When cash game player Jaclynn Moskow uploaded a new post on her blog Thursday, she threw a hand grenade into the poker community that made Twitter and other social media explode. Now three days later the thread “What happened to Jaclynn Moskow on Poker Night in America” on the 2+2 Poker Forum has more than 800 comments and counting.
The debate on sexism in poker has been a hot topic in the poker community for some time now, partly due to Cate Hall’s eloquent take on the matter in her essay on “Poker’s Woman Problem”, where she addresses some of the issues she has experienced at the poker table.
Jaclynn Moskow took the debate one step further in her blog post, when she told how she had experienced sexual harassment and racism on the show Poker Night in America while filming in Pittsburgh. And she did so by name. In short she told how the host of the show, Chris Hanson, in response to her sentiment that the show was compromised of nice people, had said that: “The thing about Poker Night that makes it so great is that there are no Jews. Every other show on TV has Jews.“ And she continued to describe – among other things – how creative director of the show, Nolan Dalla, had put his head into her chest and cleavage and shaken it back and forth in front of a large number of people in a bar, among them 888poker representative Chris Capra, who cheered Dalla on.
Considering the amount of dispute and downright hatred that Cate Hall experienced in the wake of her post, I’m personally not surprised at all that it took Moskow so long to come out and tell her story. When I interviewed Moskow after her appearance on Poker Night in America’s “Ladies Night”, she did not mention any of the wrongdoings. But to come forward and accuse some of the more powerful men in the poker industry for sexual harassment and anti-Semitism, is certainly not an easy task.
On launching her blog post she texted me: “I apologize for not telling you this a long time ago. I was embarrassed and I kept quiet for way to long”. And this is unfortunately what a lot of victims of sexual harassment actually do: They keep quiet. They feel embarrassed. And they fear the damage that telling their story can have on their career and otherwise.
By finally stepping forward and sharing her experience, Jaclynn Moskow has taken a step on behalf of all the women in the poker community who have experienced misogynic behavior and sexual harassment. Let’s hope that Moskow’s brave account can inspire more women to talk open about their experiences – and in the long run help create a more enjoyable and non-sexist environment for female poker players.