Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poker and Charity

Here's where my fellow poker-blogging brethen get mad at me.

Them's the breaks. I write what I feel, and say what I mean.

While it's hardly earth-shattering news, I've decided to cease participating in the WPBT "fun tour" events, effective immediately. The reason? The announcement that the next event was a charity event, EasyCure's "Hammer Out Cancer" event on Sunday, April 16th... perhaps not so coincidentally, Easter Sunday.

There's nothing wrong with running a charity event... heck, I'm all for it. But what is wrong is to denote this as a WPBT points event --- despite the frivolous nature of the WPBT itself --- and doing it some four events after the WPBT has already started to play. I've exchanged some e-mails with Ron about it, explaining my stance and why I felt I had to drop out. Basically, if any mention had been made before WPBT events began that charity events would or could be included, than all well and good --- it would've been up to me to decide to participate with that information in hand.

After the fact just doesn't cut it. It puts all participants in the position of having to donate to the organizers' pet charities (worthy or not) in order to maximize their chances of winning the whole thing... not that I'm in danger of that, mind you. But it's a line that's been crossed --- the purpose of the WPBT has been co-opted here --- a sellout, if you will. It also opens up questions of what other changes to the structure can be made pretty much at the whim of the organizers.

As Ron rationalized it in one of his e-mails:

"This will sound odd, but what the WPBT organization is is that it is not. There was never any decision to make a WPBT, it simply came to be. It grows organically and most of us like it that way. We reserve the right to make it up as we go along."

And I reserve the right to step out of it, too, as I've done... and to say why. I'm reminded of the first job I had when I graduated from school, working in a shoe store. A few weeks after I started, it was time for the company's annual United Way drive to commence, and the store's manager told me exactly how much he expected to see me contribute in percentage terms. "The stores have their own contest," he offered, "and I don't intend on losing my ranking."

I told him, in not-quite-so-blunt terms, to stuff it. It wasn't up to that long-ago boss, a nice man with the unfortunate name of "Will Rule" (I kid you not), to determine how and when I make my charitable donations. Whether it's the long ago Mr. Rule, or EasyCure today, I'm part of no one's quota unless I choose to be, and I accept no coercion in even the politest form in an effort to reel me in. Too often charities and those who work on their behalf justify their bad manners and practices because their efforts are "for the greater good."

I think that's bullshit. Always have, always will.

As an aside, while I am poor and cheap, I'm not heartless; I surfed over to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation today and dropped in a $15 donation. I did it today, frankly, for all the wrong reasons. But it's a worthwhile charity, too, as is the American Cancer Society. Pick one. Help 'em out.

As for the WPBT, yes, it's marginal silliness, and yes, this is something of a mountain-out-of-a-molehill situation. Nonetheless, it's crossed a behavioral line that's abused far too often in today's society, so it needed this further examination. In order to clarify the wrongness, let's just scale everything up a few hundred notches and create an admittedly absurd example:

Suppose the Toyota Player of the Year title at the WSOP was underway, and all of a sudden the WSOP organizers decided, halfway through the Series, that the last six events counted toward the POY title would have a buy-in of $25,000, with all the overage going to charity. Think the players would be P.O.-ed? Oh yeah, baby. And they'd be rightly P.O.-ed, too.

It's all about overstepping the bounds of decorum, and it's not the charity or the need to do good that's wrong. It's the changing of a process in midstream that's wrong.

And that's why I'm out of the WPBT. Best of luck to the rest of you, and my extreme best wishes to those of you who've been affected by cancer in any way.

As for the other, next time, just solicit me directly. That I'll respect.

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