Apparently, WSOP Champ Joe Cada is heading to Capitol Hill today to meet with law-makers on a trip organized by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
Before getting into this, let me first say I’m a big Joe Cada fan. I played with him in a preliminary event in last year’s WSOP, followed him on the Main Event leaderboard from the time he arose to day one chip-leader all the way to his victory, bet handsomely on him and interviewed him before the final table. I like the guy a lot and am reluctant to say anything critical about him, but I don’t think I can hold my tongue on this one.
Is he really the face the PPA wants to put in front of Congress? Keep in mind that a big reason the UIGEA got support was a result of it being promoted as a way to protect minors from underage online gambling. Minors like Cada who were playing online long before they should have been according to the law. In Cada’s case, it obviously worked out. He bought himself a house with his online winnings at age 19.
But does putting a baby-faced 22 year old on Capitol Hill as the “Face of Poker” send the right message to law-makers? It seems like a questionable move on the part of the PPA. Just because you won the Main Event does not mean you are automatically therefore a good ambassador to the game of poker. Cada’s persona is fine for Letterman appearances and interviews on ESPN’s SportsCenter, but is he really fit for Capitol Hill? He might be the first to tell you that he’s not. He admitted himself in that article that he’s “still trying to get used to all of this.” Yea, I’ll bet! A year ago he was a college-dropout grinding online poker with his friends who weren’t old enough to buy alcohol. Now he’s meeting with Congressmen and Senators!
In all likelihood, Cada will do fine in this mostly unimportant visit to Washington, but it does make you question the PPA leadership for just grabbing the latest guy to run hot in a tournament and make him the “Face of Poker” rather than sticking with proven ambassadors like Greg Raymer, Annie Duke and Howard Lederer who are probably far more fit to be mingling with politicians on behalf of the game. Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe Cada’s youthfulness will work in poker’s favor. After all, he’s going to stand out bigtime in a room full of Washington lawmakers and lobbyists.