Saturday, February 02, 2008

While I'm here, I figured I should point out the latest snafu per online poker software hijinks. Except this time, it was to the players favor, as BetFair started paying out players in SNG's on a software bug.


Betfair uses its own in-house software platform. In the real world, people would get fired, and quickly, for such shoddy code. In the online poker world, BetFair will likely be rewarded by players flocking to their site, and the code monkeys promoted.

Go get the entire skinny from my pal, Amy Calistri: Betfair Seeks Return of Ill-Gotten Winnings from SNG Software Glitch.

UFC 81 

Not to get off topic here, but tonight is a big evening for the UFC. Bringing in Brock Lesnar, a freakish athlete with little fighting experience, to fight ex-UFC champ Frank Mir is a savvy marketing move. I can't wait to hear the buy numbers on the PPV.

Now if I was a betting man, which I am, I'd be putting a real nice chunk of change of Mr. Lesnar, which I am.

I may look like a fool come tomorrow, but only dead fish swim with the current.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Memoirs in the Now 

Memoirs in the Now
by Johnny Hughes, author of the poker novel, Texas Poker Wisdom

"I remember when there were just three bloggers, Al, Iggy and Dr. Pauly. They walked three miles in the snow to write posts. Blogger then ate the posts and they had to walk three miles back home, retype the post, and walk three miles back to blogger to submit the post again. In the snow. Uphill both ways."

You young, whipper-snapper, loose players forget just how new and revolutionary blogging is in our culture. Traditionally, writers had to wait until they were really old or really dead to write their memoirs. If they weren't already dead, they probably would be before a book worked its way through the glacial-paced world of book publishing. A certain type of journalistic distance and alleged objectivity meant the writer kept their own selves and opinions out of it. If they crept in, some editor would cut them out. Only a few hep cats like Mark Twain made themselves a part of the story.

Now we have the memoir of the now. Dr. Pauly and Change100 have grand adventures in Australia and we follow them journalistically in almost real time. The writing is unedited, uncensored, and straight through..them to you. Its interactive, you can comment. Imagine Boswell tagging along behind Dr. Johnson, and stopping in Internet cafes to keep us informed. Pauly and Change100 grab hold of some bar-b-cued kangaroo and some alligator eggs, well, we get pictures and a graphic description of hangovers in helicopters that follow.

Iggy's like the Reader's Digest and Walter Winchell and Johnny Carson bringing us topical, right then news and his thoughts on all this. Of the two, whom do you know to be the most secretive...Dr. Pauly or Iggy?? Yeah, well, that's part of the deal. You choose what to put out there to the whole damn world and what to keep back.

I was in on a first wave of journalistic change writing for an underground newspaper in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We wrote semi-annonymously, mostly humor. We could just make up stories, but you knew they were satire. We had a wire service, Liberation News Service. We printed their radical message for the far-left radicals. This was also the time of a new personal journalism that gave us guys like Iggy and Pauly. Writers like Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer started putting themselves in the story. It wasn't about a Grateful Dead Concert, it was about what happened to Dr. Pauly at a Grateful Deal Concert. The concert was only backdrop.

I met Ralph Nader at the airport and attended a speech he made and wrote mostly about me.

As a warning, the FBI had a nation-wide program called COINTELPRO, for counter-intelligence. That meant they screwed with and did things to left-wing groups, left-wing leaders, underground newspapers, all writers. They kept files. Worried way too much. For the underground newspapers, they visited printers who canceled. They broke into offices. They opened mail. Tapped phones. Freedom of info act requests reveal they had agents that would visit and try to get people to do more radical, violent acts. There were false accusations. Our editor was arrested for drugs...cough syrup from the Texas Tech health service which tons of students had...by the Lubbock Police. Our ACLU lawyer got him out. They gave him the cough syrup back. Then that night the Lubbock County Sheriff's office arrested him for the same cough syrup. He had two drug arrests on his record. Charges were dropped. Stuff like this happened to college student leaders across the country.

For decades, I have known people, like myself, who were writers, going to conferences, getting little stories in obscure places. Writing without expecting readers. And reading in a vacuum where you could not comment. Now when you read an article, often you can comment right away. When you read a book, you can review it on Amazon or write the author or challenge the author. I remember reading Douglas MacArthur's memoirs and thinking, "What total horeshit." Now, I can speak up.

I listen to four local talk radio stations here in the mornings while I roam the blogs seeing what happened to my new blogger friends overnight and getting my first early morning BrandiRose hits as he first rays of a golden sun peak out over the Caprock. I am a regular writing emails to one and calling a couple of others. In the mornings I may hear a DJ read what I wrote and hear people comment or call myself. This week I screwed up, being this the age of straight through, uncensored radio, where you censor yourself. It is even more immediate than the Internet because there is zero edit.

