The seedy side of politics is ugly. Always has been. Always will be. What today has ensured for me is that I will never, ever vote for Bill Frist for anything. In fact, I will campaign vigorously against him.
Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) has a great deal of sway over the Republican caucus that will help launch a potential 2008 GOP nominee. Rep. Jim Leach wanted an internet gambling bill passed this session. Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) made this happen. Sen. Bill Frist will be running for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Quid pro quo is alive and well.
The Port Security Act is a long overdue piece of legislation that's designed to make this nation safer. It took Congress five years after 9/11 to finally make this happen, and in its haste to get it done before a mid-term elections, this Congress "didn't have time" to also protect our mass transit. They did, however, "have time" to add a new bill designed to curb internet gambling.
What this Congress is saying, then, is that it is more important to attack the scourge of online gaming than it is to make sure our buses and trains do not blow up. This is the Congress we elected. This is the Congress we have to get rid of.
By an overwhelming margin of 409-2, the House moments ago passed the Port Security Act. The Senate will soon vote where it will pass by a similar overwhelming margin.
On the bill itself, let's remember that it doesn't make onling gambling illegal. Online gambling is already illegal in most cases. Instead, it makes it much more difficult for existing online gambling sites to do business with Americans. It makes it harder for Americans to perform any financial transactions with online gaming sites.
However, just because it makes it harder doesn't mean it makes it impossible. I have a tremendous amount of faith in the international business community to outsmart this bill. After all, when we're ranking the collective intelligence of different groups, the U.S. Congress ranks just ahead of lobotomy patients and just behind slightly retarded monkeys.
Updated after the jump
They failed in their attempt to attach the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (H.R. 4411) to the massive defense spending bill, but that didn't stop a coalition of lawmakers lead by Sen. Bill Frist from trying again, and this time, it might just work.
Sometime tomorrow or Saturday, the Senate will vote on a major ports security bill (H.R. 4954), and because no lawmaker wants to go into a mid-term election saying they voted against port security, the bill will pass by a wide-margin. It's these "must-pass" bills that become dumping grounds for pet legislation that wouldn't pass on its own merits.
Some Senators tried and failed to tack on a bill that would protect phone companies who released subscriber information to the government as part of the surveillance program. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's pet legislation is a court security bill. Frist's is the Senate Majority Leader and is pushing the gambling bill.
It'd be easy if we could just blame the Republicans, but we can't. Our station did an interview with Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu this week and asked her about efforts to add the gambling bill to "must-pass" legislation. She told us she was in favor of the bill and would be in favor of any efforts to get it passed. Unfortunately, it sounds like the support is there to sneak it through.
So what can we do now? It's going to take action to stop this from happening, and that means you picking up the phone and calling your Senator... or, for that matter, any Senator. You have to make it clear to them that you do not support turning an important port security bill into a dumping ground for pet projects that will not get full debate. And make it clear that if they let these bills get tacked on, you will not be voting for them the next time their seat comes open. Names and phone numbers for all 50 candidates are listed below (courtesy the Poker Players Alliance):More in this Poker Blog! -->
[Otis writes] I've spent about the last eight hours on this...and just gave a first reading to the actual language attached to the Ports Security Bill. On first reading, and still left open to interpretation, here's what I read:
There is very broad language describing payment methods used to fund an online gaming account, including payment instruments, credit cards, wire transfers. So, any hope NETeller and the like are left out is now out the window.
There was some hope that poker might find a loophole if the language stuck at "games based predominantly on chance." As we know, poker is not based predominantly on chance. In the bill, bets are defined as staking or risking something of value on contest of others, sporting event, game subject to chance. No "predominantly."
Apparently, it will also be illegal to provide instructions on how to move funds to a gaming account. I'm not entirely clear on this section of the bill, but it appears it will be illegal to have a website or other means of communication that provide work-arounds, etc.
Of course, other forms of gambling are exempt, including the stock market, insurance, and, yeah, fantasy sports.
Within the next 270 days government regulators to determine definitions of "payment system" and other regulations surrounding the law and how it will work.
I'm not sure if I understand the language entirely, but there is apparently a provision that makes sure proxy servers don't get you around the law.
If I read the bill correctly, it seems to make illegal the acceptance of funds of any sort for online gaming, no matter where the funds originate, thus making it illegal for any online poker company to accept any money from an American.
The bill also appears to include ISP blocking. I need a lawyer to properly interpret the language, but I think it says, "If you know a company is running an online gaming site, you need to block access to it. And if we tell you it's an online gaming site, you must do it."
As for penalties, they are defined as a fine and/or up to five years in prison.
I'd ask you all, especially you law-talking types, to review the langauage and let me know what you think.
I, for one, am drinking. To excess.
Ted Stevens AK
Lisa Murkowski AK
Richard Shelby AL
Jeff Sessions AL
Mark Pryor AR
Blanche Lincoln AR
John McCain AZ
Jon Kyl AZ
Barbara Boxer CA
Dianne Feinstein CA
Wayne Allard CO
Ken Salazar CO
Joseph Lieberman CT
Christopher Dodd CT
Joseph Biden DE
Thomas Carper DE
Mel Martinez FL
Bill Nelson FL
Johnny Isakson GA
Saxby Chambliss GA
Daniel Akaka HI
Daniel Inouye HI
Tom Harkin IA
Charles Grassley IA
Michael Crapo ID
Larry Craig ID
Barack Obama IL
Richard Durbin IL
Richard Lugar IN
Evan Bayh IN
Pat Roberts KS
Sam Brownback KS
Mitch McConnell KY
Jim Bunning KY
David Vitter LA
Mary Landrieu LA
Edward Kennedy MA
John Kerry MA
Barbara Mikulski MD
Paul Sarbanes MD
Olympia Snowe ME
Susan Collins ME
Carl Levin MI
Debbie Stabenow MI
Norm Coleman MN
Mark Dayton MN
Christopher Bond MO
James Talent MO
Thad Cochran MS
Trent Lott MS
Conrad Burns MT
Max Baucus MT
Richard Burr NC
Elizabeth Dole NC
Kent Conrad ND
Byron Dorgan ND
Chuck Hagel NE
Ben Nelson NE
John Sununu NH
Judd Gregg NH
Robert Menendez NJ
Frank Lautenberg NJ
Jeff Bingaman NM
Pete Domenici NM
John Ensign NV
Harry Reid NV
Charles Schumer NY
Hillary Clinton NY
George Voinovich OH
Mike DeWine OH
James Inhofe OK
Tom Coburn OK
Gordon Smith OR
Ron Wyden OR
Arlen Specter PA
Rick Santorum PA
Lincoln Chafee RI
Jack Reed RI
Jim DeMint SC
Lindsey Graham SC
Tim Johnson SD
John Thune SD
Bill Frist TN
Lamar Alexander TN
Kay Hutchison TX
John Cornyn TX
Robert Bennett UT
Orrin Hatch UT
George Allen VA
John Warner VA
James Jeffords VT
Patrick Leahy VT
Maria Cantwell WA
Patty Murray WA
Russell Feingold WI
Herb Kohl WI
Robert Byrd WV
John Rockefeller WV
Michael Enzi WY
Craig Thomas WY
Thursday morning, my day off now that I work the weekend shift, I was up at 7:00 for the drive to my older daughter's school. I got to bed at 2:00 the night before and lay awake until 6. I'm not sleeping well lately. Some nights I try to lie down early but get caught up in mental conspiracy. Most nights I spend the last few hours before the alarm sounds stealing glances at the clock and counting backwards the hours 'till work. Wednesday night I counted the hours until "Doughnuts for Dads."
We chased Krispy Kreme with OJ in the school library, sitting with a girl from my daughter's class and her father. I introduced myself to the other exhausted, and ponytailed, dad. He pointed to the letters written in black ink, probably drawn from a ballpoint pen, and said, "Call me Taz."
It seems his daughter is the girl who matches mine in both good grades and poor discipline. Actually, my daughter is incredibly kind, honest, considerate and loyal. She's just a little too energetic. One night, as we got her ready for bed, she started crying about her own bad behavior. "I want to be good," she whined, "I don't know why I'm squirmy."
That kept me up late too.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's probably true that we wouldn't feel the rush of a win without the pain of a loss. This summer I took an unbelievable heater for granted. By September, when I returned from Vegas, I often told Blood I could probably make a living off of poker. At the time, it was true. I was more successful as a poker player than as a journalist this year.
In the middle of the month, things began to change. I took a tough loss playing $2-$5 NL, dropping two buy-ins. Then, two days later, I dropped 6... yes 6... buy-ins playing $1-$2 NL at Gucci Rick's. Then, after 2 losing sessions at the Spring Hotel, I went from overly confident to outright depressed. I wrote this to my local poker cabal:
"Last night, when I got home, I deleted all the poker software from my laptop.
It will be some time before I play poker again.
