It wasn’t always like this, I used to eat well. I was vital, even as I aged, but didn’t know why. Still, as things fell apart, my standards slipped. I became pudgy, then unhealthy, and finally, fat. Not high on success fat, either: fast food fat, poison fat. A purge is necessary, a clean-up. This month, this year, I’ll do it.
As I write, Bryn Kenney comes on an “industry” podcast and answers some reasonable questions from a noticeably frazzled, still gorgeous Sarah “Auntie Chardonnay” Herring. Of course she’s nervous: Sarah’s been a cheerleader and a very sweet UI for the “industry” for a long time and rarely been asked to do anything difficult. Poker has given her friends, love, money, life, and all of that, she understands, if not consciously, is somewhat on the line as the hooligan natives are incensed and ready for blood she will never draw for anyone.
It’s interesting. While few are actually directly affected by cheaters in general, the trickle-down effect is enormous. They’re right to be worried about the game, and the impotence of the crowd always makes them all the more furious. The problem is of course, there are few purges, only pauses and more hot dogs.
Our Sarah perseveres, anxious but committed to checking off a list of important questions. This is a strong performance under conditions she clearly did not have the imagination to predict. How could this happen? Our man next door seemed so normal! So kind and generous, you might say. She pauses, regroups, thinks. While she does abandon the quarry at all the key moments – the most absurd being Kenney’s refusal to comment on the nature of his link to GG, the poker site where all the shit goes down – the truth is, she has asked the questions and given our man a chance to hang himself. And yes, the chat pros are going to be too hard on her, but that’s the price of wanting the credit for taking on the beast. (Hey, if you’re a cheater and want to be grilled, you have an open invite to be on the Poker Zoo! Huh, no offers. See, it’s just not that easy to get people to agree to be flamed.)
As for Kenney, he did manage to pass the gentle probing of the Herringraph: the self-hanging doesn’t quite arrive. It was rough, though. Kenney repeatedly flubbed questions, complicated his answers, and babbled incoherently, struggling to find his English, suspiciously. His eyes evade the camera and Herring in telling spots, someone tells me. Still, Kenney invoked plausible deniability on many points, and managed to tarnish his persecutor Zemani; of course, that was probably his easiest task, the man is obviously ridiculous. More importantly, Kenney made enough sporadic strong points – what is it for him for his horses to lose for the sake of his rakeback – to keep the pitchforks away. The Lauren Roberts defense was unconvincing, but her incoherence in general and the dubious nature of everything involving this group of spoiled Class X life winners leaves the issue opaque: this is an investigation into the mob, and it only grows stickier the more cleanliness we seek. Kenney’s sociopathic mumblings of being kind and generous caught the attention of many, but they are essentially no different than PH’s hypocritical babblings of positivity or Jlil’s corp-speak of “adding value” whenever he seeks to subtract some. This is modern-day speak, influencer pablum, celebsucker bubble-gum brain, and it always fools enough people enough of the time to be effective. In fact, by the end of the interview, it’s Kenney who appears composed, because he knew he had emerged, while Herring, appeared to be truly grateful for her ordeal of reality to be over.
Let’s grab some chalupas and chill.
The bottom line is that this was a pretty good result, all things being equal. Kenney was never going to take on the meticulous Doug Polk, that’s pure naiveté. I could see Kenney talking to Joe Ingram, poker’s happy brobabbling mascot. Joe is known for getting to the bottom of things after giggling through hours of Postlegate and sharing the work of the industrious, anonymous poker pool who love him. Although Joe is harmless and generous, Kenney might not see it, blinded by Inspector Cloujoe’s appearances and friendship with the more formidable Polk.
More to the point, this is unlikely to go anywhere, again. It’s important to see the difference between someone like Postle, who had essentially no friends, and more importantly, a community that was not complicit in his actions, unlike Ali, Schindler, or Kenney. These high stakes players are part of a vast network of players who understand the essential con-job that is the “industry.” They exist in a grey area where edge-seeking is normal and lip service to fairness must be paid. The circle will only close again while these players do some PR time; if you were paying attention, the recent HU tourney Pokergo put on was full of players who had done their stint in PR jail. Multiaccounters, scammers, loan welshers sitting right there on the screen while on another screen you watched the current batch of sinners be scourged.
Of course, some go too far. That’s what unforgivable. Russ Hamilton just didn’t know when to quit, but Brian Hastings did. One is out and one is in. (And, by the way, are clearly some fellows who enjoy a good burger.) If you read the screenplay of the dark and wonderful The Grifters, you know a little secret: a grift really isn’t just a theft, but can be an expert theft, a theft from a thief. It’s a far better and more useful definition than the lazy social media epithet: it has specific meaning and really works well in our, uh, “industry.” When your HUD and your preflop charts fail against the RTA-bot, you are truly a victim, aren’t you, right? Right? Rise up, working class hero.
They are the industry, you are a card player. See, poker is not an industry, it is a pastime, a market of players engaged in a competition. An industry creates products, it has an output. There is little output here. When the elites speak of the “industry,” they mean the one within the field of poker. This is the only real industry associated with poker, one inside and within it, and devoted to reallocating dollars from recreational lovers of the game to industry insiders, who either reinvest in the game in the form of poker rooms and programming, or remove it entirely, sometimes into actual productive fields, or currently, crypto speculation.
However, I don’t care that much. I don’t support any of these people, and don’t take their advertising on my site. At the sustainable stakes of poker, plenty of money is exchanged and I parlay my declining skills for their modest rewards. It’s not enough, and it’s stressful. Because of that, I eat and drink too much. It’s always gyro’clock for me, and a Manhattan awaits somewhere.
I grow fat and stupid, like them, but it’s the wrong fat and stupid. I need to be adding value, being kind and generous, spreading positivity and brain fuel and frog poison and monkey feces. See, it was always temporary, and I’ve stayed too long in the market. These monsters, though, they agree with me at heart: they’re trying to get out. They just do it better, have a missing gene, love themselves more, who knows what it is. It’s better to be Kenney, better to be Sarah. Kenney enjoys life, he “feels sorry” for people who are not enjoying it the way he does. Yes, things fall apart, yes, but the center holds in poker, recycling all the people you love to hate, and serving them back up again. What exciting poker event will host Bryn Kenney this time next year? What trophies will Ali and Jake be holding over their heads? I can already hear the elegies from Nejad and Hanks as they applaud their gruppenfuhren, who clean up so nicely for the party. It’s a beautiful life, and please, no photos, no tacos, no gyros, our man reminds us. Bryn’s right: that’s no way to feed the lion body with a head of a man.
Meanwhile, get back to your online tournament grind and resume wondering why you never win.
And for fuck’s sake, have a snack: your wallet looks thin.