Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Silver Lining?

Yesterday I passed along some of the smarter responses to Sunday night’s 60 Minutes story on the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet insider cheating scandals. Heard one other response yesterday. Not really recommending this one, as such, but it was so strange I thought I’d share it with those who might’ve missed it.

The response came on this week’s Two Plus Two Pokercast (the 12/1/08 episode), the first half-hour of which was devoted to discussing the 60 Minutes story. As show hosts Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz point out, Two Plus Two was given a bit of exposure there in the segment. The site is never specifically mentioned by name in the report, but there are references to “internet poker forums” and their participants having been largely responsible for uncovering the scandals. (I think there was a fleeting shot of the site up on a computer monitor at one point as well.)

Since Two Plus Two was part of the story (says Johnson), they decided to have Two Plus Two owner Mason Malmuth on at the start of this week’s show to offer his thoughts on the 60 Minutes piece.

“I want to talk about this from a little different point of view,” Malmuth characteristically begins. I say “characteristically” because as we all know, just about everything from Malmuth comes from “a little different point of view.”

After noting that “obviously” the report “was not good for internet poker or our industry,” Malmuth says that “sometimes events happen which on the surface don’t seem like they are very good but they create opportunities to get things accomplished which can be long term good.”

That little preface is kind of a false tell, actually. Most of us probably are thinking Malmuth is about to point out how the negative report might lead to legislative action that would clarify the murky legal status of online poker, and perhaps also ensure certain regulatory standards that would further prevent other, similar cheating scandals from occurring.

But no. Malmuth isn’t going there.

He then explains that when it comes to “our industry,” there are “certain groups who are important” who oppose online poker and who routinely associate internet poker with all forms of of “gambling, pornography, racism, [and] anti-religious themes.” Put ’em “all in the same basket” and “call it vice,” says Malmuth. It is therefore important for those of us who are invested in online poker to be wary of this prejudice.

A little out there, but okay. I’m not so sure that many people or “groups who are important” are arguing that playing online poker is somehow equivalent (or even comparable to) being racist, but I understand the point that there are those who see it as a “vice” and who have a very hard time thinking of it any other way.

Malmuth then focuses on the 60 Minutes piece, saying how it “began with a person and ended with a person” -- he won’t even say Todd Witteles’ name -- whom Malmuth clearly doesn’t like seeing on CBS speaking for “our industry.” (Malmuth isn’t alone in having this opinion, of course.) What most grieves Malmuth, though, is that Witteles’ “name is now out there, and what’s going to happen is people are going to Google his name, and they are going to come to the website that he’s associated with.”

That is, NeverWin Poker. Malmuth refuses to say the name of the site, too.

Says Malmuth, NeverWin Poker is a “cancer in our industry” which as far as he is concerned is “all these things wrapped up together” -- that is, the list of “vices” he’d previously presented.

Then Malmuth calls on Poker Players Alliance Chairman Alphonse D’Amato to issue “standards” according to which poker websites be recommended to follow in order to help disassociate poker from other “vice” or deplorable intercourse or behavior. “Those websites or members of our industry who don’t follow these standards should be treated as outcasts,” Malmuth concludes.

So that’s the silver lining or “long term good” Malmuth sees in the 60 Minutes piece? Not that it might affect in a positive way the legal status of online poker in the United States, but it might lead to the poker community making “outcasts” of NeverWin Poker, once and for all?

I’m not looking to defend some of what one finds on the uncensored NeverWin Poker forum and website. But what kind of a response to the 60 Minutes story is this? Is Malmuth right? Will some of those members of “certain groups who are important” now look up Witteles, find NeverWin Poker, and decide poker is a breeding ground for all other “vice” and/or socially unacceptable activities?

