Daniel Negreanu wrote what would seemingly be an innocuous blog post recently that has set off a bit of a firestorm. The post had to do with Negreanu’s frustration over poker players hiding behind sunglasses. He also hinted at the possibility of sunglasses being used for cheating –later posting a video on his Facebook page showing one such method.
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Opinions have ranged from disbelief to ridicule. However, just like the people who joked about all of the “online poker is rigged” threads –See UB, Absolute Poker, Multi-Accounting, StoxTrader, and other examples– there is a lot of substance, and evidence, to what Daniel is saying.
I’ve heard of the ‘magic spectacles’ since I took up the game in the early 2000’s, and I’ve heard of other methods over the years such as a player rubbing an invisible ink onto the backs of playing cards that can be seen through certain glasses. So, don’t dismiss the possibility of cheating out of hand: When money is involved people will do a lot of shady things far worse than marking cards.
It’s not as if players who can’t beat the game legitimately are the only ones who are found to be cheating/bending the rules –See: Russ Hamilton, Nick Grudzien, Sorel Mizzi, Brian Townsend, Justin Bonomo, and Josh Field—and rumors abound of nefarious dealings by Men “The Master” Nguyen and a host of players he bankrolls; Tuan Le and Hasan Habib in a WPT tournament; and numerous other allegations, some real and some unfounded.
Another element in the debate is whether sunglasses are good for the game in terms of television. The reason we have the current poker boom is because the Hole-Card Cam made the game TV-friendly; without this invention poker would likely still be a very niche game in casinos. When the WPT was first created they had a strict dress code for the final table that included no hats or sunglasses. Unfortunately, over the years the dress code has become more and more lax with many of the participants donning shades and hats.
In my opinion, this takes away from the viewing experience; poker fans can’t see the players, and can’t look for real or imaginary eye movements or tells. This element makes the telecast more hands-on, as if the viewer is playing the role of poker professional and trying to determine what the others players tells are.
On a lighter note, I’m also tired of seeing college kids playing low-limit games playing dress-up, and imitating Phil Laak, Phil Helmuth, or Chris Ferguson. Furthermore, they play the part by taking a ton of time on each decision. I think sunglasses put a player into character, and they try to act like they are at the final table of the WSOP Main Event!
While I don’t think sunglasses are bad for the game, I think they have run their course, and have enough negative aspects to support a ban on using them at the poker tables.
A petition has been started as a Facebook group, and in less than 2 days has recieved 122 members. Join poker players like Mike Matusow and Phil Laak and sign the petition! Click here to sign the petition.