It seems that GGPoker chose the “all publicity is good publicity” mantra.
This week, GGPoker announced that Dan Bilzerian joined Team GGPoker as a brand ambassador. The site is celebrating with a massive freeroll next week, all kinds of media promotion, and glowing words from lead GGPoker Ambassador Daniel Negreanu.
For those unfamiliar, Bilzerian inherited money from his father – a convicted criminal – and likes to brag about money and himself. He likes to shoot big guns, treat women as property, take pictures of his muscles, smoke weed, and ignore public health warnings about Covid-19. He also reportedly plays poker sometimes.
GGPoker had so much potential. It was arguably the fastest-growing online poker site in the world with one of the most popular names in the game as its top ambassador and a solid deal with the World Series of Poker.
During this banner year for the network, it attracted new players by the thousands as the site signed names like ElkY and Fedor and ran series with $100 million guarantees. And it awarded WSOP bracelets and rings to players around the globe.
By signing Bilzerian to its roster, which already included no women, GGPoker decided to send a message that it is a boy’s club. Women are welcome to play there, certainly, but they should ignore the all-male team of ambassadors that now includes a “famous” sexist.
Actually, if the female players on GGPoker would just giggle and smile more, it would make the men on the site much happier.
That appears to be the new image of GGPoker.
It Started So Well
GGPoker was gaining ground with the sites on its network. Natural8, operating in the Asia-Pacific region, seemed to be its most popular skin. But GGPoker had aspirations and wanted to grow.
Kitty Kuo and numerous well-known pros represented Natural8, but GGPoker had Bryn Kenney and some streamers.
The operator made a big move. It signed Daniel Negreanu as its poker ambassador, the new face of the site. It was just before Thanksgiving in 2019, and Negreanu had been gone from PokerStars for six months when he made the GGPoker announcement.
I have a BIG announcement to make! Details in the video below: pic.twitter.com/1xDTkglYmD
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 20, 2019
The site offered a $100K promotion to welcome him to the site and all of the new players who may have followed him there.
Enter 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic.
When the World Series of Poker had to shut down its live poker tournaments on the WSOP Circuit, it needed a place to host them outside of the US market. Though the WSOP summer series had a previous relationship with 888poker, the WSOP also had a relationship with Negreanu. Coincidentally, the WSOP partnered with GGPoker in April to run the WSOP Super Circuit Series online.
Meanwhile, GGPoker signed a short-term deal with tennis legend Boris Becker and a seemingly longer-term agreement with poker pros Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Felipe Mojave Ramos – all three PokerStars alum. Weeks later, high-stakes pro Fedor Holz joined the team as an ambassador, too.
As the year progressed, GGPoker hosted more WSOP Circuit series and signed more pros, most notably Kevin Martin, who helped launch the new GGSquad.
GGPoker and Natural8 hosted the official 2020 WSOP international series to complement the US series because Covid-19 rendered the normal Vegas series too dangerous.
𝗪𝗢𝗥𝗟𝗗 𝗦𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗦 𝗢𝗙 𝗣𝗢𝗞𝗘𝗥 𝗢𝗡𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗘 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬
85 WSOP Gold Bracelets Up for Grabs This Summer in “World Series of Poker Online” Tournament. WSOP Expands Partnership with @GGPokerOfficial . Read more: https://t.co/kulG3JxgPe pic.twitter.com/ADfCg3gVM5
— WSOP (@WSOP) June 8, 2020
In the end, the 54 events on GGPoker generated 239,754 entries from 166 nations and awarded $147,789,550. One could classify that as a success.
Since then, GGPoker announced yet another Winter Online Circuit Series with the WSOP and another WSOP Main Event. It’s all a bit confusing, but the action just recently began to play out and is scheduled to end before December 31.
All of that to say…GGPoker had a great 2020. Its traffic was growing exponentially, and it was raking in the rake on massive tournament series with its name attached to the World Series of Poker.
In Like a Lion, Out Like a Creep
It was noticeable to some people in poker that there were no women on the list of GGPoker ambassadors, though Kitty Kuo has been a significant part of the Natural8 team since prior to Negreanu’s signing. But only men comprised Team GGPoker and the GGSquad.
There are so many poker players around the world who have been great ambassadors for other sites but are now seeking sponsorships. There are many more who have never been sponsored.
There are also actual celebrities who may have been interested in a partnership, possibly similar to the one PartyPoker maintains with actor/comedian Kevin Hart.
— partypoker (@partypoker) July 13, 2020
GGPoker, however, wanted to do something different.
Its executives wanted to sign the self-proclaimed “King of Instagram.”
Dan Bilzerian’s poker accomplishments are…interesting.
Bilzerian’s one tournament result listed with The Hendon Mob is his 2009 WSOP Main Event cash in 180th place. Of course, he claims to play in private, high-stakes games, where he wins or loses millions.
Bluff Magazine put him high on the list of nominees for a 2011 Reader’s Choice Award for the “funniest poker Twitterer.” They said his Twitter account was funny because it gave followers a “peek at his larger-than-life baller lifestyle which includes farm animals, explosives, and girls (not necessarily at the same time).” Yes, hilarious, indeed.
