Table Talk: Happy New Year!

happy new year

If you still have some champagne around, pop it open and let’s toast to the New Year! It looks like we did that during the last week of December, but now 2013 is officially here. If we simply must have another excuse to drink a glass of the bubbly, I say the New Year still allows it.

It’s been a slow week for news in the poker world, as most players were again spending time with family and friends… or partying like crazy people. Either way, they’re just now beginning to emerge from their cocoons and get back to the tables. Many players are already heading to the Bahamas for the 10th anniversary of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, all with resolutions and goals and high hopes.

Some players already kicked off their year with some online success, like Viktor Blom profiting more than $500k  and Ben Sulsky taking a substantial bankroll into 2013 after profiting nearly $4 million last year. But not many are doing better than Alex Wice, who plays as AWICE on PokerStars. He took to the tables right away and made Supernova Elite status in less than 40 hours . Wow! Talk about wasting no time with achieving one’s goals…

And that brings me to poker goals. Everyone should have something in mind, especially players. Whether it involves bankroll management, playing more satellites, eliminating leaks, or simply taking steps to improve one’s game, it’s important to have at least one goal in mind as they kick off 2013.

However, I’d like to focus on larger goals for the poker community, for myself as well as what I’d like to see from others. The world of poker players can be a generous group of people, as well as an influential and powerful one. There are many things that can be done with that kind of clout.

1. Give: As I said, the poker community is generous. Tournaments set up to raise money are often filled with rebuys and auction bids that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. The Big One for One Drop at the 2012 World Series of Poker raised millions with just 48 participating players. I’d love to see that continue and grow.

Even further, I’d like to see the charitable nature of poker people extend in more innovative ways and on a more personal level. A poker tournament should partner with a local pet rescue organization to bring pets to the casinos for potential adoptions. A poker tour should organize drives to collect supplies for local homeless organizations. A long series like the WSOP should consider tip jars in the food/drink areas that are specifically for a particular charity. The possibilities are endless if the tour organizers take the reins and put forth a little energy to make a difference.

2. Change: The saying is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Moreover, it’s important to take an additional step. Those who have ideas for bettering the poker community, whether it is a better tournament structure or a new/revised rule, should use their resources to try to affect change. Create a petition, collect supporting statements, submit ideas, and arrange meetings. Take that extra step beyond using Twitter to say “ridiculous structure” and actually do something about it.

3. Stand: The famous statement from Martin Neimoller starts, “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist,” and ends, “Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.” Stand up for your friends, colleagues, and fellow human beings.

There have been many incidents in poker in 2012 that involved bad-mouthing, insulting, and downright verbally abusing others. Laughing at those words and acting like it’s not a big deal is simply not acceptable. Say something, and if that doesn’t work, say it louder. Speak up for people under attack because stopping abuse is the only right thing to do. And when you make a mistake or err in some way, you’ll have that community to help you in return.

Part of my hope for the New Year actually came from Daniel Negreanu’s weekly rant. Yes, I said that. Mr. Negreanu and I have disagreed vehemently on many things over the past year or so, but his resolutions for 2013 rang of positivity. I’m following in that path and hoping to use my outlets and influence – as it is – to encourage fairness, progress, and generosity in poker.

Now that you’re all warm and fuzzy and ready to hug it out, open that champagne, will you?

Happy New Year!