I’ll be the first to admit that I, like many other people in the poker world, was excited when Michael Phelps made mention of wanting to play in the World Series of Poker (see my post here). I thought to myself, “This is great, one of the most famous Olympic athletes ever is interested in our game of poker.” But looking back on all of the other stuff that he said in hindsight, I’m starting to wonder how serious he really was about this statement.
Now I don’t doubt that he plays the game as many have attested to this but I do remember some of his comments made during the Olympics. One of Phelps’ first statements after his incredible feats in China was that he wanted to hang out with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Next up, he was an avid Young Jeezy fan and said he wouldn’t mind meeting him either. Then came the comments on his poker desires and this set many in the game in a frenzy.
Even some of the biggest organizations in the business got extremely excited over Phelps such as the APT which had bigwig Jeff Mann send Phelps a wordy letter that had such gems as the following comments designed to woo him:
Some have said you are a ‘human dolphin’ but we’re keen to know if history’s greatest swimmer is really a fish. You may have feet that can reach angles others cannot to give you the ultimate swimming technique but just you wait until you’ve got sharks like Vegas poker legend Doyle Brunson chasing you. We’ll see how fast you really are then when they smell blood – get some flippers on those size 14’s!
Don’t bring your goggles, bring a pair of sunglasses – dive in at the deep end and we would love it if you showed us your hand. You’ve almost certainly got more chance of making good money from our $1,500,000 prize pool than securing any commercial deals! Your homecoming to a delirious country can wait.
Go all-in Michael! We’ll even get some special one-on-one lessons for you from poker’s greatest players. If it makes you happier we’ll even bring in Mark Spitz too and you can play heads-up! Some have campaigned for poker to become an Olympic sport. The fact that you are a ‘human dolphin’ doesn’t mean you will necessary get a gold medal for Texas Hold’em!
Way to quote human dolphin twice! Anyways, I know that ever since medal number 8 was Phelps for the claiming, tons of offers have been thrown his way from Hollywood and others despite what Jeff Mann’s letter indicates. I just hope that all of the courting the poker world is currently doing isn’t going to turn Phelps off from playing poker in the future if he is interested. Unfortunately, I think organizations like the APT may as their behavior reminds me of an overzealous guy chasing a girl all over who shows even the slightest interest in him.