That's right folks, I'm a very emotional boy. Luckily I have good friends to talk me through. Here's the response from BadBlood:
"You know, rather than the brute force method of describing your current
mindset, I would honestly be interested in the psychology of how you feel now vs. how you felt when you were running so hot. The reason being is that we ALL go through those same ups and downs. Mark was about to quit, got a bit hot, and stopped whining. I won't even go into the times when I did my best impersonation of a sandy vaj.
Seriously, it's amazing to me how we can go from one extreme to the next in this game. Mastering the psychology of those swings is the secret. And now you have a chance to work out of your funk somehow. And when you do, it would be enlightening to hear what you did and why you did it."
And here's what Otis said:
"G-Rob has done what G-Rob does. He advances far faster at everything he does than most people. He just hit that spot that everybody hits. The end of a heater is a terrible thing to endure. I know this very well. In fact, I'm still dealing with it."
G-Rob, you know you're an emotional guy. Your highs are high and your lows are are deep, deep lows. You went on a heater that we all envied. When a heater ends, it is everybody's first instinct to try to revive it. Even though we think we're playing our same game, we aren't. There is some undefinable element that changes. More often than not, it's a combination of diminished confidence mixed with latent desperation to get it all back. To be fair, you know you don't suck. Your reading abilities are better than most people. Your NL game is insanely good and I'm mad I ever invited you to play in the first place. I think you know your rush was a combination of your superior play combined with a little bit of good luck. The luck has turned around a little bit. That doesn't change your knowledge of the game. You do, indeed, need to take a break. It doesn't have to be defined. Just sit back for a few days and enjoy something else. That's harder than it sounds, because common sense tells you that the sooner you turn it around, the sooner you can get back to killing the games. One thing I've been telling myself recently is something Blood reminded me of about six months ago: There is no hurry. Think about it. One year ago, your game wasn't as good and you had very little roll to speak of. In a very short amount of time, you built a huge roll and were able to do a lot of cool things with it.
TheMark was in the loop with all these e-mails an the like. He don't rite gud tho.
My oldest daughter has one great problem that she'll always struggle with, her emotional wiring is identical to mine. I'm incredibly proud of her, of course, but even I am stumped with how to help. We got her school progress report last week and she made all A's... again. She's never made anything else. The report also cane with a note from the teacher, that her behavior is a problem.
Then last night she brought home another note from the teacher, she'd been in trouble for talking in class. It's the 6th such note in the past 4 days. We sent her to her room for the night after dinner and she, of course, threw a fit. The problem is, as bad as she acts at times, she's not a bad girl.
The last thing I want is for her to have that impression, that people think she's "BAD." That's a hard label to overcome and, believe me, I know. She's the kind of girl who won't accept a candy at the doctor's office unless they'll give her an extra to bring home to her sister. She is so responsible around the house that, at times, we can forget that she's only 7 years old. Still, I know she's perpetually upset about the trouble at school. I'm not sure how to help.
On those nights when I lie awake, I think about 3 things:
How can I help my daugher stop acting like I always did?
How can I move ahead with my career and keep providing for my family?
Why do I still suck at poker?
The third seems awfully trivial by comparison, but I'm finding the solutions can be awfully similar in the end.
That, and I've been taking NyQuil this week.
I think I'd gotten too clever at poker. I started to think, after MONTHS of big wins, that every move I tried would work... as if all other players were too stupid to match wits with me.
Then, when I started losing, I got frustrated that those moves weren't working and tried to be ever more clever. It blew up in my face.
Monday, at Gucci Rick's I stripped it all back down and played almost beginner level ABC poker. I won 2 buy-ins. Not big, but it felt awfully good.
As for my daughter, I'm not convinced simply sending her to her room is the right play either. It never worked for me. In fact, as my parents grew constantly more frustrated with me, that was always their response until, totally exasperated, I think they felt almost powerless.
I plan to use my friends' advice.
The brute force method of a nasty funk will not work. Instead it will reinforce our failures. I need to understand the psychology of my own shortcomings before I can help my daughter. Blood was right.
And as Otis says, there is no hurry. I don't want to overreact to every note home, or allow their collective weight to become a crisis. There is time to help my daughter learn self control and I don't want my solution to cause more damage.
For a week or two that's what happened to my poker game.
I can't let it happen with something... important.<-- Hide More
Over the past 24 hours, there have been a series of reports telling us that the dreaded internet gambling bill is both alive and dead. In recent weeks, we've reported that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) had hoped to sneak the gambling bill into the massive Defense Department 2007 Appropriations Bill.
That bill has now passed through the conference committee, but it doesn't seem to be headed for guaranteed passage, nor is it clear that the gambling bill will ever be attached. Currently, House Republican leaders are holding up the bill hoping to add unrelated bills on immigration and court security.
Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington at the end of the week to campaign for November's midterm elections. If the bill isn't passed by then, it likely won't be addressed until later this year at the earliest. That could be a problem considering Oct. 1st is the start of the new fiscal year.
As recently as the end of last week, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C.W. (Bill) Young (R-FL) said he was assured by GOP leaders that it would be a clean bill with no "extraneous issues, no anomalies." It would seem that amendments regarding immigration, court security and internet gambling would be "extraneous."
At this point, if I had to lay odds, it'd be 4/1 against the internet gambling bill getting attached to the DoD spending bill. The last amendments added to the bill were added on September 7th. No additional text has been added since. Let's hope the fight over immigration and court security help keep internet gambling on the back burner.
Gavin Smith is a hell of a guy. Despite being a WPT player of the year with more than $3 million in tournament winnings, Gavin gave up a weekend to join a gathering of drunk degenerates in Nowheresville, Pa.
Brandon Schaefer is a hell of a guy. Despite being a EPT champion and approaching three quarters of a million dollars in tournament winnings, Brandon gave up a weekend to sling cards and drink beer with a bunch of bloggers.
How did we get so lucky? I was so lucky, in fact, that I had a chance to play a live SNG with these two world-class pros. And, as you would expect for someone nicknamed The Luckbox, my luck didn't end there.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The first two hours
I'll make this brief. I played about one hand each half hour level. My best hand was A8s and pocket 2s. I stole the blinds twice, won one hand that was checked down to the river and won another when I bet with 86o from the button at a ragged flop after it was checked to me. That was it.
Finding some chips
I felt good that I was on the opposite end of the table from Gavin. I was in the 9s and Gavin was in the 4s. Unfortunately, I was also on the left of Brandon. I didn't want to be in the position of him coming after me. Thankfully, we rarely tangled, and when we finally did, I ended his night.
The cards didn't turn for me at this point, but my chip position did. With an M of just 5, and blinds at 300/600, Falstaff came in for a raise to 1500. I looked down at pocket 3s, a monster the way my cards had come, and I pushed. Falstaff considered it for a bit, but eventually laid down what he told me was JTs. It wasn't a huge hand, but it gave me some breathing room.
It was just a few hands later that Brandon pushed into me. He had been crippled a few hands earlier and didn't have much left. I looked down at Ace-rag and called. Brandon needed some help that didn't come and I knocked out my first pro.
I don't know what happened, but suddenly we were four handed (on the bubble) and none of us seemed to be in great shape. In fact, all someone had to do to get from worst to first was double up.
I got myself severly short-stacked when my Ace-rag failed to hold up against Falstaff's KQ. He flopped two pair and there was no miracle for me.
Joe Speaker had already stolen my blinds a couple times and I told him all I needed was a face card to call him. He tried one more time and I looked down at K7o. My timing was perfect because Speaker only had K4o and I doubled up into the chip lead.
If you hadn't noticed, I still haven't mentioned a premium hand. This deep into the tourney, my best pair was 5s and my best Ace was A9. I couldn't find a hand to save my life. Frankly, I didn't know how I was still alive.
The deal turns
Better late than never, right? In fact, my beer-bitch, Bad Blood, told me that it was better to get big hands late than early. He couldn't have been more right.
Speaker found himself short-stacked when he pushed from the button. Sitting in the SB, I told the dealer that this would be a good time for my first premium hand. I squeezed an Ace fully expecting to squeeze something like a 4, after all, that's what I had seen all night. Instead, it was another Ace.
I called and tried to goad Gavin into getting involved as well. He thought about it for awhile before folding his pocket 6s face up. Kent had a hand that can crack Aces, but his JTs failed to improve anymore than the Jack on the flop. We were three-handed and I was the chip leader.
Sending the Canadian packing
To this point, I had hardly played a hand with Gavin. One time, he called my pre-flop raise with 32s and we checked it down to the river where my A8s won unimproved. Beyond that, he generally folded to my raises. I was clearly the tightest player at the table, by a long shot, and my raises got respect.
Three-handed, however, I was getting involved a lot more. Gavin pushed from the button, Falstaff folded, and I looked down at my second-biggest pair of the night: pocket 5s again. With Gavin's wide range (and when I say wide, we're talking Grand Canyon-wide), I could hardly lay down a pair.
