Only a few people asked my opinion of the 60 Minutes poker cheating piece. None of them really cared what I thought. Here it is anyway.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker poker cheating scandals and the hard work of the people who revealed them are great stories. That's what 60 Minutes does. They uncover the interesting stories and tell them. They can't be faulted for focusing on the scandal. That it was old news to the poker community means nothing. The rest of America didn't know about it and I bet they found it interesting. I certainly would have if I didn't already know it from top to bottom.
There was nothing patently unfair about the telling of the story. Would poker insiders have preferred if were told in a different way? Absolutely. Though 60 Minutes never implicated the legit sites with any wrongdoing, it never made an effort to clear them either. Was that irresponsible? Maybe, maybe not. Look at it this way. When the Wal-Mart employee got trampled by a sick stampede of sale-blind consumers, we didn't require every news station to say, "Target is still a good store, so go shop there."
If I had my way, I would've edited the story to better clarify the legal debate about online poker. The gaping hole in the 60 Minutes piece was a discussion of the UIGEA and its implications on poker. Simply declaring online poker illegal because the Department of Justice says its illegal is a little lazy. I would guess the producers made the decision to avoid the discussion in an effort to not further cloud the already confusing story. That said, a couple of minutes on the legal landscape could've been warranted--maybe those two minutes we had to watch Anderson Cooper with his shirt off and pretending he was on Pros vs. Joes. (Note: I actually like Cooper and admire his reporting ability--he just blew it on that story).
I have no idea whether anyone from Full Tilt or PokerStars offered themselves up as experts for the story. If they didn't, they missed a very good opportunity. The little I do know about online poker security makes me think the 60 Minutes piece could've benefited from an online poker security expert to say how things should be done and how Absolute and UB failed. Whether 60 Minutes wanted such an interview is unknown, but it would've fit perfectly into the story and the legit sites could've used a voice. I know Greg Raymer was interviewed for the piece. What he had to say ended up as silly internet extras, despite him being a very good voice and advocate for online poker and need for regulation.
I cringed when I heard DanDruff's closing SOTs. Tough indictment of an entire industry there, Todd. I've read that he has apologized. Fair enough. It was a good closing SOT for the piece, despite hurting in the hurtful spots.
The long and the short of it is this: 60 Minutes' job is to find interesting stories and inform the public at large about them in a fair way. CBS, the Washington Post, and 60 Minutes did that. Whose job is it to make sure the public understands the cloudy legal landscape, the benefit the industry could have to the tax base, and the skill-based nature of poker?
Well, folks, that is our job. It's our job to beat down the doors in Washington. It's our job to convince newspapers, magazines, and television programs to air stories about it. Poker is full of very smart people. The people who have built successful and legitimate online poker companies are brilliant beyond our ability to understand. What they are not, however, is in any way adept at public relations. Their sense for marketing is fantastic, but their sense for marketing to people who matter is lacking in a fairly fantastic way. It's one thing to build a customer base, but it will be all for nothing if you don't have the ear of the people who make the rules.
That's all I'm going to say for now, because if I start babbling more, I'm going to get myself in trouble. Some day (and maybe sooner than I'd imagine) I'm going to write up a lot of what I know. Almost did it just now, and decided against it.
Because I'm sometimes smart.<-- Hide More
And, frankly, it looks pretty ugly. Here's the preview.
The Indiana Gaming Control Division busted a place in Tipton, IN last night. Tipton is about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. Investigators say the place ran illegal poker games where patrons were playing for money. Although several card players were there during the raid, none were arrested. Their names have been passed on to the DA for possible charges.
State law permits only non-for-profit groups to host poker tournaments for charity. The man who runs the business says there's nothing wrong with the card tournaments he's hosted over the last four years.
Oh... the name of the business? Holdem House. I wonder what tipped off the cops?
Here's the website which informs us that the place is "temporarily closed."
I guess the only question is why it took the cops four years to shut down a place that has been advertising poker tournaments so brazenly? After all, it's been more than a year since the Indiana Gaming Commission took over regulation of back room poker. Maybe they had better things to do...
It's been less than one month since G-Rob noted Charles Barkley's vow to quit gambling...for now. Now, Barkley says he's going to gamble for the greater good.
