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David Diaz has dealt with adversity practically all of his life. Losing his right arm to cancer while in his youth was undoubtedly a difficult situation to overcome.

Yet he overcame that obstacle and has navigated a successful poker career that includes winning a 2011 WSOP gold bracelet and well over $1 million in tournament cashes since 2008. Many players can only dream of such success.

Diaz has now encountered a new problem. He has been banned from playing any more events at this summer’s WSOP at the Rio, as well as being prohibited from setting foot on any properties owned by Harrah’s. Reports indicate that the banishment has been administered for life, but many seem to believe that casino officials may relent and allow Diaz to play there again at some future date.

Diaz’ offense was apparently getting too drunk and causing a bit of a ruckus at Carnaval Court. While complete details of the event are spotty, there are rumors that Diaz somehow offended security personnel in such a way that a lifetime ban seemed the appropriate punishment.

Posters on 2 + 2 are about evenly divided on whether Diaz’ punishment fit the crime. Some question his behavior as being immature and childish, hardly befitting a man who one might think would have developed a certain amount of gratitude and humility after his earlier cancer scare and finding respect on the live poker circuit. Others are of the mindset of ‘who doesn’t over-imbibe from time to time and forget some details of the previous night?’

Players who support Diaz’ antics have taken up a campaign to “Free Lefty” and allow the pro to play again at the WSOP. After all, it is his chosen profession and one in which he obviously excels. And there have been no reports of him exhibiting reckless behavior while seated at the poker table.

The problem apparently commences when poker play is done and the temptations of Las Vegas nightlife are hard to resist. But other accounts from online poker forum posters seem to indicate that Diaz’ drinking behavior has not been exclusive to Nevada. Apparently, he has been known to get trashed at other locales as well.

Diaz admitted via Twitter that he can’t recall the events of the night in question that led to his banishment. As much as poker players and the population in general tend to find it amusing when someone gets so blitzed that they blackout, such behavior typically is indicative of a serious drinking problem when repeated time and time again.

The support for Diaz in the Free Lefty campaign is evidence of his likability at the poker table. Many seem to agree that he is pleasant to be around while on the felt. But as was pointed out on 2 + 2, perhaps a Help Lefty campaign would be more appropriate. Drinking to the point of oblivion may be the sign of a serious drinking problem. Let’s hope that Diaz can examine his lifestyle and choices and make the same correct decisions in that area of his life as he does while making proper decisions during tournament play.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.