Thursday, July 20, 2006

John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue, calls the Internet "the crack cocaine" of gambling.

"There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," he said."

Good God.

There's so many ways to rant about this but I'm struck speechless. I've been blogging about poker for nearly three years now. Playing for far, far longer.

This humble poker blog, for better or worse, has documented the meteoric rise of poker's popularity in the US. Hell, you can see in my archives where I'm shrieking with joy when Party Poker hit 20,000 players for the first time. We've came a long, long way.

As a cultural juggernaut these past few years, poker has no equal.

And now, suddenly, it's considered a blight on society.

I was initially dubious, but currently have a sinking feeling that this bill is going to pass the Senate. Perhaps within the next month.

Two conflicting Reuters reports today on the online poker ban. The first said that the legislation will not come up for a vote before the chamber takes its August recess.

But then Frist's chief of staff made this statement a few hours later:

A bill to ban Internet gambling faces opposition in the U.S. Senate, but backers still hope to win passage of it within a few weeks, a top aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Thursday.

"We are trying to get something done before the August recess," set to begin on August 4, said Eric Ueland, Frist's chief of staff.

Here's the link to the article:
Frist seeks swift action on Web gambling

I suppose it's serious enough now to update my resume and think about sending it out. I've made it almost two years playing professionally. I hate to be forced out but I don't see any alternatives. I don't even know about the status of this humble blog - hell, I had someone from Newsweek & the Times blipping all over my blog a few days ago. Free speech aside, I'm not interested in being a poster boy.

For now, I'm trying to get as many hands in as I can. No more boat. I'm just ramming and jamming online while I can. There's still time for some good money to be made.

We're probably going to be looking back upon these times as the Golden Age of Poker.

If I'm sounding discouraged, it's because I am.

To sit here and document my little hobby and it's subsequent rise in popularity these past few years has been incredible. A wet dream. Whoda ever thunk back in '03 that poker would become what is today? And now it's on the cusp of being throttled by our own damn government. I'm incredulous.

Maybe I'm just irritable cause I got this email from Eurobet today. Not that I played there very often, but still....

Dear Eurobet Customer,

Please be advised that in the light of recent actions by US regulators, Eurobet has regretfully taken the decision to cease taking any business through its websites from U.S. residents with immediate effect. U.S. residents will no longer be able to transact with our websites and all accounts held by U.S. residents have now been closed.

We are contacting you because we believe that, based on the personal details you have provided us, you are a US resident and therefore affected by this decision.

Where we already have your payment details we will refund any outstanding balance using that method within 7 days from today. If we do not have the necessary details please contact us on +44 1483 773224 or via email at uscustomerservice@eurobet.com to confirm how you wish any existing balances on your account should be repaid including the appropriate financial details.

We commit to processing such refund with 7 days of receiving your payment instructions.

On behalf of the entire Eurobet team we apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your previous custom.

Kind regards,

Emma Jordan
Head of Services

Lou Krieger had a positive spin on the poker ban.
HR 4411 Does Not make Playing Online Poker Illegal

There's a ton more to write about but I'm too irked. Plus, I should probably get back to the tables.

Damnit, it ain't gonna be fun to write uberposts if I can't say Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit.

I read a bunch of great rants about this freaking ridiculous legislation but I'm going to point out Jim's fine screed at The law school dropout's poker blog. Go read:
A Confederacy of Dunces

One last poker news tidbit. I read it first over at Amy's but here's the two press releases about some top poker pro's suing the WPT and today's WPT response.


Seven Top Poker Players File Antitrust Lawsuit Against The World Poker Tour

Players Sue to Enjoin WPTE’s Illegal Business Practices and Seek Damages for WPTE’s Wrongful Conduct

Las Vegas, July 19, 2006 -- Today, seven of the world’s top poker players filed an antitrust Complaint against WPT Enterprises, Inc. (“WPTE”) in federal district court in Los Angeles. By this lawsuit, Plaintiffs Chris Ferguson, Andrew Bloch, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Joseph Hachem, Howard Lederer, and Greg Raymer seek to enjoin – and seek treble and punitive damages for – WPTE’s continuing violations of federal and state antitrust laws.