Bilzerian claims to have earned his wealth through poker. Some dispute this.
Since many people believe everything Bilzerian claims, here’s his own take on his poker “career.”
Not Even the Half of It
Whatever people may believe about Bilzerian’s poker history or skills, GGPoker didn’t sign him for his online poker abilities. The site signed him because he’s the self-appointed “King of Instagram.” The company press release dubs him “one of the world’s most recognizable poker players and social media influencers with over 32 million followers on Instagram.”
Let’s take a look at his social media influencing, then, shall we?
From his Twitter feed, this is Bilzerian working on his novel, with a gun on the table and scantily-clad woman casually propped on his leg.
Finished writing my autobiography, $5,000 to the best book title in the comments pic.twitter.com/XTGzkNLzKC
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) June 8, 2020
Here’s a heartfelt post, showing his sensitive side.
It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve offended a lot of brazillian feminists and I’ve been asked to apologize, so here goes. I’m very sorry if I’ve offended any of you with my posts, I know these are sensitive times and that was not my intention, just kidding, suck my dick
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) June 30, 2020
This is a thought-provoking comment on culinary preferences.
Girls will literally lick a grown mans asshole and then freak out if they see a hair in their food
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) August 9, 2020
There is always some racism thrown in for good measure.
It’s ok to be racist in America if you are black, got it.
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) September 7, 2020
Bilzerian respects the media, obviously.
The media is such a joke, these motherfuckers couldn’t predict a fart
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) November 4, 2020
He also cares about others, as he downplays a virus that killed 1,465 people on that very day, up from 745 deaths the day before. But math is almost as difficult for some people as caring about someone else.
Y’all notice the number of Covid cases have grown exponentially and the deaths haven’t moved hardly at all. How long do we gotta pretend this is a big deal for?
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) November 10, 2020
Who respects women like this guy, am I right?
Should my book have pictures? pic.twitter.com/250NEP1okT
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) November 23, 2020
His Instagram is virtually a carbon copy of his Twitter account but with more pictures.
Speaking of being an influential person, Bilzerian has some thoughts about women and relationships. Here are some quotes from various interviews with Bilzerian by people like Larry King and Graham Bensinger posted on YouTube.
…on how marriage ruins a relationship… “Because they’re trapped in together, like the one starts getting fat or you know she doesn’t give a shit anymore or whatever, and then because of that the whole thing kinda like spirals downhill.”
…on having parties with more women than men so the women had to compete for the men… “It’s like if a hot girl goes to a bar and she gets hit on 10 times, she can go home and sleep like a baby and not hook up with anybody. But if she goes to the bar and nobody pays attention to her and nobody talks to her, then she almost like has to like hook up with somebody to feel validated a little bit.”
…on his charitable nature and desire to help injured combat veterans… “At every one of my parties, I’ve got these amputee guys coming and I’m taking them to club appearances and so…” Larry King asks, “Do you get them girls, too?” “Yeah. I actually paid one chick to f**k one of these guys. I didn’t tell him that but that’s kinda f**ked up maybe but anyways, he got laid by this super hot chick.”
…on a line of emojis that app stores banned… “There was a lot of f**ked-up stuff. I mean there was like snorting coke off a girl’s t*ts, I think there was even actually a goat having sex with a girl. I didn’t even make some of these emojis. … I designed some of them. You know, I didn’t design the goat having sex with the girl one. I didn’t say no to it, but I didn’t think of that. I can’t take credit for that one.”
Girls and Chicks
And here I am, writing the same words as 15 years ago for the same kind of social cluelessness and outright sexism in the poker world.
Bilzerian constantly refers to girls and chicks. Interviewers refer to girls. His fans ask him about his girls. I’d like to be very clear here. If Bilzerian is having sex with girls, he is a pedophile. From the looks of his photos, the people with whom he associates are women. WOMEN. It’s a fairly easy word to learn.
— GGPoker – HOME OF ONLINE POKER’S LARGEST PRIZEPOOL (@GGPoker) December 3, 2020
In addition, they are not HIS women unless he owns them. If he does own them, that is an entirely different crime we need to discuss.
Chicks are newly-hatched birds. Women are not chicks. This seems like a rather simple concept, even for those with learning challenges.
Bilzerian representing GGPoker is not just an ambiguous association. GGPoker is bragging about its association with him and calls him a brand ambassador. Bilzerian is now the second most recognizable face on GGPoker after Negreanu.
Speaking of Negreanu, he has been an outspoken person for justice and equality in recent years. He has used his Twitter feed to advance a number of such issues.
This week, however, Negreanu went all-in on GGPoker signing a raging sexist and egomaniac. “Dan joining Team GGPoker is a huge win!” he said in the press release. “No one in poker has a bigger reach than Dan. He has won millions in cash games and isn’t afraid to get into the mix against the sharks in the high-stakes streets at GGPoker!”
Woo-hoo, am I right?
