Oct 14, 2015
Daniel Negreanu Discusses Racial Profiling in Poker
By RTR Dennis
Over the years, Daniel Negreanu has shown a willingness to discuss just about anything regarding poker, no matter how sensitive the subject. And this road has recently led Negreanu to covering racial profiling in poker. The discussion began on Kid Poker's twitter account, when somebody brought up a video that he made a decade ago, where he dressed as his idol Bob Marley (complete with black makeup) for Halloween. Negreanu did not apologize for the video because he didn't know it was going to offend people, and he doesn't feel like there's any racism in him. This has proceeded to his latest blog post entitled "How Racist are You?", which we'll discuss the main points of below.
Negreanu Uses Race and Social Stereotypes to Profile Opponents
One of Kid Poker's biggest points in this blog is how you phrase statements when making judgments based on race. For example, saying, "All black men from Kenya can run faster than all white men from Philly" can be construed as racist, whereas saying, "On average, Kenyan men are faster than white men from Philly at running a marathon" would be based on observation.
The 40-year-old poker pro uses the same logic to profile his poker opponents as soon as they sit down to the table. Here's one excerpt from the blog where Negreanu discusses his thought process:
"When I sit at a poker table with a player I've never seen before, immediately I'm profiling them based on any and all information I can gather about the person. Ideas that I had about what something meant were never absolute, but the process tended to be correct more often than not. My profile of the player would evolve as I learned more about them and how they played, but as a base, my first impression of that person was going to dictate how I viewed their playing style or skill level."
Here are a few examples of Negreanu putting this idea into action:
- Middle aged white guy wearing a suit and tie - probably not a professional poker player. Likely is a businessman who is going to be a losing player.
- Korean guy playing 80-160 limit hold'em- might be a steamer. Koreans tend to be really passionate people and if he gets stuck he might go on monster tilt and try to bluff at every pot.
- Elderly woman- she is there to enjoy herself and is probably a weak player.
- Young Indian kid in a tournament- probably has a background in math, might even be a spelling bee champ or something.
Is Reading Poker Players like this Ultimately Racist?
Perhaps Negreanu discussing his thoughts on how he includes race/gender when profiling players isn't the most-politically correct thing in the world. However, it also doesn't seem like he takes this method of reading people beyond the felt. As Negreanu concludes at the end of his post, limiting people and excluding them from opportunities because of their race or gender definitely isn't right. However, when it comes to poker, he's largely found that that using trends and his experience is better than "receiving all new players as blank slates."