Tuesday, June 06, 2006
"I just got a $500 fine by the State of Washington for playing poker on the internet.
The judge also gave me 30 days in jail when I asked if the court accepted frequent player points as payment."
Thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog.
Once again, my poker blog credo:
Destroying Workplace Production One Post at a Time.
Whew, it's pretty late to start an uber post but I'm gonna try to get some links and content up. I've got some stellar stuff: one of the best old RGP threads/poker debates, Daniel Negreanu's new game, Stacked, getting a brutal negative review from IGN, poker TV wars & Phil Hellmuth on reality TV, a new Harrington book and other assorted nonsense from around the web.
Thank God for Guinness.
Spent all weekend and Monday with our beloved game of poker. The huge poker news locally is that the Argosy Casino finally opened up their new poker room, with plans for expansion happening soon. The Argosy is by far the largest, closest and busiest gambling riverboat in these here parts.
They have 15 tables now, which isn't even close to satisfying demand. The lists were 40 players deep on Friday night. It was insane. I had come expecting a 30.60 game but they were spreading 20.40.
This room is the potential death knell for the Grand Vic, and possibly the Belterra. Both rooms have been hurting.
Two Plus Two writeup from opening night: Trip Report: Argosy, Indiana
Get there early or expect to wait.
It's only 30 minutes away from me. So much for going back to Corporate America, eh?
It's funny to look back when I started this humble poker blog. There were zero poker rooms in this area. I had to drive two hours to Caesers in Louisville to play brick & mortar poker legally. Weeeee.
I hit the room again today before coming home & cranking away on the Bad Beat Jackpot tables on Party Poker (Bonus Code IGGY, damnit!). I just checked and it's still alive and well at $255,000 right now.
I was actually gonna try to write a mini-screed on how I'm irked at my current introverted self at the B&M poker tables. I don't know how or why I've evolved into this, but it's happened. Anyone who has met me or chatted on the phone knows that I'm quite a chatty bitch. But now I'm this quiet mofo with an IPod stuck in his ears at the tables. Mitigating point: I refuse to drink and drive so I'm sure that sobriety has
The quiet, serious type of player is the exact opposite image I care to project, damnit. But boredom has become a major factor. Hell, I might have to shift to NL at the boat to help ease the grind. More on this when I'm not Guinness-fueled and writing at 1am. And for the record, I'm playing like shit since my return from vacation. Playing poorly pisses me off.
Funny, but I went thru a whole phase of playing fast when I first sat at the table, mixing it up and playing uber aggressively. Consequently, I spent many a session getting stuck early and trying to dig my way out. Now I'm stuck playing the opposite - like a weak tight pansy. Dear Lord, I need some tweaking.
That being said, let's kick out some random poker content, shall we? I've got all sorts of nifty stuff to post.
First off, I gotta mention that Chilly has Bonus Code IGGY thong panties available. I suppose it was only a matter of time.
Party Poker Thong.
I'm gonna buy one for my mom, fer sure. Also, Chilly informed me: "it's hard to read, but the back says "Iggy pimped my blog". Hilarious.
Per poker, or even blogging or even how players treat dealers. Or bad players at the table. The metaphors are endless, and all the same, timeless and true. How we treat others says a lot about yourself. There was an interesting article recently in USA Today about how CEOs assess their staff based on how they treat waiters and waitresses. It’s a fascinating read.
Here's the story:
CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character
Such behavior is an accurate predictor of character because it isn't easily learned or unlearned but rather speaks to how people were raised.
I should mention that I've had the distinct pleasure of talking to many bloggers over the phone in the past few months. I consider myself truly lucky in that regard. And I enjoy asking fellow bloggers for their personal favorite blogs (myself and any real-life friend bloggers are excluded). The one blog that consistently is named in the top was PokerGrub. Fine taste, I must say.
Now what the fuck was I talking about again? Oh yeah, poker stuff.
Quick question for you poker people out there. Who's life would you rather have had? Hugh Hefner or Doyle Brunson?
Some odd Phil Hellmuth news here. The Legend of Phil continues unabated. Is this a watershed moment somehow?
