Irish Poker Open issues statement in wake of thigh-slapping incident

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: April 14, 2023 04:05 PDT

The Irish Poker Open and its lead tournament director and host, JP McCann, have issued a statement in the wake of an incident earlier this week in which Canadian female poker pro Louise Francouer was slapped twice sharply on the thigh during a hand in a preliminary event and sworn at, resulting in the other player's ejection, but which was overruled minutes later by McCann.

McCann was widely criticized across much of poker's social media for reversing the ejection of the player, who has yet to be named. Francouer at one point posted a picture (later deleted) of the offending player, who allegedly shouted "F*** you!" into Francouer's face after a confusing hand in which the dealer, who had been chatting with Francouer, did not notice that the player still had cards and had not acted, while several players behind him had.

The incident carried strong misogynistic undertones that McCann strove to address in his statement, especially after Francouer's assertion that a female tournament director involved in the original ejection ruling was excluded from a continuing discussion where the ejection was again discussed, and the offending player was given back his chips and seated at a nearby table.

Francouer posted that the female TD reported to her that "the boys had a meeting and JP," referring to McCann, "overruled the floor decision." The longer story that Francouer reported about the incident was reposted by a friend for greater visibility.

McCann denied previous experience with offending player

Shortly after Francouer's tale went poker-viral, McCann reached out to her to revisit the controversy, while also continuing to gather information from other sources present as the incident unfolded.

In the statement, McCann wrote, "I have [] extensively reviewed the matter in detail, and whilst the contact made by the player on Louise was not intended in any way to cause injury but was made in an effort to expedite game play and to draw attention to a hand in play, the physical contact by the player was unwelcome.

"I acknowledge I made the wrong decision at the time, and the player should have been ejected, for this I apologize unreservedly to Louise. There is never any reason for any kind of physical interaction between players whether it be to signal towards play or to distract or abuse."

McCann did continue to push back on assertions that he overturned the original ejection on the grounds of having a long relationship with the player, in preference to Francouer, who had traveled across the Atlantic to play in the series. "I did not know the player involved before this point," McCann posted.

A more generalized claim about the Irish Poker Open's anti-abuse policies was also included in McCann's post. "The Irish Open does not condone violence, sexism, racism, or any other form of bad behaviour," the statement began. "We strive for our events to be as exclusive and comfortable as possible for everyone taking part and wish for our players to only leave with great experiences and memories."

Featured image source: Irish Poker Open