Barkley is among a number of celebs planning to play in the Ante Up For Africa event in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. The entry fee is $5,000 and Barkely says he will donate all winnings to charity. [MORE]
But, really, it's not about the winnings is it? It's the losings.
Listen, we're sitting in a pretty fragile glass house here, so we're not going to be throwing anything too hard. However, I think it's pretty interesting for Gary Loveman and Harrah's to spend a lot of time on TV talking about controlling gambling addiciton and then roll out the red carpet for Barkley's money. A charitable donation from Barkely might be a better idea.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to organize a "Little Bit o' Smack-A-Thon" at our local methadone clinic.
It's for charity, y'all.
Update:My friend Skip Foreplay sent this to me later in the day and it seemed to fit the theme.
Bobby Medford is a convicted criminal. He's guilty of extorting money from gambling operations. He's guilty of money laundering. He's guilty of conspiracy to run an illegal gambling operation.
When he was breaking those laws, Bobby Medford was the sheriff of Buncombe County, North Carolina. That's Asheville. The story of backroom kickback and illegal operations was just laid bare during a federal trial this week. The US Attorney prosecuting the case says Medford was, "Prostituting the office of sheriff."
Here's how it all went down.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Medford and three others were arrested in December of 2007. The indictment said they were using the office of sheriff to protect a Spartanburg, South Carolina company that was running illegal gambling operations in his juristiction.
The US Attorney says that company raked in $5 million in profit by running poker machines and they were placed, with Medford's knowledge, and protected from any busts with kickbacks to him and two top deputies.
Medford was elected sheriff in Buncombe County in 1994. He lost in the Novermber election in 2007.
Once the trial started we strated getting details of just how this complicated system of codenames and kickbacks really worked.
Eddie Caldwell was a lawyer for the Sheriff's Association. He testified that Medford's deputies had no oversight in ordering special stickers for gambling machines. In North Carolina, starting in 2000, they banned NEW poker machienes but grandfathered the old ones in. Medford's deputies ordered THOUSANDS of the stickers and kept them on hand for any machines that they wanted to "legalize".
Medford held an annual golf tournament to raise money for his campaign. Thousands of dollars came from video game operators and that money went straight to Medford himself. A former deputy, Lt. John Harrison, testified he kept that money in the trunk of his patrol car.
He said they didn't have a checking account for the illegal money so he'd just keep it in the trunk until Medford needed some cash and he'd hand a handful over.
In one specific case, Harrison testified a store owner wanted to change from one illegal gambling operator to another because he was unhappy with his cut. Medford, according to Harrison, allowed the change but only in exchange for envelopes with $3,000 in cash for both Harrison and Medford.
Nick Anagnostopoulos ran a convenience store in Medford's juristiction and said he had several of the illegal machines. He said Medford and his deputies would actually use his store to cash the kickback checks. He also said Lt. Harrison played the machines and was paid out but they never arrested him.
He testified that since 1999 he cashed $69,000 in checks made out to the "Medford Golf Classic."
MEDFORD ON THE STAND
Bobby Medford was the first witness called in his own defense. Prosecutors asked him if he could accound for the $150,000 dollars the gambling company claimed to have given him over the course of his years in office.
He could not.
Prosecutors asked him to account for the $30,000+ dollars that mysteriously appeared in his account in one year alone.
He could not.
Now he's going to jail.
In the poker game of life the house always wins.
Just be be careful your house isn't in the shadow of a mansion.<-- Hide More
PokerNews' Haley Hintze reports today that a number of people busted in the Palmetto State's latest poker raid will be opting for a trial by jury.
A few weeks back, the
jack-booted thugs local constabulary cited 38 people for violation of our state's antiquated gambling law (yes, the one that makes it illegal to play even some board games on Sunday). Usually, the notion of taking a misdemeanor ticket in front of a jury is pretty silly. In South Carolina, however, it's pretty damned smart. Those people who didn't pay their tickets? Well, they may never see the inside of a courtroom.
It's been nearly three years since a raid on a neighborhood clubhouse in Greer, South Carolina resulted in the arrests of several friends of the Up For Poker blog. It was a small tournament in the middle of the afternoon and nothing much compared to what the poker scene eventually became here.