How it Started / How it’s going pic.twitter.com/qrAo6gd7cF
— Max Uhlenbeck 🌹♠️ 🍷 (@HousingTherapy) December 4, 2020
GGPoker isn’t messing around, either. The press release included a quote from Bilzerian himself in which he insults smart people. “In these crazy times, GGPoker is the best option to get my poker on – they cater to the recreational players and that’s the future of poker, not a bunch of math nerds.”
Yeah, who likes people who do math?
Bilzerian now has a page on the Team GGPoker section of the website, too. GGPoker calls Bilzerian a “social media legend” and his Instagram page “lifestyle-themed.” The site brags about his ability to use his private jet to jet from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for high-stakes games…or to Mexico where he can play on the site.
When people like Vanessa Kade, a well-known online poker player, criticized the move of signing Bilzerian as a “huge step backwards” for GGPoker, the site’s new ambassador commented, “Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are.”
Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) December 4, 2020
As a side note, someone familiar with social media and hip language, Bilzerian should know that the word he wanted there was ho. Instead, he called her a gardening tool.
— Vanessa Kade (@VanessaKade) December 4, 2020
Kade was also kind enough to point out this riveting story that Bilzerian posted on Two Plus Two several years ago about physically and verbally abusing a prostitute in Amsterdam. It’s linked here if one would be inclined to read about a person bragging about disgusting and criminal behavior.
After Bilzerian picked her comment out of hundreds disparaging his signing to GGPoker, Kade had a few more comments. This points out Bilzerian’s 2017 post honoring women:
Start planning now @GGPoker and maybe by next #InternationalWomensDay you can replace poker tables by paying enough girls to get naked on their hands and knees in a Dan Blizerian themed live tournament!
Follow me for more marketing ideas. https://t.co/05vXors67n
— Vanessa Kade (@VanessaKade) December 5, 2020
Others had a few things to say about GGPoker’s new and proud association with Bilzerian, too.
Not saying anything that hasn’t been said so far, but I’m truly disappointed in @GGPoker for signing such a misogynist ignorant scumbag. And @RealKidPoker for supporting the decision. I am, however, proud of the community—so many people willing to call out this nonsense.
— Vanessa Selbst 🏳️🌈 (@VanessaSelbst) December 4, 2020
Absolutely no company EVER:
GGPoker: DAN BILZERIAN WOULD MAKE A GREAT AMBASSADOR FOR OUR PRODUCT.
My god this industry is a cesspool.
— Melissa Burr (@burrrrrberry) December 4, 2020
It’s pretty telling to see some of the biggest names in poker react to Bilzerian calling a well know streamer a ho with “no one cares.” So as soon as drama doesn’t make you money it’s not relevant anymore? It makes me feel sick.
— EVAisOP (@EVAisOP) December 5, 2020
Nobody believes signing Bilzerian isn’t going to increase $ for @GGPoker
Also, nobody believes that he’s going to change now that he’s an ambassador
Issue is it rewards the behaviour and sends a horrible message to women about poker, industry leaders should care for more than $
— Adam Schwartz (@ASchwartzPoker) December 4, 2020
Sadly, however, many prominent poker voices are silent thus far. And there are more voices with broader reaches praising the association than ones condemning it.
What Does the WSOP Think?
It’s the burning question. Considering the WSOP’s strong ties with GGPoker, many people in the business are wondering what the World Series of Poker thinks of this new GGPoker-Bilzerian partnership.
I reached out to the WSOP for a comment. And here it is:
“We don’t have a comment.”
There it is, folks. Arguably the largest brand in poker with no comment.
One might think that the World Series of Poker could’ve had some influence on the decision, that GGPoker might have reached out to its bread-and-butter partner for some input before signing Bilzerian. It seems that either the WSOP didn’t care or, worse, did support the decision. Either way, it speaks volumes.
One of the very first opinion pieces I wrote in this industry was in 2006 after a trip to Las Vegas for the summer World Series of Poker. One of the ballrooms in the Rio Convention Center boasted of a poker expo, a chance for poker sites and entrepreneurs to reach out to the community. Authors signed books. Poker sites gave away swag and photo opportunities with their biggest sponsored pros. Businesses sold everything from t-shirts to poker tables.
And then there was Bodog, who set up a “bedroom” featuring its “Bodog girls.” People could go in and engage in pillow fights with the “girls.”
The WSOP also sold space at the expo to strip clubs. That meant those vendors set up stripper poles and hired women to slither around them throughout the expo.
After some criticism, the WSOP phased out that expo in the following years.
And yet, here we are. Some of the largest poker entities and personalities rolled back the calendar. All in the name of publicity and the almighty dollar, GGPoker partnered with Dan Bilzerian. Players like Negreanu openly support the decision. And the WSOP showed its position by refusing to take a stand.
The World Series of Poker’s silence equals complicity in the regression of poker to the days when women were ignored or deemed unimportant to the growth of the game.
It’s slightly shocking how’s few girls have thank you in their vocabulary these days, its seems as if they believe their vagina is proper payment for everything 😂😂😂
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) January 14, 2019
This is an opinion piece and represents my personal views, not necessarily those of this website, its management, or its affiliated sites.