Mike Sexton has been advocating for a dress code for poker players for years, and if he had it his way, this week’s European Poker Tour Super High Roller Final Table in Barcelona would have looked vastly different.
Some of the attire at the final table caused a stir on social media on Wednesday.
No, it wasn’t Sam Trickett in his shorts and flip-flops that caused all the stir. It was the T-shirts adorned by the eventual winner of the event Olivier Busquet and runner-up Daniel Colman.
Busquet wore a white T-shirt with a message stating “Save Gaza” on the front while Coleman sported a T-shirt stating “Free Palestine.”
With the final table being broadcast over the Internet by the EPT Live crew, it quickly became apparent that not all viewers agreed with the political statement of the two high rollers.
Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications at Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars and the EPT, issued a statement to pokerfuse on the topic.
“In retrospect it was a mistake to allow them entry,” Hollreiser stated. “Our tournaments are designed to promote poker and poker competition and not as a platform for political statements.“
“Players have many channels to express their views on world politics, but our tournaments are not an appropriate place,” he continued. “We will refuse entry to any player displaying political statements of any kind.”
This isn’t the first time that the fighting in Gaza has been an issue for PokerStars. Late last month, PokerStars’ marquee Sponsored Pro, Daniel Negreanu, took to twitter to express his views on the conflict.
Negreanu’s stance fueled a flurry of twitter activity on the topic from his 320,000 twitter followers. Never known as one to shy away from controversy, Negreanu engaged his followers and debated the topic over the course of a few days.
Players are well-known for the rebellious attitudes and resistance to conform to social norms. It is possible that we will see some players attempt to push the envelope in this area in the near future.