Host Mike Johnson compliments Malmuth for “taking the high road” here by not mentioning Witteles or NWP by name. But really, this sort of griping doesn’t seem much like the “high road” at all. Maybe there’s a point in there somewhere, but it all just sounds way too petty and personal to me.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Shamus for bringing up the Witteles situation on the 2+2 pokercast. I have enjoyed that podcast before they were even associated with 2+2 and I was disappointed that they agreed with the pettyness of Malmuth. It was very personal and I feel that Witteles interview on 60 minutes was not that bad except for his ending comment which could have been worded differently. I'm not a fan of neverwin poker but neither of Malmuth and Sklansky and this "feud" had no business being made public on the podcast and to say neverwin is a cancer on the poker industry is load of crap. Maluth even went so far as to ban Gary Wise from 2+2 because he posted on neverwin (ban may have been lifted now).

12/03/2008 9:31 AM  
Blogger Otis said...

I'm no huge fan of the community at NWP, but anyone from 2+2 taking NWP to task for anything is disingenuous at best.

I'd point out examples, but I don't think I have to.

12/03/2008 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm not familiar with NWP, this type of stuff happens all too often at 2+2. Their products are consistently high quality, but there is a lot of passive aggressive stuff in the forums. I remember when I first switched from playing crummy limit hold em to crummy big bet hold 'em, I was completely turned off by the attitudes in saw in the forums.

12/03/2008 4:11 PM  
Blogger Greylocks said...

The misogyny on NWP is horrendous, all-pervasive, and sick. The sometimes off-putting attitudes of some 2+2 posters just don't even begin to compare. Any attempt to suggest that 2+2 is just as bad as NWP in some way is false equivalency of the worst order.

Malmuth is hardly the person we want representing the industry either - anyone who has played against him, as I have, knows that - but he's right that NWP is just a disgusting and embarassing s***hole. His motives for saying so probably really are "petty and personal", because those are pretty much Mason's motives for almost everything he does, but that doesn't mean his overall take on the situation is wrong.

12/03/2008 7:51 PM  
Blogger Otis said...

My point was a bit pot/kettle. No doubt, NWP is full of 20-35 year old adolescents. That said, in NVG or BBV, you will find the same group of trolls. See Hawbaker, Brandy for refference.

12/03/2008 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty funny considering parts of the 2+2 forums are much like the content in NWP's Shooting Off. And considering 2+2's most famous author is a borderline pedo who keeps a dildo in his car and encouraged Brandi Hawbaker to kill herself. Talk about a cancer.

12/03/2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Wise's ban was lifted long ago. I have to agree that Mason's suggestion that there be some sort of "standards" for poker sites is incredibly laughable, especially having the PPA create these "standards". I'd have thought it be wise for Mason and co. to just ignore NWP completely if they want to marginalize them.

12/03/2008 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Free Sue said...

Sklansky was a direct contributor to a young womans suicide , he actually goaded her to " do us a favor and kill yourself" . He also is in a relationship with a mentally challenged girl more thean half his age. Is this the image we want for the "poker community"

12/03/2008 9:37 PM  
Anonymous the last micon is not the real micon because i am said...

TYVM HardBoiledPoker... if someone reminds me I will have to get a link up on NWP

(obv real Micon)

12/03/2008 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Micon said...



12/03/2008 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Shamus,

Adam from the Pokercast here. Just wanted to comment on two points.

First, Otis said in the comments implied that 2P2 was as bad as NWP. I think anyone that visits the two sites can see the difference pretty quickly.

To say the tone of the two forums is similar really isn't telling the truth. One one you can post a pic of naked Hitler, or a random girl in a noose and on the other you will be banned for anything resembling hate speech or horse porn etc.

Mike and I would never be involved with a site like NWP (not that they would care) because we do think it is both offensive and hurts the industry. Now Mason and I may differ on just how much it hurts, but the fact is that it can't be good for us. I would prefer to ignore them and hope they don't have a large presence, but Mason feels that he can do more by calling them out.

Lets look at it this way. Imagine that NWP was the largest poker forum site. How bad would that be for our efforts to get poker mainstream? How long would it take for some congressman or woman to use it against the case for regulation, for example? I think most of us are happy this isn't the case.

To your point Shamus that Mason should have commented more about the 60 minutes piece then about NWP. Mason said during the interview I think that he would rather leave that to us to do. He had a specific point he wanted to make and knew we would cover Hamilton et al during the show.

