Having criticized Oliver before, I thought it only fair to praise him for his efforts in putting ESPN to task for praising Dutch Boyd without bringing up the Poker Spot controversy that has made Boyd reviled by many in the poker industry. You can read much of the hoolaboo over Tse losing his WSOP media credentials at RGP. Here's the recent newspaper column I wrote discussing the issue:
DEAL ME IN
By Johnny Kampis
Sometimes you don’t get the whole story
The poker section of the ESPN Web site called it the feel good story of the World Series of Poker when Russ “Dutch” Boyd captured his first WSOP bracelet by winning the $2,500 buy in no limit hold’em shorthanded tournament on July 2.
You may recall coverage of Boyd in the 2003 WSOP when he made it deep into the tournament that Chris Moneymaker won, as ESPN spotlighted the genius who graduated high school at age 12 and college by the time most kids begin shaving. Then in 2004, ESPN featured Boyd and several of his buddies, including Scott Fischman and Joe Bartholdi, who called themselves “The Crew” and threatened to “take over” the WSOP. They did a pretty good job as Fischman managed to win two events and Boyd made the final table of the razz event.
While ESPN has shown the wunderkind Boyd in a positive light, the truth is Boyd is much reviled by many within the poker community. About a decade ago, when online poker was in its infancy, Boyd was involved with an upstart poker site called Pokerspot. The owners allegedly used players’ accounts for operational expenses. What’s not in doubt is that the most players on the site never got their money back. Boyd has said in interviews that he would refund those players if ever in a financial position to do so.
This story has been largely ignored by those media who report on poker, largely because most poker Web sites and magazines act as the game’s lapdogs, eager to promote the game, but adamant about not reporting anything that would put it in a negative light. Hence you won’t see anything about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into the World Poker Tour Enterprises stock dealings of poker stalwart Doyle Brunson in the magazine Card Player or “Amarillo” Slim Preston’s assault conviction involving his 12-year-old granddaughter on www.pokerpages.com.
I spoke with a proprietor of an online poker site about the Dutch Boyd issue Saturday and he told me he would never touch the story. “I won’t report on anything that could tear the game of poker down. It’s in a fight for its life now,” he said, referring to the bill currently in the House that could ban most forms of online gaming.
Whether or not you agree with the stance of the poker media, the old saying applies – it is what it is – and the attitude is not likely to change. It will be interesting to see if ESPN, a network that doggedly discusses many controversial issues within the sports community, will bring the Pokerspot issue up when its WSOP coverage airs in the next several months now that Boyd just claimed a purse of $475,000.
Reach Johnny Kampis at email@example.com.