December 01, 2010

D'Bag O' the Day (v.1.17)—
Daniel Negreanu Loves C*ck ... Jokes

I was working on a poker and philosophy post last night, and had thought about doing some editing on it over the lunch hour.  Instead, I got a little sidetracked by a news update that reported on a weird prop bet involving Daniel Negreanu.  Here are the details from Dan Moore at the Cake Poker Blog:
When your career is playing poker, but you're so bored by the game that you make all-in calls with 8-6 offsuit whenever you play on TV, you have to figure out new ways to entertain yourself.  And last night Daniel Negreanu did, by paying some guy $1,000 to get a tattoo.  And not just any tattoo...  He bribed the guy to permanently mark himself with the message "Loves C---" for about the price of a night of bottle service at Tao.

Really?  Daniel Negreanu did that?  Let's go to the November 12, 2010 @RealKidPoker Twitter feed (here, here, and here):
I'm paying a guy to get his 1st tattoo. $1000 to put "Loves C---" on his arm. He's down! This is so funny wow! So fun.
The tattoo artist is like the funniest guy ever he's laughing and cracking jokes the whole time. Here it is:
Ladies and gentleman. Say hello to @ what a trooper. Courtesy of Simply Ink "exotic tattoos" haha!

Here's what Dom Matteucci, the man with the ink, had to say on Twitter (here and here):
Just got "loves cock" tattooed on my arm for $1000. Thanks @
Waking up. Tattoo still on arm. Shit.

Of course, there was a thread about the prank in the 2+2 forums, including this account of events by Negreanu himself:
Ok some of you guys are just ridiculous. This guy is an actor creating a pilot for a show where he does ridiculous things. I was with a group of like 10 people and we went to a tattoo place cause the girls were thinking of getting something. Dom was there too and the girls started messing with him like "how much to get a tattoo of ---- on your stomach?" etc.

Then he said he'd get that tattoo for $1000 so I called his bluff! Much like me on TV when I pay off the nuts, this guy was a man of his word and went through with it. It was all in good fun, there was no "exploitation" at all, this Guy is a comedian and he loves to shock people.

He came out with us again last night and said he loves the tattoo and he's keeping it! It sure is a solid conversation starter, that's for sure.

None of it was my idea, the girls wanted to see it happen and for $1000 I figured it was worth the entertainment dollar and we got it all on video for his pilot.

Now go back to your regularly scheduled hatin'

Oh yeah, I get it.  It's funny 'cause he's straight, and he got a permanent tattoo saying he's, you know, gay.  'Cause if you're a straight guy, it's really embarrassing for people to think you're gay.  Freakin' hilarious. But, as long as Negreanu and the guy with the tattoo thought it was funny, well, laugh with them or you're "hatin'."

Would Negreanu have found the stunt nearly as funny and as worthy of sharing with his nearly 70,000 Twitter followers if the tattoo's punchline contained racial or anti-Semitic overtones?  Or what if the tattoo had been a joke at the expense of women?  Well, let's go to the archives.  Remember that little brouhaha this past summer over Shaun Deeb dressing in drag and playing the WSOP Ladies' Event ?  Here's what Negreanu had to say about that "joke":
As for Shaun Deeb handling himself in a classy manner playing the event, at least he wasn't the guy using a tampon as a card protector, but he did dress in drag and his goal was to make a mockery of the event, which in turn simply mocks the women who choose to enter it.

I'm sure Shaun Deeb made some people laugh in his dress, and I don't doubt that tampon-card-protector guy got a few chuckles for his stunt, even if only from his buddies.  I'm also certain that the tattoo prop bet was absolutely hilarious fun for Negreanu and his entourage, and probably funny for many of his followers.  But here's the thing—funny and offensive are not mutually exclusive.

Even though I'm gay and have a good life, things are still tough for many gay folks, particularly gay youths.  Making being gay the butt of a silly prop bet isn't the worst insult gay folks will face.  But, it certainly isn't the kind of conduct one should expect from an ambassador for Team PokerStars and one of the leading media figures for poker in general. 

Turning back to the WSOP Ladies' Event debate, Negreanu stated:
I'm not a woman, so I couldn't fully understand the level of intimidation a woman would face when she sits down at a poker table full of men.  For some, it's no big deal, but for a large majority, I imagine they are a bit worried about "looking stupid" or being judged.  It's human nature.

Negreanu is apparently equally clueless about gay poker players.  I hear plenty of anti-gay jokes and comments every time I play poker in a casino.  Now, I just let 99.9% of it slide off my back because I enjoy the game.  Also, taking chips from yahoos is the best revenge.  But those kinds of anti-gay attitudes probably do keep many gay poker players away from the game. 

It's kind of sad that Negreanu is so eager to champion the cause of women who want to play poker, but thinks of gays as nothing more than a putdown punchline.


  1. You're right, the joke was both funny and offensive. I don't see how you extrapolate from there to draw the conclusion that Negreaunu is clueless about gender *and* sexual orientation in poker, however.


  2. @Shrike:

    Negreanu's career is to be a very media prominent poker player. He knows >95% of his Twitter followers are poker players. He has chosen to champion women's issues in poker (however you might feel about his positions). Yet he consciously chose to publicize this rather tasteless prop bet.

    I think I can safely conclude Negreanu is--at best--indifferent or oblivious to gays in poker.

