Sunday, July 12, 2009

Integrity...

It's not cliche`, it's good character.

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Most of you probably don’t know this, but the Poker News Daily you are reading right now is actually Poker News Daily version 2.x (I would say 2.0, but that’s not quite accurate – the site has undergone some changes in recent months). Version 1.0 was launched back in 2005, ran for a couple years, and then was folded into another website. I wrote a lot of news articles for the original PND and even got a gig writing for a now defunct poker magazine as a result of my work.

I didn’t consider myself a “journalist” or a “reporter” though, as I didn’t uncover most of the news about which I wrote – I would comb other news sources, conduct further research on the topics, sometimes contribute my own insight, and write my own story. Sometimes, though, I was able to break a story. The hard part about that was getting it written and posted quickly, before any other news outlets could scoop me. It would have been easy to not properly verify facts in order to post a juicy story, but fortunately, I avoided the temptation to cut corners and turn PND into a rumor mill.

Recently, a well-respected poker blog/news site posted an article about how poker player Adam Richardson (known as “Admo” online) “stiffed” Ante Up For Africa by not donating a single penny of his more than $100,000 prize after he came in second in the charity tournament at the World Series of Poker. The “news” was largely reported in the form of a vicious e-mail that was sent from someone at the charity to various members of the poker media. The e-mail, from someone named “Hunter”, stated that Richardson left with all of his prize money, refusing to donate even after he was asked. According to the e-mail, he was also supposedly rude to other players during the tournament.

Richardson has since responded, saying that none of that is true. I’m not going to go into all the details, but Richardson said that he did have a plan to donate anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of his winnings to Ante Up, but wished to speak with Annie Duke first about some questions he had about the charity before determining the exact amount. He also received an emergency phone call from his wife shortly after the event ended and, according to Richardson, he was hounded by Ante Up representatives for virtually the entire call. He did not leave the Rio with the money. He left his winnings in the cage until he was able to determine exactly what he was going to do with the money.

Richardson has been very forthcoming with status reports on what was going on with this “scandal”, and I tend to believe his story. Regardless of whether or not I believe him, though, it was in very bad form for the website to make that e-mail public. Sure, the person who posted it (who is a good guy, by the way) did tack on a disclaimer at the end which stated that he had not confirmed the veracity of the e-mail, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s one thing to do this with something minor, like, “Rumor has it that Full Tilt Poker might be adding some new cash games”, but when you are spreading a rumor that can destroy someone’s reputation, that’s just irresponsible.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the desire to get that story up as fast as possible because hey, it is an interesting story, if true. But there is no way I would have done that when I was writing news items for PND. If I really wanted to post it, I would have attempted to contact Richardson to get his side of the story. Then, maybe I would have posted the story with complete information. Even then, though, I might not have done it because if he did actually take the money and run, it’s not like that wasn’t allowed. There was no rule stating that a player was required to donate any winnings to Ante Up For Africa. Of course, if someone knowingly enters a charity tournament and doesn’t give back any of their winnings, I would have to agree that the person needs to take a close look at his ethical leanings, but you know what? That’s not news. It’s not my place to broadcast the perfectly allowable decision by somebody in a poker tournament.

Now, even if I wrote what one would consider a blog, as opposed to a straight-up news site, I still wouldn’t write anything about what Richardson did or did not do until I had all the facts straight. It may be a bit cliché, but I like to try to live my life by the “Golden Rule”, which states, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” What if I was in Richardson’s place? How would I feel if someone smeared by reputation in the name of news and page views?

While it seems that most people do believe Richardson, some still disagree with the way he went about his business when it came to donating his winnings. But that’s another discussion entirely. I am proud that Poker News Daily does not feed the rumor machine and that the writers here take care in the news articles they post. After all, we wouldn’t want to become the Poker National Enquirer now, would we?"

Quoted from Poker Daily News

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