They started talking the pro-guns rap you hear in Texas and how everyone should carry a gun, which we already do. Then they started talking about this store owner I know we will call Jake. They said you always felt safe around Jake because he wore a sidearm. They said he had this beautiful derringer. I was immediately outraged and called in and said, "Jake is no poster child for the National Rifle Association because he shot himself right in the head." Awkward silence. I'm wishing I had not said it. There's more to the story.

I've always worked in the communication business..book business, newspaper, radio, Television, and then university teaching. You bloggers should cherish the freedom to go straight at the readers right from the heart.

I wrote a couple of poker pieces for Texas Monthy.com. Some junior intern edited and cut them up like a boarding house pie. I wrote about hand nicknames and they cut out Big Slick. I wrote about West Texas gamblers nicknames. One of my pals was named Train Wreck. Years later, he was in an actual train wreck and wore a brace all the time and was suing the railroad. He won. They cut that, my favorite little part.

Iggy and Pauly and Al and all those coming along behind should realize what a magnificent, new thing it is to write your memoirs in the now, as you live them, unfiltered, straight though to readers all over the world.

Johnny Hughes, author of Texas Poker Wisdom.

More Brandi. Kill Me Now. 

"I worry about our nation--nay, our species--when I spend more than 30 minutes on 2+2. No wonder the Chinese own most of the U.S.--they block crap like this."
Mean Gene

Holy smokes. I have two wonderful threads for you today.

I truly wish this Brandi nonsense would go away, but rumour has it that there's a pr0no out there featuring her?

Read the thread. Hell, go watch the video if you ain't at work.
Is this brandi in this porn?

I'm speechless. This can't be her, right?

And crazy David Sklansky is, well, David is posting more photos of himself at home.

I Can Get Even Jenn, Brandi, & Brandon To Reconcile

TGIF, indeed.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Poker Bloggers 

"I remember when there were just three bloggers, Al, Iggy and Dr. Pauly. They walked three miles in the snow to write posts. Blogger then ate the posts and they had to walk three miles back home, retype the post, and walk three miles back to blogger to submit the post again. In the snow. Uphill both ways."

It's funny cause it's true.

Not sure what anyone thinks of my new short and sweet style of posting, but I'm hoping you enjoy more content, more often.

I look back at those monstrous uber-posts I used to do and am amazed. How the hell did I write all those up, year after year? Seriously, that is some deranged shit. I can't even wrap my mind around it.

And so here we are. Not to say I won't ever uber again, but I need to shake things up around here. So that's what I'm gonna do.

Quick segue: there's been a lot of talk about Google eliminating GoogleBombs evidenced of the fact that GW Bush no longer shows up on a search for 'miserable failure'.

Well hell, go Google “dangerous cult” and see who appears #1.

Also, they’ve bombed the Scientology website to #3 for "brainwashing cult" right now.

So long story short, it's gonna be easy to get SirWaffles to #1 for "worst poker player".

The Tipping Point 

"When you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart. There's no there there."
Duncan Watts

Hey now.

Really a fantastic piece in Fast Company. Marketers spend a billion dollars a year targeting influentials. The fellow quoted above says they're wasting their money.

I've been enjoying some great conversations with colleagues about this.

Is the Tipping Point Toast?

One of my favorite marketing writers, Seth Godin, who wrote the book about viral marketing ("Unleashing the Ideavirus") responded to the above article on Watts by declaring markets need both, the influentials and the regular mass market fans. You need word of mouth, and influentials have big mouths.

What should be really clear, though, is that people with big audiences certainly count as one of the people around you. If the guy down the row at work buys a Mac Air, it counts. If Guy buys a Mac Air, it counts just as much (or possibly a bit more). If a kid in school is listening to Ini, it counts. And if you hear HotStepper on a popular radio station, it counts just as much. Since people with big audiences have more 'friends' and have more 'people down the hall', they have more influence. Not because they count for more, just because they 'know' more people.

Works for me. I don't believe in much of this marketing flavor of the month BS, anyways. Things aren't always so absolute and these situations are rarely an either/or situation.

And hell, success is oftentimes about being in the right place at the right time, and nothing more. A happy accident.

So anyway, read the above article if you're interested in these kinda things.

Thank you, Bobby Bracelet, for this fine DUI video.

Some Poker TV Show 

Did Erick Lindgren really say, "Let's juice it up" as he re-raised Jose Conseco at at the 2.55 mark? Wow.

More online poker cheating at Ultimate Bet 

"How come these scandals have not been plastered on the covers of the major magazines? It should be blatant.. in big bold letters. I just don't get it."
Life's A Bluff

The home of Phil Hellmuth continues to have problems, although it's a non-issue in the press. Who cares if superuser accounts exist?

Cheating at Ultimate Bet? Shocking but true.

I've held off on posting this thread for a few weeks but it's just gotten too big and too damning.

