Brad Willis recently wrote an article for the PokerStars Blog that certainly grabbed my attention. It grabbed the attention of other people, too. So much so, that I wanted to reinforce the ever-so-needed “Public Service Announcement” that he made.
Please, fellow poker players, don’t sit down at my table with your dirty hands.
It was the following scenario that encouraged Brad to finally speak up publicly about what most of us are grossed out about all too regularly.
As always with Brad’s writing, it couldn’t have been said better.
“It's a men's room in Atlantis. A poker writer is standing at the sink trying to make the water hot enough to boil off whatever airborne germs have landed on his hands during the two minutes in Casa de Filth. And you...you walk from a urinal--or worse a private stall!--and immediately find the exit.
And then? Then you go back to your table and you do this:
Of course, you know what happens next? You lose that chip, because you're filthy and don't deserve it. That chip then takes a journey of its own, into the stack of well-meaning clean people who have to touch it, and then beyond. And you? You're left with only this point of pride: if you can't make the final table, at least your germs will.”
There’s good reason why, throughout your entire life, you’ve read and heard countless reminders to wash your hands. During our day-to-day activities we touch so many people, surfaces and objects, and accumulate germs on the hands. As we undertake this journey of dirt collection, we touch our eyes, nose and mouth in the process.
Even though it's impossible to keep your hands germ free, washing them frequently is the easiest way to limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses into your body, thereby preventing the onset of illness for yourself and for others. This is particularly necessary in the bathroom where the likes of the common cold, E. Coli and Hepatitis A all inhabit, naked to the human eye and often airborne, but just waiting to pounce on you.
How often have you caught a cold at the most random time, for what seemed like absolutely no reason? It’s most likely that it was transmitted from a public bathroom after not having washed your hands properly. And you want to share that with me at the poker table? No, thank you.
The Maine Medical Center released some disturbing facts on its website from the U.K.'s Food Standards Agency:
- Right handed people tend to wash their left hand more thoroughly than their right hand, and visa versa
- We have between 2 and 10 million bacteria between fingertip and elbow
- Damp hands spread 1,000 times more germs than dry hands
- The number of germs on your fingertips doubles after you use the toilet
- Germs can stay alive on hands for up to three hours
- Millions of germs hide under watches and bracelets and there could be as many germs under your ring as there are people in Europe
My general consensus after looking at the results of various studies online is that around 85 percent of people actually do wash their hands after going to the bathroom. All it takes is one person in a poker room to fall into the minority and take almost everyone else in the path of his chips down with him.
While this is the case anywhere you go because we brush up against surfaces, grasp filthy doorknobs and exchange cash, which are all the perfect collection points of germs, for the average poker player, it’s so much worse. We sit there for hours caressing, rubbing, shuffling, scratching and forever exchanging chip after chip after chip.
So what do you do? If you don’t have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you, then every break you take should begin in the bathroom to wash your hands. That is before you eat, before you take a seat (or stance) in that bathroom, or before you even think about going near your face with those grubby fingers. Most importantly, when conducting your traditional activities while in the bathroom, please do not add to the collection that’s back at the table. Wash your hands on the way out. Thoroughly.
*Photo courtesy of JustBathroomSigns.com