Life is full of ups and downs.
The peaks and valleys are amplified even more so for professional poker players.
At times, poker can be an exhilerating profession. However, more often the game is a lonely and dispiriting pursuit, riled with frustration.
Neil Channing knows this perhaps better than anyone. The London-based cash-game poker pro has ridden a perpetual roller coaster and endured obstacle courses for much of his adult life. He’s won major tournament victories. He’s backed previously unknown players who made championship final tables. He written about poker extensively. He’s selflessly shared what he knows with others. He’s succcessfully handicapped sporting events for consistent profit. But Neil’s most remarkable accomplishment and endearing quality seems to be the universal respect and admiration he receives from just about everyone.
I suppose that’s the highest form of currency. While fame and fortune are acheiveable by just about anyone given a fortunate break or two, to be adored and appreciated by so many of one’s peers is truly the ultimate benchmark and pinnacle of success. To that end, Neil is the true champion of us all.
Today, I was saddened to learn Black Belt Poker, Neil’s co-creation and the passion of his life for the better part of the last decade, will be closing down soon. A sign of changing times perhaps, player-freindly Black Belt Poker hoped to shake up what was once a rapidly-expanding online poker market in the U.K.. But the numbers and financials didn’t work out, which now means Neil will have to move on to something else. Whatever that is, you can be sure he’ll give it 110 percent. The POKER FUSE article on Black Belt Poker and its closing can be read here.
A few years ago, Neil finished second in an event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. I remember the moment well. Most people would be thrilled with such an accomplishment, particularly the prize money that was earned, which was a quarter-million dollars. However, in my many years covering WSOP gold bracelet events, I’ve never seen someone take defeat so hard, yet with such profound dignity. [SEE FOOTNOTE BELOW]
It’s almost become a cliche to suggest that how one takes defeat defines character. But to a large extent, it’s true. We learn more about a person and who they really are in the face of the challenges, not victories. Anyone can be the good guy when he wins. But show me someone who takes a loss or two, and remains true to his character. That’s class. That’s something to admire.
Just as true is the notion that we do owe a serious debt of gratitude to people like Neil, the pioneers who dared to try and be the game-changers, blazing new paths not just for themselves, but for everyone else.
Let this column be exactly that — a sincere thank you to Neil Channing, along with good wishes that the next game he plays will be a winning one.Read More