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Thread: Lee Jones has quit Pokerstars, and has made a brief statement on 2+2 about it

  1. #1
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Lee Jones has quit Pokerstars, and has made a brief statement on 2+2 about it

    Lee Jones, longtime cardroom manager of Pokerstars, then briefly of Cake Poker, and then of Pokerstars again, has finally quit.

    This was discovered on thie "About" page of his website: https://leejones.com/about

    My name is Lee and I've been playing poker for 35 years. I wrote a book called Winning Low Limit Hold’em back in the ‘90s. After many wonderful years at PokerStars, I’m happy to report that I am no longer working for the Man. No surprise, my love affair with poker is raging. I’m playing, writing, and coaching, every chance I get. I am excited to see what comes next in this adventure.

    Someone posted this on 2+2, and a debate broke out regarding whether Lee was a good or bad guy.

    His detractors accused him of being an unethical paid shill of Amaya (current Pokerstars owners), publicly defending any of their unfair/unethical behavior because it paid his bills.

    His supporters stated that he is a good, ethical man who loves the game of poker, and was simply a spokesman for the company in the later years. They insisted he didn't make any of the unpopular decisions, nor could he overrule any of them.

    Here's what I wrote about him on 2+2:

    As someone who played very actively on Pokerstars since almost the beginning all the way through Black Friday, I had a lot of visibility into Lee's work.

    Back then, he was a mostly beloved figure in poker.

    Later on, in the Amaya days, opinions started to change, especially after a series of player-unfriendly decisions by the company.

    I don't know Lee personally. I know who he is, and he knows who I am (I'm Dan Druff, in case you weren't aware), but we had little direct contact with one another.

    I will say that Lee was part of the poker community way before the Moneymaker boom, and in fact he predates the 2+2 forum. His beginners limit holdem book was actually what got me into poker, and I felt it was a great introductory text on the subject.

    Some people I respect are friends with him, and have nothing but good things to say about his character and integrity.

    I feel that Lee is a decent guy, loves the poker community, and at no time was doing anything he felt was seriously hurting the game.

    That's not to say he didn't make some mistakes. By defending a lot of Pokerstars' unethical actions in the Amaya era, he did lose some of his personal credibility. While it was clear he was acting as a company spokesperson, the bottom line is that he is/was a known name in poker, and his statements end up defining him.

    At times, I found some of his explanations evasive and/or infuriating, even though they didn't directly involve me.

    I do understand his dilemma, though. He was one of their spokesmen, and his job was to attempt to make Pokerstars look good. He was being paid to show loyalty to them, and to project their message.

    We can sit on our high horses and say, "He should have quit", but this was his long-running livelihood, and he had to make the decision whether to end that simply because he disagreed with some of his employer's business practices.

    Now, if Stars was outright scamming and cheating people, and he stayed as their mouthpiece, I'd be all aboard the hate train with the rest of you.

    However, I would classify some of the recent Stars decisions as "unethical", "unfair", and "pro-unfriendly", but not criminal. There's a huge distinction there.

    In short, I don't think Lee deserves any hate. At worst, he was the mouthpiece for some unethical dealings by Stars, but he never had any meaningful input into these decisions, and everything would have occurred whether he was with the company or not.

    I wish Lee luck in his future endeavors.
    In the next post, I will share Lee's statement he recently made on 2+2.

  2. #2
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Jones
    Hi folks -

    Yes, I left PokerStars at the end of 2018. It was an amicable parting after an absurdly long and joyous run. I am still working on poker projects - you'll be hearing more about those in the near future.

    Regarding the Supernova Elite (SNE) mess in 2015, I can say this now:

    I had zero input into the decision. It was made well above my pay grade by a handful of senior executives. After the decision was announced internally, I was one of many people within the company who thought it was a bad idea. But that ship had sailed and we weren't going to change the outcome.

    As a spokesman for the company, I had two choices:
    Deliver the company message, as I was told, or
    Quit.
    As others in this thread have pointed out, this is the bargain that you strike when you accept a paycheck from a company, particularly as a spokesman for the company. You cannot have a public personal opinion on matters about which the company has a public opinion; your public opinion and the company's opinion are identical.