It's been nearly two years since we mentioned the case in a post on this blog and noted the fact one of our local attorneys was challenging the validity of our South Carolina gambling laws.
You know how far that case has progressed since then?
You guessed it. Nothing has happened.
The judge has refused to move the case along for trial and prosecutor has little to no interest in reminding everybody about the case. The law is broken, lawmakers (out of fear of being perceived as pro-gambling) won't fix it, and thus prosecutions become well-nigh impossible. Getting busted for gambling in South Carolina isn't all that bad. All you have to do is not pay the ticket and say, "Not guilty" and there is a reasonable chance you'll never have to worry about it again.
Of course, prosecutors in the Low Country are different than prosecutors in the Upstate and we may see the folks down there actually have to face a jury. After that, it's back to what we've discussed before--actually challenging the gambling law in the Supreme Court.
That's actually what lawmakers need and want. This year, the boys and girls at the Statehouse killed two gambling-related bills. Few people want their signatures to be seen on legislation that, in an upcoming election year, could be the fodder for a "State Senator X loves to gamble on South Carolina's family values" advert. Thus, despite the good intentions of a few lawmakers here, there is slim chance we'll ever see a decent reform of the gambling law. That means, in short, the South Carolina gambling law is a law in name only. As it is broken and antiquated, it can't be used in what normally would be a viable prosecution.
That could all change if the state Supreme Court was forced to look at the law. Suddenly, lawmakers would have a legal mandate to take an honest look at the law.
This is a weird place, South Carolina. There are many things about it that are forward-thinking and progressive. Underneath it all, though, there is still a foundation of unwavering conservative thought. In many cases, it's wrought with hypocrisy. It's hard for me to accept as a poker player that I'm allowed to run as bad at I do at Powerball but actually forbidden from running well at poker.
But, that's the Palmetto State for ya. Smiling faces, beautiful places, and not a legal poker room as far as the eye can see.
Thank goodness the gambling law is so messed up. Otherwise, we'd all be in jail.<-- Hide More
A quick news update for our poker smokers in the Northeast. Starting this fall Atlantic City will ban smoking on the casino floor.
There's been a ban on smoking in public places there for years but, until now, the casino floor was exempt. That'll change this fall.
Starting this October smokers will only be allowed to puff away in special, unstaffed, designated areas AWAY from the gambling floor.
The new rules cleared the Atlantic City council unanimously.
Police in Charleston called it the result if a "ten month investigation." They arrested 27 people, including an assistant prosecutor at an underground poker game.
The Charleston Post says the game was run out of the bottom floor of a two story house with games spread on several tables. The host started the games last year and they "just grew."More in this Poker Blog! -->
From the Charleston Post:
A Sheriff's Spokesman described an efficient operation that ran like a business. "They had specific nights that they gambled. The bosses determined where the games were being held and determined the buy-in."
The buy-in was anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per game, he said. The person who sponsored the event was paid a specific amount each time a hand was played.
Those arrested Friday night and Saturday were charged by Hanahan police with unlawful games and betting. Twelve of the 26 had outstanding warrants through the Charleston County Sheriff's Office for unlawful games and betting, Clark said.
That charge is a magistrate's-level offense, but Clark said the people who were dealers or bosses will likely face General Sessions charges, meaning the punishment could be harsher. "
This isn't the first big raid in that part of the state, we call it the "Lowcountry," there was one in Mt. Pleasant a year or so ago.
Keep in mind, we've had several high-profile busts here. There was one in the city of Greer years ago in which an "informant" led Greer City Police to a neighborhood community center and a realtively small buy-in tournament. Of those arrested, the people who decided to fight that case in court are still awaiting resolution of the charges. (More on the poker bust appeal.)
It's been at least 3 years.
We had another big poker bust at what we used to call the "Gaelic Game" last fall. Again, deputies claimed to have and "informant", although in this case it may have just been a case of the game beeing wayyyy too obvious.
As for that assistant city prosecutor, he's turned in his resignation. His boss still hasn't accepted the resignation and the poor bastard is on "suspension" for now.
