The poker media was left puzzled and dismayed when World Series of Poker One Drop champion Daniel Coleman (pictured) refused to give interviews after winning a massive $15.3 million first-place prize in the million-dollar buy-in tournament.
PocketFives’ WSOP coverage is brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Play Real Gaming, real money poker on any device. Play now for Final Table Freerolls. Skip straight to the final table and win cash daily.
Coleman’s solemn lack of celebration and quick exit from the building sparked a heated debate in the poker community as to whether the 23-year-old grinder was doing the game a disservice by choosing not to answer any questions after the victory.
But instead of speaking to ESPN, which had been filming the event for broadcast at a later date, Coleman popped up in a TwoPlusTwo thread to explain the reasoning behind his actions. The post only inflamed opinions about his behavior even further.
“First off, I don’t owe poker a single thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit financially from this game, but I have played it long enough to see the ugly side of this world,” he said. “It is not a game where the pros are always happy and living a fulfilling life.”
Calling poker a “very dark game,” he reasoned that most recreational players were losing money they couldn’t afford to lose and that advertising gambling on television was playing off “people’s impulses” and “targeting their weaknesses in order for them to make irrational decisions.”
Fellow pros like Schneids quickly responded: “It’s hard for your message to have any level of sincerity when you are well known for trying to tilt your opponents in chat, for trying to slowly goad them into playing you for higher stakes HU, in your cunning sly ways you do.”
He also pointed out that giving an interview didn’t equal promoting the game. “You could’ve done an interview and admitted to being a bit self-loathing because you believe poker has been a net negative for too many lives, even if it has been a tremendous positive in yours,” he added.
Dankhank was extremely critical of Coleman’s seemingly selfish attitude and referred to a previous interview in which the One Drop winner had stated his intention to quit poker in the next few years to pursue other interests. “How nice for him that his financial stability, scorched earth policy toward the game (not just refusing interviews but also trash talking opponents to get more action from them), moral high ground, and recent huge score all line up so perfectly.”
On Twitter, high-stakes pro Kevin BeL0WaB0Ve Saul (pictured) was a bit more succinct in his disagreement with Coleman’s actions. “When he entered the #BigOneForOneDrop, Dan knew what was expected from the winner and also knew he wanted to give poker a big fuck you.”
David “Viffer” Peat was on the 23-year-old’s side, commending the pro on Twitter. “Hats off to Coleman for following his decision. We don’t owe the Rio anything; they are predators taking enough from poker.”
Coleman’s controversial move even brought TwoPlusTwo founder Mason Malmuth into the conversation who applauded the young pro, saying that he should be “commended for giving an honest answer” and calling it “quite refreshing.”
Second place finisher Daniel Negreanu, on the other hand, was more than happy to speak to the media and stuck around for over half-an-hour answering questions. He was quick to congratulate Coleman on the win and back his decision to shy away from the media. “I respect it completely,” he told the Las Vegas media. “To each his own. If it’s not something he wants to do, then I think we should all give him a break.”