Friday, June 06, 2008

Et Tu, Rizen?

Can't help but be disappointed at the news that Eric Lynch has signed to represent UltimateBetBeen noticing Eric “Rizen” Lynch in the Rio this week. In fact, on Day 1 of Event No. 4 (which I covered) he was sitting at the table nearest our workstation, a table that also included Jennifer Harman and Todd Brunson. He was in seat 5, I believe, and so was directly facing us. Had that same studious look he always has at the table, always observing, always “in the moment” (as they say).

From interviews, his blog, his articles, and his forum contributions, Lynch has previously seemed to me to be a thoughtful, intelligent guy. He’s a bit older than your average internet whiz kid and has a family, and thus I suppose I found him a bit easier to identify with whenever he spoke of the place poker held in his life. Unlike some of these 18- and 19-year olds multitabling 100 hours per week, Lynch would always talk about how he managed to keep poker from eclipsing other, more important obligations. Thus he’d only play a certain number of hours online per week and refused to go chasing every live tournament on the circuit.

In other words, Lynch always seemed to me like a “big picture” kind of guy, one who knew what’s was really important. Money is good, sure. But there’s a lot else in this life that means more, which is something he seemed to understand.

You might have heard that Lynch has followed the path taken by Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy and also signed on to represent the scandal-plagued online poker site, UltimateBet. I’d read the news a day or two ago, and was chatting about it yesterday with some of the other reporters here at the WSOP. Some knew about it, but for the ones who didn’t their reactions were all similar.

“Really?” they’d uniformly respond. Then would come the head shake and expression of disappointment.

On his blog, Lynch has published a lengthy post explaining his decision. The post is earnest and thoughtful (as we’d expect from him), but doesn’t really add up to much in the way of a justification of his decision.

The gist? Well, Lynch says he believes UltimateBet is no longer a corrupt enterprise and he wants to be a part of its commitment “to creating the premier place to play poker online.” (Hate that “ad exec”-speak, don't you?) He adds that he didn’t need the money, and that he in fact plans to donate much of what he’s getting from UltimateBet to charity.

So he’s earnest, but not saying much. Not much that makes sense, anyway. In fact in the end Lynch comes off a lot like Paul Leggett, the CEO of Tokwiro Enterprises (the company that owns both UB and Absolute Poker) came off on the TwoPlusTwo pokercast this week. “Trust us, trust us,” they’re both saying. Over and again. “It’s all gonna be good. In fact, it’ll be the best!”

Neither should be surprised by folks’ reluctance to buy that line. Not at this point.

Lynch himself says in the post that this decision, like all of his poker-related business decisions, was made out his desire “to be a part of creating something meaningful for poker” in the larger sense. Seems utterly baffling, frankly, to believe that signing to represent a site like UltimateBet could somehow be understood as an action for the “greater good.”

You might also read through the comments that come after Lynch’s post, some of which are quite cogent. (To Lynch’s credit, he does not appear to be editing out the opposing voices -- and most of them are opposing.) I especially appreciate one contributed by a commentor named “Noricha” which outlines a different way of justifying the decision to sign with UltimateBet, one that would emphasize Lynch’s own prior reputation as a person of ethics and integrity -- that would argue he believed he could positively influence UB because of who he is.

Don’t know if I would buy that, either, but it definitely would sound better than the ain’t-looking-back, we're all here “creating the premier place to play poker online” applesauce.

Anyhow, I’m not going to go on further here editorializing about Lynch’s decision. Got to get ready to go cover for PokerNews Event No. 11, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout event -- an event in which Lynch is playing, as a matter of fact. (He says on his blog he plans to podcast from the event.)

Be back in a little while with a quick preview of today’s action.

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Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

If I hear one more 'and I'll donate it to charity' I'm going to throw up. Hells Angels also give cuddly toys to kids hospitals every now and then. It's doesn't cover for everything else.
UB/AP are nada surf forever. They are handling it awfully, haven't come clean and you got to wonder what might be happening under their noses right now.
A Canadian friend recently said he wanted to play some online poker after a hiatus of a couple of years and wondered what the best sites were and how the landscape has changed. I said UB/AP went through a rough spot but are now the premier place to........ yeah, right. I told him not to go there, not even for the lowest stakes. Friends don't recommend UB/AP to friends.

6/06/2008 3:00 PM  
Blogger WillWonka said...

It's just not coincidence that too highly respected people have signed on with UB. There must be something to it and I, for one, am willing to hold out judgement a bit until I see how it folds out.

Having said that, I don't play at UB anymore; but I do still have money on AP.

6/06/2008 3:07 PM  
Anonymous gtycoon said...

I would assume that UB made a bigger than normal offer to Rizen because they needed to get some focus off "that other thing". Although, I don't think signing poker pros is going to change the poker community's view on UB/AP.

6/06/2008 5:16 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Looks as though Lynch decided not to play Event No. 11.

6/06/2008 7:24 PM  

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