My Two Cents on Daniel Colman “Controversy”

I wanted to take this time to address the whole Daniel Colman controversy that occurred upon him winning the One Drop after beating me in a fun, exciting, heads up match. The banter between him and I has always been friendly. I personally never had a bad interaction with him and really enjoyed the match. I have heard from other players that he has had some “run ins” with people, but this blog isn’t about gossip, it’s about what I can speak to personally about what happened.

At the end of the match Daniel came to me and said that he didn’t want to do any of the interviews and he didn’t want to promote poker. I told him I absolutely respect that and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I meant it. I asked him why, and he said that most people lose at poker and he doesn’t want to promote something that has a negative effect on peoples lives. There is some nobility in that.

Truth is, most of you reading this, will be lifetime losers at poker. You are unlikely to become successful professional poker players. It is available to all of you, and some of you will find success at the tables, but the truth is clear: most of you will fail. Sucks huh? It’s the truth and he is right about that. Not everybody can be successful at poker, but for me, I see things a very different way. You know how much I would love to be good enough at golf to play on the PGA tour and win big prize money at the majors? You know how many people play golf, striving to be a top pro, but fail? The vast majority.

I also would have loved to have the talent and physical ability to be a pro hockey player, or rub elbows with Lebron James in the NBA. That wasn’t in the cards for me. Lots of young people devote their lives to a sport, but the truth is, the majority fail to succeed. Only the best of the best will make it.

Many NFL prospects, in high school even, bulk up to 350+ pounds in the hopes of being drafted and making a career out of it. The vast majority will not make it, and often will deal with life threatening health issues as a result of that. Dreams don’t always come true, and sometimes there are real life consequences associated with those failures.

So, I respect Daniel Colman for having empathy for those people that may be jaded into thinking they can easily become a poker superstar and make millions. I wish, in the moment, I could have talked to him more about his decision to decline interviews. Questions I would have asked him:

What are you standing for?
What is the message you want people to hear?
Why not use this platform as an opportunity to educate those very people you are concerned for and make a difference for them?

I have read his statement, and he makes some valid points in it. I think (and he acknowledges this) that it’s difficult to take the position he does, and actually still profit from the game, and the weaker players he exploits. I’m assuming when he plays heads up sit n’ gos online, he doesn’t inform his opponent that he is a professional and they are likely to lose the match.

Lebron James makes more money playing basketball than other players because he is better than them. Colman is a successful player and makes millions because he is an exceptional talent. An accomplishment I would hope he is proud of when he looks back on his life and the opportunities poker has now given him to be financially free and make a difference in the world however he chooses to.

He also mentioned the seedy underbelly of poker. Make no mistake, this world he is talking about exists. However, that’s not all poker is. At least not from the lenses I look through. One Drop collected a group of wealthy men for a fun poker tournament, but the bigger picture? $4.6 million raised for a cause. MAKING A DIFFERENCE! All through a game we all love to play.

I have seen the other side of poker. I don’t deny the dangers for those with addictive personalities, those that put their well being in jeopardy because they overextend themselves. Having said that, studies show that typically people with gambling addictions are drawn to more instant gratification games like slot machines rather than a game of wits like poker.

The other side of poker that I see, and have for 20+ years in the game, is one maybe Daniel hasn’t experienced yet in his life. One where old folks get together to play penny ante poker and socialize. Bingo, Bridge, poker, things that get them out of the house, socializing, being connected with others, and having fun. I’m not advocating seniors blowing their pension playing poker, but if they want to spend $200 playing a game that most lose at, but they enjoy the experience, I see that as a very positive thing. Again, studies show that playing games and using your mind on a regular basis is excellent exercise for the elderly.

Poker, and more specifically poker tournaments are a competition no different than any other competition. The cream rise to the top, make the most money, and the vast majority whether its pool, tennis, basketball, golf, the restaurant business, etc. fail. Capitalism as a system allows people to strive for big success in whatever career they choose.

Daniel opened his statement with “I don’t owe poker anything.” No, I guess not, but I would look at it differently Daniel: GRATITUDE! Being thankful that you found a game you both love to play and are also good enough so that you can make a life for yourself. You don’t owe poker anything, sure, but poker has given you a lot. The camera crew filming the event, the dealers, floor staff, Caesars, the WSOP, ESPN, for giving you an opportunity to support yourself, the players that came before you and did spend time promoting a game you would have likely never heard about. You don’t owe poker, or me personally anything, much like when a waitress brings your order, you don’t owe her a tip or even a thank you. It’s just a gracious custom, much like doing a winners interview…

I applaud Daniel for wanting to live his life with a higher consciousness and looking more deeply at the bigger picture. I support that, and his right to decline interviews 100%. I also think people are being too harsh on him. He is young, and I’m not saying that in a condescending manner, just at the age of 24 life is just beginning, your views on the world, the questions you have, are just starting to form. I’m not the same person I was when I was 24, and I certainly don’t hold the same views I did when I was 24.

I’ll leave this blog with one personal (not so personal) message for Daniel:

Whatever it is you choose to do in your life, make sure INTEGRITY is at the core of it. If you are genuinely having an issue with the morality of playing poker for a living, make a choice. Don’t compromise your own moral code for money. If you truly believe in your heart that what you are doing hurts people, and you don’t want to hurt people, you need to make a choice.

If I may make a suggestion, why not continue to do what you love, empower others, educate others about the dangers of this lifestyle, and use the money your talents allow you to earn, to make a difference in the world? Not by staking people btw! Lol. You have the potential at a very young age to make a positive impact on the world, both with your money and intelligence. Don’t waste the gifts you’ve been given, and be grateful for the kind of life you are able to create as a result of those gifts.