    Quitting PokerStars seemed counter-productive; I believed then (and continue to believe) that PokerStars is good for poker. It has been the single-handed leader in the effort to combat Sheldon Adelson and return regulated online poker to the U.S. I think most would agree that PokerStars has the best software, game selection, security, and financial stability (e.g. Black Friday). In my mind, the mistake of the SNE decision did not outweigh the good the company was doing, and, of course, the value to me of continued employment.

    I was proud to work for PokerStars and honored to share the journey with amazing colleagues. I am blessed to have had a long association with the company and its people. As to my own actions over those 15 years, I certainly made some missteps and uttered the occasional nonsense. C’est la vie. However, for as long as I’ve been around the poker world (over 30 years now) I’ve done my best to make the game better and more fun for the people who play it.

    I felt the 2015 SNE decision was a poor one at the time, and still do. My then-manager (and now Director of Poker Marketing at PokerStars), Eric Hollreiser, subsequently referred to it as "a series of massive fuck-ups". But every company, every human, makes mistakes. Any of us who ended our relationship with every company or person who made a mistake would be a lonely hermit. So I’m comfortable with the decision I made to stick around.

    Thank you to everybody who has made this ride amazing so far. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

    Regards, Lee
    You can read the entire 2+2 thread (5 pages at the time of this post) here: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/2...-made-1738708/

  3. #3
    Now, if Stars was outright scamming and cheating people, and he stayed as their mouthpiece, I'd be all aboard the hate train with the rest of you.

    However, I would classify some of the recent Stars decisions as "unethical", "unfair", and "pro-unfriendly", but not criminal. There's a huge distinction there.
    The SNE debacle was a multi-million dollar scam. They lied to players, compelled them to generate enormous amounts of extra rake, promised to give a portion of it back, and instead kept all the money. That is borderline theft. Closely analogous to offering someone money for work and then stiffing them.

    Ask most Stars pros about this and they'll shrug and say they "disagree" with what happened. Cowards. Imagine having heard Bryan Pelligrino or Prahlad Friedman saying they "disagree" with their respective companies stealing from players while continuing to cash paychecks.

    Now imagine a spokesman for one of those companies agreeing! Spinning it into a necessary course of action to keep the company afloat, and dismissing the controversy as a "communications failure".

    This is what Lee Jones did. He just happens to be more likable than most of the people you tend to criticize for repping shady companies.

     
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Sanchez View Post
    Now, if Stars was outright scamming and cheating people, and he stayed as their mouthpiece, I'd be all aboard the hate train with the rest of you.

    However, I would classify some of the recent Stars decisions as "unethical", "unfair", and "pro-unfriendly", but not criminal. There's a huge distinction there.
    The SNE debacle was a multi-million dollar scam. They lied to players, compelled them to generate enormous amounts of extra rake, promised to give a portion of it back, and instead kept all the money. That is borderline theft. Closely analogous to offering someone money for work and then stiffing them.

    Ask most Stars pros about this and they'll shrug and say they "disagree" with what happened. Cowards. Imagine having heard Bryan Pelligrino or Prahlad Friedman saying they "disagree" with their respective companies stealing from players while continuing to cash paychecks.

    Now imagine a spokesman for one of those companies agreeing! Spinning it into a necessary course of action to keep the company afloat, and dismissing the controversy as a "communications failure".

    This is what Lee Jones did. He just happens to be more likable than most of the people you tend to criticize for repping shady companies.
    I understand everything you're saying.

    I was also screwed by Pokerstars and their "rewards" program -- in the Scheinberg days. When they cashed out the FPPs -- something they had always promoted as being worth 1.6c -- they gave me 1c each. My complaints to the community fell upon deaf ears. I was told to shut the fuck up and be happy they had the money to pay me (this was right after Black Friday), and that they were paying out FPPs at all. (They also screwed people by cashing out FPPs in blocks, causing almost everyone to have a remainder they couldn't cash out -- kind of a Superman III/Office Space trick.)

