GGPoker Partners with FLIP and Byrne but Keeps Bilzerian
GGPoker was on the rise in 2019 and 2020. The online poker site made numerous high-profile signings, not the least of which was Daniel Negreanu, and recruited players for its new GGSquad. Maybe the biggest news of all in 2020 was GGPoker’s partnership with the World Series of Poker. Not only did the GGNetwork host WSOP Circuit events but the summer WSOP, including the Main Event.
That wasn’t enough for GGPoker, though. The network’s executives took a leap in November 2020 to sign a recognizable name: Dan Bilzerian.
It was an “all publicity is good publicity” mantra on display.
Months later, GGPoker announced a partnership with the fastest-growing poker player community focused on women. Fantastic Ladies in Poker (FLIP) is a group of female and female-identifying poker enthusiasts who support each other, encourage more women to play poker, and build a community to celebrate women’s poker accomplishments.
This must be the “concerted effort” to reach out to female poker players that GGPoker referenced two months ago in response to the Bilzerian signing.
The deal is a great opportunity for FLIP and its members.
The effort by GGPoker is also a slap in the face to many women in poker (something Bilzerian might like).
Good News First: FLIP
This week, GGPoker and FLIP announced their new partnership. GGPoker promised promotions and initiatives to help grow the FLIP community, complete with exclusive tournaments and benefits.
Further, FLIP founder and pro poker player Daiva Byrne (well-known on Twitter as @baltic_blonde) became a GGPoker Outreach and Community Advocate. “She will provide ongoing advice on strategies and initiatives designed to engage with a variety of poker player communities.”
Byrne noted, “I’m delighted FLIP is partnering with GGPoker, who shares our vision for a more inclusive future in poker. I’m also thrilled to work with a brand dedicated to developing innovations that resonate with the poker community.”
— Daiva Byrne (@baltic_blonde) February 11, 2021
GGPoker Head of Public Relations Paul Burke added that Burke is likely to “turbo-charge our efforts to be genuinely inclusive and make absolutely every kind of player welcome at GGPoker!”
As explained by Byrne on the FLIP Facebook page, players can use FLIPLADIES for a welcome bonus on GGPoker. And in the future, GGPoker will host a welcoming event, and FLIP members will be able to organize private events.
Mixed Reactions from Women
The vast majority of comments on the FLIP Facebook page have been positive. Many messages expressed congratulations to Byrne.
There were some concerns, though. One woman noted that she hopes Byrne “can make a true impact on a stained company in the eyes of many women.” Byrne responded, “I hope to do everything I can do to develop demonstrative changes over the coming months to shift perceptions. Any and all feedback to help me achieve this appreciated.”
Of course, the Bilzerian signing was an issue for many women but none more obvious than Vanessa Kade. His response to her original disappointment in the Bilzerian deal was, “Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are”.
Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are
— Dan Bilzerian (@DanBilzerian) December 4, 2020
A woman on the FB page expressed hope that Byrne can change the company from the inside. Byrne responded, “I think that the fallout from Bilzerian was the catalyst for the desire to change within GG. I believe you can only exact so much change outside of the industry; I’m hoping now that I can make a difference with the full support of GG behind me. If this wasn’t the case, then the partnership wouldn’t be happening.”
Kade commented on the FB page as well: “I think Daiva is a wonderful ambassador and representative for women, but for GG’s part, this is them trying to buy her good faith with the female community after hiring and standing by a massive misogynist.”
They couldn’t have picked a better person, but without also firing Dan the message is still clear: they support bigotry as long it pads their bottom line and will just throw money at damage control as a token to shut us up.
Give us more than lip service and get rid of him GG.
— Vanessa Kade (@VanessaKade) February 11, 2021
Days after the announcement from GGPoker, the company did finally put something on Twitter, though they couldn’t be bothered to put an image of GIF with it as they do in every other tweet.
A big welcome to the #GGPoker family @ladies_poker!
Read all about it 👉 https://t.co/Qol1QauxYJ
— GGPoker (@GGPoker) February 13, 2021
It’s also important that GGPoker has yet to put anything on its website welcoming the members of FLIP. The formal press release is posted on the blog, but there is no other message on the home page. GGPoker does show nearly three dozen promotional images on the bottom of that home page, though.
Bad News: Bilzerian Still Represents GGPoker
The fastest-growing online poker network in the world has not shown one sign of regret about signing Bilzerian to an ambassadorship deal.
GGPoker decided to pay presumably big money for Bilzerian to represent the site as an ambassador. They put his picture next to Negreanu, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Fedor Holz, and Felipe Ramos.
Never mind that Bilzerian is a world-renowned sexist and misogynist. He has repeatedly put his view of women as trash and discardable property on full display to his tens of millions of Instagram and Twitter followers. He disparages mask-wearing to protect others, shoots big guns, smokes weed, and loves looking at himself. Occasionally, he plays poker.
Despite significant outcry from many in the poker community, GGPoker chose not to respond to concerns for weeks. The World Series of Poker brand also refused to respond and has yet to do so.
Pokerfuse reached out to GGPoker at that time for a statement about the controversy. The response was astoundingly tone-deaf.
“One of GGPoker’s main goals is to bring the game to a wider audience and make it more inclusive. Dan Bilzerian helps us accomplish that goal. In just days, he’s brought tens of thousands of new players to GGPoker.
“However, part of making poker more inclusive is actively balancing out audiences that Dan does not always reach. Over the coming weeks and months, GGPoker will make a concerted effort in extending our outreach to female players.”
Read more ⬇️https://t.co/UQz5rREc8p
— pokerfuse (@pokerfuse) December 11, 2020
The statement made clear that the company prioritized making money over respect for women.
Of course, there is little doubt that Byrne is working hard to rectify all of this. However, the chasm between GGPoker and some women in poker is so wide that it can’t be bridged.
On a personal note, I would likely be in that category of women, but I also have a lot of faith in women. I’ll bet on Byrne and hope that GGPoker holds up its end of the deal.