Its been a very strange couple of days to say the least. As any regular readers will know, I belong to and frequent a poker forum/community. I have been attending the place for about 18 months now and for the most part, I have enjoyed every minute of it. There are good people/players/members and bad people/players/members. But you are going to find that wherever you look in life. So I tried to stay clear of the ones I didn’t really like and who maybe didn’t like me either, tried to stay out of any drama that might develop anywhere within the site and be a decent member. For the most part I think I achieved that. I was/am fortunate to meet some very nice, honest members who were also good poker players. I learnt from them, I learnt from the site and the games I played there and became a fairly well respected member who is always willing to lend a hand if possible.
During my time there, I have written a few articles, that with some editing, have resembled something like advice to other poker players. It’s a roll I hope I can develop as time rolls on. I won the premier tournament at the first attempt with 5 other good, solid poker players, but due to ill health and problems with travel insurance, I could not make the event that I had fought so hard to get to for 8 months. That was sad for me, I really would have liked to meet my fellow poker players in Las Vegas to play poker there representing a community I had come to love. That was very hard to accept, but I had little choice. The prize had a value of $1500 approx and once I knew I could not attend, I asked for the cash value instead. Another member of the crew had straight away asked for the cash alternative and received it. The full $1500 was payed to him. That was great for him, although he did maintain constantly to the rest of us that he would see us in Vegas. He never had any intention of going, I know that now. But when I asked for the cash alternative as well, on health grounds, I was refused it. I was pretty surprised at that. I was given the choice, take $1000 and use $500 to stake other players, or get nothing. After some heated discussions, I took the $1k and contacted 3 other players/members who I knew were going to Vegas. All that work and effort and someone else benefitted from it. Sadly, the 3 people I did stake were unable to cash in the games so the reward from those stakes was $0. They had a good time, so I didn’t really mind. People who know me, know I prefer to give than receive. I have always been that way.
My poker journey was going well. I was winning games and building a small bankroll and enjoying playing poker with some like minded people. The Friday night games at the Rio were a great game to play. There were always a few of us Brits playing and the table banter was hilarious. It was only a small buy in game, which mot of us played for the enjoyment, but it did become a fairly profitable game for me personally and I still miss those nights. The Rio unfortunately went under when one of the networks pulled the rug out from beneath them. No more Rio!
My game was coming on pretty well. I was laying down a good foundation to build from and was enjoying learning. I had some help from some very good players and had accounts at a few different rooms. I was earning points and exchanging them for cash which helped my roll develop. Sadly, the wheels came off a little. I was levelling apparently and my game was suffering because of it. I was developing my starting hands and pre flop play but was also on a bad run. I lost my enjoyment and it reached the stage I almost quit. I got some good advice from a well-known and respected member of the poker community at Pokerspace and that helped me to get back on track and start enjoying the game again. I was pushing forward again and that spilled over into my none poker life. I started being a little more positive about things in general and was pleased with how I was overcoming problems in my poker game and in the rest of my life. I had come through probably the worst period in my life and for the first time in many many months was starting to feel positive about life.
I had toyed with an idea for some time, but was not confident enough to pursue it. But eventually, I felt it was the right time to do what I had thought about for so long. I had seen on too many occasions, members of a community I loved, ripped off by other members who didn’t give a toss about the place. I created a group that would give long-term members a place to make cast trades safely and not be at the mercy of the rip off merchants who will always frequent poker sites where free money is on offer. That group, even in its infancy was a success. I only invited members who had good reputations and good bankrolls. The UIGEA situation in USA make it very difficult to deposit cash on some sites. But cash transfers between players are allowed. So players often trade cash from one site to another to take advantage of different promotions and tournaments. For players to do that safely is great and they appreciate the group and what it stands for. Its kept me busy since it started and I feel some satisfaction that members have expressed their thanks and appreciation.
Then PokerStars came up with a new concept. Poker leagues you could run yourself from home. So I read about it and decided to give it a try. I set up The Toodle Pip Poker Emporium and have got 25 members so far. The players that are there are good players and good friends. The first game went well, people enjoyed it and with a few tweaks, i think it will prosper. Hopefully, as other players see it being enjoyed, they will want to join as well and the group will swell and become very competitive. Time will tell.
Anyway, thats all by the by, now we get to this point in time. Anew member appeared in the community and seemed to be a really nice, open, decent fella. It wasn’t long before he became active and organised a freeroll game on Felt Stars. There were one or two conditions attached, one of which was 3 poker related questions to qualify for the game. The questions had some of us chasing our tails for a few hours. The blog that this man put up was busy with players adding comments at a steady pace. I and a couple of others got into some good-natured banter and also the blog writer got involved. After one retort I made, this man added a strange, no weird, comment about me not knowing who he was! That was his reply to me saying I had a contract out on him for making the questions difficult for some of us to answer. It didn’t help when it transpired that the second clue was worded very badly and it was edited. Anyway, I read his comment to me telling/informing me to google his name. I just thought, this fella thinks highly of himself and just went about my day as usual. But what he said kept nagging at me, I have no idea why, but it did. The following morning, I thought, sod it, lets see what this man was talking about and I googled Hal Volante. I was aghast at what came back. This bastard is a convicted paedophile! Unreal. It’s the first time I have ever crossed paths with one of these nomarks. To describe in words how I feel about these “people” is very difficult. The English language doesn’t really have the words that I need, but to say I abhor and detest paedophiles is a severe understatement. I would not hesitate to commit some serious bodily harm upon them and not feel an ounce of remorse about it. These bastards ruin lives. They use not only children, but members of their own families in their sick pursuits. They are the lowest of the criminal hierarchy. Even hardened criminals who murder and steal hate the very ground paedophiles walk upon. They are kept segregated in prison as other inmates would not tolerate association with them. I feel the same way.