Police claim they took more than $40,000 from the game, which makes me awfully jealous of the game... you know... until they all went to jail.
Related coverage<-- Hide More
"I am not a biblical scholar," Rep. Barney Frank admitted of his inability to understand. The conservative mores of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle are confounding to some members of Congress. "But I can't find an exemption for horse racing!" The sport of kings' absence in the good book notwithstanding, Frank had a point.
The scene was Wednesday's House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology hearing and a debate that should've been conducted before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act became a reality (UIGEA live blog ).
Frank, one of the UIGEA's most vocal opponents, was pointing out a common theme in America's stance on federal gambling law enforcement: hypocrisy. It's an environment where gambling on juiced up athletes and ponies is perfectly acceptable, but betting on a skill game over which the player can affect the outcome is not.
The Committee hearing was one of the--if not the first--public discussions of the UIGEA, a law attached to must-pass port security legislation and spirited through the halls of the Capitol in the waning moments of the 2006 Congressional summer session. After nearly two years of being a burden only on confused government regulators, the law now threatened to disrupt the lives of many more people.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The summer of 2006 was a heady one for Senator Bill Frist and a small cabal of Republican members of Congress. Frist smelled the Republican nomination for President and he needed friends in some key early primary battlegrounds. Frist wanted it and he was going to get it.
The steamy Washington D.C. summer turned Frist into an irresponsible and randy teenage boy. He wanted it. He didn't care who he had to manipulate to get it. To get what he wanted, he had to ignore the potential consequences of his actions and accept he would be saddling others with a long-term burden. He was the selfish father of a throwaway kid. Now, as Frist tries to figure out who he can count on to make him governor of Tennessee, the progeny of his carelessness and ambition has become everybody else's problem.
If you're just now learning of UIGEA or haven't yet paid enough attention, it breaks down like this: A service that provides gambling on games subject to chance, except for horse racing and fantasy sports, is now considered criminal by the federal government. The UIGEA does not provide funding for the enforcement of its mandates. Rather, it forces American financial institutions to police gambling providers, determine whether they are breaking the law, and then stop doing business with them.
The financial institutions collective, along with UIGEA detractors, say it is well nigh impossible for the banks to be responsible for policing the anti-gambling laws. One of the strongest arguments is that banks, credit card companies, credit unions, and wire transfer companies have no way of knowing from one day to the next who is a bad guy and who is not. The UIGEA does not outline, except in broad terms, which companies break the law. Further, government regulators at the Federal Reserve and Department of Treasury have not been able to come up with an adequate list they can provide to the banks. At this point, the banks would not only suffer the financial burden of policing the internet, but also the ambiguity of the law itself.
UIGEA proponents don't buy it. The national sports leagues (yes, those that benefit so grandly from fantasy sports) are strongly in favor of getting UIGEA regulations finalized tout suite. "There should be no difficulty in identifying and blocking financial transactions directed at promoting sports betting," the leagues wrote in a letter to the Committee.
Proponents, like Alabama Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus, believe it is entirely possible to create a list of offenders like that of the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Rep. Bachus, despite having a last name worthy of some envy, likely loses a lot of credibility when he puts up statistics that suggest 74% of internet gamblers became addicted and many of those have turned to crime.
Regardless, the reality is that Treasury has, in fact, built the kind of lists about which Bachus and the professional sports leagues speak. They exist. According to Bachus, the NCAA has identified a list of 900 such gambling entities that can be considered illegal from which the banks could identify the illegal companies. Moreover, there are lists the banks and Department of Treasury use to battle money laundering.
Regulators seemed duly nonplussed. "Money laundering is a global concern," said Louise Roseman at the hearing. Her point? Banking is not a business exclusive to America. Banks all over the world work together to fight money laundering. Those same banks that walk in lockstep in that battle would be put at odds if the same sort of cooperation was expected to fight gambling. After all, in most countries in the world, gambling on the internet is not illegal. What's more, it's big business.
