Joey, also known as Chicago Joey and BigPapi, said that he was considering clicking an imaginary button that would take him away from the game for the rest of his life. I don’t think I got it right. “Maybe I don’t understand how this works,” he said. Maybe I don’t understand how this works. “I don’t understand business very well,” he said.
Joey is able to have thousands of people listen to him in a matter of minutes by clicking one button on his computer mouse. Just as quickly, he can disappear.
Less than an hour after clicking the button that turned his YouTube channel over to another creator for the night, the poker star sat in his office and reflected on the two hours he had just spent online with an accused poker cheat.
He could have measured the success of the broadcast on a number of metrics, including how many viewers watched live, the speed of the ever-tumbling and often toxic comment stream, and the income he made from the sponsors he picked up to support his effort.
In the first hour after he began his sign-off, Ingram did not equivocate about whether the effort had been a success.
“What we really talked about is not the truth,” he said.
In that moment, one of poker’s biggest cheerleaders sounded as if the two hours with Kenney were the last he could bear, but the game that made both of them famous.
Everybody has their own story. Everything is going well. Everything is not functioning. I have had enough of this thing. I have had enough of these people, I am done with them.
The full two hour video can be watched here.
There was a Birth of BigPapi
When he was in his early 20s, Chicago Joey and BigPapi, as he is also known, rose to fame as a poker player. The oldest videos on his channel date back to November 2009, when he was a young, barechested 20-something kid trying to break a world record by playing 50,000 hands of online poker in a day.
Over the next 13 years, he built his YouTube follower count to more than 140,000 subscribers and earned a reputation as a hyper and often manic booster for the game. The one thing every poker operator in the world was spending millions of dollars on was his persona, catchphrases, and prescient understanding of the content creator culture.
Casual fans were made to want more by Ingram. There are more pieces of content. There were more ways to play. There is more psyc. There are more poker players.
Thousands of upstart content creators and poker players would have given their last chip to achieve the goal of the effort. It might have been that way until he became too rich to care for himself.
Instead, on a random Tuesday in September, he talked as if he was considering clicking an imaginary button that would take him away from the game for the rest of his life.
I don’t think I got it right. Maybe I don’t understand what I’m talking about. He said he doesn’t understand how this works.
If asked again, he would admit that he was talking more about something else that he can’t stop thinking about. Even as he began interviewing one of poker’s most successful high rollers about serious cheating allegations, he knew there was little chance he would hear anything that would make him feel better about his guest or the state of poker.
Why did you do that? Even if every word he heard in the interview was true, it wouldn’t make a difference to his passion for the industry he once loved. He believed that even if he heard the truth, it would not change anything.
No one pays attention, right? Nobody gives a hoot about this stuff. Nobody pays much attention. That is the thing I have learned. He said that no one cared.
Poker is a game that has a watchdog
Though not formally trained as an investigative reporter, his reputation as a man of the people grew to become something closer to poker’s chief watchdog. He dedicated his channel and hundreds of hours to analyzing all of the accused player’s poker hands after learning of the cheating allegations. What became known as “Postlegate” made a damnable case for the player’s guilt and all but solidified the man of poker as well as a man of the people. He was sued for defamation by the accused cheater, who later dropped the lawsuit.
When the poker community learned about the allegations against Kenney, many of his fans hoped the watchdog would start barking. His YouTube channel was mostly dark for a year as he toyed with other platforms and interests.
Whether it was the pull of the cheating story, a dedication to his fans, or love of the game, Ingram decided a few weeks back that he would try to use his YouTube account for the last time. He lined up sponsorship money, told the world he was coming back, and worked out the details.
Approximately 2,000 people were watching the live stream at the same time as the interview was taking place. The two-hour interview picked up 18,000 views on the video sharing website.
Most content creators would be happy with those numbers, but in the first few minutes after turning off the camera, there wasn’t a lot of joy in his voice. When he got to promote a sponsor that makes grooming products for male genitalia, it was the only time he presented himself with kid-like glee.
He said that Kenney was only answering to what might be provable, and that he had stuck to an already familiar script that obfuscated and diverted responsibility.