I called and the best Gavin could do was hit a 4 on the river. He didn't show his other card, so I can only assume it was a big card, like an Ace or a King, or maybe he was playing suited connectors with a 5 or a 6. Either way, Gavin was out and Falstaff and I were heads up.
Who's The Luckbox?
Once we got heads up, I quickly became worried that my reputation was in trouble. Falstaff had already seen his fair share of fortunate hands. With a 3-to-1 chip advantage, I hoped it was enough to hold him off.
After jousting a few hands, we got all in preflop. I held Speaker's favorite hand, AJs. AJ is gold, after all, right? Falstaff was in trouble, holding just A3. Except for one thing. I was ahead. And that's usually not a good thing. When a 3 fell on the river, I was suddenly in deep trouble.
A few hands later, I looked down at my best hand of the night. It was only the second premium hand I'd seen. It was.... THE HAMMER.
Falstaff remembers him pushing, but I'm pretty sure I pushed and he insta-called. He was holding K7o, which we all know is no match for a hand as good as The Hammer. When the inevitable deuce fell on the river, I was back on top!
Two or three hands later, Falstaff decided to make a stand with 9To. I figured pocket Aces was a good enough hand to call with. By the river, Falstaff needed a non-diamond Jack to suckout. Instead, I completed my nut flush and it was all over.
I'm still not sure how I made it. Thankfully the structure was forgiving enough for me to play tighter than a 19-year old virgin with legs that go for miles... oh... where was I? And Gavin's constant taunts of "douchebag" did little to throw me off my game.
In the end, the tourney raised a whopping $12,000 for charity. It was a blast, and I can't wait to do it again!
I leave you with a picture of the lovely Lacey, the Bash's best bartender (yeah, her T-shirt says "Spin the Bottle Champ"):
And some pictures that are NOT gambling in a bar and a picture of our Beer Pong runners-up:<-- Hide More
12: Consecutive hands I held the nuts in the Friday night mixed game.
7: Times I failed to correctly bet the nuts during that stretch.
4: Times Heather yelled at me for it.
2: World-class pros I knocked out of the charity poker tournament.
17: Times one of those world-class pros called me a douchebag during the tourney.
0: Players who outlasted me in that tourney.
1: Hammers dropped by me heads up, beating K7o.
12,000: Dollars raised for charity by the single-table tournament.
2: Hotties I bought drinks for.
1: Set of perfect legs on one of those hotties.
14: Hours later that I learned how old the hotties were.
19: Their age.
10: Beers I consumed during the Bash.
1: Beers that I chugged during the tournament.
0: Shots that others convinced me to do.
It was a blast, but I wouldn't have expected anything less. I promise a full tourney write-up tomorrow!
It's pretty clear at this point that I'm the greatest WPBT H.O.R.S.E. player of all-time. In the first event, I bested a field of like 7000 or so. This time, another 4000 showed up for DADI 9: Back in the Saddle. (FYI: I'm not good at estimating the actual size of the field.)
Tonight, my stellar play launched me back to the top where only a card rack (Trauma) and O/8's answer to Jamie Gold (Drizz) outlasted me. Two H.O.R.S.E. events and two top 3 finishes. Yeah, I roool. Even when I get dealt hands like this:
Congrats to Trauma for taking it down and Drizz for winning our last longer!
"It takes three 'Atta boys' to make up for one 'Aw, shit!'"
Mr. F#*@ the River
It was a wild night of poker at the regular game. The best part of the night is we doubled the buy-in to $20 and we added the 75/150 and 150/300 levels instead of doubling the blinds each time. It's remarkable how much more play we got with just that simple change.
I'm glad I went tonight because really needed to get some play in before this weekend. In fact, the way some of these guys play any two cards, I should be more than ready for Gavin Smith!More in this Poker Blog! -->
The first game got off to a good start when I put in a pretty big raise after the flop holding a flush and gutshot straight draw. The raise virtually committed me. I probably should have just pushed there. Instead, Mr. F#*@ the River called my flop bet and then pushed on the turn. The board was 6-high.
"Ugh," I said. I had missed my draw. "You've got pocket tens. Or maybe jacks." I wasn't pulling a Daniel Negreanu here, I think based on the play it was a pretty safe bet.
I counted up the pot and there was a little more than T1600 on there. I was facing a bet of about T500. Calling there would leave me with about T500. With about a 30% chance here, I decided to take a chance.
Mr. F#*@ the River turned over pocket tens, including one of the diamonds I needed. That made me a 3-to-1 underdog with just one card to come. Thankfully, my opponent lived up to his name and the deuce of diamonds gave me the pot.
I maintained a healthy stack throughout before flopping a set on the first hand of heads up play and busting my opponent's top pair.
The second game almost went the same way for me. Holding J6s, I flopped a flush and gutshot straight draw. This time I pushed. Unfortunately, I pushed into a pretty loose player with a lot of chips, and he called me with bottom pair and a gutshot straight draw. I was actually favored here, 57% to win or chop.
It didn't happen, and I was out two from the money.
The poker was almost secondary tonight (almost...). I had a really good time, especially since the poker was less of a push-fest than it's ever been. Hopefully it stays this way, because the all the players are getting better, making this much more fun.<-- Hide More
What? Blogs are dead? Nah. They're just resting.
It's just after 5am and I'm trying to work off a caffeine buzz brought on by a workload that's just a little shy of WSOP proportions. The caffeine and Guinness brought on a silly idea.
A couple of years ago, I toyed with the idea of writing a poker novel. That idea has long since died by the wayside. Still, the prologue is sitting in the My Documents file with nothing better to do than rot. So, here's what I'm going to do.
If you care (or dare) take a trip around the blogosphere with me and my silly little prologue. It starts here and then will continue in the comments section of some blogs I read.
There's no real point to this other than to get you surfing through the blogs again and remind everybody about the good folks we've come to know and love. Maybe this will inspire me to do something greater with my life. Or maybe it will help me sleep.
It starts like this.
It's not that I want to begin the story like that. Every time I say it, I can hear my mother telling me not to take the good Lord Jesus' name in vain. I always get sad when I hear Mama's voice. But Jesus and I really haven't been on the best of terms since Mama died. And Billy always wanted me to start my stories that way.
"It conveys an appropriate sense of awe," Billy once said. "That's what we're going for. We want the awe." He always raised his beer bottle slowly in front of his face when he talked that way.
That was my job.
"You are the Awe Inspirer," Billy always said, as if I surely understood it came out of his mouth with capital letters.
Next: Absinthetics<-- Hide More
I'm not sure I'll ever watch the NFL again. You think losing to a two-outer on the river hurts? Try blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead to your division rival. Now THAT's a bad beat. I've never felt as bad after a poker beat as I felt yesterday evening.
I hate football. Thank goodness it's still baseball season so I have something to focus on this week (Go Phils!).
But I digress... here come the results. I finished a strong 10-6 with BG close behind at 9-7. We also nailed our Locks of the Week and suggested a three-team parlay that would have made you money.
Just some notes: Only 5 dogs beat the spread this week and four of them won outright (favored Denver won but did not cover). Only 5 road teams were winning bets this week (all winning outright except, once again, Kansas City).
Next week, you may not get any picks from us since we'll be otherwise occupied (The Bash!!!), but you never know. If you want a recap of last week's picks, they're listed below.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buf vs. Mia -6
CJ: Mia (0-1)
BG: Mia (0-1)
Car vs. Min -1.5
CJ: Min (1-1)
BG: Car (0-2)
Cle vs. Cin -10
CJ: Cin (2-1)
BG: Cin (1-2)
Det vs. Chi -9.5
CJ: Det (2-2)
BG: Det (1-3)
Hou vs. Ind -13.5
CJ: Ind (3-2)
BG: Ind (2-3)
NO vs. GB +2
CJ: NO (4-2)
BG: GB (2-4)
NYG vs. Phi -3
CJ: Phi (4-3)
BG: NYG (3-4)
Oak vs. Bal -13
CJ: Bal (5-3)
BG: Oak (3-5)
TB vs. Atl -5.5
CJ: TB (5-4)
BG: Atl (4-5)
Ari vs. Sea -7
CJ: Sea (6-4)
BG: Sea (5-5)
StL vs. SF +3
CJ: StL (6-5)
BG: StL (5-6)
KC vs. Den -10.5
CJ: KC (7-5)
BG: KC (6-6)
NE vs. NYJ +6
CJ: NYJ (7-6)
BG: NE (7-6)
Ten vs. SD -10.5
CJ: SD (8-6)
BG: SD (8-6)
Was vs. Dal -6.5
CJ: Dal (9-6)
BG: Was (8-7)
Pit vs. Jax +2
CJ: Jax (10-6)
BG: Jax (9-7)
LOCKS OF THE WEEK:
CJ: Cin (win)
BG: SD (win)
Each week we're able, BG and I will get on the girly chat thingy and show off our sports betting expertise. (Full disclosure: I'm a terrible sports betting.) In fact, we're so secure in our manhood, we'll repost the entire chat for your sports gambling enjoyment!More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buf vs. Mia
CJ: Two teams that had a chance to score a big win over superior opponents in week one, and two teams that had terrible finishes. I thought Culpepper would be better than he showed, but maybe he's still coming back from the knee surgery. I knew J.P. Losman would be that bad. Miami is at home and should cover the 6 points.
