Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Josh "JJProdigy" Field Apologizes to Online Poker Community. Should We Believe Him?

Well, we heard it from Michael Vick, we heard it from Marion Jones, and now we're hearing it from Josh Field, who has apologized through posts on several online poker forums for his cheating in online poker tournaments by way of multi-accounting. This has a familiar ring to it, although the difference between his apology and the aforementioned apologies concerning dog-fighting and steroid-taking were made in front of TV cameras, where we all could see their faces and judge for ourselves their sincerity of lack thereof. Field, on the other hand, typed his faceless apology on a keyboard.

Should we believe him?...anymore than we believe Vick and Jones, who apologized only after several denials and only after they got charged with crimes and threatened with prison time, and found themselves in a situation where apologizing to the world might get them a lighter sentence. Personally, I believed Jones more than I did Vick, as she seemed influenced by her steroid-taking boyfriend/trainer and the steroid-taking crowd around her.

So what about Field? Couldn't he at least pull a Roger Clemens and apologize to the online world through a self-humbling video on YouTube? If he'd done that, millions of people would surely view it, and not only would we get to see his face and judge his sincerity, he would also have the chance to launch a singing and dancing career like Tay Zonday of "Chocolate Rain" fame, surely so if his apology was nothing more than a song and dance.

Here's what he had to say...or I should say "post."

"It’s hard to pick out where to start. The past few years, I have been forced to go underground and stay mysterious. It’s not something I really chose, but it was something forced upon me. I was fourteen turning fifteen, and I was much too immature to handle the situation (ABlackCar incident, and the underage violations that followed). I am almost embarrassed reading my posts about the situation, but I realize that I was still very young at the time. I don’t mean to use this as an excuse, but I was clueless. Ever since that day, I have been forced to stay under the surface.

After all that happened, I was banned from PokerStars and PartyPoker, and all my accounts were closed for being underage. My immaturity again was working against me. I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong. After that, it was a downward spiral. I was a fugitive in the online poker world. I used the reasoning “if I’m already a wanted man, I might as well maximize my value.” It was terrible logic, but it made sense to me then.

I continued to back players and continued meeting more people. This wasn’t easy for me, since I knew I had to watch who I trusted. I couldn’t leave the game, there was just no way. I had to be playing, I had to be involved. I don’t think you could call it an obsession, as much as a passion. I loved the game so deeply that I would play it at any cost. I’d use screen names of people I hardly knew, which ended up in me getting screwed over multiple times. For some reason, I never cared. The money never mattered to me; I was just in love with the game.

Throughout this period, I could really see myself growing up. Well, during the time I didn’t, but now I can see it. I started getting more conscious about playing on sites that I had already been shut away from. It had begun to tear me apart inside. It was a conflict between my own growing maturity and my childish passion for the game, and my childish passion was winning. Accounts were getting closed, people were trying to take money from me, but I kept playing full force. I regret it, but I understand my position. I still don’t fully understand myself, but I didn’t care about the money, the drama, anything really. I just wanted to keep playing the game. I was stubborn and ignorant to what I was doing.

Transition to present time. I do believe I have matured and developed a sense of morals and personal ethics. I was always too scared to apologize to the community, mostly due to the fact I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong. I finally realize now that I was cheating completely. I neglected my fellow poker players and cheated a wonderful thing we have with online poker. I betrayed a community I cared so much about all for selfish reasons. It shames me to think about it. I did it for so long, and I never had the courage to quit and admit what I was doing was wrong.

So, I write this to officially apologize to the community. I apologize to the people that have been close to me and have been given a negative name due to my actions. I apologize to all the players I played with under unknown names and gave myself an unfair advantage. I give my word that I will never multi-account again, and I will not play online until I am 18. I apologize to the sites that I unfairly took advantage of. I don’t expect to be forgiven right away, but I hope I can earn the forgiveness of the community, the sites, and even my friends."

Josh Field, better known to the online poker world as “JJProdigy”, posted an apology of sorts on several major online poker forums this weekend, just days before he is set to make his live poker debut at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

“JJProdigy” is one of the more controversial figures in online poker, associated directly with several multi-accounting scandals and indirectly with dozens more. His name has become somewhat synonymous with cheating in online poker tournaments, and his retreat into the background following the loss of his accounts on every major poker site did little but fuel speculation of his involvement in major online poker tournaments.

What makes the story all the more interesting is that Field is just now turning 18 - meaning that the majority of his reputed hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournament wins came when he was 14 to 17 years old.