Sunday, January 20, 2008

'On Poker Ethics', by Ansky

It's been a good run on poker forums of late. Another 2+2 mega-thread that delivers food for thought is a magnum opus of sorts from Dani 'Ansky' Stern, who also heads up the AnskyPoker website. Ansky's thought- and comment-provoking post was entitled "Open Letter to the Community and Beyond on Integrity," and began by discussing Josh 'JJProdigy' Field's recent appearance on a podcast where he was interviewed by star players and best friends Gavin Smith and Joe Sebok.

In the piece, Ansky took Field to task for Field's breezy way of seeking acceptance into the live-tournament world, freely admitting his previous multi-accounting over a span of two years and not ruling out the possibility that he might return to the practice a month or so down the road. Ansky duly noted that Field was a bit light on understanding the relationship between 'repentance' and 'forgiveness'.

Ansky's piece --- which was widely but not universally praised --- also took to task the various venues which have publicized Field's entry into the live game. The most direct shots were taken at Smith and Sebok, whose questions could be interpreted in multiple ways but certainly did seem to get Field to open up a bit about his previous pratices.

The whole saga, though, begs the question: What exactly is news? We're not fans of Field, nor his multi-accounting ways, but the fact that his exposure and banning was newsworthy in the first place means that his new and somewhat forced entry into a different form of the game also is newsworthy in some fashion. It also means that almost everyone who talks or writes about Field, and the situation, has to find a way to deal with the whole issue while trying to find a distinct angle... and it's for sure that not all angles will be pleasing to all poker fans.

Ansky's piece deserves the high praise it has received, simply for its sincerity and its willingness to speak out about the slippery slope poker ethics often turns out to be. Overall, though, we'd be likely to cut the media just a little more slack. One has to find a way to complete the story, after all, and sometimes the story itself defines the terms in how it can be written. Think on that one for a bit.

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