As a pro poker player (and an aspiring pro), I have often thought about the morality of poker, if there is any at all, and especially its relation between winning players and losing players (habitual donators). I often hear the saying “Don’t tap the glass” when I was first starting out, in relation to not berating ‘fish’ when they make obviously bad mistakes. I caught on to this very quickly, however I don’t think I fully understood it at first. In fact I think the very term “fish” is something itself that is bad for the game and detracts habitual donators (in which I have termed ‘recreational’ in a general form to alleviate the derogatory word fish).
But what is more important about not tapping the glass is having a certain respect and thought for the overall class and image of the game, as this can be (and is) more devastating for an individuals ROI than losing a certain recreational player from the table. I have come to think about this deeply over the years and watched the way in which I myself interact with recreational players that obviously have not put the same time and serious intent into the game I have. Particularly in the way I handle table chat in my games with respect to online play.
Over the course of my career it has been quite important to me not only to engage in ‘classy’ or at least ‘fun’ type conversations, but as a mass multi-tabler I still think it’s at least PART of my job to chat on final table’s and at other times to at least show that we are not in fact robots. Many serious players do not seem to agree with this and in fact will NEVER respond to such chat (or create themselves), probably mostly because they are maxed out on their mental efforts with too many tables, but possibly also because they don’t understand the positive effects it might have on the game. There might also be the belief that they don’t want to reveal any information about their play but it might be that NOT chatting also reveals information, or at least that the option to chat might actual entail some possible strategy edge to be attained as well.
In light of all this there are still times when I lose my cool (perhaps even just because of stress irl), and I berate a reg or even a recreational player with the worst intentions. It doesn’t take long before I cool down and realize what I did, however, the damage to the player, my image, and the overall classy-ness to the game has already been done.
I have often thought to myself (yet never actually done it), perhaps I could email stars support and have them send an apology out (although quite a self condemning thing to do), but I thought it might be a little too intimate and was never sure it’s appropriate. The other thing I thought of is possibly sending the player some money, especially if I ended up berating them as they got busted from the tournament (such a terrible time for beration I think!).
Again it MIGHT not be appropriate, but one can wonder what kind of effect this kind of thing might have. With myself for example it might not have a significant effect. If someone sends me 1 buyin its going to be a very insignificant addition to my overall roll, however, it would be interesting to have little chat fight with a better player and then notice there was a small apologetic transfer to my account for it. I might smile and tell a few poker player friends, I’m not sure how much we might notice. Perhaps not enough to think about doing it ourselves
With a recreational player it might be different! This player might have spent there last 50 bux chances at playing online poker as opposed to some other form of entertainment, or they might have tried the game for their first time. Getting a buy-in back might be a significant part of their roll because often recreational players play too big for the monies they have behind them. Rather than giving up on online poker forever, they will certainly at least give it one more shot, but more importantly and interestingly enough, they might actually tell all their friends “Hey that ass-hole I was telling you about sent me a bunch of money!”
This is the kind of thing that can help the overall image of the game. And it might also lead to more certain ideas which are seemingly -ev for the individual, but are actually greatly +ev because it helps the overall image and sustainability of the game.
It MIGHT even help players to think about other ways in which we can both help attract new players (and keep them playing) as well as creating a culture that teaches regs the kinds of etiquette and actions that increase the overall image of the poker community. We might even keep a secret pot between regs, perhaps amongst the 180 field for example, in which players can choose to donate money to certain recreational players that no doubt suffered devastating beats (having the chip lead with 10 left and getting knocking out before the final table all in with AA), just to show that “hey, the players care, thank you!” These ‘secret’ (but not really so secret), pots might also lead to other forms of social poker welfare.
What we don’t want to do as a community, is spend all of our time chasing individualistic non cooperative ev, and ignore the overall picture of the game. If we do that we might find ourselves creating a completely unsustainable environment with no support from the public or the lawmakers that represent it.