Reality Blurred blog is reporting that the cast for Surreal Life 8 will include Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Phil Hellmuth, Playmate Tina Jordan, and Type O Negative's Peter Steele. reality blurred has also heard unconfirmed rumors that comedian Carrot Top, actor Dabney Coleman, and a member of the Blue Man Group are also members of the new cast, with emphasis on the “unconfirmed rumors” part.
Next step: super bowl halftime show?
I've never seen the show but I'll prolly be silly enough to watch this with Phil involved, unlike the Celeb Poker show. Hell, I really don't find any poker tournament TV show interesting enough to care about - the endless all-in coinflips isn't my cup of tea - do I really need to sit there and watch another allin big slick versus 99 hand? Nope.
But anyway, someone slagged Phil pretty good about appearing on this show. Someone took the other side of the coin and posted this:
This (your post) is the dumbest thing i've read in some time. How does a
poker player become a has been? I'd think it would have something to do with the decline of their mental faculties, not the decision to appear on a reality tv show (which i don't view as a mental decline.)
Also, did it ever occur to you that while the surreal life is a near bottom for traditional celebrities it's may be the opposite for a poker player? In other words, when has he or any other poker player been a member of a program w/a million+ viewers on a weekly basis?
The fact that they've chosen to place a poker player in non poker related television show illustrates the emergence and recognition of poker in and by the traditional media. Phil because of his tirades and blow-ups is the most visible of the popular pro's.
In other words, Phil has ascended to d-list status, while the others have dropped to d-list status.
I've been helping with our dog's agility training lately. It's too freaking funny to watch the little dogs run the course. I basically spend the entire hour giggling like a schoolgirl. I heart dogs.
Best bumpersticker in the parking lot was, "My border collie is smarter than your honor student."
Bah, let's shift gears to some snark. Here's a poker review from the always irritable Irish Mike.
Hilarious TV Tournament
I just watched the early rounds of the 2005 US Poker Championship for the Taj in Atlantic City. I'm sure it's been on TV before but this is the first time I've seen it.
The whole show has been hysterical! There is a guy at the featured table named Lance Funston that has got to be one of the biggest donkeys to ever enter a tournament. He makes Aaron Kanter look like a poker genius. Funston is killing the table and he doesn't even know the value of the chips! "OK, I call your two purple ones and I raise you four orange ones".
Men the Master is at the table and is supposedly Funston's "friend and mentor". (If you believe that I've got some prime ocean front property for sale in Kansas). Men is manipulating this dumb dope like a puppet on strings, but the guy keeps beating him any way. Funston is giggling like a school girl thinking it's all good fun with his pal Men, and Men is glaring at him like he'd love to slit Funston's throat. Funston never has a clue if he's ahead or behind in a hand and when he makes the hand, he jerks around so much a blind man could pick up the tell. And he's still beating them like red-haired step children!
Gavin Smith, who (sorry to say) usually looks like a total slob, has out done himself. He's still a slob but has got his hair in these little mini-dread lock braids with white beads all over his head. It would be hard for a grown man to look stupider at a poker table.
Kenna James puts a guy all in, makes the nut straight with the nut flush re-draw on the turn and doesn't even realize he is ahead in the hand! He's sitting there yelling for a nine, to give him the ass end of the straight! BTW, this is the same Kenna James that is now writing and publishing poker training material! Only in America!
Here's the best part - Lance Funston who is as totally clueless as they come, is in number two position in the whole tournament! Who the hell said poker ain't a skill game?
What was that song that Mike Matasow once crooned at the poker table?
"Poker, Poker, it's all skill
Start with the worst hand and climb uphill"
Per the upcoming WSOP, there's been some confusion over a "cap" on players in the Main Event. Barry Shulman set the record straight at CardPlayer.
It is all over the poker community and the Internet that Harrah's has capped the number of players for the 2006 Championship at 8,000. That is wrong! Admittedly, even Card Player reported it wrong.
I personally confirmed with Jeffery Pollack, WSOP Commisioner, that not only is it not capped at 8,000, but they already have accommodations for at least 9,000. Furthermore if demand dictates, they will try to expand even more.
Hell, while I've been stuck talking about tournament poker and TV, I may as well post this latest update on the poker television wars. Things sure are different now, eh?