  3. @Shrike: Alternatively, it might be more accurate to state that Negreanu is a prominent poker player who demonstrated he is utterly tone deaf vis a vis gays.

    In any event, stupid prop bet, and more insensitive to publicize it to his poker fanboys as something "fun" he approves of.

  4. Grange, I must say this does NOT represent being a champion of women: For some, it's no big deal, but for a large majority, I imagine they are a bit worried about "looking stupid" or being judged. It's human nature.

    It's condescending and LUDACRIS. Because a player is a woman, she's worried about "looking stupid". I can do without that kind of championing.

  5. @ Josie:

    I agree, Negreanu's attitude re the WSOP Ladies' Event does come off as condescending. I'd like to think his heart is into being supportive, but his mouth just shoots out the wrong words. Of course, he may just be a pompous jerk. Hard to tell.

  6. Lighten up Francis!

  7. So the guy goes back to the tattoo place and has it extended to LOVES COCKAMAMIE BETS.

    You head to Vegas and enjoy the silliness for a few days. He stays there and thinks it normal and then throw in celebrity status. Reality? TMZ style reality.

    If he's lucky he ends up with a top floor suite at the Desert Inn living like Hughes.

    Poker players are control freaks; it is what the game is about. He isn't getting his jollies from it like he did in the past so he's gone to the dark side. Look around his contemporaries and he among the lesser lights in that regard. Some can avoid it but most don't. You ranted on Vick but he's hardly alone in assigning himself demigod powers.

  8. How do you feel about #gayftrainjokes? The hash tag was started by @realdawnsummers and then picked up by some of the other bloggers.

    I realize it's not quite the same -- my *friends* tease me because I do things that, stereotypically, are the province of gays, rather than teasing me about, "you know, [being] gay" -- but it's in a similar vein. It doesn't bother me because I'm completely comfortable with who I am and I know there's nothing malicious about it (even if, at times you may have witnessed, *some* of those people are attempting to tear me down in an effort to make themselves look better or to feel better about themselves).

    But... I'm interested in your opinion, given this post.

  9. I don't see how/why that tatoo would offend you. If you had "I love vagina" tatted on your arm I wouldn't be offended as a straight male. It is the same thing. I enjoy your blog and you generally are spot on with your points but I think you missed on this one.

  10. I think this is a well written post. It really shows how things you might not think twice about things are really offensive. Being an older guy growing up you would throw out gay epitaphs to screw with your friends. Even these days when your not thinking about it you might yell at a straight friend in that manner. It just seems normal which is totally wrong. I will at least try and think about what I am saying from now on.

  11. @ Anon (12/3): The difference is that calling or implying that a straight man is gay or has engaged in sexual acts with another man is widely regarded in our culture as a serious insult, perhaps the worst insult to make to a man. Let me put it to you this way--when was the last time you heard of a insult based on a man liking women? When was the last time the news reported the police investigating an assault or murder of a straight man who was beaten by a gay man after the straight guy made comments suggesting the gay guy liked sex with women?

    As with many situations involving interactions between groups of disparate power, the language discussing relationships between the groups tends to be asymmetric. Being mistakenly assumed to be a member of the dominant group (straight, white, Christian, etc.) is regarded, at worst, as an innocent mistake, while being mistakenly--or intentionally--labeled a member of the minority group (gay, black, Muslim, etc.) is usually regarded as an insult. Notice how the far-right likes to accuse Pres. Obama of being a Muslim.

  12. @ F-Train:

    Sorry, somehow forgot to respond to your interesting point. I guess I find the two situations qualitatively different. For the Negreanu joke and others of its ilk, the only humor in the joke comes from the none-too-subtle insinuation that being thought to be gay is a horrible thing for straight guys to suffer, because being gay is, well, gay. Without the backdrop of "you're gay" being an offensive putdown to many straights, there is nothing particularly humorous about the tattoo joke, and no reason why Negreanu would feel the need to broadcast it.

    For your friends/acquaintances using the #gayftrainjokes tag, I've never gotten the impression that your friends thought that being gay was a bad thing. It's more like they are poking fun at one of your amusing traits. That being said, if it is offensive to you, I could understand your feeling that way; we all have certain traits, interests, etc. that we are sensitive to teasing about. True friends know which things are on and off limits for teasing, or at least don't tease once they know you find something uncomfortable or offensive.

  13. Great post and I can understand being offended at the message he had the player get tattooed.

    Even outside of the message on the tattoo though, I find the whole prop bet for a tattoo childish and immature.

    I do understand it's part of the whole culture of poker players, but to me something like this crosses the line though. Your comparison to if it was anti-Semitic or racist is right on in my opinion, and shows gross negligence for a company spokesman, regardless of the occupation.

  14. I agree the prop bet was done in bad taste and Daniel Negreanu is obviously oblivious to how this could be offensive to the gay community. However this does kind of remind of a previous post you made about Quinton Jacksons comment about how acting is “Kind Of Gay”. Jackson apologized and pointed how this is locker room talk and that he definitely doesn't hold any prejudices towards the gay community. Doesn’t this stupid prank fall under that category?

  15. @ TicTac: I agree, there are differing degrees of offensive behavior. Negreanu's tasteless joke was a minor misdemeanor, not a major felony. Frankly, I have no reason to believe Negreanu is overtly anti-gay. I suspect this prank was just a thoughtless prank taken a couple of steps too far. Still, the joke was out of bounds, regardless of whether it was an intentional slur.



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