    As you've probably seen and heard, I've criticized Jones before (especially on the show) for his uppity/dismissive responses to concerns about Pokerstars issues -- from the SNE debacle to the Barcelona Arts mess to plenty of others. I'm no Lee Jones fanboy.

    At the same time, it's important to understand that the SNE scandal pales in comparison to what occurred at places like UB and Lock.

    Pokerstars' actions were unethical and unfair.

    Lock and UB were outright cheating and stealing.

    When you're working for a company taking actions you don't like, you need to ask yourself how serious you think it is. Lee obviously didn't feel it was serious enough to leave. Clearly there was a lot of selfish motivation there (he was making good money), but at the same time, if you left every company out of "principle" every time they did something unethical, you'd probably be perpetually unemployed.

    So it's a balancing act.

    If I were an employee of Stars when this occurred, I probably wouldn't have quit, but I also wouldn't have kept the position of spokesman and faced players in an adversarial fashion. I said this several times on the last radio show.

    In short, I don't blame people for disliking Lee, and I even told Michael Josem that on Wednesday night during the show. I'm just saying that I can kind of understand what he did, even though I don't really agree with it.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Sanchez View Post

    The SNE debacle was a multi-million dollar scam. They lied to players, compelled them to generate enormous amounts of extra rake, promised to give a portion of it back, and instead kept all the money. That is borderline theft. Closely analogous to offering someone money for work and then stiffing them.

    Ask most Stars pros about this and they'll shrug and say they "disagree" with what happened. Cowards. Imagine having heard Bryan Pelligrino or Prahlad Friedman saying they "disagree" with their respective companies stealing from players while continuing to cash paychecks.

    Now imagine a spokesman for one of those companies agreeing! Spinning it into a necessary course of action to keep the company afloat, and dismissing the controversy as a "communications failure".

    This is what Lee Jones did. He just happens to be more likable than most of the people you tend to criticize for repping shady companies.
    I understand everything you're saying.

    I was also screwed by Pokerstars and their "rewards" program -- in the Scheinberg days. When they cashed out the FPPs -- something they had always promoted as being worth 1.6c -- they gave me 1c each. My complaints to the community fell upon deaf ears. I was told to shut the fuck up and be happy they had the money to pay me (this was right after Black Friday), and that they were paying out FPPs at all. (They also screwed people by cashing out FPPs in blocks, causing almost everyone to have a remainder they couldn't cash out -- kind of a Superman III/Office Space trick.)

    As you've probably seen and heard, I've criticized Jones before (especially on the show) for his uppity/dismissive responses to concerns about Pokerstars issues -- from the SNE debacle to the Barcelona Arts mess to plenty of others. I'm no Lee Jones fanboy.

    At the same time, it's important to understand that the SNE scandal pales in comparison to what occurred at places like UB and Lock.

    Pokerstars' actions were unethical and unfair.

    Lock and UB were outright cheating and stealing.

    When you're working for a company taking actions you don't like, you need to ask yourself how serious you think it is. Lee obviously didn't feel it was serious enough to leave. Clearly there was a lot of selfish motivation there (he was making good money), but at the same time, if you left every company out of "principle" every time they did something unethical, you'd probably be perpetually unemployed.

    So it's a balancing act.

    If I were an employee of Stars when this occurred, I probably wouldn't have quit, but I also wouldn't have kept the position of spokesman and faced players in an adversarial fashion. I said this several times on the last radio show.

    In short, I don't blame people for disliking Lee, and I even told Michael Josem that on Wednesday night during the show. I'm just saying that I can kind of understand what he did, even though I don't really agree with it.
    They stole a lot of money with that FPP larceny. Their "good guy" con was exposed when that happened. Pretty obvious bailing out FTP was all about a marketing ploy or some sort of weird overture to the DOJ for his case. It's impossible to think Pokerstars was anything but an adversary - stealing the FPP money was a giant tell.

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