Daniel Colman Misfires On His Message

The joy of victory?

The joy of victory?

We have an uncanny ability to get a read on people we’ve never met.

For example, we never liked Oscar Pistorius. At the 2012 Olympics we even commented that he was a guy that looked like he’d hurt someone. We always thought Lance Armstrong and A-Rod came across as major phonies. The body language never matched the words.

Bad seeds and phonies are surprisingly easy to spot.

When we first saw pictures and video of Daniel Colman, winner of the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop, we thought, “That kid looks like an entitled prick. What’s he so pissed about?” His scowling winner’s photo (above) further solidified the opinion. The photo is particularly striking when seeing Daniel Negreanu holding court and loving life in the background–despite the crushing disappointment of finishing second. The photo could be titled, “Ambassador vs. Asshole.”

So what was Colman’s deal? (read F5’s excellent write-up on Colman’s behavior here and the Las Vegas Sun piece here). We learned he eschewed all media. He had to be coaxed by Caesars and WSOP officials into even taking that photo. He didn’t want to be part of the media circus despite playing in one of the biggest pomp and circumstance events of the year.

Although we’re anti-benefit-of-the-doubt-guys, there could have been plenty of reasons for that. Without being snarky, we thought maybe he had a speech impediment or intense fear of public speaking. We’ve seen that in the past. It happens.

But looking at the photos again, watching the body language, that didn’t seem like the case. There was genuine antipathy towards something.

Colman took to 2+2 on Wednesday to explain himself (which says a lot about the small world he may live in, but that’s another post). Here’s the cringe-worthy message he went with:

I really don’t owe anyone an explanation but Ill give one…
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. It is not a game where the pros are always happy and living a fulfilling life. To have a job where you are at the mercy of variance can be insanely stressful and can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro.
It is also not a game where the amateurs are always happy to be losing their money for the sake of entertainment. The losers lose way more money at this game then winners are winning. A lot of this is money they cant afford to lose. This is fine of course because if someone is dumb enough to gamble with money they cant afford to lose, that’s their problem. Im not really buying that though. In a perfect world, markets are based on informed consumers making rational transactions. In reality sadly that’s not the case, markets are based on advertising trying to play on peoples impulses and targeting their weaknesses in order for them to make irrational decisions. I get it if someone wants to go and play poker on their own free will, but I don’t agree with gambling being advertised just like I don’t agree with cigarettes and alcohol being advertised.
It bothers me that people care so much about poker’s well being. As poker is a game that has such a net negative effect on the people playing it. Both financially and emotionally.
As for promoting myself, I feel that individual achievements should rarely be celebrated. I am not going to take part in it for others and I wouldn’t want it for myself. If you wonder why our society is so infatuated by individuals and their success, and being a baller, it is not that way for no reason. It is their because it serves a clear purpose. If you get people to look up to someone and adhere to the “gain wealth, forget all but self” motto, then you can get them to ignore the social contract which is very good for power systems. Also it serves as a means of distraction to get people to not pay attention to the things that do matter.
These are just my personal views. And yes, I realize I am conflicted. I capitalize off this game that targets peoples weaknesses. I do enjoy it, I love the strategy part of it, but I do see it as a very dark game.

Before calling him out on anything, we’ll say that Colman has got some points.

We’ve made a good living in this industry and enjoy the challenges it presents, but we fully recognize the dark side of it. If you lack a strong moral constitution, the game can chew you up and spit you out.

Historically, the industry has attracted its share of unscrupulous types. We’ve increasingly spoken up about this in recent months, but for a different reason. If anything, as online poker regulation takes form in the U.S. and the industry matures in general, we see a lot of “good people” ascending while the bad ones are weeding themselves out. The industry as a whole, and players in general, are much more solid then they were 5, 10, and 20 years ago. It’s not even close.

And it keeps getting better. A LOT better. Smarter, cleaner people are coming into the poker industry by the droves. We’re more proud to be in poker every day.

Colman, just 23, hasn’t seen this progression. Fair enough. But if he has so much conflicted hatred for the game, what good does lashing out during one of its best moments do?

The timing of his behavior is even worse than his message. Consider that within the past week, 1) Ty Stewart and the WSOP were pure class in giving Chad Brown–a man everyone admired as one of the “good guys”–an honorary bracelet, and 2) held One Drop, a charity event that raised a lot of money for a good global cause.

Colman essentially spit in the face of poker during poker’s shining moments.

Bad form, kid.