He does not really admit anything. He admitted the ghosting, but he wasn’t telling us what was happening. A bunch of these guys are using different accounts. It was kind of sidestepped by Kenney, which is what happens in a lot of those text messages. A lot of text messages to Kenny were about two accounts. It is just exhausting.
He couldn’t find a single reason to be happy about it as he went back over the interview.
I just don’t feel good about the situation. There is a good chance that a lot of this stuff was going down, and there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to be involved in it for obvious reasons. There are poker sites that are included. People have been having a comfortable career for a long time. I think people are doing what they have to to maintain those things.
Nothing will be able to stop it
This was not the first time that Ingram had stood at this particular crossroads, and Postlegate was not his first cheating investigation.
Four years ago, Ingram sat in front of his camera and asked both himself and his viewers if poker had ruined his life. MMA was one of the subjects that he toyed with. He did different things with different formats and platforms. He made triumphant returns after taking long breaks. He gave his followers a quick glimpse into private moments when he checked in occasionally on the social networking site.
For a long time, Ingram was unsure if he could find a personal truth in the lies he heard in poker. While he was never poker’s Polyanna, the weight of simultaneously serving as the game’s amalgam of Mike Wallace, Joe Rogan, and John Oliver seemed to weigh heavier on him every year. No one forced him to be the gambling world’s Atlas, but by the time he’d finished with Kenney, he seemed ready to equate the entire episode to what he’d been carrying around on his back for a long time.
It is the way all of the poker world works. This is how all the companies work. I am not saying that there aren’t tournaments where people win money. I am not saying that there aren’t people that are professionals. I don’t think people are having a great time with their lives, but we know what’s happening out here. This is what I came to realize. All of these guys are working hard. Is there something happening at the Main event? It is not possible to say no. There are a lot of things going on out there, and when the guy has access to the operation of the game, you can do a lot with it.
The dark view of poker might be easier to ignore if it were the view of a lifetime loser who just got knocked out of a tournament or a grifter with an ulterior motive. One of poker’s most popular content creators was in the middle of one of the most important interviews of the future. It might have been the last one for him.
Is it possible for me to participate in the game that these guys are playing in? These guys are trying to make a lot of money, and they need to do certain things that will allow them to make money. So, that is what these guys like to do. Nothing will be able to stop it. It is the way it has always been. If you don’t do it, then you’re going to lose money.
When the news of the Kenney interview broke earlier in the year, he mused about whether anything would have been different. He could not come to a conclusion because an effort earlier might not have mattered. Even if the poker world never really forgives, it is very quick to forget the worst of poker sins.
That is so fascinating to me. When no one talks about it for a few months, the same thing is still there, but no one is going to care much about it. Everyone is playing poker in their own world. Everyone has a brand, everyone has a company, everyone has something. Everyone is making content, everyone is playing games, everyone is doing everything. It is not the poker world that I thought it was.
Just a single click
It’s difficult to put full faith in anyone because of the past and ongoing scandals, but there are many operators, players, and journalists who are ostensibly working for the betterment of poker and its community. He built his career from the ground up and it has become harder and harder to find the energy to give to it.
If I want to stay in poker, I can worry about my own world, put on my content, get a sponsorship with a poker online operator, do an event series, do meet-up games, and talk about what is happening. I could do that for a long time and I would enjoy my life. You have to accept that this is a pretty shady area to be a part of, and you have to watch yourself around these people when money gets involved, because people are trying to do whatever it takes to separate.
It is possible that Ingram cooled off a few hours later. He may have woken up with a brighter world view after sleeping on it. If not, his return to YouTube could be the last time we see him there.
He pondered if there was anything he could hear at that moment that would make him feel better about continuing his career.
He didn’t have anything to think about.
It is not the ideal time to try and start a new life at 37 years old, but it is what it is. I have been studying for the past year and praying every day that an opportunity will come that will take me away from what is happening here.
By now, he knows that he will not be allowed to leave the game without his permission. He knows he can make himself an expert in that field by stepping away from poker.
The only thing it would take is a single click on the mouse.