Off Topic: Hart returns; topless dealing; deaf doubting and Deeb speaks out about Kenney

With the WSOPE grabbing the attention of the poker world in the last week, it would be easy to miss a few curious gems from the fringes of the poker world. Hart‘s partially concealed return to the spotlight was a welcome sight, while the dealers at the Battle of Malta Ladies Event certainly weren’t. Rage was also stirred up by questions over degrees of deafness while Shaun Deeb has been busy finding great success with his life’s greatest hobby. (Annoying people on social media). Allow you to bring us the latest on these stories and more…

Kevin Hart back in the public eye

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart – Photo PokerStars

Boisterous comedian Kevin Hart hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons last month, as he was involved a bad car accident in which he suffered injuries to his spine. Hart, who also loves to play poker and is an ambassador for PokerStars, has been in physical rehab since. Fans will be pleased to know that he is recovering quickly, as shown by recent pictures of him hanging out with Jay-Z and friends in a restaurant and playing some cards.

The popular 40-year-old’s accident raised a lot of questions and potentially a lawsuit against Hart, despite him not being the driver at the time. Some have questioned the authenticity of reports surrounding Hart, with some claiming he could never be walking around as shown in recent pictures if he had suffered the injuries reported at the time. Provided he is back up, walking and making people laugh though, his fans will be happy and relieved.

Topless dealing at Malta Ladies Event

1Battle of Malta Topless Dealers 3
Organisers offered players some “eye candy” 

In an ill-considered last-minute decision, which was intended to bring some added fun to the tables, staff at Battle of Malta Ladies Event decided to make their dealers go topless. The all-male team of dealers, some of whom were quite elderly were made to sit and deal cards while the female players sat uncomfortably and played poker. The players immediately took to social media to voice their discomfort, citing concerns about dealers being made to sacrifice their dignity to earn a night’s wages. The fact that female dealers could not work that shift was also a contentious decision.

It is not yet known who in the tournament’s management made the decision, only that it was a late addition to the €1,100 women’s event. It does at least, appear that management was listening to player feedback, as female dealers were soon added to the staff and all dealers were fully clothed after the first break. Despite the general outcry on Twitter, one or two players were able to make light of the situation, with Jennifer Shahade commenting on her preference for Chippendales over chips.

Degrees of deafness discussed after Deaf Poker Australia Championship win

In one of the stranger stories to emerge this week, a player has been criticised by the deaf poker community for winning a tournament at the Deaf Poker Australia Championship. Chris Smitten angered deaf poker players in Australia by winning the event as he is not considered by many players to be deaf enough to participate. Smitten describes himself as being profoundly deaf in one ear and slightly deaf in the other, but apparently, this ability to hear partially in one ear has created a serious backlash. This has resulted in the deaf poker community shunning Smitten and denouncing his win as being unfair and unjust.

Chris Smitten (far right)

It seems that Smitten explaining his situation fully to staff and them agreeing to grant him a seat in the tournament before it began is not enough to quell the rage within the community. Some participants have labelled him a fraud with one posting after the event: “Congratulations to all the players except Chris Smitton”.

The $150 tournament which Smitten won for AU$3,300 was advertised as being for “the deaf and hard of hearing”. While you might think that Smitten clearly falls into the second category of that description, “Deaf Poker Australia” (DPA) has now launched an investigation into Smitten’s win.

Shaun Deeb admonishes Kenney for Triton comments

In the wake of the Triton London £1,000,000 event, runner-up Bryn Kenney appeared on Joe Ingram’s podcast to chat about the win and his life in general. During the interview, Kenney seemed pleased to discuss the fact that he put half of his net worth into his buy in for the tournament, adding that he had made lots of side bets too.

Because clearly, you wouldn’t want to only be half broke if a tournament doesn’t go your way. Where’s the fun in that?

His disregard for money and bankroll management caused a stir among some in the community, with Shaun Deeb being his usual vocal self on the subject.

Deeb claimed it was sad of Kenney to take such a risk and that he was probably making bets he couldn’t honour if the tournament went against him. Jason Koon quickly took to Twitter to dispute this though, pointing out that Kenney always honours his debts even when he “puts his neck on the line” and loses.

As the support for Kenney grew in the comments on Twitter, Deeb soon bit back, claiming he had other evidence of Kenney being irresponsible but, he couldn’t share it publicly.

One thing is for certain, publicly accusing a fellow professional of planning to duck his financial responsibilities if he lost a bet is a fast way to draw criticism from your peers. Anyone who has scrolled through Deeb’s Twitter posts over the last couple of years, however, will know he’s unlikely to care a jot about anyone’s opinions on his comments.

Article by Craig Bradshaw