Boy Genius: I don't know about that... I'd like this line for Buffalo at about +8, but I think they can keep it closer if Lee Evans and McGahee have big games.
Boy Genius: I begrudgingly go with Miami -6, but I don't feel good about it.
CJ: I'm not betting it myself because I'm not sure I trust Miami yet.
Boy Genius: You know, Miami's starting Andre Goodman at corner until Travis Daniels gets healthy.
Boy Genius: The guy couldn't start for Detroit last year, why should I have confidence in their secondary?
CJ: That's a good point... hard to go from unable to make Detroit's lineup to starting quality anywhere!
Boy Genius: I'd like to see Losman taking a page from Trent Dilfer and doing enough not to lose. This isn't an untalented team.
Boy Genius: He needs to take advantage of McGahee and take a few shots with Evans. That should loosen things up for the Bills.
CJ: Agreed. We'll see if he has the talent to do so.
Car vs. Min
CJ: Let's move on to Carolina at Minnesota.
Boy Genius: I'm having a hard time stomaching Minnesota as a 1.5 point favorite, even at home.
Boy Genius: This isn't the same Carolina team from last year's playoffs, but it's also not the same team from last week's decimation at the hands of the Falcons.
Boy Genius: You tell me how Minnesota's offense puts up 22 points, because I think Carolina gets three TDs in the dome.
CJ: You have more faith in Carolina without Steve Smith than I do. Keyshawn Johnson is not a threat without someone on the other side of the field (i.e. Terry Glenn in Dallas).
Boy Genius: Aw, take the reins of Drew Carter Johnny Fox! Kid's got BIG PLAY written all over him!
CJ: Ha! I actually think this comes down to what the Minnesota offense can do. Remember, the Falcons rushed for 673 yards in week one against the "vaunted" Panthers defense.
CJ: If the Vikings commit to handing off 31 times again this week, they'll keep the pressure off Brad Johnson.
Boy Genius: Look up "serviceable" in Merriam-Webster and there's a picture of Chester Taylor. 3.6 yards per carry isn't going to get it done against this defense.
Boy Genius: Minnesota's linebacking corps is suspect, and I think Delhomme has got to love having Keyshawn in a game like this. He'll take a ton of underneath stuff at five or six yards a pop, and they'll move the ball.
Boy Genius: Brad Johnson's got no shot at pulling out a win here. Play the Carolina money line.
CJ: Brad Johnson is the right QB to take advantage of a defense that loves to take chances. Take Minnesota and give the points.
Cle vs. Cin
CJ: Time for Cleveland at Cincinnati. A game I think we'll agree on.
Boy Genius: That Charlie Frye's going to be on his back more than Jenna Jameson this week?
CJ: Who knew Charlie Frye was actually a starting QB?
CJ: Did four guys get hurt already in Cleveland?
Boy Genius: Take Cincy, feel good about ten points, and hope Chad Johnson's got something up his sleeve to circumvent league rules for a TD dance.
CJ: Not only that, but Rudi Johnson ran for three miles last year against Cleveland. This game will be a blowout from the flip of the coin.
Boy Genius: Agreed. Take Cincy and give the ten.
Det vs. Chi
Boy Genius: How about my boys in Detroit traveling to Chicago? Bears giving eight, and they blew them out at Soldier Field last year. Did last week change your mind on this one?
CJ: Detroit is not a playoff team this year. They will, however, win games they shouldn't and be good against the spread for the first half of the season, until they start getting more credit.
CJ: That front four effectively handled the Seahawks last week and could do the same this week.
Boy Genius: Plus, Roy Williams said the offense "left 40 points" on the field last week.
Boy Genius: I think the Martz offense gets on track sooner rather than later, and if you've got Roy Williams in fantasy, play him. He's fired up and guaranteed a win this week.
Boy Genius: I think they cover, and I think this is an atypical game for the black-and-blue - How about a 33-28 win for the Bears?
CJ: Wow, playing the over, too! Obviously, you can't take anything from the Bears game last week. They had a bye against Green Bay. This will be a better test. The guarantee actually worries me (Williams is no Chad Johnson), but I LOVE Detroit with the points, especially if you can get 9 or 9.5.
Boy Genius: Take the Lions, but don't break the bank. This game last year was a blowout.
Hou vs. Ind
Boy Genius: How are you feeling about Peyton Manning taking on the Texans? You saw Houston first hand last week, can they hang with the Colts?
CJ: Ha! Fantasy owners should start Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Bryan Fletcher, Aaron Moorehead, Brandon Stokely and John Standeford
Boy Genius: Isn't Stokely hurt? Guess it doesn't matter this week, eh?
CJ: I'd start Flipper Anderson, too. Didn't he finish up with Indy?
Boy Genius: Flipper? Come on now... that's probably going a bit too far. Let me go out on a limb with Houston. One of the following things will happen today:
Boy Genius: David Carr will go for 300 and three TDs,
Boy Genius: Mario Williams notches his first two sacks,
Boy Genius: Wali Lundy gets 120 combined yards and a score
Boy Genius: or Gary Kubiak enters Witness Protection by the time the final gun sounds.
Boy Genius: Yeah, Colts are going to cover, even at a gaudy 13 points.
CJ: Right... all you suggested may happen, and that still won't stop Indy from scoring 45. I like Indy giving the 13 and take the over.
NO vs. GB
Boy Genius: Now, you have to watch the Green Bay - New Orleans game on local TV this week, right?
CJ: Game of the Week!
Boy Genius: Are you pumped?
CJ: They'll be sending everyone's jerseys to the Hall of Fame. This game is THAT BIG!
CJ: Now the pick...
CJ: Green Bay is TERRIBLE! Wow, I didn't think a Favre-lead team could ever be that bad. That said, the Saints aren't exactly world beaters. In fact, when was the last time the Saints were favored on the road?
Boy Genius: I think we'd be talking St. Peter and the apostles in that case.
CJ: The pick? It's tough... I'm taking the Saints
Boy Genius: I don't know how to gauge the Saints. Cleveland's not terrible, I suppose, but even with Brees pulling the trigger I'm unsure about their passing game.
Boy Genius: Plus, I think there are four games this year where Brett Favre hangs 300 and three. This is one of them. I like Green Bay outright in this spot. Home opener, Favre isn't going to want to look bad two weeks running.
CJ: It's gonna be about Reggie Bush. When he steps on the field, defenses get kooky. If he gets 15-20 touches, the Saints win.
Boy Genius: I like what they're doing with the kid, but Favre can put the Pack on his back and get the win. Better enjoy it Cheeseheads, may not be two or three more of these all year.
CJ: It could happen, I'm lukewarm here.
NYG vs. Phi
CJ: How about NY at Philly?
Boy Genius: Here's the one under-examined factor at play in this game - Philly's D-Line.
Boy Genius: In last year's playoffs, the Giants got beat when Carolina (or was it Seattle?) challenged Eli to beat them in the air by stuffing Tiki at every turn. That's your template. Eli's going to have to light it up, and Philly can play the pass too.
CJ: It's deep... 10-deep. They rotate 4-man lines every series, at least that was the play against Houston. Tiki historically roughs up the Eagles. This D is probably better prepared for Tiki than they've ever been.
Boy Genius: Agreed, but what about Westbrook? Is he going to play? How bad does this hurt Philly?
CJ: Andy Reid announced 10 minutes ago that Westbrook will start. He's the key. The Eagles are 7-0 against New York when McNabb starts, but one of those wins was a miraculous Westbrook punt return with under 3 minutes in the 4th.
Boy Genius: That news gives me hope for the Eagles. If I were Coughlin, I would have been praying to the god of knee injuries hoping to keep him out this week. With Westbrook on the field, this offense is multi-dimensional.
Boy Genius: So who's your pick? Philly's giving three...
CJ: I have to... my heart won't let me pick otherwise. Philly wins by a TD. Watch this game for one thing: field position. The team that has the shorter field will win this game.
Boy Genius: I like the Giants to cover, but I still think Philly wins 24-23.
Oak vs. Bal
CJ: Back to one of the week's ugliest games... Oakland at Baltimore.
CJ: Will Baltimore score back-to-back shut outs?
Boy Genius: Ugh. Who cares? Next.
Boy Genius: Just kidding.
