Alexandra Botez Fends of Hans Niemann’s Accusations of “Promoting Degeneracy”

botez niemann accusations

4 minutes

Last Updated: September 27, 2023

When talking about the crossover between poker and chess, it is usually in positive light. Over the past 24 or so hours, however, Twitter has been heated up by a debate started by Hans Niemann, a chess player involved in a chess cheating scandal that transpired a year ago.

Niemann took it to Twitter to call out Alexandra Botez, a chess player and influencer who recently took up poker. Commentating on an excerpt from one of Alexandra’s interviews, Hans made snarky remarks about how she was promoting degeneracy and inspiring young kids to sign up for poker accounts and gamble their life savings away.

For context, Botez is one of the largest chess streamers, with the following of 1.3 million on her Twitch channel BotezLive. Recently, she started to dabble in poker as well, playing some live-streamed games and participating in a few tournaments.

Alexandra was eager to share her newly found passion with her followers, adding some poker-related videos into the mix. Niemann decided to call her out on that, questioning her morality and accusing her of promoting gambling.

A Twitter Debate Ensues

Let’s be honest – it doesn’t take much to fire up Twitter these days, but Niemann’s video warranted a response for a number of reasons.

First of all, he brought a person’s character and morality into question, which isn’t something most people take lightly. Secondly, his entire commentary showed that he either doesn’t know much about poker or he had purposely put aside what he did know to paint things in a very bleak light.

To address the first point, an attack on someone’s character, especially when they’re a public person, is no small thing, and where the attack comes from is important.

While Niemann denied cheating allegations brought against him in his game against the former world champion Magnus Carlsen, he openly admitted to cheating in online chess. Not surprisingly, Botez immediately called him out on that and also questioned his motives for posting the video in the first place.

Unlike Botez and Magnus, Niemann has had no contact with poker in any serious capacity, so his taking up this particular “battle” seems suspicious and very clickbait-y, to say the least.

To the second point, it would appear that Hans Neimann doesn’t believe poker to be a skill game, as his commentary suggests that it is a losing proposition no matter what.

While this is true for pretty much all casino games, poker is in a completely different realm, and players can actually study the game, get good at it, and beat the competition – much like in chess.

The debate that ensued between the followers on Twitter was hardly one-sided. Many have expressed their opinion that, leaving everything else aside, Niemann wasn’t wrong and that most people who take up poker do end up losing money in the long run.

Daniel Negreanu Chimes In

If Niemann’s goal was to create some controversy, he certainly succeeded, as even the poker legend Daniel Negreanu joined the conversation with a funny but rather harsh reply.

For context, again, when the cheating scandal broke, there were theories that perhaps sex toys (such as anal beads) were used by Niemann to commit the alleged cheating. None of this was proven, and Niemann adamantly dismissed the allegations, but Kid Poker clearly couldn’t pass on the obvious joke.

The rest of Daniel’s post, however, is spot on. While we could have discussed the merits of skill in poker a decade ago, recent developments have shown that the game can be mathematically solved.

In fact, things have come to the point where some players are reluctant to play online out of fear of having to go up against bots and software. If such software can be made, there is simply no room for debate – skill, math, or whatever else you want to call it is at the heart of the game.

As Negreanu continued to explain, poker is a game of incomplete information (unlike chess), so luck and variance play a bigger role, but that doesn’t change the facts. If you prefer to turn a blind eye to those facts, that’s a completely different issue, but in that case, you can gamble on chess as well.

Because of the bigger luck influence, gambling on poker is perhaps more entertaining, as it improves one’s odds in the short run, but it is a conscious decision to play a skill game as a gambling game and hope to ride good variance.

No Meat on the Bone

In a different context and presented in a different manner, some of Niemann’s arguments could be debated. As is, however, his video rant contains very little substance, and it comes off as nothing more than a personal attack on Botez.

Listening to these 70-odd seconds, one would think that Alexandra spends every minute of her streams shoving poker down her viewers' throats. That’s far from reality, as she’s been pretty transparent about her poker experience, and she certainly doesn’t recommend it as an activity that everyone should take up.

It is clear that playing poker is something Alex Botez enjoys very much, and she’s also had some good fortune, which certainly helped her enthusiasm.

She’s been having fun and sharing that journey with anyone interested in following it, but there’s been nothing vile or villainous about the way she’s been doing it.

So, Hans got his few minutes of Twitter fame (or infamy), but if his goal was anything beyond that, he missed those targets by a country mile.

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