The financial services industry is beside itself. Wayne Abernathy represented the American Bankers Association at the hearing. No one--least of all the regulators, but including the banks themselves--has any idea how much the UIGEA will cost American banks. The financial burden aside, the banking industry points out the law will result in a no-win situation for the customers. Abernathy said the UIGEA will force banks to either be unfairly restrictive or "highly intrusive." Banks would have to take a gamble of their own. They could allow customers their privacy, but in an abundance of caution be forced to close the accounts of law-abiding entities. In the alternative, they could be more diligent, but be forced to dig deeper into their customers' private transactions.
Among the bills in Congress that seek to undo the confusion caused by the UIGEA is Rep. Barney Frank's HR2046. The bill, as outlined in the official Q&A, would "establish a regulatory and enforcement framework to license companies to accept bets and wagers online from individuals in the U.S., to the extent permitted by individual states, Indian tribes and sport leagues." Frank's bill has the most support of any right now, but there is no reason to believe it has any chance of making it out of committee this year. For Frank's efforts to be successful, a new administration needs to be in place. Optimists can look to this time next year before getting excited.
For now, the only plausible option for lawmakers is to continue working with the existing law and try to work out regulations that will satisfy both the law and the reality of the situation, a proposition that very well may be impossible.
Subcommittee chairman, Luis Gutierrez said it well. "Our time would be better spent restricting predatory lending," he said. That is, lawmakers have more important work to do than babysit Bill Frist's throwaway kid.
Other coverage<-- Hide More
CNN's Sanjay Gupta reports this morning that poker chips contain a harmful amount of lead. I copied this from this morning's Kansas City Star.
National business briefs: Warning issued on lead in poker chips
Lead in poker chips
Arizona health regulators issued a warning Thursday, saying Paulson brand poker chips could contain high levels of lead.
The warning about the chips â€” used in many casinos and sold at retail to gamblers â€” came a day after a Phoenix TV station broadcast a story about the potential contamination. The station had 200 of the chips tested by a private lab and said all of them exceeded the EPA limit for surface lead.
Paulsonâ€™s CEO issued a statement saying the company objected to any implication that the chips, when used as intended, posed a health hazard. He also said the chips had been reformulated to contain far less lead.
Looks like I picked a good day to be in Vegas.
There are a lot of games in town. I only play in three rooms. One of them got robbed last night and in a way I'm really glad I didn't have to suffer. Some of my friends didn't fare as well.
From Eddie the Dealer's Blog entry:
I remember looking over and Queen was being held by her hair and a gun was held against the back of her head. From that point, all my fear was for her. She is a very sweet girl and always an absolute delight to have around the game. The piece of shit who was holding her was acting a bit maniacal. He was threatening to "blow her brains all over the floor". (full story)
My reaction to this has been about what you'd expect. I'll likely write more in the future. For now, I'm just going to be glad everybody is okay and plan to stick close to the house for a while.
And to all the G-Vegas regulars: be careful, folks.
There's a neat New York Times story about computer "bots" playing poker against Phil Laak in this morning's paper. Here's a link
If you prefer a hard copy, as I do, check out the section below the fold in the "Business Day" section.
For the record, Laak was evidently one of 2 pros to play against a new computer poker design. He won 2 of 3 games but git creamed on one day. He claims the computer program is better than most human players.
Worth a read...
South Carolina state represenative Willian Scarborough, previously mentioned here for being the first Palmetto State legislator of 2007 to willingly beat his head against the poker wall, has cleared his first and likely last hurdle in his attempt to make South Carolina home poker games legal.
Scarborough, a Republican, introduced a bill this year that would make un-raked poker games a lawful activity. According to CardPlayer, that bill has made it out of subcommittee and will be presented to the House Judiciary Committee this week.
I'll refrain from all snark for the time being.
For the time being.
Two months ago, I wrote my Congressman. Today, I got an e-mail back. A form e-mail no less. Congratulations, Bob. You've tied yourself to an issue that makes sure you'll never pull me into your fold.
Thank you for contacting me about the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411). The explosion of internet gambling sites requires that restrictions be placed on gambling practices that violate the federal prohibition on interstate gambling transactions.
