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Travels With the Camel

by Keith Hawkins |  Published: Mar 01, 2006


Think Before You Type …
About four or five years ago, when online poker was in its infancy, I was playing a bit of $10-$20 hold'em heads up. About 20 minutes in, a big pot occurred; I flopped a flush draw and overplayed it somewhat. I capped the pot on the flop, and made my flush on the river to take the pot. My opponent flashed his cards to me; he had flopped top set.

Lucky old Camel.

Then, something strange happened. The chat box turned blue with abuse as my opponent berated me. One thing he said really got to me: "I hope you die of cancer." He lost a pot and was hoping someone he had never met died? I know he probably didn't mean it, but how did he know that someone close to me didn't have the illness? It was a stupid and immature thing to say.

Now, as it happens, my opponent that day has turned into a very famous young player. He has won several big events, including a World Poker Tour tournament. Every time I see him on TV, I remember that ridiculous outburst and begrudge him any success. I prefer the good guys to win the big money.

However, this column isn't intended as an attack on the player who abused me. How many of you have played online and faced a player with "no chat" or "chat revoked" next to his name? I know there are various reasons for players losing chat privileges, but by far the most common is unacceptable language or abuse of another player.

This is ludicrous. In 20 years of playing live, I have heard two outbursts that, if typed in the chat box at an online cardroom, would merit a ban. Yet, if you play regularly online, offensive outbursts are sadly a regular occurrence.

All I would ask the offenders to consider is whether they would talk to an opponent in such an offensive manner if he had been lucky or played badly in a live game? Believe me, I can think of several people who would dole out a rapid physical response if subjected to some of the online taunting in the flesh.

Remember, there is a real person with feelings and emotions behind the icon at an online cardroom. Is losing a few quid justification for insulting or abusing someone? Of course not. Having your chat privileges revoked should be embarrassing to the point of humiliation.

If you suffer a bad beat, just take a deep breath and get on with the game. Naturally, the better player you are, the more bad beats you are going to suffer, because you will be getting your chips into the pot with the best of it more often than a bad player.

The general rule should be, would you say what you're about to type if the subject of your anger was sitting next to you? If yes, go ahead and type it. If no, just don't do it.

How about treating each other with a bit of respect?

Heard at the Bar …

On the heels of the successful poker DVD releases by poker luminaries Mike Reid, John Thomson, and Phil Tufnell, rumours abound that the next batch of poker instructional DVDs will be presented by Boris Johnson, The Krankies, and

Mickey Mouse.

I don't know about you, but my advance order is already in!

Keith "The Camel" Hawkins is a well-known presence on the European poker scene, as he travels to most of the major tournaments from his home town in Darlington. Poker is his work, but Keith's passion is Queens Park Rangers. Keith's regular blog can be found at