In the Festivus tradition, as pioneered by Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, dinner is followed by “the airing of grievances.” That wasn’t actually intended to be the theme of this holiday episode of the PTP Podcast, but it kind of turned out that way.

Our guest is Kat Arnsby, “The Poker Baffer,” a blogger, recreational poker player and former poker dealer from the UK. We invited her on to talk about Marty Derbyshire, the former PokerNews writer who was fired after publishing a particularly unpopular opinion piece. Kat and Alex both wrote at length about that situation, but from different perspectives.

Before that story, however, we discuss PokerStars and the changes that it has announced for 2017. The general rule in the poker community is that “PokerStars” plus “changes” equals “griping,” and this week we’re no exception.

We also discuss Andrew’s recent poker cruise – no complaints about that, at least – and manage to squeeze in some ridicule for US President-Elect Donald Trump. Finally, we wrap it up with a strategy discussion, in which the grievance has to do with being put in a tough spot on the turn while holding bottom set.

Introductions (0:00-0:55)

We kept the intro segment short and sweet, just saying hi to Kat before diving right into things.

Poker Cruise (0:55-8:50)

Andrew discusses his recent poker cruise. Poker professionals usually avoid these because the rake charged is exorbitant, but Andrew claims the games are so absurdly soft that it’s easy to overcome. The tournaments have a very bizarre structure as well, which he goes into a bit.

GTO Club (8:50-10:45)

Andrew takes the tournament design discussion as an opportunity to segue into the topic of game design, asking Alex about his recent conversation with Joey Ingram. Joey is starting up a new business called GTO Club, and wanted some general advice about designing a status points and rewards tier system.

StarsRage 2017 (10:45-26:47)

Having ostensibly learned its lesson last year, PokerStars has attempted to give players more forewarning of upcoming changes this time around. The details are still sketchy, but what little has been revealed is already enough to create outrage among the pro community. They’ll be squeezing players a bit harder on currency conversions going forward, while in terms of rewards, players will now have to play at least a little every few months in order to avoid forfeiting their rewards point balance.

On the other hand, promotions will now be customized to individual playing habits. That’s probably a good thing, but Kat, as a recreational player herself, says she hates the opt-in system and doesn’t feel that players should need to go hunting to find out if any promotions are running.

The Trouble with Mr. Derbyshire (26:47-43:07)

Here we get into the main topic for this podcast episode, Marty Derbyshire’s dismissal from PokerNews. Alex recaps the fateful article and the events leading up to it, then expresses his thoughts on the subject, namely that he has no problem with Marty’s opinions per se, but his unwillingness to stand by the things he’s written. His fauxpologies are also put on blast, and on this point all three of us are in agreement that his handling of things in the aftermath of the article was inexcusable.

The Obligatory Political Digression (43:07-48:52)

Alex’s talk about Marty’s lack of sincerity reminds Andrew of his pre-election political debate with Bryan Paris. Like Marty, Trump is notorious for backing away from things he’s said in the past, leaving even his supporters guessing at what he really believes, or if he believes anything at all.

Back to Marty (48:52-53:32)

The Trump tangent happened before Kat really had a chance to get the second of her two cents in, so we jump back on topic briefly to let her make an important point about laziness and privilege. Like Alex, she is disappointed by Marty’s insistence that he never meant the things he wrote, but thinks it’s equally shameful that he was fired for speaking an unpleasant truth not just about professional poker, but many of the jobs done by educated people in wealthy western countries.

Poker Twitter Fights (53:32-1:04:15)

Speaking about the ugly side of professional poker leads us to the related topic of poker Twitter and the childish drama that frequently breaks out there, most recently between Cate Hall and Mike Dentale. Kat feels it was unbecoming of Cate to descend to Mike’s level, though Alex feels Twitter fights are one of the few good things to come out of professional poker, likening them to professional wrestling as a source of entertainment for fans. We also discuss a recent Twitter confrontation between Kat herself and the trolliest of trolls, Jason Mo.

Strategy: Can Alex Fold a Set? (1:04:15-1:27:00)

As usual, we finish the episode with a hand review: In this case, a 1/2 cash game hand Alex played at Playground Poker after busting out of a tournament there. Alex flops bottom set against an opponent known to run big postflop bluffs, but after raising the turn on a wet board and facing a three-bet for most of his 200 BB stack, he has to wonder whether the villain might actually have the goods this time.

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