By and large, poker is a rather inclusive activity that most people can partake in. Players with disabilities can easily play poker online without hassle, but they can also usually participate in live events with minimal adjustments.
However, some players with special needs might still encounter some animosity at the tables from time to time. Kenneth K.L Cleeton, a poker pro who participated in the latest WSOP events, claims that he experienced discrimination at the event.
What has happened? How do players with disabilities usually participate in poker games? Find out the answers to those questions NOW!
WSOP Argument Over Assistance at the Poker Table
Kenneth Cleeton is an American poker player who has been spotted sporadically at different poker events over the years. He won his first cash prize at a WSOP event in 2017, when he left the table with $16,024 and an idea for a poker training tool that he turned into a business.
But his venture into business doesn't stop him from playing poker from time to time, live or online. And according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, he made $31,887 in live earnings throughout his career.
Since his first time participating in a WSOP event, Cleeton has required the help of an assistant at the table, as he is paralyzed from the neck down. In an interview he gave earlier this year, he explained how an assistant helps make the gambling experience more convenient for him and his fellow players [You can learn more about Cleeton's poker experience here].
But let's get back to current events. When the poker pro took part in the 2022 WSOP $5,000 Six-Max event, it seems as if some of the players at the table weren't happy with the assistant's presence.
Apparently, the dealer at the table accidentally dealt cards to Cleeton's father, his assistant at the time. When the dealer made the same mistake a second time, Kitty Kuo expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation. According to Cleeton, Kuo said that his assistant either has to sit behind or in front of Cleeton instead of the two sitting next to each other. She also said that if those mistakes keep repeating themselves, she will talk to the floor.
Cleeton decided to face the issue head-on and asked for the floor manager to intervene. A short time later, Kuo was moved to a different table.
But the drama didn't end there! In a tweet she posted, Kuo complained that the WSOP should be better organized in future events. Cleeton also addressed the issue, saying: " Poker is for everyone, and treating someone like an "other" because of the need for an assistant is not okay. Be a reason the game grows, not a reason it shrinks."
In response, Kuo tweeted: " I am sorry to @highhands8, please forgive me and accept my apology. I can give u my @wsop main event 3% for free to my apology."
Unsurprisingly, the poker community rallied behind Cleeton, and some were mad at Kuo's behavior. However, some players defended the latter, saying that it is reasonable for her to want the event to go as smoothly as possible.
WSOP Stance on Inclusion of Players with Disabilities
When looking at the WSOP rulebook, there aren't clear instructions on how players with disabilities should be treated at the tables.
The only clause that somehow relates to this issue at hand reads as follows: " No teams, substitutes, transfers, or assisted play will be permitted, except as allowed in the rules for designated “Tag Team” Events. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Host Properties reserves the right to accommodate Participants based on special needs."
Basically, the official rules leave plenty of room for interpretation when it comes to what the floor manager can do to accommodate players with special needs. This time around, the issue was resolved quickly and efficiently by the casino's team, but it is important to set strict guidelines that might help the events run without a hitch.
Playing live poker with disabilities is not easy, but if the casino accommodates the player's needs, it is doable. Recent events show that there is still a long way to go before players with special needs will be able to participate in live events without worry. And yet, things are changing for the better!