Monday, November 19, 2012

A Petition to Prevent the “Professor” from Playing Poker

Some brouhaha of late regarding a petition drafted by the poker player Nick DiVella seeking to have Howard Lederer barred from playing poker at the Aria. The petition went up a couple of days ago and has almost a couple of hundred signatures so far.

Remember Lederer’s brief, calculated media blitz from a couple of months ago (discussed in part here and here)? It wasn’t long afterwards we began hearing reports of Lederer turning up at the Aria to play in the $400/$800 mixed games. (That photo of Lederer in action in Bobby’s Room was snapped and tweeted by “Crazy” Mike Thorpe.)

Seemed like an incredibly tactless move on Lederer’s part, destined to provoke a negative reaction from a community of poker players many of whom continue to wait upon the return of their FTP funds.

Then last month the “Professor” played in the $10,000 buy-in WPT Festa al Lago event at the Bellagio, burning through a couple of buy-ins on his way to busting. That, too, earned Lederer a lot of vitriol from players upset that he’d blithely ignore how others might feel about his gambling away thousands at a time when he continues to stand accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of funneling hundreds of millions of players’ funds into “FTP Insider” accounts.

All of which is to say, it’s not like DiVella’s petition comes out of nowhere. People are upset, and so DiVella has made a decision to see if he can influence the Aria somehow to stop allowing Lederer to continue to play in their poker room. Claiming that the Aria has “a moral and ethical obligation to bar Howard Lederer from playing in the poker room,” those signing the petition are collectively threatening the Aria with a boycott should it fail to follow through on such an obligation.

I don’t know a lot about DiVella. I do know he is one of the regulars at the Aria cash games and that he made a deep run in the WSOP Main Event this year where he finished 72nd. In fact, I happened to have reported on his unfortunate bustout hand for PokerNews, one which saw Steven Gee accidentally call DiVella’s all-in with K-7 then beat DiVella’s A-K when the community cards brought a seven.

I remember DiVella handling his misfortune in that hand very well. I also recall listening to DiVella on a podcast later on with Kristy Arnett where he talked about his Main Event run, and found him interesting and thoughtful. So while I don’t really know DiVella, I have an impression of him as a fairly rational dude who isn’t necessarily looking to round up a lynch mob but rather simply wants to find some way to address an unpleasant situation.

That said, I can’t really agree with the suggestion that the Aria has any “moral and ethical obligation” to bar Lederer from playing in its poker room. The Aria can do what it wants, of course, but it would have to be regarded as a troubling move if they decided to bar a player simply because others did not want to play with him.

I’d be a lot quicker to say Lederer is the one who is choosing to ignore what might be called an ethical obligation to refrain from playing, at least until all players are finally refunded their balances.

I’d be curious to know what Andrew Brokos, the “poker ethicist,” has to say about the “ethical obligations” of the Aria and/or Lederer here. Speaking of, Brokos and Nate Meyvis have a new episode of their “Thinking Poker Podcast” up in which they talk to PokerNews’ Matt Parvis about (among other things) the “Lederer Files.”

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Blogger Eddie said...

Ethics in a casino is a funny oxymoron. They let you drink and gamble 24/7, but they won't let you wear a T-shirt with an expletive written on it....

However, I think DiVella has a right to ask, and Aria should consider the petition. It would be very hypocritical of a Casino to let a known gambling cheat and let him effectively play with stolen money, when they can already refuse anyone at their discretion (like card counters as the blackjack tables).

The petition should be a reminder that this behaviour is not / should be tolerated anywhere, and that establishments should acknowledge the wrongdoings done elsewhere.

11/19/2012 11:50 AM  
Blogger Robert Dudek said...

DiVella is interviewed on the most recent 2p2 pokercast.

11/21/2012 4:26 PM  

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