European Poker Tour (EPT) Super High Roller winner Olivier Busquet has gone on record to clarify his views and address the criticism of himself and runner-up finisher Daniel Colman for the T-shirts they wore at the final table of the event.
In an interview on Thinking Poker, Busquet explains that the idea to wear the T-shirts, with the messages “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” came from Colman.
Wife Chooses His Outfits
For televised final tables, “my wife picks an outfit for me to wear,” explained Busquet, but shortly before the pair headed off to play, Colman produced the two shirts and suggested they wear them. Busquet said that his initial reaction was “no,” but Colman persuaded him, and Busquet felt he wanted to support his friend.
Busquet admitted that the issue is not one he is completely knowledgeable about.
“This issue would not have been at the top of my list… I’m not an expert on this issue,” but added “It’s an issue that I think is important … and it’s an issue I do care about.”
Inject Politics into Poker
There were a variety of reasons which Busquet cited to validate his decision.
Firstly, he wanted to support his friend Daniel Colman, and secondly he wanted “to show compassion and solidarity with a place, that no matter what you think about the situation, has clearly suffered a lot.”
But there was also a broader intention by Busquet. “There was a specific attempt to inject some politics into the poker world,” which led to his reaction to the criticism. “It’s worth having the conversation about whether it’s appropriate or not.”
PokerStars Exerting Too Much Control?
He was critical of PokerStars’ response. “Players have many channels to express their views on world politics, but our tournaments are not an appropriate place,” commented Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications at the Rational Group.
To which Busquet asked the question, “are we cool with PokerStars making this profit-based decision at our expense?”
He said that he understood the decision, and the lack of opposition to it from the poker community. “The poker community is cool about that because the poker community doesn’t care too much about politics… and that’s part of the problem.”
Busquet compared the antics of Phil Hellmuth, who is able to draw massive attention to himself with antics such as entering the WSOP dressed as Caesar, and his own less dramatic attempts to attract attention to an issue of importance.
All of the debate and media attention that resulted from wearing the T-shirt ultimately came as a great surprise. “It’s not like there was a plan… I didn’t expect the reaction to be the way it was.”