Subject: Bravo Celebrity Poker Showdown goes head-to-head
Bravo has scheduled the latest Celebrity Poker Showdown series, filmed this past April at Harrah's New Orleans as a charity event for hurricane relief efforts, in DIRECT COMPETITION against the World Poker Tour (WPT) on the Travel Channel.
For the next 5 Wednesdays (May 31-June 28), the FIRST RUN of Bravo Celebrity Poker Showdown and the FIRST RUN of the WPT on the Travel Channel will both be on at 9pm ET (EAST FEEDS) or 9pm PT (WEST FEEDS).
Note that some cable TV systems in the west coast have not made the switch from the Travel Channel's EAST feed to Travel Channel's new WEST feed. You will need to check
with your cable TV system to see which feed you are getting.
(DirecTV and DISH Network satellite TV subscribers always get the EAST feeds ONLY no matter where they live.)
NBC Universal, which owns and operates Bravo, is clearly using Celebrity Poker showdown to try to take viewership/market share away from the WPT.
NBC Universal currently has the #1 rated TV poker series in the US, the NBC Sports National Heads-Up Poker Championship. The WSOP on ESPN is #2, and the WPT on the Travel Channel is now a distant #3.
The TV poker war has escalated to a new level, with the first instance of direct
hand-to-hand combat for ratings in the exact same time slot between two competing shows.
Two part interview with Irish poker pro, Padraig Parkinson, from a UK site. I've always been a fan of this guy.
Interview with Padraig Parkinson – Part 1
Interview with Padraig Parkinson – Part 2
Ten years ago, thirty-something was considered young for a poker player and people would call you “kid”. Now, forty-something is considered practically decrepit! We live in strange times. In 2000, there was a betting proposition as to what the age of the World Champion would be, and you could bet under or over 42. I think you’ll find out it’s come down a little.
"The Internet Gaming Bill" passes in committee, but it appears it will not come to a floor vote this session.
House panel approves Internet gambling ban
A Comprehensive Analysis of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act
Speakers Suggest More Study on Internet Gambling Article from a horse racing magazine.
Al will be happy to hear that SoCo is the new sponsor of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown. The deal will have SoCo product placement and brand signage displayed within the show. Contestants who drop out of competition will have their exit interview take place in the SoCo Lime Lounge as well. The placement deal goes into affect with the show's eighth season which debuted May 31st.
Well hell, I've read many odd things on RGP. This was a first.
I'd have to be some sort of horrible person to make fun of this guy, which definitely isn't the case because I read to paraplegics three days a week.
Subject: WANT TO STOP GAMBLING ?
Fast, professional and thorough - full practical and psychological support offered by ex compulsive gambler to help you to stop gambling.
Fast blocking of access to internet gambling sites on your PC / Laptop.
Help with account / casino cancellations. Emotional , psychological support and financial advice from someone who's been there. Please Email in the first instance. Both distance-based (via Internet, Email & Chat) & personal help offered (UK / London based).
This is a genuine offer by an ex-gambling addict experienced in helping recovering gamblers. I will help you to get to where you REALLY want togo in your life (it never involves gambling). If you've had enough of banging your head against a wall and feel the need to stop gambling please email David at email@example.com - I will help.
Yes, I almost emailed him.
Dear God, here's the best blog line I read today.
Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin fears that his forthcoming semi-autobiographical novel might cause readers to think he's insane. Culkin is urging fans not to read too much into his new book Junior.
He says, "I hope people don't think I'm crazy, because I'm not." Culkin decided to write the book when he found himself struggling to find acting jobs, but writing it turned him into somewhat of a recluse. He adds, "I've led a very isolated existence since I was six years old. It's kind of been me and my mind."
You'd think Macaulay would just be happy that anyone is thinking about him without 1) pity, 2) masturbating furiously. Even if he is crazy, no one would worry, because he's about as dangerous as a bag of crazy marshmallows. Although Michael Jackson would tell you he tastes better.
Random Fast Eddie chat after I told him I went to the racetrack at RiverDowns with Maudie and BG.
eddie: I am going to sweep that fucking track in 2 weeks
eddie: dress up as an employee and get a broom
eddie: is that a felony?
I've always despised the idea of a moderated RGP.
But I'm ready to throw in the towel.
