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Professional Poker: A Last Refuge of the Gentleman

Feminists are waging war against men. And they are winning.

Yet in this war, there are still a few voices who speak about how to be a gentleman in a hostile world. Chronicles writer Stephen Baskerville does just this in his excellent book, A Gentleman’s Guide to Manners, Sex, and Ruling the World. Being a gentleman entails more than being a refined member of accepted society, Baskerville writes. “Being a gentleman means accepting responsibility, first, for oneself, and then as well for one’s family, community, and country. It is essential to being an effective citizen and a leader.”

The part where Baskerville ponders whether a gentleman gambles got me to thinking. I was a professional gambler for much of my life, played poker at the highest (and lowest) stakes, wrote a book on it, and have been involved with the subculture for most of my life, so I have some thoughts on the topic.

It’s true, poker can be problematic to a healthy and reputable existence. Consider a typical life for a professional online poker player. He is a college dropout, wakes up past noon, gets on the computer still in pajamas, and stays there until dawn. And the lifestyle of a professional live-game poker player, who practically lives in the casino, could be even worse!

So how can poker be a home for gentlemen?

The key is to compare the poker player to the guy who “does everything right,” just as society wants him to do. He will go to school, get good grades, go through Harvard Law, and then go to his corporate job dressed up in a suit.

But the man-in-the-suit is likely not a gentleman. Society is so corrupt now, so dominated by government, so bent on crushing the independent man, that coming up from inside the system indicates submission to the system’s culture. A culture which precludes the possibility of being a gentleman.

The first step to success inside the system is school. Yet, as more people are realizing every day, school is a problem. “If students (and taxpayers) knew how badly they were being swindled by the academies, even the most prestigious, the entire house of cards would collapse,” Baskerville writes. “So ironically, we may be returning to the days when few gentlemen even bothered to attend universities.”


Not only are schools a waste of time and money, but they are an active assault on men’s integrity. Consider this anecdote published in the Harvard Crimson by one of its Associate Editors, Daniel Kim:

My Theory of Knowledge teacher instructed his students, “If you think you’re a feminist, raise your hand.” … To make sure what I vaguely knew about feminism was correct, I asked, “Isn’t feminism essentially advocating for gender equality?” My teacher smiled and looked at me. Another student said, “Well, if feminism means that, shouldn’t we all be feminists? ” That was when people in the classroom started raising their hands one by one, until every hand was raised.

Note how the professor used subtle coercion to make the men identify as feminists. Then, every single guy raised their hand. Either the coercion worked and they truly identify as feminists, or they don’t actually identify as feminists, but they learned to lie and trash their own beliefs to get approval from the system.

This wasn’t even a class at Harvard, it was a class before Harvard, in high school. In other words, the price of admission to Harvard is to go successfully through this process. At Harvard, they advance it further.

Hateful, leveling, anti-male feminism is the antithesis of being a gentleman. The system is a grinder. It is ripping these guys apart.

I asked a friend of mine, who was a professional poker player, how his poker-playing friends compared to people in the general population. “My friends from home are the most pathetic people that I know,” he wrote to me. “They are all under their wives’ thumbs, work nine to five jobs, have sexless marriages with miserable wives, or their wives already left them. So poker players are less pathetic than them.”

Here’s the deal. It’s not that poker creates gentlemen. It doesn’t. In fact, the lifestyle of a poker player makes being a true gentleman difficult. But—and this is the key—it does allow for the possibility. 

Poker players work for themselves. If they play well, in the long run, they will win money. That’s the bottom line. A poker player doesn’t need credentials to impress anyone. The cards and the math don’t lie. There are no gatekeepers. There is no professor he must agree with. No one in human resources to whom he must kowtow. No feminist boss he must appease.

A poker player can go to school or drop out as he pleases. He can take up another career if he desires, then drop out and return to poker, if it’s necessary. He can’t be canceled. 

Further, poker is almost exclusively a men’s community. It’s a nice sanctuary in a time in when women are invading just about every space men had to themselves. This point applies also to recreational gambling. It’s a refuge for guys to be with guy friends.

I’m not Christian, so go ahead and tell me if I’m wrong on this, but here’s my hypothesis: Playing craps in Vegas with your high school buddies seems a lot more wholesome than going to the churches of hypocritical liberal denominations, wherein one gets shamed and harangued by feminists.

There is a famous saying: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” A corollary is that in a time of deceit—like now—living as a gentleman must take place outside of the system, in opposition to the system, as free as possible from the system. Various fields and professions that the system looks down upon, including poker, may provide some of the last bastions for gentlemen. 


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