Boy Genius: Oakland will get on the board if they have to throw nineteen straight deep balls hoping to connect on one. Randy Moss gets on the board, Brooks throws two picks and fumbles once, and Baltimore's swagger carries to week three. But did you really think BALTIMORE would be a two score favorite over anyone this year?
CJ: Before the season? Probably not. Now? I think they may be double-digit favorites 4 times this year. It's a perfect marriage of QB and coach. Steve McNair is perfect for this team. He will not put this spectacular defense in a hole. Baltimore covers easily.
CJ: And I like the under!
Boy Genius: No way. Oakland covers in a 17-10 Baltimore win. I wouldn't have Baltimore giving thirteen to LSU, let alone Oakland. Take the Raiders. They couldn't be THAT bad.
CJ: They may be. We'll find out today!
TB vs. Atl
Boy Genius: Does Tampa find their offense this week, or does John Abraham and the Falcons D-Line cause Chris Simms to throw another batch of bad balls this week? Tough game to pick.
CJ: I think so to. This is a trap game. Is Atlanta as good as they showed last week? Is Tampa as bad?
Boy Genius: No and no
CJ: Something tells me Tampa not only covers, but wins this outright. John Gruden is a real football coach. He can scheme. He knows offenses. He'll get what he needs this week out of Simms.
Boy Genius: I worry about this line. It hasn't moved all week, and Atlanta's giving less than a TD at home? That seems odd to me. Gut says Atlanta covers, but my head thinks it'll be closer. I've got to go with my gut on this one. Atlanta 24 - Tampa 17.
Boy Genius: I can't for a minute think that Simms doesn't have a few good games in him this year, but I don't think it happens against this defense. Atlanta should be geared up for this important division game. Going two up on the rest of the NFC South pack is going to be a great cushion for them. They'll come out firing.
Ari vs. Sea
CJ: Okay, what about Arizona and Seattle? Another of the 11 divisional matchups this week.
Boy Genius: Arizona ripped up on San Fran, who looked a lot better than people thought they would. Seattle looked inept and got beaten up by the Lions in a win. I don't expect a slugfest today, this should be a high-scoring affair.
CJ: I see a lot of points, too. The over is a good bet here.
Boy Genius: Especially at 47 points. You're telling me this doesn't have 28-24 written all over it? Come on, this one's almost a gimme.
CJ: Right, I think it's one of the top plays. But does Seattle cover the 7?
Boy Genius: Yes. Yes, yes and yes. I think they come out feeling embarrassed by last week and Hasselbeck has a monster day. Monster. They're going to hang 35 or more. Period.
CJ: If I had to be this game, I'd like it a hell of a lot more at 6.5. But since it's 7, and I have to make a pick, I'd still have to say Seattle covers.
StL vs. SF
Boy Genius: Now we talk Niners football against the Rams. Another divisional game with an upstart San Fran team and a Rams team who didn't move the ball as effectively as their stats and the score showed last week. Still, the line is San Fran +3 in their home opener. Tough to back this one, or do you smell upset?
CJ: I'm with you. Tough to back this one. St. Louis may not have been efficient, but they beat a Denver team that was supposed to be among the best in the AFC. San Fran hung tough against an Arizona team that's been the sleeper pick each of the last 3 years. San Fran gets just 3? Rams cover.
Boy Genius: I'm troubled by how Edgerrin ran the ball against the Niners D last week, and I know Linehan wants to make sure Jackson gets his touches. I think the old Rams offense blows this team out, but the new Rams offense needs to find their stride in order to pull away down the stretch.
Boy Genius: Does that mean I'm backing the Niners? No.
Boy Genius: But I think that San Fran has a shot at being that team this year who's in more games than they should be. They'll lose this one by ten (24-14, if you're curious), but I like them as a road dog in coming weeks if they show they can hang with the Rams this week.
CJ: An upset wouldn't surprise me, but the bet is St. Louis to cover.
KC vs. Den
CJ: Now we get to what was supposed to be a big game... KC at Den.
Boy Genius: Supposedly. But you've got one QB wearing a neck brace like he got rear-ended in traffic and another who's hearing footsteps behind him for the umpteenth time in his career. Does Huard keep KC in the game, or does Plummer play out of his mind to secure his hold on the job... for now?
CJ: Over/Under on sideline shots of Jay Cutler?
CJ: I'd give the Chiefs a fighting chance with Trent Green under center.
Boy Genius: Depends - there's a formula to use when considering mentions and shots of Cutler on the sidelines:
Boy Genius: Take three-and-outs, add incompletions, divide by interceptions and subtract touchdowns. In other words, eleven. I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.
Boy Genius: Ten and a half is way too much. Waaaay too much to give to KC here.
CJ: That's the biggest problem with this game. 10.5 is alot!
CJ: In a game between these two bitter rivals, I'd never be able to bet a double digit line. You're telling me the smart money is on a Denver team that lost to St. Louis last week and now can't even win the bet with a 24-14 win?
Boy Genius: The only 10.5 I'm taking on Denver is on articles by disgruntled Denver-area sports columnists wondering where the vaunted Bronco offense has gone. Chiefs don't win, but they don't lose by ten either. Denver 17 - KC 10.
CJ: I'm with you on this pick. As long as Huard knows how to turn around and hand off to Larry Johnson. Denver outright, KC beats the spread.
NE vs. NYJ
Boy Genius: So my afternoon game on CBS is the Pats and Jets. Am I in for a good one?
CJ: Yes, you are. Jets are better than last year and Pats are worse. That makes for a closer game.
CJ: So why are the Jets GETTING 6 points at home?
Boy Genius: Because it's the pupil meeting the master. Mangini versus Belicheck. I don't see this as the same situation Gruden got in his Super Bowl win with the Bucs knowing what the Raiders were going to do before they did it. Belicheck is a gameplanning master, and I'm going to go out on a limb... The Pats blank the Jets and win by 24.
CJ: Wow! That is a limb! I still worry that the Pats offense doesn't know where it's at right now. No David Givens. No Deion Branch. I love Ben Watson... but someone has to pull that D away from him. I think the Jets pull off the upset at home and win outright.
Boy Genius: Wow, well one of us is going to be more right than the other... I think your limb is shakier than mine to be sure.
Ten vs. SD
Boy Genius: One more 4PM game... Tennessee and San Diego renewing a decades-long rivalry... aw, who are we kidding. When does Vince Young start for Tennessee? Kerry Collins? Really?
CJ: Has a QB fallen from grace as fast as Billy Volek in the history of the NFL? The Titans could have gotten a first round pick for the guy... now he can't beat out a drunk QB and a QB who won't be ready for 2 years.
Boy Genius: Hey now, Kerry Collins is ready to play now. He doesn't need two years.
CJ: Ha! I'll give you this... Drew Bennett had a big game, so someone had to be throwing to him.
CJ: Not that that matters... SD in a romp. LT only has to play one half for the second straight week.
Boy Genius: Amen to that. I'd play this game at 17, and I'm not kidding. Tennessee gave up 30-something to the JETS last week. Keep your eyes on the prize, Tennessee is as bad as Oakland and Green Bay. Don't forget this.
CJ: That's exactly what I was going to say. 17 is not too much to give Tennessee today.
CJ: Shawn Merriman will just about lock up defensive player of the year after getting to sack the clueless Aaron Brooks and the flat-footed Kerry Collins.
Boy Genius: He gets Brooks twice, by the way. That's good for ten sacks right there.
Was vs. Dal
Boy Genius: Fine, Washington vs. Dallas, the game the networks think the nation gives a shit about.
Boy Genius: Sigh
CJ: Prop bet... more viewers... Washington vs. Dallas or The Wire?
CJ: It should be The Wire! One of TV's best!
Boy Genius: What I hope and what I think are two different things here.
Boy Genius: I want this game to be a 4-4 tie, with all points coming off safeties when the QBs fumble and chase the ball out the back of the end zone. 85 total yards combined in the game, Terrell Owens loses a leg in a freak tarpaulin accident, and Joe Gibbs gets fired.
CJ: I could get behind that result. Bottom line: Dallas can't lose here. They have last year's MNF debacle that cost them their season. They're already 0-1 after blowing a game against Jacksonville. They're at home. Bledsoe wants to keep his job.
Boy Genius: No Romo this week?
CJ: Not this week. Parcells gives Bledsoe at least 2 full games.
CJ: I also think Dallas covers the 6.5. It's a big line for a game like this, but Washington had their problems last week.
Boy Genius: I hate this rivalry. TV executives want to put this one in primetime constantly, and I just loathe both teams. I don't even care about the spread. Just to be contrary, I'll go with Washington to cover, although Dallas wins outright 23-20.
Pit vs. Jax
CJ: Fair enough. That brings us to MNF.
Boy Genius: The only thing I'm watching Monday night is the premiere of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Sorkin is a genius, and it's about time Matt Perry got a chance to say his words every week. He was great in his guest spots on "West Wing." This show's going to be awesome.
