One Drop Champ Daniel Colman Refuses Interviews; Media’s Heads Collectively Explode

So what was the biggest story to come out of the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament?

Was it Daniel Negreanu playing for the title and taking over the #1 spot on the all-time money list by finishing in 2nd place?

Was it the fact that some relatively unknown online wizard won the thing?

Was it Rick Salomon’s (yes THAT Rick Salomon) 4th place showing?

No, not that either.

The big story seems to be the trivial matter of the winner, Daniel Colman, refusing to do interviews and being difficult to deal with – apparently he didn’t even want to pose for the usually standard pictures with the money and the bracelet.

My advice to the poker media is: Be careful what you wish for.

Because if Daniel Colman had answered questions following his One Drop win I don’t think very many people would have liked the answers, and then what do you do?

Do you quote him and declare to the world that the winner of one of the biggest prizes in poker history just declared poker a pox on society, or do you edit them down and try to keep up the running theme that “Everything is AWESOME!”

Here is what Colman had to say about his decision on 2+2 on Wednesday:

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.

Happy to read any ones opinions that could convince me otherwise of my views.

The dissenters’s Matthew Parvis was one person who has openly questioned Colman’s decision on Twitter and been caught up in the debate between the two camps.

Because it can be hard to gauge meaning from 140 character tweets, and because I disagree with him, I reached out to Parvis to get a clearer picture of his take on this brouhaha:

“I think ultimately as a poker fan it’s a bummer we couldn’t share the moment with him. That’s all people want at the end of the day. I along with everyone at PokerNews respect his right to choose to not be interviewed. I don’t think anywhere we’ve put him down for his choice.

“To be clear. I don’t think there is anything wrong with what Dan did, and respect his choice.”

Parvis also sees this moment as an opportunity to have a larger debate (which I 100% agree with), telling me:

“I think it’s a disservice to our audience, and the community to not discuss the impact of that choice… This isn’t just a debate amongst the media. I think the poker community is fairly split on Dan’s reaction. It’s our job to try and discuss items that are important to the community and I think we did that.”

PokerNews columnist Rich Ryan voiced his own opinions on the matter in this article, where he opined that Colman was the one making something out of nothing:

“None of this would even be a story if Colman offered a few brief words, just a sentence or two, but instead he remained silent…

“… I know that Colman may reach out to me in some way or form after reading this to defend himself. There is no need. You had an opportunity to say whatever you needed to when the entire poker world was watching you, but instead you chose to remain mute and pose in front of a mountain of money with a sour face.”

And then we went off the rails

The comments quoted above are for the most part thoughtful and measured, and I think this is an important issue poker needs to deal with (what is expected of poker pros) but I also think there is a certain amount of implication taking place that Colman is hurting the game by shunning the spotlight.

The thing is, I just don’t see what he could have possibly said that would have enhanced the story.

First off, judging by his comments he obviously doesn’t think too highly of his chosen profession, and quite frankly I’m more interested in his at the table behavior, which we will eventually see on ESPN, than his post-win interviews.

His behavior and mannerisms are what will determine if he is good or bad for poker in my eyes, not a few sound bites. Millions of people will likely see Daniel Colman on ESPN and be left with a lasting impression… how many people are going to get this same impression from the two sentence statement he would have made?

My personal opinion is that the media has made a mountain out of a molehill here, and this has cast undo negative attention on Daniel Colman, but also back at themselves, and on poker… It’s the opposite of what they are proclaiming to want.

The outcry over Daniel Colman refusing to do interviews after winning the Big One for One Drop has turned into a circus; actually it has turned into something approaching a Coney Island freak show –or perhaps “freak-out show” would be a better description.

One columnist (who is not a member of the poker media per se) called Colman a “petulant child” for refusing to placate the assembled media, which is odd since the definition of petulant is much closer to the media’s reaction than to Colman’s refusals.

Petulant: having or showing the attitude of people who become angry and annoyed when they do not get what they want

I don’t know if this is the genesis of the outrage, but are we trying to get another Ryan Riess sound bite here? Are we so desperate for pageviews that we hope we can catch someone when their emotions are in hyperdrive? Is that what we consider “good for poker; gotcha moments?”

Others (including Parvis) on social media and in poker forums have been even more critical, wondering if Moneymaker could have squashed the Poker Boom by refusing interviews:

Or using false analogies such as comparing his decision to an NFL player refusing interviews / pictures post Super Bowl – which is not much of an analogy as NFL players are employees who represent a team, a league, and a union, while Colman paid to play in the tournament (including 11% juice) and is essentially his own boss.

What we are forgetting here is Colman is nothing more than a casino patron who won big, just like a little old lady hitting a slots jackpot… I wonder if the Las Vegas Sun would publicly bash her for not doing an interview with them?

Even more confusing is the idea that Super Bowl ratings would tank if we didn’t get to see Erin Andrews ask the winning QB what was going through his mind when the final whistle blew, or hear how he “couldn’t have done it without _____” fill in God, teammates, or any other sports cliché.

Who cares about the Super Bowl, I NEED to know what Russell Wilson has to say immediately after!

What, some 24 year-old accountant from Tennessee paid $39 and won $2.5 million… Holy cow, I need to know what he said after!

Quotes don’t make stories

Furthermore, I would argue that by not doing interviews Colman actually produced a better storyline to work with as he is essentially a complete unknown beating a field full of personalities and known quantities.

Now you have the tournament report AND the winner shunning the spotlight… surely that’s better than Colman saying, “This is a dream come true,” and “I had to overcome a lot of great players in that field.”

There is also the Negreanu story arc, the One Drop field size story arc, staking deals, and so on. There is plenty of material to work with, and I highly doubt a few “say all the right things” comments by Colman would have been the nudge needed to turn your column on One Drop into a world-beater that collects hundreds of thousands of additional views.

Not to mention it has sparked a nice debate on the obligations of poker players who win prestigious events.

The stories are there for anyone to write; we don’t need a few quotes from the winner.

Poker paparazzi?

Since when did the poker media / community turn into veritable paparazzi, attacking players who are not into doing interviews and trying to send them on an all expenses paid guilt trip?

Mr. Colman, here are your bags. Your guilt trip departs at 4:00.

Do you have any idea how many interviews I’ve been declined! I don’t take it personally, it’s that person’s decision and choice.

Guess what, some players aren’t going to play ball with you; for whatever reason.

In the grand scheme of things who cares? Especially when the comments are likely to be trite and add nothing but a higher word count to the story.

You can handle it in one of two ways, write your story and say, “Colman refused requests for interviews following his victory,” or take to social media and essentially say, “can you believe the nerve of this guy to not even answer a few questions!”

Frankly, option 1 is the right, and easy, way for all involved.

I’ll leave you with this final thought on what is good and bad for poker: Part of Bill Belichek’s grandiose persona is his complete dismissal handling of the media. Ted Williams was also known to brush off the media.

Being a bit of a heel (or a contrarian, or a jerk) isn’t always a bad thing, and I’m personally very thankful to Daniel Colman for giving me something to talk about from what was a pretty banal 2014 One Drop tournament.

About the Author

Steve Ruddock

Steve is a seasoned veteran of the online gambling industry, having written about it from every possible angle in his many years as a freelance gaming writer. Based in Massachusetts, Steve especially focuses on regulatory and legislative news coverage pertaining to the U.S. market.