So anyway. I sent a message to this man and asked him about these convictions and were they true and why would he name himself after a person like that. I mean, would you use a name like Hitler as your avatar? I certainly wouldn’t. But, what this man replied shocked and repulsed me. All that I had read about Hal Volante was true and I was sending messages to that very same person! I asked him if he was serious, and he replied he was. I didn’t really know what to do. I asked him if he had appealed as he was innocent, that’s what he insisted, he was innocent. I have it in writing. He said he had been “naive” his word for it, not mine. That to me stinks of someone who has done something and is then looking to excuse what they have done to others. I could steal a car, then say I had been “naive” we all could. That was enough for me. I told him to stay out of my way and I would stay out of his. Then I thought, hang on a second, why the hell should we [members of Pokerspace] tolerate this bastard? Why should he be free to mingle with decent, loving family people? They don’t know what they have here. This man lies, he lies to me, which was discovered a little later. He said there was no appeal. Oh yes there was. He was originally given a suspended sentence. But the prosecution appealed and he got jail time, 9 months. He also has been placed on the sexual offenders register and has a 10 year Sexual Offences Prevention Order which prohibits him from contact or coaching of young people. All that is fact, not a figment of my imagination.
So I took it upon myself to do something about this piece of shit that was polluting the community I love and the people I respect. I wrote what I knew in a message, added relevant links so the recipient could read for themselves and sent that to the administrators of the site. No response, nothing. I waited, still nothing. I was getting angry and frustrated and impatient and just wanted to see the back of this bastard ASAP. What is wrong about that? If he was anywhere near my family, I would want him away from them ASAP as well. Not let him linger and give him the chance to harm anyone. So anyway, no response from admin, so I decide to send a message to all members of my new group for cash trades, The Swap Shop [named after a saturday morning kids show on tv many years ago]. One of those members is one of the admin dept and not long after I sent those messages, he replied, asking why I had sent this message out. The fact he had to ask speaks volumes. So I told him why and gave him my reasons and opinion. All he seemed concerned with was the extra work he might have as a result of the messages and that there would be a lynch mob baying for blood, or a witch-hunt, neither of which materialised I might add. 80 people got that message and 20 of them responded pretty quickly to that message and expressed their indignation about this person being allowed to remain in our community. I was pleased I got a response.
Then things just get crazy. The admin wont do anything until they have discussed the situation. What the fuck is there to discuss? I asked. They are worried this piece of shit would prosecute them for impeding his rights? What a load of bollocks. There is no discussion needed about these people, there is only one action required, boot em back under the rock they crawled out of. But no, discussion was needed and then a decision would be made. I am sorry dear reader, but that again spoke volumes about the principles of those making the decisions. So I left them to it. I went to bed, angry, very angry, very upset that this matter ever required a discussion. Other members have been banned or suspended for less.
Today, I got a message to say that a decision had been made. Great I thought, until I read it. The decision was, this person had not broken any Terms of Service laid down by Pokerspace. He hadn’t broken any rules, there was nothing he had done that enabled them to ban him from the site. I was dumbstruck, confounded and confused. This bastard had done nothing to merit a ban? Are they for fuckin real? The man is a tried and convicted paedophile who preys on people, mainly children and always denies any wrongdoing. That to me is dangerous. But that’s it, decision made. I asked the question, what about photographs that many members have on site, they would be open to this pervert to view and steal if he so wishes. Change your privacy settings I am told. So a community of god knows how many people have to all change their privacy settings because of one man? Yes I am informed. An online friend of mine once came up with a word, confuckted. That describes to perfection this decision. Nothing I can say or do will reverse this decision. They have made up their minds to harbour a known paedophile and make it ok for him to access the site whenever he chooses to. The minute that piece of garbage first assaulted a young girl, he gave up his right to choose in my humble opinion. But no, this cretin will be ale to blog, comment, play poker in organised games any time he wants. OK, so be it. I have some serious issues with this decision. I have to decide if I want to continue frequenting a forum/community where I know convicted paedophiles are allowed to roam unchecked. The mere fact that they are more concerned about his rights than those rights of all the members who have children frankly disgusts me.
I know I can be compulsive and act in haste, so this time, I am going to take time away from that place and make a decision that after long thought and deliberation is what I think is the right decision to make. I don’t want or expect any other members of that place to walk away, or do anything else. They have to do what their conscience tells them is right. I think its plain that I am becoming more trouble than I am worth because when it matters, I will speak my mind and tell it to them straight, like one or two others will. My estimation of them as human beings and my respect for them has hit a new low and to be blunt, do I need this additional hassle in my life right now? The answer to that is a resounding no!
Its been a long one for sure. If you do manage to read it all, then you have my thanks and appreciation for doing so.