CJ: The West Wing died when Sorkin left. I hope he brings that great writing to this new arena.
Boy Genius: Yeah, with John Wells at the helm they did that "ER" thing where SOMETHING BIG had to happen every week. Can't have a nuanced show about the Stackhouse filibuster anymore. Anyway, I think the MNF matchup is totally devoid of nuance. Jax and Pitt, and they're both sledgehammers on defense. Who comes out unscathed?
CJ: Tough one. How does Jacksonville win 12 games last year? I mean, really? How do they ever win? Leftwich always looks like he's one hit away from a body cast. Fred Taylor has 17 reconstructed knees.
Boy Genius: Yeah, but the line opened at Jax minus two, and it's now Jax plus two. Is Roethlisberger worth four points, or is this his "I'm Keith Hernandez" moment? He's not Superman, but I think he thinks he is.
Boy Genius: I'm onboard the Jags train. Great defense, big and fast wideouts, and Leftwich is a leader. I think Jax steals this one outright 17-14.
CJ: That's a pretty substantial move on the line, and the Jax deal is good. Those Jag wideouts may be the difference. Jones, Wilford, Williams. Unheralded, but Leftwich gets them the ball. I'm with you. Jacksonville wins.
Locks of the week
Boy Genius: Lock of the week?
Boy Genius: For me, it's San Diego. Play all your money at -11.5 on these guys, this one won't be that close.
CJ: Not a bad pick. I think it's Cincy giving 10 to the Browns. It won't be close either. In fact, if you're dying for a three team parlay, throw in the double digit line in Indy with the Colts.
Boy Genius: Well, good luck to us this week. One of these weeks I'm going to have to throw a lot of money out and back this stuff up with dollars. For everyone else? Fade me immediately, I couldn't be more wrong.
CJ: And, as I'll always say, I suck at sports betting. Have a good Sunday!
Fellow Syracuse University alum Paul Katcher has been blogging since 2002. He also writes occasionally for ESPN Page 2, so you know he's got skillzzz. In fact, he's one of my favorite reads, and I highly recommend him for your bloglines.
Well, it seems Paul is becoming a bit of a poker blogger, as evidenced by his latest post "My First Week Playing Online Poker (For Real Money)." Go give it a read, if you've got a chance, but please be gentle. He's even got a few bad beat stories (he's not aware that he owes us all a dollar).
He also asked in his comments for some advice on where a low roller can get the most for his buck at the poker table. If you got suggestions for low limit playing or cheap buy-in tourneys, let him know!
If you thought the internet gambling bill was dead in the U.S. Senate, you're sorely mistaken. It seems that we have a mechanic on Capitol Hill. The deck may be stacked against us. Okay, I've run out of poker cliches.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist may be attempting a legislative trick to get this bill passed. The Associated Press is reporting that Frist is planning to tack the internet gambling bill onto a massive defense authorization bill that deals with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why would he do this? It's simple.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There is not enough support in the Senate for Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2005 to pass. In fact, there isn't even enough support for it to reach a vote. The only way this bill goes anywhere is for a Senator to find a way to tack it on to something that is guaranteed to pass.
It's dirty politics. But it's nothing new.
As the AP reporter pointed out, Frist is not running for re-election to the Senate, instead he is eyeing the 2008 presidential race. Two weeks ago, Frist spoke during a hearing at Coe College in Cedar Rapids and said he would do what he could to get his legislation passed. The House version of the bill is sponsored by Iowa Congressman Jim Leach. Oh... and Iowa holds the first presidential caucus of the 2008 race.
According to the KnoxNews, the NFL sent their senior manager of football operations to the same hearing. Former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL player Merton Hanks said, "I also hear from [current players] that they are receiving increased pressure from another group of so-called supporters. While it remains a minority of the fans, today's players perceive it to be a growing threat. I do not think that this increased betting is healthy for the sport I love, nor is it good for the players who are playing as hard as they can to win games, not to cover bets."
Yeah, that's right. A sport that allows a Super Bowl team to be more juiced than San Francisco Bay baseball teams circa 1996 is feeling "increased pressure" from the hordes of online sports bettors.
Our politicians continue to be more interested in pandering than in facing reality. This industry is regulated and taxed in dozens and dozens of countries around the world. It has not been demonstrated to be causing an increase in problem gambling in the world's youth nor has it caused widespread cheating in sports where betting is prevelant, like soccer.
We can not let this stand. If we don't make our voices heard, politicians will continue to make the politically expedient decision at the expense of common sense. If you're looking for some inspiration on what you can do, read the letter my father emailed to Sen. Frist's office:
I am very disappointed to see my Republican leader conducting business in the manner of the Democrats "business as usual" format. To backdoor a piece of legislation such as the Ban on Internet Gambling Bill to a defense bill is repulsive and offensive.
I thought Republicans - and I'm a staunch conservative currently at odds with my party over many things which have disappointed me - didn't hide dirty laundry inside some other bill in order to slip it through the system.
Believe what you want about internet gambling - I personally have no problem with it - but if you want to legislate it, then have the courage to bring it to the floor of the Senate on its own merits. Don't hide behind the skirt of a defense bill.
Internet gambling needs to be regulated. Don't give me some moral argument about pervading decent homes with gambling. Gambling seems to be fine for politicians as long as the government entities get a piece of it. So legislate internet gambling, control it, and take your piece.
But please rethink this idea of piggy-backing an important piece of legisation and looking like a Democrat while you do it. Republicans have convictions and stand up for what we think is right. I'd have more respect for you for bringing this legislation to the floor on its own merits, even if I disagreed with your position.
If you're wondering, you can read the text of the internet gambling bill and follow its progress here. You can also glance at the massive bill to which Frist wants to hide the online gambling bill here.<-- Hide More
At long last, South Carolina's antiquated gambling laws are being challenged in court. Last year, some friends of Up For Poker were playing a friendly tournament in a neighborhood clubhouse when they were raided by a suburban swat team that didn't have any drug dealers to bust that day. Under 1802 South Carolina law, the guys could've been playing Monopoly and been charged with the same crime.
Now, a local attorney has taken up the case of five of the players and is currently appealing to the good senses of a local magistrate judge to take a hard look at the law and question how it can be that playing Euchre on a table in my local watering hole can be illegal.
The local players, one of whom likes to play big pots with AQ on an AK8 board, were charged with violating this part of the South Carolina gambling law:
SECTION 16-19-40. Unlawful games and betting.
If any person shall play at any tavern, inn, store for the retailing of spirituous liquors or in any house used as a place of gaming, barn, kitchen, stable or other outhouse, street, highway, open wood, race field or open place at (a) any game with cards or dice, (b) any gaming table, commonly called A, B, C, or E, O, or any gaming table known or distinguished by any other letters or by any figures, (c) any roley-poley table, (d) rouge et noir, (e) any faro bank (f) any other table or bank of the same or the like kind under any denomination whatsoever or (g) any machine or device licensed pursuant to Section 12-21-2720 and used for gambling purposes, except the games of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist when there is no betting on any such game of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist or shall bet on the sides or hands of such as do game, upon being convicted thereof, before any magistrate, shall be imprisoned for a period of not over thirty days or fined not over one hundred dollars, and every person so keeping such tavern, inn, retail store, public place, or house used as a place for gaming or such other house shall, upon being convicted thereof, upon indictment, be imprisoned for a period not exceeding twelve months and forfeit a sum not exceeding two thousand dollars, for each and every offense.
While you try to soak up the intricacies of the law (and start your Google search for whist), wrap your head around this section of the same law (my emphasis added).
SECTION 16-19-70. Keeping gaming tables open or playing games on the Sabbath.
Whoever shall keep or suffer to be kept any gaming table or permit any game or games to be played in his house on the Sabbath day, on conviction thereof before any court having jurisdiction, shall be fined in the sum of fifty dollars, to be sued for on behalf of, and to be recovered for the use of, the State.
Seriously, under a strict reading of this law, I can't play football with my kid during the Chiefs game this Sunday without fear of being fined. Reasonable people would say, "Well, the cops aren't going to waste their time busting you for a game of Pinochle." I'd say, "The cops have a lot of time to waste, apparently. Several of them were caught playing poker on shift a few months back." (Note: If you read that article, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The game was poker.)
So, the current case is the one that has appeared in CardPlayer several times in the last year or so. It's a case that pretty much defines the silliness surrounding the Raging Assault on Poker's Emergence.
Based on what I know about the current case and the judge, I'd say there is a 35% chance the judge, Hank Mims, will take any sort of stand here. Hank is a reasonable guy and a little on the eccentric side, but probably doesn't want to get involved in the fight. That will likely mean the poker players will have to stand trial. This will not be the kind of thing you see on Court TV. It will be held in a small courtroom in Greer, SC and likely last for just a couple of hours.