On November 18, 2005, Representative James Leach (R-IA) introduced H.R. 4411 to crack down on the growing problem of illegal, off shore gambling, as well as illegal gambling that crosses state lines using telephone lines and Internet technologies. On July 11, 2006, this bill passed the House floor by a bipartisan vote of 317 to 93. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 4777, identical to H.R. 4411, but in a different committee. Upon House passage of H.R. 4411, the two bills have been combined into one, and now the legislation awaits action in the Senate.
Every state holds the power to allow or prohibit gambling of any kind within the borders of that state. The problem with internet gambling is that companies operate their customer service and financial operations from foreign locations. The Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act will bring the current ban against interstate gambling in line with new technologies. That is why I support H.R. 4411 and why I became a cosponsor.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit the Fourth District Web site (www.inglis.house.gov/) for more information or to post and read comments on today's top issues.
Bob Inglis<-- Hide More
From the one and only Blogfather we get this gem from an article in the New York Times on poker:
"The minute you make it a tournament meant to bankrupt someone else then it isn't poker anymore," said Aaron Brown, an executive director at Morgan Stanley and the author of a new poker book, "The Poker Face of Wall Street." "It's the same difference between being a career singer and being on 'American Idol.' Tournament play may be great entertainment, but it's not poker."
Come again? Tournament poker isn't poker because it's meant to bankrupt someone else? Does this guy believe Phil Ivey wants you to keep your money in the ring games?
Am I reading this wrong or is this guy crazy? (By the way, it's an interesting article if you haven't read the whole thing.)
Please see the post below for my brother's first final table appearance
Playing from his home PC against a half dozen strangers from around the world, Kim won three hands with a pocket pair of aces, a two pair of kings and nines and, finally, by turning a full house from what poker pros disdainfully call "the hammer"â€"a seven and two of different suits.
Huh?More in this Poker Blog! -->
Indeed, as Oddjack rightly points out, the Newsweek article has turned "a poker blogging meme into mainstream acceptance."
But, Oddjack fails to give credit where it is due. If my history is correct (and, in a gesture of full disclosure, I will admit to at one point in my life believing Harpo Marx was a Britsh Prime Minister), I believe it was our favorite poker blogging, play writing, slot expert who birthed this little creation.
At PokerGrub, Grubby himself seemed a little embarassed at first for taking an old poker term and giving it a new poker meaning:
Okay, The Hammer isn't specifically the 72o hand. At least not officially. In poker, the hammer is defined as the last position (the cut-off), particularly when you're heads-up. The 72 offsuit got the nickname The Hammer from my home game, and my mission is to adopt it into legitimate Oxford Dictionary poker parlance. Let's make it official and play The Hammer on the hammer!.
While it may not be Oxford material yet, it's made one of the most mainstream American news weeklies. What's more, it actually appears in an About.com glossary of poker terms.
Folks, I think Grubby did it.
The Hammer is official.
And that kicks more ass than a toilet seat.
In honor of this achievement, I played this hand...<-- Hide More
Allow me to offer a whole-hearted, "Well, sonofabitch" to this story that's about to come out of South Carolina news outlets.
Rather than clog the fun of Vegas anticipation here, I've written up a brief summary over at my news blog, The Poker Papers.
Now, read below for less depressing stuff.
When the cops come knocking at the door, that's when it's time to run. Eight men in Lafayette, LA (my home town) learned that the hard way this weekend.
The Lafayette PD raided a bar named Shannon's early Friday morning and arrested the men on a charge of gambling. It's the first such bust in South Louisiana since I got here.
It's a bust that really caught my attention because Texas Hold 'Em has become increasingly popular across Lousiana. Here in Lafayette, I can probably find a handful of bars every night that are offering tournaments of some kind.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The catch is that these bars weren't taking a cut of the money, nor were they providing dealers or materials. The bars, themselves, stayed out of it, allowing the players to bring their own materials and shuffle up and deal.
Apparently, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control feels as though the increased business alone from the additional patrons drawn by poker makes each game a gambling enterprise.
The commissioner of the ATC sent a release saying cease and desist orders would go out to bars starting on November 1st (that's today). Of course, these LPD cops busted into the bar on October 29th, days before any orders went out.
In the cops mind, this crossed the lines because the dealers (who weren't playing) were making a profit. When someone won a pot, they tipped the dealer. And really, the cops were right. If a dealer is brought in and receives any kind of compensation, the enterprise suddenly becomes illegal.
