Saturday, March 10, 2007

PPA --- The Organization that Can't Shoot Straight?

Talking about the Poker Players Alliance these days seems to be dangerous territory, but what the heck, I'm going there anyway.

I need to preface this post by saying that I am neutral toward the PPA. That's not "pro," and not "anti." Color me agnostic. I'd also like to point out that due to my inquiring nature, the president of the PPA, Michael Bolcerek, might not believe that. In working on several stories about the lack of transparency the PPA initially proffered concerning their finances, stirred in part by the private investigation of the PPA undertaken by 2+2 head Mason Malmuth, I did a bit of research into the PPA myself. I also made several phone calls and sent a few e-mails on the topic, and was promised a callback from Bolcerek (not by him, but by the office staffer taking my calls) on multiple occasions.

None of those callbacks ever occurred, nor were my e-mails through standard channels ever answered. That said, however, I think that the voices of several writers, my tiny contribution included, were a part of what finally prompted the PPA to post some of its financial information.

This is a good thing, in my estimation. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

As I mentioned in a post on another site, the PPA went ahead and posted its 2005 financials, which you can view here.

I'm really pleased to see this stuff, just on general principle. I do however, disagree with leading the page off with this: "While there is no legal requirement that we make this information publicly available on our website,..."

That reads as more than a bit defensive to me. Given that the PPA is not a scam, they should be happy to present their financials upon request, not make it seem as though the world is pulling their teeth. This is an organization that deals in goodwill and is dependent upon contributions for its very survival. I don't feel that any contributor owes them anything, and I feel that people who write about poker have a responsibility to look into organizations such as the PPA and, basically, check them out.

I'm reminded of this when I think of the one return contact I did have from Mr. Bolcerek. Working on a D'Amato story, I was, asking for comment on the early rumors, and I made some calls and e-mails and finally uncovered his PPA e-mail address. I sent off a letter explaining my inquiry and indeed did get a response to my asking if he or the PPA had a comment. It read like this, in its entirety:

no i do not

No signature, no cap letters, no nuttin'. That's fine and all, but it underscores a lack of professionalism on the part of Mr. Bolcerek in dealing with the media, at least in this instance. In this case, he may well have been rushed, but given the height of D'Amato rumors that were swirling, right from the start, I'm a bit incredulous that he and the PPA didn't have a canned "no comment" statement ready for any and all inquiries.

Does the PPA really not know how the game is played? Previous history (imagined or not) aside, when a writer makes a legitimate request for comment, either issue something with at least a minimal level of professionalism, or just accidentally delete the request and pretend it never showed up. Instead, the PPA continually seems to take a stance that says, "If you ain't solid behin' us, you're agin' us," and that can't be healthy for the PPA as a whole.

If it were only an isolated example. The PPA has recently put several promotional ads up on its You Tube site (id: pokerplayersalliance), and two of them look like pretty decent efforts. Here's the links:

"Poker Presidents"
"The State of Play: America and Online Poker"

Good stuff. Nice to see the PPA making an effort like this, and these need to be distributed to a wider audience.

And then there's this:

"Bad Beat"

Are you kidding me? Please-oh-please-oh-please, do not let 19-year-olds with misguided views of property rights post videos on the PPA site without executive overview. Or at least that's what it looks like. In the animated clip, a couple of pretend cops bust a player who tells his tablemates that he's from Phoenix, and bloody him up a bit in the process.

A bit crude, but funny. But then, the cartoon cop delivers an extra kick, and says this: "AND THATS FOR FILE SHARING LAST JULY YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!"

As a crime, file-sharing ranks right up with shoplifting a candy bar, but it's still wrong. Worse, not only is wrong, it's off message: it has no business whatsoever appearing in a PPA video. Of course, the denouement them comes as no surprise:

Worst of all, it's not even right, except in the state of Washington at the present time. C'mon, PPA. If you're going to bring respect to the world of poker, you need to show some professionalism yourselves.

That is all.


Semi-Pro Poker Player said...

Why does the PPA insist on communicating that playing online poker is a criminal act? Who are they really working for?

Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Was the latter promo part of the PPA's recent make-your-own-video contest (from Feb.)? (I can't really tell looking over at YouTube or elsewhere.) If so, I'd imagine it had at least some degree of "executive overview" . . . perhaps less, though, than other vids might've.