Feel The Shame

Sept. 26, 2011

It didnt't really bother me when Poker Spot folded, because that guy had history. And I laughed about the money Aces Poker stole, because anyone who trusted them couldn’t ever spot a cheat. The Ultimate Bet scandal wasn’t really that surprising, as we’d heard stories about him for years. And it never shocked me when they cheated me in Atlantic City, or went partners against me in Vegas, or at Foxwoods tried to do a runner with my funds. The nips, the moves, the cheats, the angle shooters, and those that were just plain thieves. For the past ten years when the stars put on their caps and badges and smiled for the TV, we used to smile to ourselves. And then we’d laugh as we’d tick off the big names in poker and say, “But he’s really just a little scumbag, isn’t he?” Because they pretty much all were. And that’s the way it’s always been.

I didn’t always think like that, of course, and neither did you. I came into poker just like yourself, wide eyed and dough faced and on the back of a little bit of luck. Full of passion for the game and a romantic view of the poker world and a desire to be accepted by the rambling gambling men who ruled. It’s natural when you have a pocketful of money and a bellyful of gamble and all the confidence in the world, it’s natural that when it comes to people you can be a little naïve. I certainly was, and so probably were you.

But you get wiser because you have to. My circle got small and my radar got sharp and I could count all the people that I could really trust on maybe one hand. And I told them they could trust me. And pretty much everyone else were scumbags and cheats. In poker, that’s the way it’s always been. That’s the way it’s been for me, and that’s the way it is for you. And we don’t ever talk out of turn. Because in this world if you shit where you eat, then you’ll end up hungry. That’s what you need to know about poker. That’s what you need to know about me.

I’ve been around long enough so that just one more scam, cheat, or mismanagement of funds, one more of those should be just like more water off another duck’s back. But something happened to me when Full Tilt Poker collapsed. This one is different. This has laid me low. It’s not just anger I feel, it’s not just disdain, and I can’t sit here like I always do and smile to myself and point fingers and call them scum. Because what I feel more than anything else right now, is shame.

I am ashamed of you, Howard, and you, Chris, as well. Your actions have made me ashamed. But I’m also ashamed of every one of you that owns Full Tilt Poker stock and has sat in silence. You don’t want to give that money back. It’s nothing to do with you. You were just someone getting paid. You’re sitting in silence and running around and playing in tournaments and talking to your lawyer and feeling sorry for yourself. Shame on you, shame on your silence every last one. But that’s not all. Shame on those of you taking money to wear logos now, in the past and in the future, no matter the site. I’m ashamed that your moral code stops at every paycheck, that you ignore and turn your back and sweep under the rug rather than demand an answer. I’m ashamed of your goddamn hypocrisy and your proclamations about morality while your hush money spills out of your goddamn ass. I’m ashamed of those of you who are quick to condemn another rather than ask those tough questions of yourself. I’m ashamed of those of you who are willing to turn a blind eye because it involves your friends. I’m ashamed that not one of you really care about anyone but yourself, because how could poker ever remotely be called a sport when none of you have a shred of respect? And I’m ashamed that a bunch of fat cat dot com millionaires will never ever be able to imagine any perspective other than their own.

Most of all, of course, I’m ashamed of myself. I’m ashamed that I have sat by in silence while you all cheated, stole, and lied. I refused to speak up. I know you, you thieving tournament directors, you scumbag poker players, you dirtbag angle shooters with your names stitched on your shirts. I know you. And I’m ashamed that I’ve sat here for twenty years and let you rule the poker world as long as I was still getting paid. I’m ashamed that I will demand all day for ethics, honesty, and transparency as long as there is no personal sacrifice involved. I’m ashamed that I only want to clean things up as long as they don’t affect the bottom line. You take your ethics and shove them. You take your integrity and stuff it. Shame on you. You’re no better than the rest of them. And I’m no better than you.

In glass houses, don’t throw stones. Know thyself. The most naïve thing any one of us could think is that what’s left is honest. The most cowardly thing any of us could say right now is don’t upset the apple cart. And the most shameful thing any of us could be right now is happy to not demand answers as long as we are still getting paid. The only thing stopping player power is the players themselves. And that is totally shameful. This is only poker like it always has been, nothing new. And maybe that’s the most shameful thing of all.

Don’t sweat it Chris. I’m not really ashamed of you. I always knew you were just a little scumbag.

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What Others Are Saying

53 Comments about Feel The Shame

Milo Green says:

26th of September 2011

Really nicely judged piece, mate. Balanced and honest. wp

Matt Broughton says:

27th of September 2011

A big welcome to the new and improved Jesse May

Biffer says:

27th of September 2011

Haven't you been paid for commentating on Full Tilt sponsored shows/tournaments? Are you going to return your paycheque?

Lee Davy says:

27th of September 2011

Love it.

Mike Hill says:

27th of September 2011

"Shut up and deal"!!!!!!!!! its poker its life its drama its.... True

Dan Smyth says:

27th of September 2011

WP Jess: calculated, articulate and precise - I shall be less crafted in my opinion, but no less accurate: F**K You Full Tilt and the crooks that have caused a huge dent in the poker industry.