Too many people to mention that I miss from RGP. Speaking of which, there is yet another movement to create a Moderated Rec.Gambling.Poker newsgroup. I found this interesting take about a potential moderated group:
In regards to the guidelines you posit, would the following be permitted? Quotes are inexact but sufficiently
close for debate purposes:
"You're approaching worthlessness." Carson to Negreanu
"I'd cheerfully spit in your face." Phillips to Carson
"Whoosh. That's the sound of the point, whizzing over your head."
Weideman to Treesong
"Annie Duke is really lame, for the following sixty reasons, including her smelly feet."
Negreanu to the world.
"You like to smear feces all over yourself?"
Rowdy to Treesong
"What I really hate is those people who just MAKE SHIT UP."
Phillips to Treesong
That's actually kind of a lame 'highlight' reel of flames from RGP but it will have to suffice.
But now, with the group completely overrun, I'm in favor of "something" to stop the spam. It's insane. But then again, I'd have little or no interest in a moderated or censored group. Anyway, here is a lucid idea for cleaning things up. No clue if it would work but it's food for thought.
Subject: A perfect logical, rational and simple moderated RGP
A perfect logical, rational and simple moderated RGP
Presently the key problem with RGP is the continued posting of spam by people that use each address only once which makes putting them in a kill filter useless.
The solution is very simple.
All new users of RGP will have each of their postings reviewed by a moderator until they have six posts in a roll pass a no spam ad restriction by a moderator. This will kill all the first time then switch name spam.
All other posters will be allowed to post as normal without going to a moderator and each user can determine who belongs in their kill filter and who does not. In a very short time each user will be able to have a very clean and readable RGP which fits their needs,
For those worried about off topic post the answer is simple. Kill filter all off topic posts you are not interested and if a user starts off topic posts which you feel causes the users overall posting to be of no value kill filter that poster.
This method would allow us to do away with the different name one time posting of spam but yet keep RGP a free and open voice.
Once again I find it funny so many are blinded by what the problem really is and get involved talking about matters of no real concern put forth by people like Shiver.
A six post rule is all RGP really needs at a general level all other issues can be handled on a personal level with a kill filter. For those like Shiver that want a mother figure to determine what they should and should not see really points to the fact RGP is not for them.
RGP is a free and open voice and we should all want to keep it that way. Once we do away with the one time one user name spam on RGP all other issues can be solved by each user on their own terms. The six post rule would allow any kill filter to work at an almost 100% level in a very short time.
Those that want some other level of moderation really don't understand what they are asking for. What is spam or an ad to one may be useful information to another. Take for example someone talking about a bonus at a given online site to the bonus whore this is great information but to me it is just spam. Any talk about any site could
be considered spam by someone that doesn't play online
All this talk about sig lines is just plan nuts. If someones sig line gives you that much heartburn then kill filter them. As far as any off topic post just kill filter the subject or as stated before kill filter the OP if their habit of posting off topic makes their on topic posts no interest to you. Good god folks let us address the problem a personal kill filter will not fix and leave the rest to personal choice.
This is for my man Joaquin, mostly. I think Felicia and he are the two serious stud players that come to my addled mind right now. From Ashley Adams, an author of a 7 card stud book.
Subject: Atlantic City Trip
I thought you might enjoy my recent summary of the poker action in Atlantic City.
There was a time, not that long ago, when the Atlantic City poker scene included many wonderful stud games. The Taj Majal had all limits all the time. The Tropicana could be counted on for at least a few $5/10, $10/20, $15/30, $20/40 and even $30/60 games - and a few Stud8 hi-lo games. Even Bally's and the Sands got into the act with mid limit stud - including a 15/30/45 and a 5/10/15/20/25 game. And everyone
had $1-5 no ante.
That all changed starting back a couple of years ago when the no limit hold 'em craze hit television and every poker room in the country. I started to hear that stud in formerly strong stud country Atlantic City, was dying. So I decided to investigate. I made an overnight trek down from Boston to see things for myself.
Let me give you an overview of the entire poker scene in Atlantic City and then zero in on the stud action - what's left of it anyway. I'll throw in some strategy thoughts as well - as my sojourn naturally included a little play at the tables as well. This may take a while. So be prepared for a multi-part series on Atlantic City poker.