He doesn't like NWP. I think that's obvious. Put aside any pre-conceived notions and go to the site and tell me that it isn't offensive. I've never met Todd, he seems like a decent guy when I hear him speak, but to be involved with some of the stuff that goes on at NWP in the name of free speech is pretty bad. Search the n word and see how many hits you get to prove my point.

Anyway, I very much respect your contributions to the poker world so I felt I had to reply. I'm sorry that you didn't like the show, but hope you come back and listen.


12/03/2008 10:04 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks for the feedback, all. (I've deleted a couple of the comments w/links out, as I generally do.)

As I mentioned in the post, I'm not interested here in defending some of what goes on over at NWP. Nor was I here explicitly comparing 2+2 & NWP, although the points being made here in the comments under that heading are all certainly of relevance, I'd say, to the original observation I was making about Malmuth's appearance on the show.

Don't worry, Adam -- I enjoyed the show quite a bit (as I generally do). My main observation here was just to point out how strange it seemed for Malmuth to use the 60 Minutes segment as an occasion to discuss NWP. (I was encouraged, incidentally, to read Malmuth's comments on 2+2 today regarding the show and his not being inclined to dictate what you guys do over on the Pokercast.)

12/03/2008 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shamus - I love your blog - keep up the good work. Malmuth is a really twisted guy who is obsessed with NWP and is so tilted he can't even focus on what really matters for Poker. the hosts of the podcast should be embarrassed that they sold out like that.

12/04/2008 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam, since you are reading the comments. Why did Mason COMPLETELY BRAINLOCK when the name Russ Hamilton came up during the podcast? Isn't Russ the villain? Isn't Russ the worst thing that has ever happened to poker? Why did Mason find it so difficult to squeeze a word out on the matter? Could it be he has a relationship with Russ? Is it because Russ and Mason are actually involved in business dealings together? I think people should be asking these questions, and looking into this Mason Malmuth situation

12/04/2008 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You say you wouldn't rep a site like NWP because you find it offensive. Do you not take offense to David Sklansky? What is worse for poker - harmful and immoral actions taken in the "real world" by a noted poker author or words and pictures posted by random teenagers/immature adults on the internet?

View must be nice from that high horse. LMAO

12/04/2008 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Mason Malmuth the real Mason Malmuth because obviously the other malmuth was not me said...

I just can't beleive you would decide to take this course of action. Perhaps you should rethink your position on this. i won't say more but please send me a pm when you can to discuss this.

Those that support such filth online that has become associated with poker and in such a bad light that has now been brought to the recreational players view and those that are not part of the poker community as a whole should be shunned by those of us out their with poker's best interest at heart.

Going forward they should be dealt with appropriately. The time has passed for such negative things to be allowed to tarnish poker's good name.

12/04/2008 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best thing for poker and the poker community would be . Regulate online poker through a state , the rest will fall into line. Tax and Police it like a normal brick and mortar casino and make only open to residnets of that particular state.

Also the 60 minutes interviews where spot on. Cheating could be and prbably is happening at such sites as stars and tilt.

As far a Nwp vs 2+2 . Sklansky is a total freak, Malmuth who the phuck is this guy ? Ive never heard anything good about him and alls he does is bitch about the good of poker.

Poker is a game where the sole object is to fleece everybody at the table by any means . How do you spin that into good?

I have visited both forums and I must say I would much rather be a Nwp member than a 2+2 member . I dont mind the pics and the vulgarity if your over 18 and have a brain yoy laugh and know what to sift through when searching for forum facts or entertainment.

2+2 Gossip page is a complete mess. The only time I ever even spent time there was when Brandi was making a big stir and to be honest alls I wanted to see was some tits and ass.

12/04/2008 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to Todd, AKA Dan Druff, he has been around NWP from almost its beginning, However it should be noted that he has his own section there which IS MODERATED by him, you will not see the pics and other offensive material there. His area is about poker in general. Ask Mason how many WSOP bracelets he has?, Todd at 1 with and was the card player player of the year that year, unfortunately for him that year Card player decided that they didnt agree with how point were awarded (even though it was there system) and didnt do anything to recognize or reward him, even though Daniel N. got a Toyota the year before.

12/06/2008 9:37 PM  

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