WPTE operates the World Poker Tour (“WPT”), a series of televised, high stakes poker tournaments that are run by various casinos located throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Europe.

The Complaint alleges that WPTE and the casinos have unlawfully conspired to eliminate competition for the services and intellectual property rights of top, high stakes professional poker players. In particular, the Complaint alleges that the casinos have agreed with WPTE that they will not host any non-WPT televised poker
tournaments. The Complaint also alleges that WPTE and the casinos have conspired to fix the price and other terms and conditions under which Plaintiffs and other professional poker players are forced to give up their valuable services and intellectual property rights in order to participate in WPT tournaments.

Plaintiff Chris Ferguson stated as follows: “WPTE has stacked the deck against all poker players who wish to compete in its tournaments. They are using our names and images to sell their products without our prior consent and without any compensation. We cannot let these wrongful actions stand. We will prosecute this lawsuit for as long as it takes to change WPTE’s unlawful ways.”

Plaintiff Annie Duke stated that: “We are bringing this action to change the way WPTE treats players. Our goal is not just to win for ourselves, but to set a precedent so that all players can be dealt a fair hand.”

Plaintiffs are represented by the law firm of Dewey Ballantine LLP, whose lead counsel, Jeffrey Kessler, has successfully represented NFL, NBA, and other players in similar antitrust suits. Mr. Kessler stated the following: “It is now well established that the antitrust laws protect professional athletes and other players
when agreements are entered into that restrain competition for their services. This is as true for the business of professional poker tournaments as it is for professional football, basketball, and other sports. Professional poker players are entitled to a free market for their services, which will also benefit consumers
since the result will be more and higher quality poker tournaments.”

Plaintiff Greg Raymer stated that: “Our success in this lawsuit will benefit all current and future poker players. I am proud to be part of it.”

Plaintiffs are seven of the most widely recognized and successful professional poker players in the world. Plaintiffs Howard Lederer and Phil Gordon, for example, are two poker superstars who have won three WPT tournaments between them. Plaintiff Chris Ferguson, perhaps the most widely recognized poker player in the world, and Plaintiffs Joseph Hachem and Greg Raymer, have each won the World Series of Poker (“WSOP”) Main Event. Plaintiff Annie Duke has also won a WSOP event, and is regarded as the best and most accomplished female professional poker player in the history of poker. Plaintiff Andrew Bloch has two WPT “Final Table” appearances.


WPT Enterprises, Inc. Responds to Complaint Filed by Seven Poker Players

LOS ANGELES, July 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- WPT Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: WPTE - News) today announced, that while it has not received formal notice of a filing of suit, based on an initial review of a complaint posted on a website by seven poker players, the Company believes the asserted antitrust and other claims severely distort the facts and misrepresent the current state of competition in the poker

WPTE's General Counsel, Adam Pliska, stated, "We believe the claims alleged in this suit are without merit and plan to vigorously defend our position while pursuing all available legal avenues necessary to end this unfounded attack." The Company will be represented by the Los Angeles based law firm of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP.

"We are proud of our contribution to the growth of the poker industry and are happy many players have benefited from it," said Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO. "Therefore, we find it disappointing that a handful of players, of the many thousands who play in WPT events each year, have decided to make these claims even as the sport continues to grow."


Here's the official WPT Lawsuit website.

I'd also recommend Paul Phillips comments or FTrain's latest missive for further brain food on this matter.

Per this pending online poker ban legislation, please contact your damn Senator ASAP. Tell your family & friends to do so, too. Fight the power, damnit!

I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worse.

K, back to the poker tables for me.

Link of the Day:
Poker? I Hardly Know Her

Poker Condoms let you "go all in" while letting your sex partner know you'd rather be paying attention to your hand. If you buy more than you end up needing, "your Poker Condom doubles as a poker chip."

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