Ten of the casinos in Atlantic City spread poker: Bally's, Borgata, Caesar's, Harrah's, Hilton, Resorts, Sands, Showboat, Tropicana, and Trump Taj Mahal . That's five more than they had three years ago when I last played. One of the casinos, Bally's, even has two rooms - one devoted just to tournaments including sit and goes.
All totaled, there are 306 tables and 94 tournaments a week not counting sit and goes or monthly or annual tournaments. Most of the cash games and all of the tournaments are hold 'em, with about 60% of the cash games of limit hold 'em and 40% no limit hold 'em. Just about all of the tournaments are no limit hold em.
Seven of the ten Atlantic City poker rooms spread stud. While there is a smattering of mid-limit stud games in a few casinos, only one room, The Taj, consistently spreads more than $1-5.
Here's a list of all of the poker rooms in Atlantic City, with a brief summary of the number of tables, frequency of tournaments, and list of what stud games they spread, if any. I've also included their phone number so you can call the room to verify what they're spreading before you head over.
Borgata: 609-317-1000, 866-692-6742, theborgata.com. 35 tables, eleven tournaments a week (at least one a day except for Saturday). Stud games of $15/30/45 occasionally.
Harrah's: 609-441-5000, 800-242-7724, harrahs.com/our_casinos/atl. 25 tables, twelve tournaments a week (at least one a day - usually two). $1-5 no ante stud.
Taj Mahal: 609-449-1000, 800-825-8786, trumptaj.com. 85 tables, fourteen tournaments a week (two a day). All levels of stud 24/7.
Resorts: 1-800-336-6378.resortsac.com. 6 tables, two tournaments a week and one extra "Ladies only" event once a month. No stud
Showboat: 609-242-4000, 800-621-0200, harrahs.com/our_casinos/sac. 25 tables, fourteen tournaments a week (two a day). No stud.
Sands:609-441-5000, 800-227-2637, sandsac.com. 14 tables, seven tournaments a week (daily). $1-5 stud - rarely $5/10
Bally's: 609-340-2000, 800-225-5977, caesars.com/ballys/atlanticcity. 20 tables plus 10 more in their Wild West poker room for sit and gos and tournaments. Five tournaments a week (Monday-Friday) and 24/7 sit&go action and large $150+25 multi table tournament in the Wild West poker room. $1-5 with ante and $5/10 stud
Caesar's: 609-248-4411 x5109. 24 tables. Seven tournaments a week (one a day) plus evening sit and goes. No stud.
Hilton: 800-257-8677, hiltonac.com. 20 tables. Thirteen tournaments a day (normally twice daily). . $1-5 no ante, $5/10 sometimes.
Tropicana: 609-340-4000, 800-843-8767, Tropicana.net. 42 tables 8 tournaments a week (once a day and twice on Sundays - going to two a day in June). $1-5 no ante and $5/10 stud
Oh my, I just re-discovered Sgt. Rock's awesome trip reports. I think I linked this in like my third month of blogging so I'm long overdue to pimp this. Got some time to kill at work? Thank me later.
Sgt Rocks trip reports
In another look back, I read this awesome quote from Felicia that I blogged about way back when.
Don, as you may remember, is the elderly racist who exposed himself to me last week.
Oh the Humanity.
Maybe Felicia will retell that tale for us, if we're lucky.
Because I'm a huge fan of Amy & Lou, I gotta pimp their May 17th holdemradio show that featured Andy Bloch. I'm downloading it as I write because that Andy Bloch has an IQ of around 380.
Here was Lou's post about it:
Subject: Andy Bloch on this Thursday's "Keep Flopping Aces" on holdemradio.com
Andy Bloch has grossed over $1 million playing poker tournaments. He's had multiple WSOP and WPT final table finishes and won the Ultimate Poker Challenge in 2005.
Andy has multiple engineering degrees from MIT and a law degree from Harvard. Although Andy played recreational poker in his early years, his professional gambling interests were fostered by his participation in the now famous MIT blackjack team. One of the things we'll discuss on the show is his newly released blackjack DVD.
But poker was a constant for Andy. He was an active and early member of RGP, inspired by the mathematically inclined bent and thoughtful exchange of ideas the Usenet group became famous for.
