Saturday, 30 June 2012

Thoughts on the Existence of the WSOP Ladies Event

I'm definitely on the "equal" should mean equal side of the fence when it comes to racial and gender issues such as affirmative action and the like. From a principal based stance the men have every right to play in the WSOP Ladies Event. In my experience, poker tends to attract one notable mindset in particular: the true capitalist stemming from an equal rights and equal responsibility worldview provided by reason and logic.

So it's entirely expected that a gender specific annual event is going to draw the ire of part of the poker community -- it's hard to consolidate emotion and principal with reason in this case.

However, unlike the vast majority of social engineering programs, those being descriminated against in this event are not being harmed -- and no, enduring someone freely speaking their mind about your presence does not constitute harm, which I would define as being purposefully disadvantaged based on your gender or race or some other non-merit based factor.

To the contrary, this event is helping everyone in the community, including the people it is discriminating against. There is 49.5% of the population out there that could very well help this game grow by leaps and bounds and my impression is that there is a very real perceived barrier to entry preventing them from doing so, even though I think it has already been breached more than most realize due to the younger, more open minded internet generation taking over.

Gender equality, while still not yet perfect, has been well on it's way in the Western world for the last two decades. Yet poker, the supposed perfect meritocracy, has severely lagged behind in terms of population representation despite being clearly shown that women can compete at the top levels of the game. Events like this one help to break those barriers down, letting women feel comfortable by avoiding some of those old preconceived notions of how poker is "supposed to be" and get their feet wet.

Lets take a look at three discriminatory analogies:

1) The harm one to benefit another discrimination

You live on the even house number side of the street. One day you hear a knock at the door. It's the House Number Registrar, Steve.

Steve: I'm here to collect the Even Number House Tax. That'll be $500.

You: What are you going to do with it?

Steve: Well there's not many odd number houses across the street due to a previous mayor with numerophobia several generations back, so we're giving it to the home owners across the street and anyone that wants to build a house in the empty lots over there.

You: That's %$*!ed up. I had nothing to do with that, why should I be penalized?

Steve: $500, cash or check.

2) The benefit one with no additional effect discrimination

You look out your window the next day and see Successful Greg walking up to houses across the street and handing everyone that opens their door $500. You run out to ask him what's going on.

You: Greg what's with the free cash?

Greg: I decided I want to use my money to help out those odd numbered home owners.

You: But what about me? You're discriminating against me!

Greg: Tough luck, I like helping odd numbers. Whether I ever came down this street or not has no bearing on your life positively or negatively. Why are you upset that your neighbour benefits when I'm not doing anything to hurt you?

3) The benefit everyone discrimination

A week later you see Greg's business partner, Sam going to houses across the street and handing out notifications. Still upset about the incident the week before, you storm out the door hoping to talk some sense into Sam.

You: This is enough already! First I shell out $500 for a discriminatory tax that's been given to the people across the street, then you and Greg hand them another $500 and some sort of deal!

Sam: My proposition is a little different than Greg's. I like his idea about encouraging odd numbered development. But I want to take a more proactive approach. I'm giving everyone across the street $100 annually multiplied by how many houses are on that side with the stipulation that their equity is whatever percentage of people were home to accept the money, minus 10% of that total for their neighbour directly across from them, and $100 for anyone that refers someone to building on an empty lot in the next 6 months.

As you can see, everyone on your street has a vested interest in making sure that everyone around them is home to collect the money and to help build their community. Your neighbour was home, there are 6 houses on that side, and if 50% of people on your street are home, I will come back tomorrow and give them $300. They will then come over and give you $30. I hope you can see that while I am being discriminatory, you benefit along with everyone else.

While it may not benefit you very much right now, nor as much as your neighbours, it is in your best interest to get on the phone and help build your community. Of course there's nothing stopping you from setting up a lemonade stand in an empty lot across the street and claiming your $100 for personal gain, but it is against the spirit of the community development plan.

In summary with cookie math breakdowns:

1) Harm one to benefit another represents the majority of government and institutional discrimination in my opinion. I believe this amounts to two wrongs and should be done away with. You make your own cookie and someone takes it and gives it to someone else based on nothing other than which straw you drew in the birth lottery. You have every reason to be outraged.

2) Benefit one and do not affect anyone else represents most philanthropic endeavors. Most people don't have a problem with this because it's voluntary and doesn't affect their lives in any way. The irrational person will be upset that their neighbour has a cookie and they don't. The rational person will choose to be happy or indifferent towards their neighbour since no one had any cookies in the first place. No harm, no foul at worst, good for them at best.

3) Benefit everyone, sometimes unequally or not immediately, represents the rare situation that I think the Ladies Event at the WSOP occupies. The irrational person would rather no one have any cookies than to receive one while their neighbour receives two in some twisted sense of fairness. The rational person is again happy or indifferent to their neighbour's cookies and happy about their own because they now have one where there was none with possible future implications for more.

The guys playing in this event are either letting their emotional worldview of perceived rights and equality override their logic or are doing it for personal gain. Either way they are essentially trying to sneak a bite off the extra cookie the women received to make a point or make a buck while actively working against the community's chance at 10 new cookies down the road.

Of course Greg and Sam's alterior motive is to grow their customer base, the same as the WSOP's. But as poker players we need to remember that our goals are aligned in that regard because we have the same customer base and if no one is harmed, or better yet everyone benefits, I think the end justifies the means.

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