressing opinions as never before, with Negreanu becoming one of the most vocal of them all.
To the angry haters it's quite simple:— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 27, 2016
I'm a liberal
I'm a Democrat
You don't have to like it, but you don't have to follow either.
And the Twitter debates are becoming contentious. Names like Negreanu, Mike Matusow, and Matt Glantz mention political views that engage numerous others and go on for hours or days.
These conversations may alienate some fans who do not live in the United States, care little about politics, or simply want their poker idols to stick to the game. However, the issues at hand are important enough that the pros are willing to risk losing those followers and fans in order to speak their minds. The stakes involved in an election as important and divisive as the 2016 presidential race are being deemed more crucial than any bad beat or loose game.
A company like PokerStars would have a tough time silencing Negreanu, and should they even try? His outspoken nature is something many of his fans relish. While there is a fine line to walk between expressing his own opinions and insulting others, PokerStars seems to have decided that his voice is valuable, as is his freedom of speech.
In modern times of world-changing events and social media, it is becoming more common for celebrities to feel comfortable expressing their opinions publicly. Companies that hire or sponsor those people always reserve the right to cut ties, but they can also embrace the publicity that comes with the most outspoken among them.