News: Is poker Twitter drunk?

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It’s been a bad natured couple of weeks on poker social media. Are poker players natural trolls or are they all just stressed out from lockdown?

Poker Twitter has always been an occasionally tragic, often bad natured and always hilarious place to scroll. Poker players think a little differently to normal people, so when they have Twitter beef it manifests in unusual ways. These days that seems mostly to be in the form of heads-up challenges and sometimes cage fight suggestions.

The last week or so has been particularly bad natured. Way too many examples to mention here but we have seen a lot of high-profile figures in the industry call each other out, bring up old feuds and challenge each other to heads-up matches. 

There is nothing new here, poker players have always needled each other. There are famous feuds in poker going back to the days of Doyle Brunson and the road gamblers. The only difference is they tended to be settled by fist fights, or worse, not YouTube responses or Twitter spats.

It does seem worse at the moment, however, and I am not sure why. I’d say it was the impact of lockdown, and maybe it is, but the beef is almost exclusively in America which has been out of lockdown much longer than the rest of the world. America in particular seems more polarised than it ever has been since Trump was elected, so maybe poker is just part of a larger problem for US civil discourse. 

I will say this though, it does seem the majority of people who are getting involved in these spats have something to sell. Most of the people you see feuding have a training site, solver product or YouTube channel that arguably could benefit from the increased attention.

This might just be a selection bias, those sorts of people spend more time online and creating content is their default setting, they inevitably settle scores by creating online content, of sorts, too. It might also be that these are the fiercest markets to try and dominate in the poker industry and that leads the creators to denigrate their competition.

We see some wonderful unity in the poker world at times but let’s not forget that if you play the game well, you are decreasing the net worth and ability to pay the bills of the people at your table. Poker is probably much more stressful than a lot of other professional games and that is what leads to small Twitter spats going too far.

Or maybe we are just seeing in real time the impact of all of us spending so much of our lives online and what that is doing to public discourse. I personally view Twitter as a modern form of smoking, very bad for all of us but hard to quit. 

Do you think poker Twitter is more bad natured than other industries on social media? Let us know in the comments:

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