Another instance of misogyny in poker
Poker suffered a setback this past week as it was forced to reckon with yet another instance of overt misogyny within the community. Appearing on a twitch stream last Friday, Americas Cardroom CEO Phil Nagy made a number of crude sexual comments, the worst of which was directed at poker streamer “WeePro83.”
his mea culpa was not enough for some commentators
Nagy has apologized profusely both publicly and privately, but in the days that followed, his mea culpa was not enough for some commentators who called for players and media who had been vocal about other instances of misogyny to speak out now against Nagy and his actions.
Nagy’s comments were beyond the pale
Last Saturday, poker player Ruben Costa issued a statement about his standing as an ACR Twitch streamer via Twitter:
The following day, his girlfriend, known as “WeePro83” online, explained that she would not be playing her Sunday session on ACR, for which she had sold action.
The couple was reacting to a deeply troubling incident on Friday night when ACR CEO Phil Nagy made numerous off-color remarks on a Twitch livestream. While the vibe of the stream was undoubtedly rowdy and full of adult humor, there were no excuses for Nagy’s comments.
For a start, this was not a private chat between friends. It was streamed for a live audience. Second, there was an imbalance of power of which Nagy should have been cognizant. Third, Nagy’s specific comments were beyond the pale and overstepped the line of decency within the context of a bunch of friends drunk chatting, let alone when you factor in the power dynamic.
Nagy was profusely apologetic afterward
Nagy immediately responded with a full-throated apology to Costa on Twitter:
He also reacted to comments in the thread, expressing contrition:
Poker pro Melissa Schubert added her voice to the thread, alluding to a culture of inappropriate comments. Again, Nagy offered no excuses or defense for his behavior.
It was clear that Nagy felt deeply sorry for what he had said to people he regarded as friends, saying: “Ruben is such a good guy and I feel lower than a snakes belly.”
Nagy’s response different from Dan Bilzerian’s
In the days since Nagy’s mea culpa, Twitter has been abuzz with debate about what happened. There was no dispute about the wrongness of what he said, but the aftermath was different to other high profile examples of bad behavior.
Nagy owned his bad behavior in its entirety and sought forgiveness
Unlike past instances of misogyny, there were no denials, no prevarication, no whataboutism, and no excuses. Nagy owned his bad behavior in its entirety and sought forgiveness from those that he had offended and hurt. His out-of-line remarks were made publicly and he apologized publicly.
When Bilzerian directed gross comments at Vanessa Kade last December, there was no acknowledgement and one would suspect that the GGPoker pro meant every word and would say as much again. His fellow ambassadors rallied behind him and the company went out of its way to punish the person who he demeaned.
When Nagy directed gross comments at WeePro83, he said he was sorry and ambassadors who represent his company spoke out against his behavior. Kade issued a statement on her Twitter feed, addressing the matter in detail:
A teachable instance
Responding to Kade and her defense against insinuations of hypocrisy, Matt Berkey attempted to parse the different elements in her statement with a Twitter thread of his own:
To summarize, Kade has clearly and consistently condemned the actions of her boss. She does, however, believe that Nagy intended no malice by his comments, awful as they were. That is her judgment call, but she has backed it up by saying that she would tolerate no further transgressions and would no longer represent ACR if anything resembling this happened again.
Regardless, the knives seem to be out for Kade, despite the fact that yesterday, Costa took to Twitter to explain his side of things fully and to let people know that he has accepted Nagy’s apology:
This is a teachable moment for poker. In the latest episode of The Lock-In, host Dara O’Kearney pointed out that for days we watched a hangdog Phil Nagy groveling for forgiveness. That’s the CEO of a major poker operator doing what many other powerful figures ought to have done but have not. It’s a potent moment, not just because there is collective catharsis in witnessing a public act of contrition and genuine desire for atonement, but also because it will serve as a deterrent to others.
A watershed moment?
In the days that followed, WeePro83 and Ruben Costa understandably took a few days to digest what had happened. Yesterday, WeePro83 also broke her silence on Twitter, asking for onlookers and commentators to point their ire and upset in the right direction:
That specific sentiment was shared by Costa…
…and Ike Haxton:
One hopes that means that lessons have been learned and all parties are able to move on in a healthy way. This might seem overly optimistic, but I actually believe that this could be a watershed moment for poker. This indefensible and ugly occurrence is holding a mirror up to the community but it may, rather bizarrely, become the catalyst for real change. Poker writer Jen Newell agrees: