Can we stop calling poker celebrities POKER PROS!

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 29, 2011 Posted in Op-Ed | 1 Comment »

This absolutely had me cracking up this weekend. The New York Post –which has been running far too many poker stories lately—decided to do a write-up on “Poker Pro” Beth Shak, absurdly titled It’s a whole lotta ‘Sole’: Poker queen cashes in with 1,200 pairs of shoes. And if, like me, you are Facebook friends with Beth you have seen links to this article, and every incarnation of it on the web –she is REALLY proud of that shoe collection!

First off, I have a huge problem with the way Beth Shak portrays herself as a “poker pro” when she got all of her money (reportedly in the $50 million range) courtesy of her ex-husband, hedge fund manager Dan Shak –something she never mentions in any article or quote she gives to the press. To her credit, Beth Shak nearly won a WSOP bracelet in 2007, where she pocketed $328k for finishing in second place: Other than that she has cashed for around $150k since turning “pro” in 2004. I’m pretty sure she isn’t buying her shoes with her poker winnings!

Considering her buy-in amounts over that time are likely well over $100k per year, even with her one big score Shak is way in the red in terms of poker. So let’s stop pretending she is a self-sufficient poker player shall we?

My favorite line in the whole article was this gem: “Since going poker pro in 2004, Shak has played in the World Series of Poker and the European Poker Tour, sometimes while wearing her favorite shoes…” What’s so funny isn’t the shoes part, but that the best they could say about her (resume-wise) was that she PLAYS in WSOP and WPT tournaments!

Ok, my goal isn’t to simply call out Beth –she could be the nicest person on the planet as far as I know– but to call out the media for elevating poker celebrities into poker pros. Let’s get something straight; Beth Shak, Shannon Elizabeth, Jennifer Tilly, Gabe Kaplan, Bill Perkins, Dan Shak (debatable point, but Beth’s ex didn’t really make his money at the poker tables), and Jerry Buss are not considered poker pros! That said: A look at the previous list only reveals a single person who goes out of their way to perpetuate this belief, Beth Shak, who subtly implies that her money was made at the poker tables, when she is nothing more than a high-profile person who plays poker.

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One Response to “Can we stop calling poker celebrities POKER PROS!”

  1. NYChris says:

    totally agree. except i think gabe kaplan can be considered a pro. he’s been around the game for multiple generations and has held his own the entire time. i remember a couple nice bluffs i’ve seen him make in high stakes cash games against pros as well. if mike sexton is a pro i think gabe kaplan should be a pro. and i hold both in very high esteem

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