Poker players critical of candidates, moderator in first presidential debate

Donald Trump Joe Biden
Jon Sofen
Posted on: September 30, 2020 12:13 PDT

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden squared off Tuesday night in hostile debate that was heavily criticized by national political pundits, and also many poker players.

As always, the poker community took predictable sides. The Trump supporters seemed to claim victory for the president, whereas the liberals on social media believe Biden came out on top. But there was one aspect of the evening that both sides agreed on — Chris Wallace didn't do a good job as moderator.

Many conservatives felt Wallace was too biased against Trump, and both sides argued that Wallace did a lousy job of taking control of the debate when the candidates talked over each other.

Poker community chimes in

Poker Twitter is never shy about giving their two cents on any hot button issue. During and after Tuesday's debate, American poker players had some interesting comments about the candidates and moderator. Poker announcer Joe Stapleton, who despises the current U.S. president, was pleasantly surprised by Biden's performance.

"He far exceeded my expectations by only being slightly outmatched," Stapleton told "He's a fine man, but for some reason no one can seem to put Trump in his place."

Lena Evans, founder of the Poker League of Nations, doesn't hide who she plans to vote for in November. She's the head of the Winning Women for Biden-Harris Facebook group and will host a few online poker fundraisers for the Biden campaign next month. Unlike Stapleton, she wasn't surprised that Biden held his own against Trump on the debate stage.

"It went as I expected," Evans said in a conversation with "It was a battle, but Vice President Biden did well to maintain a level of decorum and speak directly to the country about the current administration’s mismanagement, lies, racism and failures."

"Mr. Biden let the American people know what he stands for — putting ‘love of country’ above ideology. That he wants racial-justice and to maintain public order," she continued.

Even Todd Brunson, a Trump supporter, gave some props to the former VP. The Poker Hall of Famer and son of the legendary Doyle Brunson wrote on Twitter that he gave a "slight edge to Trump." But he claims "Biden didn't need to win" and thought Biden performed better than he expected.

James Woods retired from acting and now spends much of his time playing poker. (Well, when he isn't on social media deriding liberals and praising Trump.) So, you had to figure the co-star of the cult flick Casino would have an opinion on the debate. And you'd be correct.

Woods referred to Biden as a "lying dog-faced pony soldier" on Twitter, and called Trump a "street fighter." The Hollywood celebrity and regular at the WSOP each summer scored the debate as a huge victory for his beloved president.

The bettors, however, disagree. According to Oddsshark, Biden jumped from a -120 favorite to a -140 favorite following the debate. Trump, on the other hand, dropped from even money to +120.

Featured image source: Flickr