Daniel Negreanu took to his blog at Full Contact Poker to talk about his feelings on poker and gambling in a message that seemed like a direct response to Victoria Coren Mitchell‘s recent decision to leave PokerStars.
Negreanu talked about how he personally navigated the issues inherent in becoming a professional poker player, and said there were a number of questions he asked himself before going pro.
“Am I OK with making a living that requires me to take money from people who are less skilled?” Negreanu wrote. “Am I OK with taking advantage of the fact that those people don’t know the odds are stacked against them?”
Of course, Negreanu has been a professional poker player for 20 years, and as he wrote, that’s “answer enough” to where he comes down on the issue. And, he says, he sees little difference in what he does at the poker table and what the casino does with the games they offer to players.
“I would personally feel like a hypocrite if I justified that it’s OK for me to take money from problem gamblers, but it’s not OK for the casino to do the same,” he wrote. “If it’s wrong it’s wrong, no matter who profits. As much as we’d like to separate poker from gambling, poker played for money IS gambling.”
Negreanu did acknowledge that there’s a difference in forms of gambling that players can profit at with skill, such as poker, sports betting, or the stock market, as opposed to a game like roulette where “there is no hope or illusion that you could become a roulette superstar.” But Negreanu wrote that for the average recreational player, the odds may actually be better at the unbeatable table games.
“Having said that, a recreational player who puts down $100 at a blackjack table is going to win more often than he would at a poker table,” he wrote. “His ROI is going to be better at a craps table then it would be sitting down at a poker table full of sharks. He’ll lose either way, of course, the only difference is who gets his money.”
In the end, Negreanu said, he hasn’t found a way to rationalize being against casinos winning money, but being okay with winning through poker himself.
“If I truly felt that gambling was wrong and against my beliefs, that it should be illegal, it would require me to stop entering casinos for any reason,” Negreanu said. “That’s what a stand looks like to me.”
Negreanu’s words come as a response to those of Coren Mitchell, who recently decided to end her relationship with PokerStars after the company announced that it would be adding other casino games to its worldwide poker client. Coren said that she herself had nothing against casinos, and even played table games occasionally.
“But I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop,” Coren wrote on her personal blog. “Although PokerStars assured me I would not have to actively promote the casino arm, I know in my heart that continuing in my current role could risk helping to send people to a place where they would encounter something I think is dangerous. That’s not the way I want to make a living.”
While Negreanu’s take may be different, however, he still expressed respect for Coren’s decision.
“I both respect and admire Vicky Coren’s personal stance on online casino gaming,” Negreanu wrote. “I suppose everyone has their own line in the sand and they aren’t all going to be in the same place, and that’s neither right or wrong. What maters most is that when you draw that line you also follow up with doing what you feel is right, and Vicky deserves all the kudos in the world for doing that.”