The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a PokerStars ad after it found that the advert represented gambling as reckless. The ban means that PokerStars, a popular online poker site, will not be able to air the advertisement in its current form.
It’s common knowledge that poker is a game of bluff; after all, that’s where the phrase ‘poker face’ comes from. So, would the ASA call bluff on a PokerStars ad? Well, the regulator stated on Wednesday that the advert implied that reckless bluffing could be a financially rewarding poker strategy. In addition, the advert exploited novice poker players, making them believe they could easily excel at the game.
PokerStars: You’re already a great player
The ad featured an everyday man playing a game of poker at home with a few other men. The man appears to be at a crucial point in the gambling game with 8-3 off-suit hand. With the second worst possible hand a voice over inspires the man. A rousing speech is delivered to make the man believe that “if you can bluff yourself, you can bluff anybody”; it forces the man to recall the instances when he had bluffed himself. Inspired by the voiceover, the man moves all his poker chips to the middle of the table game and wins. The ad concludes with a tagline: PokerStars: You’re already a great player.”
The ad first aired in October last year and has since been the subject of many complaints to the ASA. In fact, the complaints stated that the advert was exploiting novice poker gamblers. Further, new poker players are fooled into believing that they could win large jackpots by faking a good hand – similar to the guy in the ad.
PokerStars Ad Defence
PokerStars countered the ban stating that the ad didn’t obviously display real money wagered or won. In addition, they said that bluffing was an essential part of poker. However, the ASA called the bluff on their defence. The ASA said the message of the advert “could lead to financial harm.”