Let’s loop back again to Colman’s message. All of the Entities have worked in PR at one time. His 2+2 post was fascinating in how poorly constructed it was. It’s Communications 101 on all of the things not to do.

Colman did himself no favors with his intro, “I don’t owe an explanation but here it is / First off, I don’t owe poker anything.” It’s an aggressive, abrasive, antagonistic tone. If you want to make a point, own it–don’t explain how you don’t “owe” anything. If you didn’t feel like you owe it, then you wouldn’t be writing it. Ride off into the sunset with your middle finger held high. We’d respect that a helluva lot more.

And if you want people to to hear your point, don’t come off so abrasive within the first two sentences. The rest of your message will then fall on deaf ears, no matter how valid your points are.

The rest of Colman’s angsty, emo-laden rant feels like the Kurt Cobain type rock star who struggles with fame and wealth despite being in a field where fame and wealth is an absolute certain outcome if you have talent and a little bit of luck. If you’re a poker pro making a living off of gambling, embrace who you are and what you do. Follow the Daniel Negreanu mold and strive for self-improvement and doing some good for yourself and others.

You can’t be self-loathing about it. Just like you can’t make music for a living and be angst-ridden over the side effect of the fame and wealth it brings you.

Colman needs to look in the mirror.

If he hates the field he works in so much–yet plays in one of the premier events poker holds that does GOOD for the world–and then shits all over it, what does that say about him?

With maturity comes perspective, strength in conviction, and ability to reconcile what you do, even if there are some things on the fringes of what you do that don’t mesh with your moral code.

It’s an unfortunate outcome for poker. A missed opportunity to elevate the game. Look at Daniel Negreanu, who finished second. Negreanu is weeks away from turning 40, has had emotional ups-and-downs in his career, but has recently dedicated himself to being a positive, charitable influence in the industry. Tweeted Daniel after the event:

Again, maturity goes a long way. It provides perspective.

In 10 or 20 years, Colman will realize this. He handled his big moment–a positive moment for an industry he feels lacks enough of those moments–the wrong way.

For now, he tossed a chance to do some good into the muck. You misplayed this one, Colman.


3 Responses

  1. Don Andrews

    July 4, 2014 2:27 pm, Reply

    Open letter to Dan Colman –

    Congratulations on your epic win in the 2014 Big One for One Drop! Stellar play, you certainly deserve the victory.
    Now about your post tournament actions…Dude, WTF? No post-game interviews? I sure hope you have a good reason for not talking to the media. If not, you’ve given the poker community, sportsmanship and yourself a slap to the face.
    – Recreational players – like myself – love hearing from the men and women who are tops in the game. We live vicariously through you. Throw us a bone…let us share in your huge win.
    – Plus the poker community grows when top poker players like you are also good ambassadors for the game. A growing poker community is a good thing and worth a little of your time.
    – Poker is a competition, much like any other sport. And, in EVERY sport, sportsmanship is part of the game. At the end of any game – win or lose – you say nice things about your competitor, the sport and your supporters. I’m sure you shook Negreanu’s hand but the rest of of the world thinks you’re poor sport because you didn’t publicly thank your supporters or the game that has proven so lucrative for you.
    – Oh – and I think you could have cashed in even more by being media friendly. Being a top notch poker player won’t get you the financial backing that being a top notch poker player AND having a pleasant public persona will get you.
    – Lastly – from the perspective of a former MSM reporter…anyone who steps onto the public stage – and the Big One for One Drop is most certainly a public stage – is fair game. You can refuse to answer reporter’s questions – that’s absolutely your right – but reporters have a right and responsibility to ask the questions whether you answer them or not. And, they have a responsibility to report the fact that you refused to answer questions. So – especially to those hatin’ on reporters for recounting reality to the public…stop hatin’ the messenger. They’re doing their jobs. (I know….really old school journalism thinking)
    Dan – I really do hope your Big One for One Drop victory was rewarding for you financially, professionally and personally. I really, truly do. I just wish I was able to enjoy your win a little more by knowing a little bit about you and what the victory means to you.

    Don Andrews

  2. Pete

    July 4, 2014 7:05 pm, Reply

    He’s just being honest with himself, and the community. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING he said is completely on point for many people reading it and as a former ‘professional’ poker player myself, I can empathize with him, and most of what he said is the reason why I moved on. If Charles Barkley can not be a role model, certainly Dan Colman can be as well. He is obviously a thoughtful young man although I would advise him to gradually transition towards a life that fulfills him rather than be trapped in what he describes as a dark world.

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