Ian Wheldale says:

27th of September 2011

Brilliant piece Jesse, just says it all

Jack starr says:

27th of September 2011

You are one of the good guys, stay around!

mattcwaldron says:

27th of September 2011

Jesse - you tagged a lot of my feelings right on the head. Thanks for your thoughts. Great seeing you at the WSOP this year.

Syd Vilin says:

27th of September 2011

I liked you on Poker Farm and believe you are bona fide poker celebrity that deserves as much exposure as anyone else.

Ernest says:

27th of September 2011

Great piece! But what you're talking about is the trumped up, poker circus/cash cow created by the poker boom to exploit the game on TV, online, and at high profile tourneys. The real poker that I originally fell in love with, and will continue to love, is sitting around a table in some kitchen with my friends laughing and taking a couple bucks off them on a good night. That's the heart of poker for me, and has nothing to do with egos, liars, endorsements, cheaters, moral whoring, and back-stabbing. They can never take that poker away from me!

Earl says:

27th of September 2011

Best Post Ever

Nigel Blower says:

28th of September 2011

Sadly, being one of good guys does not bring me any pleasure in relation to recent events. Poker is a social game and it is going to be tricky to be social with any of the FT boys again.

mikeyfan1 says:

28th of September 2011

Maybe Darvin Moon really got it right?

Bubbleblowerrr says:

28th of September 2011

You are a scumbag!

jammyjenny says:

29th of September 2011

great piece jesse, top drawer piece of writing. name and shame. Im really interested in the shady tournament directors.

Carl Hasselbl says:

29th of September 2011

Great post! Is the end of poker near though?

Marcus says:

29th of September 2011

Very thoughtful and well written blog. I would of course expect nothing less. Your book "Shut up and deal" is by far the best piece of poker literature ever written. Regarding the FTP mess I truly believe it's more about growing lazy than about flat out stealing. Funding players account while not getting paid from the card processing company, that's really a professional way of doing business and should have being taken care of earlier. A lot of the profit sharing must have happened while FTP still were on solid ground? Which, at that point, makes it morally more acceptable. If no investor steps up I truly hope the FTP owners takes their responsibility and ponies up their share to make sure the players are getting paid, becuase the poker community can only take so many hits, and this might be the final blow. //Marcus

Marcus says:

29th of September 2011

That come out wrong, sorry for that. Very thoughtful and well written blog. I would of course expect nothing less. Your book "Shut up and deal" is by far the best piece of poker literature ever written. Regarding the FTP mess I truly believe it's more about growing lazy than about flat out stealing. Funding players account while not getting paid from the card processing company, that's really a unprofessional way of doing business and should have been taken care of earlier. A lot of the profit sharing happened while FTP still were on solid ground, right? Which, at that point, makes it morally more acceptable. If no investor steps up I truly hope the FTP owners takes their responsibility and ponies up their share to make sure the players gets refunded, becuase the poker community can only take so many hits, and this might be the final blow. //Marcus

TRIP5 says:

29th of September 2011

I think you should say what you really mean Jesse ;o) xx

Johnny Hughes says:

4th of October 2011

It seems kind of simple to me. At poker, we'd cash in every night, and the house man only held the money awhile. If he was a big old all day sucker, as many house man were, we'd watch him dipping into the chip box and be wary. When my mentor, Curly, was fading with Cat Noble in Dallas, they'd cut up every night because Benny Binion was trying to kill the Cat. Trust wasn't the issue. Money was. This is simple. You tell ol' Howard, an awkward Cat going in, and Jesus, pal of James McManus which makes him an oaf in my book, and you say, "Here's 100 million or so. Hold on to it, but don't go south with the dough." How do we know what we'd do for that cash? I would have damn sure stolen myself rich, but not been as greedy as those folks. When I smelled the laws outside the window, I'd of done the ol' heel and toe and been in the wind with the nice score I'd tipped over. Being a scumbag is stealing something small. Those Full Tilt house men stole many millions. Hooray for their guts

Roy The Boy says:

4th of October 2011

Bejaysus Jesse…. And you know better than anyone that they (along with Howard’s boyfriend Joe Beavers) jacked me off of the Poker Million commentary telling Matchroom Sports that I am a character who would “bring FullTilt’s good name into disrepute”. Dunno if that makes me a saint or the Devil himself.

Johnny Hughes says:

4th of October 2011

However, greed gets 'em every time. They need to get some nice tats, the resumes out to the better gangs, learn harmonica, and how to smuggle in a keister pack. They also need to learn all the words to, "If I Had the Wings of an Angel, Over These Prison Walls I Would Fly."

Slam says:

4th of October 2011

So I'm an outsider here ... riddle me this : Do Lederer and Ferguson play poker in LV or LA card rooms, or are they beaching it up on some Island .. ? Has anyone seen those two ? ...

Ace Low says:

12th of October 2011

Outstanding, Jesse. You are a player with honesety and cojones! I salute you.

Nick says:

25th of October 2011

How does Brindley manage to make this thread about him, well done Roy, when something less important than you enters into your world why not let us know.

BLUMMER says:

27th of October 2011

I've known Jesse May for many years. His honesty and integrity is beyond reproach. Jesse,thank for being a beacon of light in a verfy dark world.

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