GGPoker’s announcement this week that it had signed trust-fund-baby and all-around lowlife Dan Bilzerian to an ambassadorship deal has had tongues wagging, with GGPoker catching plenty of heat for what surely looks to be a short-sighted move. The signing brings up an interesting question: When are any near-future gains that can be attributed to signing up the fans of such a person as Bilzerian to poker accounts worth more than the disgust and lost business attributable to more socially conscious players running as fast as they can from a site that values integrity so lightly?
Bilzerian, the beneficiary of tens of millions of dollars embezzled by his corporate-raider father, got his GGPoker ambassadorship off to a flying start in a Twitter exchange with pro player Vanessa Kade that quickly went viral. Kade, one of many who criticized GGPoker for the signing, responded to a related comment from Melissa Burr in this way. Then Bilzerian popped in:
It’s hardly unexpected from Bilz. This is the same guy who was banned from a Miami nightclub for kicking a model (Vanessa Castano) in the face during a brawl, and whose very public life is just one long Instagram tale of shallow excess. The type of fanboys who follow him on social media call it “living the life” — and it’s these losers that GGPoker is attempting to target with the Bilzerian signing — but in truth it’s all just a massively misplaced celebration of one of the most shallow existences and misspent lives in recent memory.
I literally can’t think of any redeeming qualities that Dan Bilzerian possesses. His endless string of doing nothing worthwhile in the most expensive and wasteful way possible has been a disgrace for more than a decade, and as to his self-evident and very disgusting treatment of women, nothing’s changed there either.
And yet, I really don’t care about Bilzerian. He’s an irredeemable, lost soul, and any anger I might otherwise feel toward him is just a waste of my time. I usually slide right by any news mentions of Bilz, because there’s nothing there worth my time. I’m a believer in the old adage that you don’t have to eat the old apple to know that it’s rotten.
If there’s a target for my ire, it’s GGPoker. How dreadful for them to not only have signed Bilzerian, but to not have dumped him in a hot minute following his “hoe” take. Worse, GGPoker hasn’t even commented about the incident, but is instead actively offering new promotions around Bilzerian’s signing.
It could not be any more tone deaf. Women represent just a few percent of the professional poker community, and making the game more friendly and accessible to females has been an ongoing and hard-fought battle over the past couple of decades. Women in general are a giant audience that remains untapped, but that can only happen if poker takes the steps needed to open itself up to women, instead of abusing them on sight.
“Quiet, hoe” doesn’t cut it. Nor does ignoring the misogyny for the sake of what might amount to at most a few hundred account signups. Despite what GGPoker thinks, celebrity endorsements don’t really convert that well. The value such endorsements have is in spreading a veneer of public respectability and acceptance of poker into the mainstream, not celebrating the debauchery of a rich clown not even worth the $600 of elements that make up the average human body.
I consider this a truly gross fuck-up by GGPoker. If I ever entertained any thoughts of playing there, they’re gone now, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way about the site.
Shame on GGPoker for financially rewarding and promoting Dan Bilzerian’s brand of mysogyny. It amounts to an approval of the exploitation of women for profit. That’s a hard “no” from this camp.