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Understanding the Pain of the Poker Blender

By Robbie Strazynski
January 25, 2023

Every poker player knows that the blender is not a fun place to be. Being put to poker’s ultimate test is a challenge we all face at some point during our sojourns at the felt. At the end of the day, we must do our utmost to make the best decisions possible and be prepared to live with the results.

In real life, there’s no such thing as turning to the solver to know what the “correct” decision is. Sometimes there’s more than one correct answer. After all, two players can play a hand differently and still be fully justified in the lines they take. But all players would agree that the worst spot to be in at the poker table is in the blender, not knowing what to do. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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The Backstory of How Eddie’s Article Came to Be

The article I just published, written by my longtime friend Eddie Harari, is something he, I, and our mutual longtime friend Hank Nussbacher have been working on for the last month.

Eddie approached me with the information, demonstrated the GGNetwork security flaw to me, told me that Hank had corroborated his findings, and said he wanted to write an article about it for Cardplayer Lifestyle. Just as he and I have collaborated half a dozen times before over the last decade, I said I was happy to assist him with the process.

It was obvious to the three of us that we needed to make a responsible disclosure, notifying the GGNetwork of the software flaw so that they could fix it. I facilitated all such correspondence, keeping Eddie and Hank in the loop throughout. Obviously, we would be including GGNetwork’s official response in the article, which they ended up sending us two weeks after we sent them Eddie’s article for comment.

I take tremendous pride in the role I’ve played, and that Eddie, Hank, and I have conducted ourselves honorably and to the highest standard in communicating with the GGNetwork representative.

The flip side of that is that I take no pleasure whatsoever in the article’s publication.

An Unavoidable Stain

For my entire professional career in the poker industry, I’ve worked to shine a positive light on our game and the people in it. Everyone who knows me knows just how deeply and absolutely I abhor and detest scandal, which only serves to paint us all in a negative light.

But sometimes the distinction between darkness and light isn’t so clear cut. Sometimes you’re in the blender.

If I publish Eddie’s article, I “air poker’s dirty laundry” to the public for all to see and bear partial responsibility for the fallout. Then again, I also have a responsibility to that poker playing public to let them know what happened.

By contrast if I don’t publish Eddie’s article, I save a lot of people from public embarrassment. I prevent any sort of unfounded hysteria of the masses – that online poker is not safe – from ever happening because nobody would ever know. After all, GGNetwork DID fix the issue! It’s now a non-issue. Why make much ado about “a nothingburger”? But doesn’t not publishing then make me accountable, perhaps even an accomplice of sorts?

What happens if I don’t publish… and then, eventually, someday, people find out? They somehow discover there had been an issue, that GGNetwork knew about said issue, and that Robbie Strazynski knew about the issue… and did nothing?

What if I pull the plug at the last moment and tell Eddie I can’t agree to publish his article, and he then decides to go ahead and publish it on his own on a different platform? That would be his right. All of my handwringing and eventual “no” decision would have accomplished nothing, for the eventual result and fallout would be the same. Except for the fact that I’d have to live with the fact that I knew and did nothing.

Published is Binding

I’ve consulted on this dilemma privately and independently with my “inner circle”; the people with whom I am closest and know I can trust. Some have advised me to publish while others have advised against. I respect all these people deeply, and they are all individuals of the highest integrity, vast professional experience, and who command and have earned the utmost respect in their respective fields. And yet, to my dismay, there was no universal agreement among them.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that there will be consequences to publishing. After all, to every action there is a reaction. My family is justifiably worried about me in that regard, too. But I cannot allow those consequences to influence my decision-making process. That must be pure; right vs. wrong, regardless of how I might be affected.

When passing judgement on my action, I just feel it’s only right to first ask yourself what you would do if faced with a similar decision. Join me in the blender.

At this point, I’ve used all my time banks and I still don’t know for sure, with absolute 100% certainty that I’ve made the right decision. But I think I know with 99.9% certainty, and that’s going to have to be good enough.

As the saying goes: “To escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

I’ve chosen to do something. My belief is that while the industry may unfortunately suffer in the short term, what’s best for the players and for the industry as a whole over the long term is knowing that they can trust independent poker media as good actors.

And in poker, we have to play the long game.

Let the chips fall where they may.

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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded Cardplayerlifestyle.com in 2009. A veteran poker writer and presenter, Robbie hosts the CardsChat Podcast as well as The Orbit, a first-of-its-kind roundtable discussion live broadcast on Twitch.tv/poker featuring poker’s biggest names and personalities. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of poker legend Eli Elezra (Pulling the Trigger) from Hebrew into English. Robbie’s “Running […]

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