Don’t Stare at Tom Dwan: Pros Complain About Excessive Tanking

August 6th, 2018 | by Jason Reynolds

Online poker icon Tom Dwan has sparked a debate among pros who feel as though some live players are taking too long over their decisions.

Tom Dwan High Stakes Poker.

Tom Dwan isn’t a fan of the famous stare down that he once used on shows such as High Stakes Poker. (Image: YouTube/TomDwanVideows)

Airing his grievances during a video interview with Pokernews, Dwan said that he prefers to play short deck games because there are less theatrics.

“I think the few tournaments I’ve played, even when I played at the Bellagio this summer, people have taken the starting at you to a whole new level. It takes a long time every hand,” Dwan said during the recent Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in Jeju.

Staring the Fun Out of Poker

Although he acknowledges he was guilty of similar when he first transitioned from online to live poker, the high roller said he only did it in big pots when he had a real decision. For Dwan and others like him, the new culture of spending an age on simple decisions is taking the fun out of playing live.

Reflecting on the comments, Antonio Esfandiari tweeted that excessive staring is “terrible for poker,” something Justin Bonomo agreed with.

What’s interesting about the recent wave of consternation is that much of the blame is being placed on casual players acting in the way they believe looks professional. During his interview, Dwan said that he prefers Triton events because it’s mainly high stakes players and pros.

“I think it reflects in the makeup of the tournaments. A lot of the people playing here [don’t do that], you get less recreational players. I’ve always thought poker was more of a game than a sport. I always thought it should be a friendlier atmosphere,” continued Dwan.

Push for Casuals Has Changed the Game

Online poker sites have been pushing the casual angle for the best part of five years and that’s often been at the expense of pro players. The most famous incident was when PokerStars refocused its loyalty rewards program to cater more for recreational players than grinders.

The changes led to boycotts in 2015 from those that felt they were being penalized. Although such objections have since wavered, it seems that the influx of new players doesn’t always have a positive effect on the game.

For poker to flourish, fresh blood has to flow into the industry. However, it’s clear that some pros feel as though newbies should spend less time copying what they’ve seen on TV and focus instead on having fun.


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