Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ambiguous Images

A duck or a rabbitBeen vaguely following some of this poker-related, Twitter-y back-and-forthing over the last few days, instigated by frequent-center-of-attention Prahlad Friedman.

Friedman suddenly hopped on Twitter Saturday night to report “Isaac Haxton and Justin Bonomo share and switch accounts often. Was playing random guy and looked up his stats. Identical to Hax.” From there ensued several hours’ worth of claims and counterclaims, among them numerous instances of folks noting the obvious irony of a UB-sponsored player complaining about being cheated.

A sequel to that brouhaha then erupted yesterday, thanks to a thread-starting post by Jon “FatalError” Aguiar over on Two Plus Two. Aguiar had participated some in Saturday’s scuffles, defending Haxton and Bonomo against Friedman’s accusation. Sometime after, Joe Sebok apparently sent Aguiar a message asking him “to chill on the UB hate,” a note that also included reference to Aguiar and his girlfriend having “a skeleton or two that you wouldn’t want public.”

Aguiar took the message as indicating some sort of blackmail-like threat, and from there came lots more posts, more private messages made public, and tweets from Aguiar, Sebok, and others.

Like I say, I’ve followed some of the chatter, though not that actively. Kind of like overhearing a lurid cell phone conversation while stuck in public transit or something. Can’t quite shut it out, but can’t ignore it entirely either.

The latest machinations involving Sebok -- put together with some of his recent podcast appearances -- put me in mind of his initial decision back in September 2009 to sign with UltimateBet as a sponsored pro and “media and operations consultant.” I wrote a post here then titled “Sebok Surprise” in which I expressed some trepidation over the move, comparing it to sweating a friend who appeared to be playing a hand badly -- hoping it might work out, but not feeling optimistic that it would.

It also got me thinking about the significance of image in poker, and how things like Twitter, the forums, and other varieties of communication mediated by technology -- including the kind that happens in online poker -- can serve to complicate one’s image in so many ways. And I guess I’m talking both about one’s image at the table (of use to one’s play) and one’s image away from the table, too (perhaps better referred to as one’s “character” as understood by others).

Can be hard to build and maintain a successful image at the table. Can be difficult to do so away from the table as well, especially when we complicate the process with extra layers of ambiguity introduced by the way we sometimes choose to communicate. (Or miscommunicate.)

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Blogger Unknown said...

Like watching a friend drink too much after some life gets in his way, you don't know when to step in and cut him off.

My hopes that Sebok doesn't fall further down this road. He even got into it with Shane yesterday over Twitter.

3/17/2011 9:41 AM  

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