The real action, if there need be any, will happen when the verdict comes in. Guilty or Not Guilty, this case will be headed for an appeals court faster than the Greer Swat Team can storm suburban clubhouse. It will be in that appeals court where the law and the people who support it will face the most important scrutiny. Simply put, no person who considers himself reasonable can read the South Carolina gambling statute and with a straight face declare it constitutional.
Perhaps my favorite passage from the entire hearing:
"As avid poker players, they knew Texas Hold 'Em was gambling, the records say. One of them had a license plate that reads, "THENUTZ," a poker term for the best possible hand, the prosecutors filing says."
Where's the wit of Wicked Chops Poker when you need it?
Some of you know my sister, Jen. Some of you have played with her in the WWdN. She's trying to do her part to knock some sense into our Representatives, starting with her own, Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz. She emailed him to ask why they were spending so much time on a small issue when there are more important issues in the world, and to ask why he was in support of the bill at all. Here's his response (surprisingly, it doesn't read like a form letter!):More in this Poker Blog! -->
Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your frustration with the legislative calendar and the online gambling legislation. It is always a pleasure hearing from you, and I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond.
I share your concern with the legislative calendar. I agree we should be working on matters of national security, the Iraq war, our skyrocketing deficit, and immigration reform. Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues and I have no control of the legislative schedule. Rather, the Republican Majority Leader and Speaker of the House of Representatives stipulate what measures the Congress will consider, and this Congress has met fewer days than any Congress in 50 years. It is my sincere hope that we begin working on serious matters once the August recess period concludes.
As you mentioned, I voted in support of H.R. 4411. Congress has consistently found that States should have the primary responsibility for determining what forms of gambling may legally take place within their border and the Federal government should prevent interference by one State with the gambling policies of another. Gambling on the Internet has increasingly become an extremely lucrative business that falls into the federal government's role in preventing interference by one state with the practices of another. Additionally, the internet's ease of accessibility and anonymous nature make it difficult to prevent underage gambling and worldwide internet gambling sites offer organized crime groups another avenue to launder the proceeds of their criminal activity.
In regard to the exemptions for certain activities, the reason for that was due to previously passed legislation, such as the Interstate Horseracing Act (Pub. L. No. 95-515), the Travel Act (Pub. L. No. 87-228), and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Pub. L. No. 100-497).
Again, I appreciate you contacting me to express your frustration with the online gambling legislation. I will keep your views in mind should the measure come before the full House for a vote once more. Please visit my website at http://ortiz.house.gov to learn more about my views on other issues and legislation, and do not hesitate to contact me regarding any issue at the federal level.
Solomon P. Ortiz
Member of Congress
I've had a good year with the cards. I need a break. So, here goes.
I will not play poker, at all, live or online, in the month of October. Not at all.
I'll post much more on this in a bit, probably tomorrow, but it feels good to get it up in writing.
I'm taking a poker holiday. Honestly, I'll probably post MORE often ABOUT poker once I take some time to step away.
For now, there's just this.
Of course, I'm still playing Wednesday. I have a few weeks before the curtain falls.
In case you're not a forum reader or missed the announcement at PokerStars, you should be aware that this is going on tomorrow. I find this to be one very cool effort. Many kudos to the PokerStars, P5s, Wicked Chops, and PPA folks.
Fom the PokerStars Poker Blog:
PokerStars is joining with the Poker Players Alliance to give its American players the chance to tell their Senator what they think about the efforts to ban online poker. On Tuesday, September 12, between 9:00am ET and 5:30pm ET, you can call 1-800-289-1136, listen to the recording from Greg â€œFossilmanâ€ Raymer, punch in your zip code, and you will be transferred to one of your Senatorsâ€™ offices free of charge. You don't have to be a member of the PPA to use this number. Click here for more information.
PokerStars will also be running $1 PPA membership drive tournments with a $5,000 added prize pool. You can find the tournaments by clicking "Tourney" and "Special." Click here for more information.
For background on this story, please start here.
The arrest of Peter Dicks of SportingBet.com has opened a number of questions, some of which we won't get answers to until a trial, or perhaps never. I've tried to get the answers to some:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Well, it seems the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division decided their time was best spent gambling online. Louisiana State Police spokesman Dwight Robinette Jr. said, "Our troopers started taking bets (with Sportingbet) and creating an investigation on this company and Mr. Dicks." Louisiana is one of just 8 U.S. states that have specific laws against internet gambling.
Why St. Landry Parish?
That's a great question. St. Landry Parish is located in the Acadiana region of Louisiana in the Southwest part of the state. The largest city in St. Landry Parish is Opelousas. A city in which the police chief recently resigned under allegations that he defrauded the government. He's since been arrested on numerous charges. None of that, however, answers the question. All State Police spokesperson Lt. Lawrence McLeary would tell us is that that is the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed.
Who else has outstanding warrants against them?
That question won't be answered until the next executive is dumb enough to get off a plane in the United States. You can assume that if the State Police placed bets online at SportingBet.com, then they also visited other online sportsbooks. That means dozens of executives may have outstanding warrants. Normally, we'd know exactly who, but an unknown judge who signed off on the warrants also decided to seal them. We know from a conversation with the clerk of courts that a file exists. They're just not allowed to open it for us.
Peter Dicks will likely be moved to Lousiana where he will face trial on the single charge of gambling by computer. The District Attorney's office tells us they have no information on the case because they have not yet begun to prepare it.
Will there be federal charges?
"This is a separate state case. I can't speculate if there will be federal charges, but there will be discussion," said Louisiana State Police spokesman Dwight Robinette Jr. This is the first example of an online gambling executive being arrested on state charges. Former BetOnSports PLC Chief Executive Officer David Carruthers was arrested on federal charges in July.<-- Hide More
A thank you to Amy Calistri & Tim Lavalli for taking the time to apparently figure out where all the extra chips in the WSOP came from. While we will never see definitive proof of the muck-up, Amy and Tim provide the best explanation yet, and it ain't pretty for Harrahs or Jeff Pollack.
The Chairman of SportingBet PLC, Peter Dicks, was arrested Wednesday night after he landed in the United States on a flight from London. The arrest happened after Customs ran his name through a database and found an outstanding warrant from Louisiana.
Dick faces a warrant of gambling by computer. It stems from an investigation back in January performed by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division. In May, a judge in St. Landry Parish signed the warrant, and perhaps others, but ordered them sealed. The clerk of courts can not even tell us which judge signed the warrants.
Gambling by computer is a felony which is punishable by a fine of no more than $20,000 and/or imprisonment with or without hard labor for not more than five years. This is for anyone who "designs, develops, manages, supervises, maintains, provides or produces" any online gambling. For your typical user (i.e. me), the charge brings a fine of not more than $500 and/or imprisonment for not more than six months. If you'd like a good laugh, go ahead and read the gambling by computer law. Bottom line: It's all about the kids.
More on this developing story to come... (Also keep an eye on Wicked Chops Poker, who are, as usual, on the case.)
Okay, so it's not like I busted Jesus or something...
But ESPN found it in their collective hearts to include me in tonight's WSOP coverage nonetheless. As many of you know, I closely followed Dmitri Nobles during my time with Team PokerStars Blog (picture from PokerStars Blog). Well, with him on the TV table, I got a little TV time myself.
The first time, Dmitri had just dumped more than 2/3rds of his massive stack on some tough beats and some admittedly bad plays. He took a break to call a friend and steam. I tried to help calm him down and he told me, "I'm tightening up... Next hand I play will be Aces, Kings or Queens."
Well, he lied to me, but he's a poker player, so I forgive him. His next hand was A8, and he ended up massively sucking out on KK after an 8-high flop. And it was after that hand that Dmitri called out, "CJ!!!" and came over to give me a hug. I wasn't sure ESPN would include it, but they did. And it brought a smile to my face.
That's the Dmitri I remember. The fun-loving guy. The guy who wanted the rest of the table to have fun even if he was taking their chips. I feel like ESPN decided to set him up as a bit of a jackass donkey. That wasn't Dmitri. He certainly didn't play like he read Harrington on Hold 'Em, but he played really good big stack poker and he was a really nice guy. I won't forget that no matter what ESPN decided to edit.
There are consequences for every rule, and not just the ones we break. In the news biz we are paralyzed by the search for the elusive "other side" on stories that have just one or as many as a dozen sides. The sky is blue. Democrats and Republicans are BOTH wrong. Sometimes the coin lands on its side.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There are good games that run late in G-Vegas. One, a raked game in a very close suburb doesn't even fill until about 11:00 on Saturday night. I'd planned to play it after work and brought the requisite roll. Then Otis called as I walked off the set. I went to the bar instead.
Otis was there, at this awful hole in the wall with karaoke, he was pushed againt the rail with T and Ted. All three were buzzing like a bad cell phone. The bar itself was almost empty save the few singers who began each country tune with, "I just wanna say, I love America." It was THAT kinda place.
