Thursday, March 24, 2011

On Poker Communities

On Poker CommunitiesAn interesting discussion arose yesterday among various poker types (players, media, etc.) whom I follow on Twitter. Primarily had to do with the Two Plus Two website -- specifically the forums -- and its significance within “the poker community.”

Using scare quotes there, natch. Have to, right? The whole idea of a single “community” containing all things poker obviously doesn’t exist, although the concept of such a thing is often brought up in a theoretical way in various contexts (e.g., “How will the poker community respond to this-or-that?”).

The discussion arose thanks to a comment Two Plus Two “Grand Poobah” Mason Malmuth made yesterday in a thread regarding recent developments and revelations related to the UB insider cheating scandal, including some of the tangentially-related drama surrounding UB Media and Operations Consultant Joe Sebok.

In the thread it was suggested that there remain a large number of questions about the scandal and that UB COO Paul Leggett might be a person to whom those questions could be posed. Talk of an appropriate venue for such a Q&A ensued, at which point Malmuth jumped in to say he believed Two Plus Two itself (either the forum or the weekly podcast) would be the best choice.

Referring to Leggett and questions that could be asked of him, Malmuth said “He should answer them here,” since “2+2 is where the poker community is.”

Probably worth noting that he didn’t say 2+2 is “the poker community,” but rather was referring to how the site tends to be a “place” (so to speak) where members of the community tend to congregate. A central location where people assemble to exchange ideas, you might say, like the Agora in ancient Greece (plus funny photoshops). Which in many respects it is. Nonetheless, subsequent posts in the thread and some of the Tweets from last night appeared to interpret Malmuth as having claimed his site is the “poker community” -- as though he were claiming the whole “world” of poker was included within the metaphorical borders of 2+2’s little empire.

Malmuth didn’t say that, of course, although I can see how some might have considered him to have implied as much. Then again, maybe that was what he meant. (A later post by Malmuth in the thread, one more specifically identifying 2+2 as “the discussion center of everything poker,” perhaps edges even closer to making such a pronouncement.) No matter... objections are necessarily going to be raised whenever anyone refers to “the poker community” as if it were a single entity.

I think most would agree there are many communities (plural) that could be said to have formed themselves around poker, including some those of us who spend most of our time in one particular community may not be aware even exist. Such was the observation B.J. Nemeth made regarding the significance of Zynga PokerCon which I was commenting on earlier this week. As that example illustrates, there are lots of people who have formed lots of communities -- some small and inclusive, others large and influential -- that have been brought together by the game of poker.

It’s an interesting paradox, really, how poker is a game that provides both an occasion for social interaction (to commune with others) and an opportunity to pursue unapologetically our own interests (to compete with others). Such a paradox might help explain why even within various poker communities there almost always tends to exist tension and/or conflict, never mind the disagreements that often arise between disparate ones.

When we play, we’re necessarily in it for ourselves. I can’t win unless somebody else loses. Makes it hard, sometimes, to think of others.

Still, we have to think of others to some extent, right? Otherwise, there’s no game.

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Blogger F-Train said...

Given the arrogance that MM has displayed repeatedly for years, I have little doubt that he views 2+2 as representative of the whole poker community.

Good post.

3/24/2011 6:26 PM  

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