Forum Files: Everyone Angry at Everyone

Alex Weldon : June 29th, 2015

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Things have grown heated this past week in the poker world, with players, tournament officials and media all taking shots at one another over a variety of issues. Most of these conflicts began either in person or on social media, but once a fight grows too large for the constraints of face-to-face arguing or the character limits of Twitter, it inevitably spills over into the forums. There, more people can join the fray and express their opinions at greater length, snowballing the discussion from a slap fight into a full blown firestorm.

If drama’s your thing, then look no further. We’ve got a full week’s worth of outrage for you here in today’s Forum Files.

Brian “Stinger88 NoelHayes” Hastings
Thread: Brian “Stinger88″ Hastings Multi-Accounting as “NoelHayes” Cliffs in first post.
Thread: A view the poker world doesn’t want to hear by James Obst

The biggest battle this week is of course Brian Hastings vs. David “Bakes” Baker, though at this point it might be more accurate to say Brian Hastings and a few supporters and fence-sitters vs. the rest of the poker world.

The allegation is that Hastings bought or borrowed the account of another user, Noel Hayes, in order to conceal his identity and play on PokerStars while in the U.S. in violation of their Terms of Service. Although the debate initially focused on Hastings’s guilt or innocence and how severely he should be punished, things really erupted when Hastings himself chimed in to say that he believes that negative stories are bad for poker and that the community should avoid making a big deal out of it.

Needless to say that didn’t happen, and the thread now exceeds 100 pages, including several posts from Hastings and Baker, plus others such as Vanessa Selbst, who proceeded to catch flak for being too sympathetic to Hastings and posting before she knew the whole story.

Today, a Lee Davy interview with James Obst came out on CalvinAyre, in which Obst slams Hastings and the poker community as a whole. That interview drew a significant enough response to produce its own thread, a strong sign that this controversy is one that we’ll be talking about for months.

Ty Stewart failing at damage control
Thread: WSOP playing card controversy escalates between Bakes and Ty Stewart

As we reported last week, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart has been facing an increasingly unruly mob of players on Twitter who are unhappy with a number of things about the series, but especially the poor-quality Modiano cards. One person with whom he clashed particularly hard was none other than David “Bakes” Baker, who is surely having an exhausting week between these two battles.

This fight, too, has spawned its own thread on the forums, started by Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, who is of course himself famous in the community for holding strong opinions about how tournaments should be run, and being outspoken about those opinions.

Taking the Chainsaw to the best stack
Thread: View: Tournaments with “Best stack advance option” should be ceased immediately

Chainsaw isn’t just fanning Baker’s flames, but starting fires of his own, coming out swinging against the relatively recent “Best Stack Forward” re-entry format, in which players who survive Day 1 can still play additional flights, but only bring their biggest stack forward to Day 2 while the others are forfeited. Kessler feels there’s little upside to the format when played honestly, but a whole list of ways in which it encourages cheating.

Although the thread itself is fairly civil, Kessler couldn’t resist allowing his feelings to spill over into the next and final thread we’ll be discussing this week, which is…

Tension at the Poker TDA Summit
Thread: A TDs response to Daniel Negreanu’s rant at the TDA Summit

Daniel Negreanu gave an impassioned speech about the proper role of tournament directors at this weekend’s biennial Summit of the Poker Tournament Directors’ Association, but apparently not everyone likes being told how to do their job. WPT 500 tournament director “Justin” (last name unknown) took to 2+2 to write a public response and let Negreanu and the rest of the world know that he’d felt disrespected. He later backed down, saying that he’d misinterpreted Negreanu’s words, but not before the thread sparked a few pages of discussion.

Among other things, Allen Kessler jumped in to the thread to blast Justin for having defended the WPT 500’s use of the Best Stack Forward rule, and the TDA for spending so much time discussing the “First Card off the Deck” rule when Best Stack Forward is, in Kessler’s opinion, a much more significant problem.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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