An interesting story recently developed, in which a blind poker player by the name of Jason Holbrook won a seat at the World Series of Poker, only to be told by the WSOP that he would not be able to participate at the event. The World Series of Poker would offer Holbrook a full refund for his seat, but unfortunately, he would not be able to play.
Holbrook lost his sight in an auto wreck when he was 20 years old. He started playing poker when he was a kid, and the accident did nothing to deter Holbrook from playing the game that he loved.
How does Holbrook cope with his disability while playing at the table? He has a handler that will look at the cards that Holbrook is dealt and then whisper the cards in his ear. She will also relay the cards that are placed on the board, and any betting action if Holbrook isn't able to hear. Holbrook won his seat playing live at the Bakersfield's Golden West Casino.
The World Series of Poker has since reversed their position, and will now allow Holbrook to play the event. This is presumably due to some pretty serious media pressure, as this story appeared in various media outlets. The media outlets questioned how the WSOP could accomodate people that are paralyzed, but could not accomodate a blind player with a handler.
The question is, how do you, the poker player feel about this? Presumably the big issue at hand here is the "one player to a hand" rule. Is the presence of a handler violating this rule, even if the player is blind? Just to play devil's advocate for a second, what would happen if the player and the handler conspired to confuse and trap other players at the table by "mistakenly" whispering something out loud that throws another player off?
Also, there is a question of comfort and speed of play here. First off, can another body fit in at an already crowded poker table? And, if there has to be constant communication between the handler and the player, wouldn't that slow down play at the table and create a disadvantage for everyone at the table in the face of rising blinds?
As I said, the WSOP relented and Holbrook will be playing. But given the questions that I listed above, would you be comfortable allowing Holbrook to play in the tournament if you had shelled out $10k for your entry?
Filed Under: The World Series of Poker