Daniel ‘SmilleThHero’ Smiljkovic enjoyed some of the biggest scores of his career in the month of September. His success in the month not only helped him break into the Online Poker Rankings top 5 for the first time in his career, but it also clinched his second career Online Player of the Month honors in less than a year.
This article is an op-ed. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.
I was surprised, but not shocked, on Monday when I saw on social media that a man decided to play in this year’s World Series of Poker Ladies Event. Minnesota-based poker player Tom Hammers paid the $10,000 entry fee (rather than the discounted $1,000 buy-in available to women) to take a seat so he could, in his words, play for charity and “help women in general.”
However, even if Hammers had good intentions by circumventing the obvious will of the WSOP and entering the Ladies Event, his misguided action reeks of condescension, bringing negative attention to an otherwise traditionally fun event, and leaves him as an outlier sucking up the spotlight.
While one can’t be certain, it’s safe to say that if the law would allow, the World Series of Poker would restrict the Ladies Event to women and those who identify as such. The law in Nevada prohibits the WSOP from exclusion based on gender so in order to try and de-incentivize men from playing, a few years back they raised the buy-in to $10,000 and give women a discount to $1,000. As if the fact that it’s called the Ladies Event weren’t enough, the 10x buy-in for men should be a clear signal that, like the Seniors Event, the series would like to have this event be a special one for a specific group.
I have yet to hear of a compelling reason to have a male enter the Ladies Event. Prop bet? Unfunny. Sexist? Sad. Nothing else to play that day? Lazy. Now, charity. Who doesn’t love charity? Charity sounds great. And Hammers laid out a plan in which he would play to raise money with any potential winnings for two unspecified woman’s charities “One for a battered women’s shelter, and maybe a homeless women’s type thing..”. No guarantees.
As if a surefire $10,000 donation wouldn’t be enough. Hammers, who has Hendon Mob results dating back to 2004 and is a longtime member of the poker community, must have thought that his entering the Ladies Event was worth so much more than the $10,000 he had in hand. He must have thought that he should spend the $10k to enter the event – being well aware of how it would be perceived and the headlines it would bring – in order to make even more (which would require him to make the final table, finishing in at least 8th) which he would then donate. He was the guy to do this.
He must have thought that disrupting the event, even disrupting the experience in the slightest for the women who played it, was going to be worth it. Or maybe he didn’t think about any of that.
Many on social media vouch for Hammers as being one of poker’s good guys. He’s called a “super nice guy”, “literally one of the best possible humans anyone could meet”, and a “true gentleman.” And perhaps he is. Which would make his decision even more confounding.
Is that why he thought it was ok? He’s so well-known, well-liked that women – who are expecting that in just one tournament in the entire 98 bracelet event schedule, they could have a single event to themselves – would grant him the exception and be so stoked to have him.
Is it a win-win because of the $10,000 juicing of the prize pool? Was that a donation? If so, he could have bought in and blinded off. Just walked away and thanked the women for being a part of the poker community. He could have offered a cash prize to the winner or an extra $1,000 to the final ten. He never had to play a hand.
Am I wrong? I’m happy to be wrong here. Help me understand where the selflessness comes in. Help me understand how there are not five different ways Hammers could have chosen the platform of the Ladies Event to contribute or bring awareness to women’s causes without being a disturbance to the event. Without having to play.
The notion that “not everyone was thrilled” or that him playing for charity brought “different vibes” is downplaying the insult that some of these women must feel whenever a man ignores the title of Ladies Event and opts to put themselves above that community just because they can – even if it’s “all in the name of charity.”
Why is he an exception? Why does his plan for potential winnings make it acceptable for him to participate in an event which has a sole purpose of offering ladies their own event? Why not choose a 10k to play in and donate winnings. How about the main?
— Katie Stone (@KatieStonePoker) October 12, 2021
In the end, Hammers busted. Sorry charity, no winnings this year. But I have hope that Hammers is the good guy that his friends vehemently support and that when all is said and done he will find another way, perhaps while the event is still going on, to research the women’s charities “type things” he’s passionate about and make an actual donation in the name of the Ladies Event.
The World Series of Poker’s debut of the popular GGPoker Flip and Go format took place this weekend and, love it or hate it, the tournament and its opening flights brought some old-school action back to the players in the Rio.
We’re only a week into the 2021 World Series of Poker and it’s clear that this year Phil Hellmuth means business. There’s no indulging his inner Colonel Kurtz on a celebrity-fueled trip in the jungle or any other early-series shenanigans. Instead, Hellmuth has been at the Rio, in his seat, at the tables, and off to one of the best WSOP starts of his career.
At stake for him, a record-extending bracelet #16 and yet another chance to give his doubters a lesson in #POSITIVITY and White Magic.
Gary Gulman is great. If you’ve seen him perform you likely think so too. An incredibly funny comedian with years in the game and a loyal fan base. If you haven’t seen him, or don’t know by name, he’s got highlights galore on YouTube – well worth going down the rabbit hole to check out. Some might call Gulman, a “comic’s comic” – a guy who has been in the industry for years, respected by his peers for being a real pro and enjoyed by those that know him. He’s a guy who likely deserves even more notoriety than he gets. And what he gets is pretty good.
It’s incredibly difficult to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Even in an era where more than 160 will be added to poker resumes this calendar year, it still takes being one among tens of thousands of players who take their shot at winning one of the most coveted trophies in the game.
But as hard as it is to win a bracelet, it’s perhaps just as (if not even more) difficult to win the title of WSOP Player of the Year. There are maybe two dozen players at most that can be considered frontrunners with a realistic shot at being immortalized on a POY banner. The reasons it’s so difficult are many – from the mental fortitude of the time, as well as having a bankroll big enough to compete. And over the years, it’s only become more difficult.
The Rio is absolutely packed and the energy has been electric as players have found their way back to the World Series of Poker. To chase bracelets, maybe win some cash, and to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of bad beats. But also, to be a small part of something bigger.
It’s been 806 days since the last hand of the World Series of Poker was dealt. And for those who love the WSOP, it’s been an excruciating long 806 days. That’s a lot of waiting.
I am one of those people and, like many out there, I simply couldn’t wait.
But finally, we’re back!
After taking the final two events of the 2021 Poker Masters to claim the Purple Jacket, Michael Addamo followed that performance up by besting the 21-entry Super High Roller Bowl VI for a resume-topping cash of $3,402,000.
After three days of high-stakes tournament action in the PokerGO Studio, Addamo was, once again, the last player standing. “It’s been an incredible week,” Addamo said after the win. “I’ve been running very fortunate in a lot of spots…it’s unreal to be honest.”
Niklas Astedt has done it yet again. Sweden’s former worldwide #1-ranked online poker legend, won his record-tying fourth GGPoker Super MILLION$ title on Tuesday, this time for $315,882.