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The Turnstile

The saddest reaction to winning $15 million you'll ever see

Jay Busbee
The Turnstile
Daniel Colman's celebration.
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Daniel Colman's celebration.

The 2014 Big One for One Drop ended with one player winning a $15 million. Looking at the photo above, you'd have to guess that was the loser, right? Nope.

Daniel Colman won the astonishing pot after taking the decisive hand from poker legend Daniel Negreanu. And his reaction could best be described as "funereal." Come on, Dan, you look like somebody stole your dog:

Negreanu had been cruising in the tournament, knocking off challenger after challenger, but the 23-year-old Colman proved to be too much to handle. Colman's media silence, both on the broadcast and throughout the tournament, subjected him to some criticism. The Las Vegas Sun's story about the night was even headlined "Reserved star or rich scrub?"

"Channeling a petulant child, Colman had to be persuaded to pose with the winnings and bracelet most poker players spend their whole lives fighting toward," the Sun wrote. "Caesars Entertainment executives and ESPN officials got their way with that one, but Colman would spare no more satisfaction. He turned down every request, even with the giant sports network that will air six hours documenting his victory starting later this month, to talk about outlasting 41 other players over the last three days."

“I think it’s really great, this event, what we were able to raise for charity,” Colman did say during an interview with ESPN, the only interview he granted. “It went to a pretty worthwhile cause, giving water to parts of the world that just don’t have that.”

The Sun contended that Colman cost himself a chance at lucrative sponsorship opportunities, and also appeared ungrateful to the game that had given him so much ... a game that is in rocky straits worldwide. (Also noted: Colman's take of the final total isn't clear. He may have only put up 10 percent of the $1 million entry fee, entitling him to "only" $1.3 million.)

However, there was more to this reaction than first appeared. After waves of criticism following his reaction (this event was actually played several weeks ago but only just aired), Colman issued a statement:

I really don’t owe anyone an explanation but I’ll give one.

First off, I don’t owe poker a single thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit financially from this game, but I have played it long enough to see the ugly side of this world. It is not a game where the pros are always happy and living a fulfilling life. To have a job where you are at the mercy of variance can be insanely stressful and can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro.

It is also not a game where the amateurs are always happy to be losing their money for the sake of entertainment. The losers lose way more money at this game than winners are winning. A lot of this is money they can’t afford to lose. This is fine of course because if someone is dumb enough to gamble with money they can't afford to lose, that’s their problem. I’m not really buying that though. In a perfect world, markets are based on informed consumers making rational transactions. In reality, sadly, that’s not the case. Markets are based on advertising trying to play on peoples impulses and targeting their weaknesses in order for them to make irrational decisions. I get it if someone wants to go and play poker on their own free will, but I don’t agree with gambling being advertised just like I don’t agree with cigarettes and alcohol being advertised.

It bothers me that people care so much about poker’s well-being. As poker is a game that has such a net negative effect on the people playing it. Both financially and emotionally.

As for promoting myself, I feel that individual achievements should rarely be celebrated. I am not going to take part in it for others and I wouldn’t want it for myself. If you wonder why our society is so infatuated by individuals and their success, and being a baller, it is not that way for no reason. It is there because it serves a clear purpose. If you get people to look up to someone and adhere to the “gain wealth, forget all but self” motto, then you can get them to ignore the social contract, which is very good for power systems. Also it serves as a means of distraction to get people to not pay attention to the things that do matter.

These are just my personal views. And yes, I realize I am conflicted. I capitalize off this game that targets peoples [sic] weaknesses. I do enjoy it, I love the strategy part of it, but I do see it as a very dark game.

Negreanu, for his part, accepted Colman's silence. “I respect it completely,” he said. “To each his own. If it’s not something he wants to do, then I think we should all give him a break.”

He also counseled Colman with a bit of advice: "You don’t owe poker anything, sure, but poker has given you a lot," Negreanu said. "The camera crew filming the event, the dealers, floor staff, Caesars, the WSOP, ESPN, PokerStars.com for giving you an opportunity to support yourself, the players that came before you and did spend time promoting a game you would have likely never heard about. You don’t owe poker, or me personally anything, much like when a waitress brings your order, you don’t owe her a tip or even a thank you. It’s just a gracious custom, much like doing a winner’s interview.”

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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