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Poker changed my life.

There are times when it drives me crazy. Times I wish I never met the damn game. But it really did change my life.

There was a period of time when I had a nasty drink problem. My abuse of alcohol had become ingrained into my way of being. It affected all of my decisions, my relationships and my choice of career.

I had no meaning, no purpose.

I had no life.

Then I quit drinking.

During the transition it was important for me to have something else to focus on. I chose poker. I wanted to become the best poker player in the world. I played every day, read poker books, joined poker forums, joined online training sites and I even tried to teach others to play the game.

I was happy when I won.

I was unhappy when I lost.

I lost more than I won.

It became clear that poker was a hobby. Nothing more. To become a professional poker player was not my life purpose. That would not make me happy. But that phase allowed my mind and body to stabilize and become sober.

My life purpose is to help people quit alcohol to make the world a better place.

Poker helped me find my way.

In a recent poll on Reddit, 460 people were asked to express their opinion on a series of 53 different ‘fringe sports.’

Were these fringe sports actually sports or games?

When the numbers were sorted, poker was at the bottom of that list with a little over 10% of people believing it was a sport. Competitive eating and cheerleading were considered more of a sport than poker.

I think these types of polls are damaging.

It diminishes the credibility I believe poker needs to create more of a global exposure. The more people that can see poker as a sport of skill, the more non-gambling affiliated companies will be interested in slapping their labels on our tins.

In a recent blog post called “Sports Marketing: Poker is Mainstream, Legitimate and Bankable,” the CEO of Zokay Sports & Entertainment, Alexandre Dreyfus, looked at this Reddit report with a more positive outlook.

Speaking to Dreyfus, he told me that 10% was a good start. But he also told me that it was more important to start promoting poker as a sport rather than arguing whether it actually is.

Dreyfus is a very knowledgeable businessman. He believes that big brand sponsorship is key. Dave Brannan, CEO, Living it Loving it & Mindsports International concurs with him.

Brannan’s worry is the big non-gambling brands will be too scared to be affiliated with poker because of our image. As Dreyfus once pointed out in another article, “all we seem to be doing is writing about the latest robbery, cheating scandal or death.”

Both of these incredibly influential members of the poker community believe that the players have a huge role to play in the brand appeal of poker. We need to tidy up the image. It will never be choirboys and angels, but there is no need to be all Quentin Tarantino.

Stand up and be counted.

Shake the image of mistrust, deceit and shadows.

Let me give you an example.

According to popular belief, Phil Ivey is the greatest poker player on the planet. The poker community and the fans adore him. He is also embroiled in two multi-million dollar lawsuits for alleged cheating in the games of Baccarat and Punto Banco.

Ivey’s guilt or innocence is not the point.

He is tarnished.

That great avenue for poker is tarnished.

So what other options do we have?

Let me tell you the tale of Philipp Gruissem. The man who inspired me to start this article with a little tale on life purpose.

Like many people in the poker industry, Gruissem dropped out of college to travel the world and play poker because it seemed like a quick and easy way to make a lot of money. It was also fun, interesting and provided him with a sense of freedom.

After a while he began to question what he was doing.

What value was he gaining?

He wasn’t happy.

He deduced that to be happier he needed to be more successful.

He started to play higher and started to win more. Titles, accolades and millions of dollars came his way.

That still wasn’t enough.

It was at this time that he learned that giving would make him happy. He tried it. He gave money here and there. Nothing changed.

Then it clicked.

He realized the power of the poker community.

If he could spread his wisdom and philosophy, to others like him, then he could change the lives of millions. Suddenly, folding his 10bb stack for the next four to five hours was not about him, it was about something much bigger.

Philipp Gruissem had found his life purpose.

Raising for Effective Giving (REG) was launched.

How to use science and rational decision-making to help as many people in need as possible.

Gruissem is not alone. Igor Kurganov, Liv Boeree and Adriano Mannino are a few members of a band that will soon turn into a full-blown orchestra. They are hoping that their collective power will mean more people will listen, give, but more importantly, find meaning and purpose.

They are also ready made ambassadors for poker. Philipp Gruissem is the David Beckham of poker. They both have balls made of gold. They can do no wrong. Their hearts are in the right place and they are an inspiration to the world.

What respected non-gambling brand wouldn’t want to be affiliated with someone like Gruissem? A young man who plays professional poker so he can earn as much money as possible to help young children in Africa go through a deworming program so they can receive a school education.

Poker can be promoted as a sport.

We have our ambassadors.

Use them.

Promote them.

Tell the whole world about Raising for Effective Giving (REG) and start showing poker in a whole new light.

One of give, and not of take.



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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.