Last week the ongoing Dan Bilzerian fiasco at GGPoker burst back into poker world awareness that GGPoker had terminated its affiliate deal with Vanessa Kade, the poker pro who Bilzerian called a “hoe” in his first Tweet after signing a sponsorship deal with GGPoker last December.
It was Kade, who almost alone among poker people with a financial relationship with GGPoker, had the guts to call out GGPoker’s garbage signing of a truly trash individual, that being Bilzerian. That Bilzerian would act as he did was utterly predictable, and that GGPoker would be a lousy corporate citizen was almost as obvious.
This was always one of those stories where there was surely another shoe to drop, and that clattering came on Tuesday. Kade Tweeted, “Well, @GGPoker finally responded to the Bilzerian mess, by terminating my residual affiliate account from way back (idgaf) – a day after International Women’s Day, and not acknowledging any wrongdoing or anything remotely close to an apology.”
Kade also posted a series of phone texts between her and GGPoker’s affiliate manager, Rachel Ralson, who texted over to Kade the news that Kade had been fired:
“I’m sure you were expecting this message to come at some point, I need to close your affiliate account. Affiliates are partners and you clearly terminated that partnership a few months back, I’m simply finalizing it by closing the account.”
“To call us out as misogynistic is completely inaccurate and offensive to everyone that works here, especially the women.”
The rest of Ralson’s message sung GGPoker’s praises, describing it as a great place to work, especially for a young mother, while continuing to castigate Kade for rocking the corporate boat.
An angered Kade fired right back at Ralson, reiterating her stance against the Bilzerian signing. She wrote, “Your company has actively recruited a man who has abused women, and openly belittled and degraded them. It’s basically a staple of his brand.
“I have a number of friends who work with GG, and how they may treat you as an employee as you serve their interests is pretty irrelevant to the fact that they have very publicly said they don’t respect women.”
Further on in her reply, Kade tossed another bomb on the barbie, writing, “GG supports misogyny. There are no two ways about it.
“And everyone who partners with them after the point after the point that they brought on and kept Bilzerian is also publicly saying they are fine with it.”
Kade is correct, but she really didn’t go far enough. GGPoker isn’t just supporting misogyny by continuing to pay and promote Bilzerian, it’s exploiting and promoting misogyny for corporate profit. And that, friends, is absolutely disgusting corporate behavior.
However, is it surprising behavior? Well, no, not really. The former director of poker at the Microgaming Poker Network, Alex Scott, may have summed it up better than anyone; you lie down with dogs, well, it’s a pretty good bet that you’re a dog yourself. Scott Tweeted: “Dan Bilzerian is the perfect ambassador for GGPoker. His signing tells you everything you need to know about GG, who they are, whether they can be trusted and what they stand for. He is the living embodiment of their values.
“Is your money safe?” asked Scott. “Imagine you’ve given it to Bilzerian. You’ll probably get it back, sure. Would they break any laws or regulations? Pfft, would Bilzerian?” (Bilzerian is a trust-fund baby partying his life away on tens of millions of dollars his father stole and went to prison for.) “Would they treat you fairly in a dispute? Come on now, this is Bilzerian you’re dealing with. You can trust him. Right?”
Kade also noted that in firing her, GGPoker also confiscated her continuing revenue stream from player referrals, which was bringing her a couple of thousand dollars a month. There is a cost to speaking truth to power, and that’s why so many people are cowards in spots such as this. You’ll find a few stories out there about this latest blow-up; just don’t waste your time looking for them on any of the sites that are promoting GGPoker or Natural8, a sister skin.
It reminds me of some personal history, too, a story I’ll share only a small part of here. In early 2009, during my brief tenure as the EIC at PokerNews, I was pilloried internally by the owners (especially Tony G) and the marketers, who wanted to bring back their revenue-generating banners for Absolute Poker and sister site UB.com.
But there was a problem… me. I’d already written numerous pieces about the scandal at AP, and at that point I was close to obtaining the hard and undeniable evidence that AP president Scott Tom was the primary inside cheater, and I already knew how crooked the company was. So I fought those AP ad banners as long as I could. But I had little chance, and after AP dangled what I heard was a $160,000 advertising carrot in PN’s face, I was pretty much toast. There were a couple of other similarly sordid parts of the story, but AP’s money and hatred of my digging — Scott Tom threatened to sue me twice to try to shut me up, with one of those times coming amid that early-2009 battle, when he also threatened action against PN — and it meant my days were numbered without regard to other factors.
Fortunately, I think all of the really bad people at PokerNews in those days are no longer part of that company, and I’ve always had good relationships with most of PN’s rank-and-file employees. It’s old history, and I hope you enjoyed it. Speaking truth to power can be expensive, but of all the things that keep me awake at night, it’s not my deeds during that period.
For me, money’s not everything.
For others, it is, and I’m always saddened by how low, how scummy so many people are willing to be in their chase of the almighty buck. GGPoker reminds me very much of Absolute Poker in that regard. And I wish Vanessa Kade well.