Poker and Politics: The Trump – Biden Face Off


The US election news are literally everywhere right now, and is making much bigger news than the Coronavirus pandemic that initially took over the unprecedented year. The chances of Biden and Trump becoming President – or remaining as President, of course, in November have been the biggest source of entertainment – political or otherwise.

Poker professionals regularly talk about Trump and Biden with the same passion as if they were two high rollers battling it out for the other’s bankroll, so with that in mind, how close is the forthcoming US election to a game of poker?

One Democrat supporter who is evidently anti-Trump is Daniel Negreanu – the Canadian poker legend has been regularly tweeting his reaction to Trump’s latest comments, actions, debates and arguments. Even his recent COVID test results.

“This should tell you the state of the country right about now: The POTUS just said he and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 and half my Twitter feed is like, “Hmmm, is this a brilliant chess move?” Unsure if it’s true or a political ploy,” Negreanu posted the same on Twitter.

Poker is by no means divided as closely as the odds, however. While Negreanu is one of the most vocal Twitter poker players, he’s by no means on his own. Poker professionals are by and large a democratic demographic, which is reflected in their way of voting, with only a few percentage pro Trump.

Its possible that in some ways Trump could have made it much easier for the poker playing public to vote for him. Had he brought back online poker and permitted millions of Americans to stay in the digital game, he might now be able to rely on their votes a little, if not a lot. Instead of backing the unknown player, he tightened his own belt and refused to put anyone else into the game in case it impacted his own profit. It was as if a cash game he was whaling on people in was only for him, and he jealously guarded any profit which might be made. This is in fact ironic due to the poor ability of Trump telling a story, lying without detection to body language or plain language experts or argue with logic, all of which poker players can decipher. The fact that he’s so easy to read is of little comfort to poker players – they don’t want to hear the tale he’s telling.

Poker has long provided much of the language used by politicians and Presidents. ‘The buck stops here’ refers to everything from the latest change to taxes to the nominal sense of responsibility assumed by the Commander-in-Chief, whoever that might be. The phrase, however, was made popular by US president Harry Truman, based on the ability to pass blame at the poker table, to essentially pass the bluff on to another player in order to profit. To stop the buck was to accept responsibility, something every President in history has tried to convince the public that they are doing, bluff or not.

Biden’s odds of winning the presidency, in many corners, has led to Democrats pleading with their part members and floating votes who will go blue rather than red to ignore the fact that they are winning with the bookies. A little like a poker player with the chip lead with two players left, heads-up isn’t over until the other player has no chips at all, and while he has cards, Donald Trump, who has caught the virus and recovered from it this month, will play them. Biden supporters insist the battle is not won, and there are echoes of Hilary Clinton’s fate in 2016 when she won more votes but lost due to the placements of them on the political map.

Biden of course, is currently an odds-on favourite, but just like in heads-up, things can change very quickly in politics. Trump may yet have a hand at play that no one has any idea about, and with numbered days to go, no one should be counting their chips just yet, with the dealing not done.

Just like heads-up – the closer to the end result it gets, the bigger the swings. Joe Biden may have the chip lead, but Donald Trump still has more than a few chips and his seat is currently situated in the White House.

And he’s not going to leave the table quietly.