Andy also co-wrote the "The Idiot's Guide to Poker Tells." One of the things we'll discuss is how he integrates his mathematical/game theoretic approach with the more psychological aspects of this game.
Amy Calistri and I will also discuss the WPT waiver situation with Andy. Although you have probably heard various spins about this, we'll dig into the specific underlying issues that affect the players.
It's all on "Keep Flopping Aces," this Thursday night at 9:00 PM EDT and 6:00 PM PDT, at www.holdemradio.com. The show will also be archived for those of you who are unable to listen to the show as it airs.
Be sure to take a peek at the revised 2006 WSOP schedule from the Poker Prof.
Revised 2006 World Series of Poker Schedule
You wanna read some OUTSTANDING old-school RGP poker discussion/debates/flames? Thankfully, I'm here to separate the wheat from the chaff.
This is Gary Carson's personal favorite "debate" thread. There is a ton of Abdul commentary throughout as well as Danny N. and Gary butting heads. Here's what Gary had to say about it:
Here's one of the all time great threads in my opinion. Except for Danny
challanging me to a duel because his feelings got hurt, it's what arguement used to be like on rgp. The tenderness of Danny's ego was a precursor of things to come on rgp I'm sorry to say.
Readers of Carson's book will recognize this hand. He used this thread as part of his discussion on post flop play. Go read it all - don't stop after the first 25 posts, damnit. It gets tasty as hell. Mason, Sklansky, Carson, Abdul, Caro, Negreanu, Badger, Bostick, Phillips, Weideman & Geary to name a few involved in this discussion.
What To Do On The Flop - A Tough Decision?
Weeee, I'm starting to get twisted. Tis late and I'm fully Guinness-fueled so it's time to wrap this up.
But here's one last fine tidbit announcement. A new Harrington book is out! Woohoo!
Harrington on Hold'em III release
I have read I and II and my game and outlook on no limit hold'em has changed. I can see the game from an overview now and act on my hands much differently.
David Sklansky and Ed Miller also have a new book on this topic to be released this month.
Harrington on Hold 'em; Volume III: The Workbook by Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie
Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.
Well hell, let's do one last poker goody. Any of my readers who play computer games are certainly familiar with the IGN gaming site.
Daniel Negreanu's new computer poker game, Stacked, gets ripped in an IGN review. 4.8 rating out of 10. Here's a quote and link to the review itself.
After a lengthy waiting period, the most-hyped poker game has finally arrived on the PS2, PC and Xbox. Stacked with Daniel Negreanu has been one of the most highly anticipated poker games for some time due to the fact that its AI routines were built off of the Poki engine, a complex poker AI system developed by the University of Alberta. Unfortunately, while a certain quote on the box would trick you to believe that Stacked is "Halo with chips" (we're not making this up), the game simply comes up short-stacked in just about every way possible.
Stacked with Daniel Negreanu
After months of waiting, it's time to lay down the cards and walk away.
Thanks for reading. I hope someone out there didn't get any work done today.
I truly am deranged. Deeply and profoundly deranged.
[Cough] Bonus Code IGGY, damnit, on Party Poker.
Or sign up with some new poker site with a banner of mine, damnit. I'm groveling here and I don't care.
Link of the Day:
Celebrate 6-6-6 in Style
Though some other plans are being made, today's completely meaningless confluence of Satanic sixes may be the world's last, best chance to get rid of the emo haircut.
Bonus Link of the Day:
The Crappiest Place on Earth
Theme Park Review visits the FantazyLand theme park in Alexandria, Egypt, a theme park that's the next best thing to 72 virgins in heaven.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Doing some random reading around this interweb thingy and found this article from last week. It was entitled Washington State SUCKS pertaining to online poker becoming a felony on June 7th there.
I'm just gonna blog it here and get back to reading and attempting an uber.
Time for gamblers to fold
Beginning next month, Washington residents who play poker or make other types of wagers on the Internet will be committing a Class C felony, equivalent under the law to possessing child pornography, threatening the governor or torturing an animal.
Although the head of the state Gambling Commission says it is unlikely that individual online gamblers will be targeted for arrest, the new law carries stiff penalties: as much as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The new law, which takes effect June 7, passed the Legislature this year without much public attention. But word has begun to spread among gamblers online and in old-fashioned "brick-and-mortar" card rooms, and the players aren't pleased.