Through some investigation of my own, I've uncovered some good news. These eight guys likely won't suffer any consequences. A highly placed source tells me these charges won't go anywhere. Apparently the cops were just a little overzealous.
Bottom line, I suppose this means I'll be staying out of bars and sticking to the legal poker in casinos and the likely illegal online poker. Any kind of arrest on my record could hasten my move to poker professional... and that's not a good thing.<-- Hide More
My day job lends itself to confirming rumors. So, I did. For full details, you can click on over to Poker Papers.
...a beautiful rumor hit RGP today. If it is true, it will make me happier than just about any non-breathing thing can.
It relates to a so-called casino within a short drive of my house (and by short, I mean a couple of hours). To date the facility has been worthless. This, however, could change everything. Um, yeah. Everything.
As of today, Oct 24.
The tribe plans on opening the Poker room Jan 1,05 but due to Internal
controls for the Poker rules being delayed this might push the date back a
couple of weeks. The poker room will be housed in a tent like structure
located beside the pavilion, it will be smoke-free and consist of 24
table's with several of the most popular Poker games. On a funny side note
the tribe is actually going out of there way to find stand-up tables
straying from the traditional sit-down and deal tables,Of couse the
players will sit and the dealers will stand.
I can only say...ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy
In the middle of downtown Greenville, SC, there's an Irish Pub with a stage near the door. If you get in the door early enough, pound a couple car bombs, flirt with the best bartendress in town at the back bar, and get a good seat, there's a chance you might hear some good music coming from the stage.
A few nights a month, the musicians have an open-mic night. I've never participated for fear of ruining an otherwise good career as a local personality and back porch guitar picker.
Still, a friend of mine went the other night and sat down on stage. He had the crowd going pretty good, when the regular musicians eventually came up and said, in effect, "Okay, that's enough."
The implication was clear.
This is our game. If you wanna play for real, find your own stage.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Well, of course, that doesn't sit well with anybody. Right?
Well, then let's talk about Ben.
The chorus in the poker blogging community was nearly synchronized. We all dropped our chips, grabbed our crotch, and made sure our manhood was still there.
Whew, there it is.
How, screamed the chrous girls, could Ben win a poker championship? How, in the name of all things good and holy, could the poker fates allow the goateed boy-toy to hold up a trophy, smile a bit, and proclaim himself a winner? Watch your feet as we all fly over the shark together, the blogs screamed.
Simply put, folks, as much as we all might hate to admit it, Ben won. Why? Because he won. Simple as that. It doesn't signal the end of the game. It doesn't signal the end of the game being cool. And the shark can kiss my ass.
Before you start photoshopping pictures of me kissing Ben's ass and sending them to my mother, let's consider this rationally.
Ben may be no poker god, but neither am I. I'm good, but I'm no T.J., no Chan, and certainly no Professor. So, if I were to rake the final pot in a big tournament, would we all be afraid of the shark? I hope not.
What's more, despite being loathe to defend a celebrity, let's think about where Ben has been. He got screwed over by some self-important girl. He's been outed for being a strip-club junkie. He's been outed for wild nights at the Hard Rock, dropping a couple hundred grand at the blackjack tables and tipping cocktail waitresses with a few hundred per drink.
Ben is just a guy who doesn't have much else to love right now other than the game of poker (although, the world on the street is that he's got some new girl and this time it's love). Still, I get the feeling he'd rather be a poker celebrity rather than an actor.
And so he finally does what we'd all love to do and we try to bust his balls for it.
There are other celebs who frequent the tables. James Woods. Lou Diamond Phillips. Would we hate them as much? Both of their careers are doing about as well as Affleck's.
And lest I make a blogger faux pas (that's a Fox Pass to those in Oconee County), what would we say if celebrity blogger Wil Wheaton took down a pot in a legit, non-Hollywood Homegame game?
Here's the thing: The World Poker Tour brought a lot of people into the game. Sure, I've been playing poker since before I could buy smokes legally. I won some money, lost some money, and had a lot of fun. Then the World Poker Tour came along. Then, I really started playing. Hours a day online. Someday, I'll sit in a big tournament. And if I win, I expect a damned pat on the back.
