‘Role Model’ is a tough title to hang on a tournament winner
When you flip ahead a few pages from here to the Poker Headlines section, you’ll see a few familiar names and faces. This isn’t anything new; headlines are usually dominated by the big name poker pros that ESPN has made famous.
But the stories about Greg Raymer and Jerry Yang aren’t about recent tournament success. Yang, the 2007 WSOP Main Event champ, made headlines for a major unpaid tax bill. Yang’s WSOP championship bracelet was forfeited to the IRS and is set for auction. Raymer, the 2004 WSOP Main Event champ, found his mug shot all over the Internet after being arrested in a prostitution sting in North Carolina.
The reality is that the poker world and its superstars are no different than professional athletes or entertainers. There are good apples and there are bad apples. There’s this long-standing belief that the WSOP Main Event champion has a duty, a responsibility even, to become an ambassador for poker. It’s time we end that practice. Poker needs to stop labelling the winner of one tournament — often a player in the spotlight for the first time — as its ambassador.
Poker already has ambassadors. Players who have an amazing track record of performing well and doing their best to promote the game in a positive manner. Mike Sexton, Daniel Negreanu and Matt Glantz are three that come to mind. They’re conscious of the fact that they can do great work for the game and they’ve worked hard at becoming strong representatives for the game. Celebrate those, promote those, and others will grow into the role.
Editor in Chief