No Politics On TV Poker Tournaments, Please!

No Politics On TV Poker Tournaments, Please!Israel launched its recent military campaign, named Operation Protective Edge, against the Gaza Strip on July 8, 2014, and seven weeks later the violence shows no signs of abating. The current conflict has evoked strong reactions from a number of poker pros, not least Daniel Negreanu, who on July 29th tweeted:
“For the record Im 100% pro-Israel defending themselves against terrorist groups like Hamas and you aren’t going to change my mind on twitter.”
The PokerStars sponsored pro is a hugely influential personality in the poker community with 320,000 twitter followers, and naturally his tweet immediately drew responses from players on both sides of the fence, who subsequently took to twitter to air their own views.
Eventually, the controversy died down somewhat, but this week’s European Poker Tour Super High Roller Final Table in Barcelona stirred up the debate once more after two of the event’s finalists wore T-shirts expressing their sympathies for the Palestinian people. Olivier Busquet wore a T-shirt stating “Save Gaza” on the front, while Daniel Coleman wore one saying “Free Palestine,” and both players subsequently received the most air time possible for their message after finishing 1st and 2nd respectively in the tournament.
Naturally, Busquet and Colman’s decision to use the EPT televised event as a platform to promote their political beliefs did not go down at all well with some viewers, including founder of Cardplayer Lifestyle Robbie Strazynski, who tweeted:
“Doesn’t matter what “side” you’re on. #EPTLive is embarrassing itself by allowing @DanielColman_ & @olivierbousquet to wear those t-shirts.”
The latest Gaza related controversy comes at a time when announced it would be screening two final tables at the Florida Seminole Hard Rock Poker, representing the first time the channel has shown a US tournament since 2010. Needless to say, the occurrence at the EPT Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller highlights the need to keep politics out of televised poker and soon after Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications at Rational Group, issued a statement to pokerfuse, saying:
“In retrospect it was a mistake to allow them entry. Our tournaments are designed to promote poker and poker competition and not as a platform for political statements. Players have many channels to express their views on world politics, but our tournaments are not an appropriate place. We will refuse entry to any player displaying political statements of any kind.”

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