"To say playing poker in card rooms is legal but that it's a felony to play online is insane," said Kerry Welsh, 47, of Bellevue.
Welsh is considering taking a wireless computer outside the state Capitol when the law takes effect and playing Internet poker as a protest until he's arrested.
Nobody knows for sure how many Washingtonians gamble online, but the practice is huge and growing, fueled by the popularity of Texas Hold 'em in televised tournaments and multimillion-dollar events such as the World Series of Poker.
In 2005, revenue from online poker sites was estimated at between $1.5 billion and $2.6 billion in the United States, according to various gambling publications.
The Justice Department believes Internet gambling is prohibited under several federal laws, including the Federal Wire Act.
As a result, most of the big, popular gambling sites are operated outside the United States and aren't directly regulated by the U.S. or state governments.
The Washington law, which upgrades online gambling from a misdemeanor, was an effort to be compatible with federal law, said state Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton.
The law applies to all online gambling.
Gambling Commission Director Rick Day and Prentice, who sponsored the legislation, said the law is necessary, partly to protect the gamblers themselves.
Online poker games invite organized crime and money laundering, they said, and it's easier for dishonest players to collude against unsuspecting opponents. And when online gambling operators refuse to pay winners their proceeds, some gamblers have said there is little recourse.
It's also as addictive as other forms of gambling, they add, and more accessible to minors.
Day said the intent of the new law is not to give agents greater incentive to track online gamblers and throw them in prison. Jailing small-time online gamblers is "not the focus of our work," he said.
But he confirmed that commission agents had gone to the homes of several state gamblers (fewer than half a dozen, he said) about a year ago to warn them that such activity was illegal. No one was arrested.
In fact, no one has ever been prosecuted in Washington -- or anywhere nationally, according to gambling publications -- strictly for gambling online.
Day said his priorities are to go after national and international promoters or operators based in Washington state -- and increasingly, to warn gamblers about the risks and illegality of the activity.
Prentice said the measure had the backing of the state Attorney General's Office and the gambling commission. Lobbyists from the card room industry and tribal casinos were almost entirely absent from the effort, she said, even though they stand to benefit from the new law.
The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and with just five dissenting votes in the House. It was signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire on March 28.
Criticism of the new law, some of it targeting Prentice, has appeared on various blogs and gambling news Web sites. Much of it centers on the argument that online gamblers have the right to gamble if they choose.
Those concerns were echoed by poker players at several card rooms around Seattle this week.
"What, is Homeland Security going to get involved in this one?" said poker player Wyatt Wettland, 25, during a break at Goldie's Shoreline Casino on Aurora Avenue North. He said he plays online every other day, for two to three hours at a time.
A gas station manager, Wettland said he plays online for free, but wants to start playing for money to try to win one of the large jackpots, which are often thousands of dollars. But he had to wait for his credit-card debt to go down.
Up the street at the Drift On Inn Roadhouse Casino, a man who offered only a first name, Nick, was about to join his first card-room game after playing countless games online. He said the online games have helped him learn the game.
"A felony? That's harsh," he said of the new law. "I think as long as you're 18, you should be able to gamble."
Free or "play money" online poker games are legal, and will not be affected by the new law. But some in the state play poker online for large amounts of money, and a few are even trying to make a career out of it.
Another player, 25-year-old Jeremy, said he'll disregard the new law. "I don't care, I'll still play," he said.
With a degree in wireless communications, Jeremy said he used to work in tech support. But poker is his full-time job now. He figured he spent 20 hours a week playing online and another 20 hours in card rooms. Once a month, he heads to Las Vegas. He is never far from a computer, which sometimes has three games going on at once.
"Everyone plays poker online. People play poker on TV and celebrities endorse it. It seems like it'll be tough to crack down," he said.
He said he has parlayed $1,000 into $13,000 and often wins jackpots of $4,000 to $5,000. Other times, he quits after losing $3,000. But most of the time, he's ahead, he said.
"Poker players don't consider it gambling," he said. "When you win consistently, there's actual skill in it."
I've been submerged in poker but I promise to get to writing something up this evening.
For now, the Bad Beat Jackpot on Party Poker is at $250,000.
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