Otis is an entertaining drunk and Ted is just entertaining. T actually picked up the tab. We drank jaegermeister and bud light, leaving only after Otis started asking random strangers some rather inappropriate questions and Ted sang "Magic Man" falsetto on stage.
Back at T's place, on folding chairs in the driveway, as T and Otis lost their lunch, I launched into the same drunken male bonding patter familiar to anyone buzzed with buddies. Thing is, it's something Blood and I have talked about a good bit.
I'm an asshole. I'm not mean per se, but I really don't care about most people.
In poker my self-absorbtion passes for a kind of meta-strategy, a way to tilt the game. In most cases, that's exactly what it is. At the "Spring Hotel" the very worst players have ME as their target. I spent months setting that up. We've gone a thousand rounds in this blog debating the efficacy of the hammer bluff and I swear it's a great paly. I've shown dozens of them down at this game. The worst players there are so wounded by those hands that they're determined to call me down, they're blinded by ego, afraid to look foolish, and they pay off every massive hand.
The most important thing about a no-limit ring game is always table selection. Within that, player selection wins. Eyeball the biggest stacks the minute you sit down. Which of those players will give you all their chips? Those players are your targets all along. I play every pot I can against them.
And now, now that I've acted the arrogant asshole and bluffed them off big pots, now that I've talked trash after wiping them out a few times, those players come looking for me. THEY try to play pots with ME. It's a golden situation and it's the biggest reason I've had such a profitable year.
The poker thing IS an act. In part. I'm actually an asshole all the time. As I sat in the driveway with my 3 close friends I wondered aloud about just how few people I really DO care about. There's my family, of course, and my very close friends. I'm a fiercely loyal friend. I just don't make friends fast.
It's especially a problem at poker. I've stopped viewing it as a game or diversion, poker is a job. I make money playing poker and I take it seriously. I enjoy it, I love it in fact, just like I love my actual career, but it's still a job. The people I play with are, more often than not, targets for a win. They aren't people I really WANT to get close to.
It wasn't always that way. Back before our regular Thursday game went broke (for which I blame BadBlood and TheMark) I played poker with friends. I met BadBlood through poker and now consider him a very close friend. I'm friends with theMark and Shep and TeamScottSmith. I used to play frolf with the Smiths. I actually took up poker because my good friend, Otis, talked me into it. But once we started with the underground games and the significant income gains, I stopped playing social poker.
But, back to my being an asshole, that was the case before I ever played cards.
I'm not the kind of person who really hates people. I love people and love the people I meet, especially through my job. In fact, meeting odd sorts of folks is the single greatest perk of my profession. But I'm reluctant to actually be PERSONAL with anyone. And outside of the constraints of my work, I'm rarely interested in hearing about anyone's personal life.
It's like a running joke between Blood and I: If anyone needs to pretend to listen to the stories, concerns or ideas of some other person... that's his job. If someone needs to really be an asshole... leave that to me.
I wonder sometimes if that natural personality flaw, and clearly it IS a flaw, has served me well at poker.
I can take money from the same people every week. I feel absolutely no regret. And, because they see me as such an asshole, they're DYING to beat me.
I have no idea why I'm blogging this. I will say that I've made some VERY good, and rare, friends through this thing. By reading the blogs of others, I've been brought into caring about their lives.
As a rule folks, reading about YOU is more interesting than reading about your poker hand. If I could take one book to the beach, I'd consider printing a year's worth of JOE SPEAKER'S posts.
Poker is good too.<-- Hide More
So you thought Saturday was close? Today we missed out on the Pick 6 payday by a nose. In the very first race, our 5/1 shot #5 Micky's Doll tried to wire the field, but got edged by the longest shot on the board at 19/1. It was a rough way to start.
Had #5 held on, I think our payout might have been in the $50,000 range. As it happened, the consolation prize was $378. Since we had two horses in the race we missed, it looks like our ticket paid twice so we cashed our $1000 ticket for $756.
For a full write-up, check out Boy Genius' live-blogging.
Without further ado... the picks:
#5 Micky's Doll, #6 Tug o' War
#4 Miura Bull, #5 Silver Wind, #6 Afleet Spy, #9 El Bambino Huey
#5 Udriga, #7 Windy
#1 Rateau, #4 Get Funky, #5 Lightning Hit, #8 Union Avenue, #9 Point Determined, #10 Porto Santo
#1 Jolly Spirit, #4 King Rohan, #7 Majestic American, #8 Kinoko Man, #9 Sylvan Hill
If you'd like to know how we arrived at these picks, head on over to read Boy Genius' analysis. That's also where you'll need to go for live updates since I'll be away from home. I won't even get to see the races, dammit. Wish us luck!
We aren't curing cancer. We aren't stopping MS. We aren't doing a damn thing for any kids.
We are, however, trying to round up enough investors to take on the whopping $245,000 carryover in tomorrow's Pick 6 at Del Mar. Here's the deal. Boy Genius and I were within a half-length and a nose of winning more than $100,000 today. In fact, had things broken the right way, we might have had the quarter million all to ourselves.
Our Pick 6 ticket had a total of 17 horses spread over the six races and 11 of the 17 finished in the money. We were on our game, but being on our game doesn't pay the bills.
Tomorrow, we plan on paying the bills. It's $50 per person and I need to know ASAP if you're in. Transfers can be made to Up4Poker at PokerStars or UpForPoker at FTP. We're going to make it this time. I can feel it!
In so far: Me, Boy Genius, Absinthe, Falstaff, Gracie, April, Joanne, Imperfect, ToddCommish, FTrain, GRob, Otis, JoeSpeaker, AlCantHang, bobby (Run Em Twice), F%$^ the River, Jen, Lefty, Dad. (Investing is CLOSED.)
Update! Results below!
Here we go again...
Boy Genius and I are grateful that so many of you have shown faith in our handicapping abilities. Now, it's time for us to deliver. I'd like to say this is a sure thing, but anyone who's bet on the ponies know that's just not the case. Still, BG and I feel pretty good about what we've come up with.
#4 Chief's Magic, #6 Edwardian, #7 Forward Commitment, #8 Newsworthy
Result: We're alive! #4 Chief's Magic ran away with it. #6 Edwardian placed and #8 Newsworthy showed, so we were pretty solid on this one. In fact, #4 was 7-1, so that's a great start to our ticket!
#1 Silber, #1A Vatchesvendetta, #6 Special Heather, #7 Star Voyager
Result: We're rolling! #6 Special Heather and #7 Star Voyager dueled the whole way with the 3/2 favorite (#6) holding off the 5/1 choice (#7). We've have preferred the price, but we're taking the win!
#1 Hilogold, #1A Gotta Have Her, #7 Smokin Anne, #9 Sekira
Result: Well, dammit. We stayed away from the heavy 8/5 favorite, which worried us, but didn't end up hurting us. #7 Smokin Anne went off at 8/1 and was attempting to go wire-to-wire in an impressive performance, but an 11/1 shot came out of nowhere to end our hopes of big riches. #1 Hilogold got up for show. We're still alive for a consolation prize, especially if one of our big prices comes in down the stretch.
#9 Shining Energy, #11 Mea Domina
Result: More good news! #11 Mea Domina went off at 5/1 and ran wire-to-wire from an outside post position in a very impressive race. Our #9 Shining Energy was the tepid 3/1 favorite and made a good closing run, but couldn't get through traffic and finished 4th. If things finish well for us, we might make at least get our money back.
#4 King Mobay, #7 Chester's Choice
Result: Make that 4 out of 5. Unfortunately it was the 8/5 #4 King Mobay and not the 5/2 #7 Chester's Choice who showed. Both our horses were in the money again. We knew we weren't getting a price here, but we got the win nonetheless. Now we need everyone to root for #4 in the last race and we could get a little money back.
#1 Tumbaga, #2 Awesome Gem, #4 City Swagger
Results: Well, we were alive to win as much as $3621 with a win by #4 City Swagger. That would mean a carryover for the bulk of the pool and a nice consolation prize. With a win by either #1 Tumbaga or #2 Awesome Gem, someone would win the Pick 6 prize of either $245K or $122K, and we'd get a small consolation prize. Unfortunately, the longshot #3 beat our #2 by a nose, leaving us empty handed. No one won the Pick 6 leaving a carryover of $245,000. We missed out on a HUGE pay day by a half-length in the 7th and a nose in the 10th. Not the way we'd want to go out, but we were close.
There you go. After each handicapping the races individually, we compared notes and found a lot of agreement. There are a few random horses we wouldn't have minded including here or there, but our finances are not unlimited. We've picked the horses we feel most confident about and have included a few horses we think could bring pretty good prices.
With a little bit of luck, in a few hours, I'll be figuring out how to split up a six-figure pay day! The post time for the 5th race at Del Mar is about 7:00pm ET. Wish us luck!