But, there are those folks who've been grinding it out for years before the WPT. How do you think they feel about you? Probably about the same way the bloggers feel about Ben, you know?
There's a name for people like us: We're Internet Players. Even though we're not. Most of us have done our time and developed leather asses in casino chairs. We play on the Internet because it's more convenient. We don't live in AC, Vegas, Mississippi, or California.
Still, we're pariahs in the "real" poker community.
I've always found it peculiar when one minority picks on another minority. When Jews hate blacks, or blacks hate gays, etc., I just don't get it.
We're all fond of poker because it is the great equalizer. A Junior League woman can sit at a table with a scruffy mountain man and their differences diasppear.
Similarly, Affleck can sit at a table with Cloutier. They're both stars and they both play poker. Sure, T.J. is better, but he's beatable. And that's what we all want to do.
We want to beat the big boys.
Give Ben a break. Hate him for being famous. Hate him for getting to tap J-Lo. Hate him for being rich.
But don't hate him for loving the game of poker.
If you do, don't bitch when you win a big one and someone calls you a lucky, loose Internet Player who is usurping the game.<-- Hide More
The last time we saw Ben Affleck playing poker, he was rolling over to Willie Garson (you know, the gay friend on Sex in the City) in the inaugural edition of Celebrity Poker. Not exactly the best way to demonstrate your poker acumen.
Apparently the star of such blockbusters as Gigli and Jersey Girl does better when he plays with his own money. On Sunday, Affleck won the California State Poker Championship. This wasn't just some little Hollywood home game. Affleck won $356,400 and a spot in next year's World Poker Tour Championship.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Poker pro Stan Goldstein finished second and the head of Castle Rock Entertainment, Chuck Pacheco, finished third. It's clear Matt Damon's lesser half has a little talent when it comes to this game. You don't just luck into a win like this.
By the way, Spiderman apparently doesn't have the same skill as Daredevil. Tobey Maguire also played in this tourney but got knocked out on the first day.
This all brings me to my favorite celebrity poker player (and fellow poker blogger), Wil Wheaton. Yesterday, Wil announced he'll be playing in the World Poker Tour's second edition of the Hollywood Home Game. The winner gets a buy in to the World Poker Tour Championship. Wil doesn't mention who the other celebrities are, but my money is on him! If he plays like he did during his "lying in odessa" series (a must read!!), I'm sure he'll be fine.
And who knows? Maybe when the World Poker Tour Championship gets rolling next year, we'll see Wil and Ben facing off at the final table. Now wouldn't that be fun!
UPDATE: Wil reports the game has been played, but he can't talk about it. In comments here, he did divulge he couldn't drop the HAMMER. Maybe next time.<-- Hide More
The small town of Springfield, TN was shocked today by a shooting spree. The community of just 14,000 people isn't used to this kind of violence. Three people are dead and another is critically injured.
So far, police aren't commenting on a motive except to say they believe the shootings are connected. WKRN, however, has confirmed that all four men were part of a poker game last night.
I guess it's all speculation at this point, but it sure does reinforce my reasons for playing online or with friends. The chances of being shot are pretty slim.
Jack Binion's 2004 World Poker Open recently wrapped up in Tunica, MS. The tournament attracted more media coverage than in the past thanks to the explosion of televised and online poker.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a nice write-up.
(Warning, possible WPT spoiler to come.)More in this Poker Blog! -->
Reese goes "all in" on his king and five, which wasn't a strong hand. Still, he had to do something, and he made a bold move. Bad timing.
Tippin has a pair of queens in his pocket, and he's feeling confident. He also goes all in.
But so does Greenstein, who's sitting on an ace and king.
The flop is dealt: another ace, king and six. The cards are a godsend to Greenstein. Reese is done, but if a queen pops up in the last two cards, Tippin remains alive. The turn: an eight. The river: an ace, making Greenstein's hand even better.For the first time in memory, two of the final four players go down on the same hand.
For those of you with the Travel Channel, the final table will be broadcast on April 21. (Hat tip to Mike over at Half-Bakered... give him a visit!)<-- Hide More