I've been on record for the past couple of years.
I think Eric "Rizen" Lynch is one of the best people in poker. He knows the game, he's a great person, and he has a respect for his role in the poker community.
I subscribe to Eric's RSS feed, despite my disdain for truncated traffic generation summaries. Today, I read the headline "My personal comments about the UB signing" and I was sure Eric would be weighing in on Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy's signing with the oft-maligned online poker site.
Imagine my surprise when I learned one of my favorite poker players is signing with the site everybody loves to hate.
If you've never been fortunate enough to meet Eric, you should know he is a guy you will like. He's friendly, humble, and a good family man. He is also a stellar poker player. I can't help but envy his ability, discipline, and balance. He, like many of you, writes a blog (Rizen Poker) and gives more insight into his game than most pros would offer.
So, inside of a week or so, two people who command respect in the poker community have joined up with Ulimate Bet, a site that not only has been torn apart in recent months due to the sickening revelation that the site was in fact rigged, but also has been the subject of many our rants and raves here (see the most recent Up For Poker Ultimate Bet Cheating post).
The easist explanation for anything in the poker world is money. Why else would someone like Eric sign up with what is without question the most controversial and broken site in all of online poker? Here's the thing. In his explanation, Eric denies he is selling out.
"I've also made sure that all of the business decisions I've made in my life are things that I can be proud of, even if that's meant potentially costing myself and my family money. I am by no means independently wealthy, but I did not *need* this deal from a financial perspective...Lastly, I would proudly like to announce that a significant portion of my proceeds from my relationship with Ultimate Bet will be going towards charity.
Both JohnnyBax and Rizen are now UB pitchmen. Both assert that there is more going on behind the scenes than we know and that someday it will all make sense.
It's an odd place for a cynic like me to be. Everything in my gut tells me to stay as far away from UB as possible (haven't played there in more than a year, near as I can tell). Everything about celebrity endorsements tells me to take it with a grain of salt.
That said, when somebody I deeply respect makes a move like this, it makes me question everything.
Do I believe my gut and follow the exodus away from UB? Do I believe the people I respect that Ultimate Bet is making a real effort to make good on past mistakes?
For now, I'm doing nothing. While not the style of people who are huge successes, sometimes it pays to just wait and see.