Suspicious Plays on UB 25/50 and 50/100

The story is likely close to breaking. There was a post on Monday alluding to potential company acknowledgment. They are watching developments to be sure, and I'm sure hoping this will all blow over.

Which it likely will. Sad.

Anyway, lemme give you the abbreviated cliff notes, gentle reader.

About the same time the AP scandal broke a few players that were running allegedly like superusers either changed their names or eliminated their accounts at UB. Folks are still checking on this, actually.

There are some pretty amazing, sick stats in the thread. You should go check it yourself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AlCanHang Makes It to 1,000 

"My internet footprint could completely disappear tomorrow and I still wouldn't have a problem finding a game in another city, the next big party or some fools to join me on a jaunt around the world."

What can I possibly say about AlCanHang that hasn't been said?

Not much, except that I truly believe our little community would never have coalesced and formed the bonds it did without him. I love how Otis put it per Al, "Loyal and generous." Amen. And just such an authentic friend. To meet Al is to love the man.

Now go read Al's 1,000 post.

Just to be semi-transparent, I've done a fair share of due diligence on the Absolute - UB nonsense, zipping off emails and even working the phone here and there.

All of the good stuff, such as it is, can't be blogged about, from both ethical and legal perspectives. Trust me, I would if I could. Or if I could get confirmation on some of the hearsay.

Let's just say that the rabbit hole goes a lot further down than people really fathom.

Outside of people I know in the industry, I've gotten my fair share of anon emails today. Here's a typical one:


Hey Iggy. I just read your post about UB.

I used to have two logins there also before I (knew better.)

I had (once) registered both at a single tourney. I let one of them auto fold while I played the other. When i got knocked-out I logged off and logged in as the other name. It worked.

I thought it was a quirky accident.

But apparently this is a well known hole.


Hell, if I got an email or five about it, it must be true.

"Sklansky, you are a freak and a very weird dude."
First post after David's.

I think we've all had our thoughts on David Sklansky's (eminent poker theorist and author) personal life. After all, he's regaled us with tales of dalliances with under-age women and more.

Well, here it is. An inside look.
No-Girls-No-Goats, My Real Home Life

David, we really need that special Sklansky forum to go back up. I implore you.

Also, who the hell is still out there with the temerity to prey on newbies and send poker players to Absolute Poker? I need to take a deeper dive on this and report back, time permitting.

News flash: Poker Players Alliance still doing nothing. I'm gonna rescind my membership.

Ultimate Bet Now? 

I don't get it, I truly don't. Why would anyone in their right mind have money on Absolute Poker or Ultimate Bet?

I'm still too much on tilt about the entire situation to make a rational post, but maybe I just need to rant and rave and get it out of my system.

Want to see some sick stuff? Head over and read this thread at 2+2. The opening post is really all you need to know:

Are you kidding me UB?


I was talking to my friend whose screen name is Forcewithme on the phone today while he was playing UB. I told him I'd sweat him for a few minutes while we were on the phone and pulled up the Lobby. Without realizing it, I logged in as Forcewithme. Apparently when he was at my house last week he played on my computer and saved the log in to my computer.

SO when I thought I was logging in as me I actually logged in as him. After watching him play for a few minutes I checked the cashier to see if I had any money in there and saw quite a bit of money and that is when I noticed that I was logged in as him......while he was sitting at 6 tables!!! So I told him that I was logged in as him and he was like, "Are you kidding me?" So we decided to see if I could play some tables and sure enough I sat and played some .01/.02 NL tables while he had 6 tables fired up from his house 100 miles away. We couldn't even believe it.

Has it really gotten this bad over at UB?


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poker Decisions & Tommy Angelo 

There is something to be learned here for many of us. I mean, I love discussing hands with my poker buddies as much as the next guy, but there's something to be said from taking assumptions of 'right or wrong' too far.

In Tommy Angelo's poker book, he makes this assertion, which I fully agree with.


In the land of the closest poker decisions - we can easily expect disagreement over which decisions are best. We can expect intelligent, elaborate debates with both sides insisting theirs is the right side. We can also expect to debate with ourselves and to second guess ourselves. "Did I get it right this time?"

And that's why I say: The decisions that trouble us most are the ones that matter least.

Let's say you face a close betting decision, and afterwards, you want a definite answer. You want to know, one way or the other, if your play was right or wrong.


That's a mistake. Just by thinking like that, about right and wrong, you are making a mistake. If you play a hand, and you face a close decision, and then you write about it or talk it, I think that's great - seriously. Or if you talk about hands other people played, same thing. All good.

But be careful. Don't fall into the gray area trap.

Don't burn up valuable energy and waste precious sanity. Don't assume that just because you have an answer, and just because someone else has a different answer, that one of you is right and the other is wrong.

Let's say I have the button and everyone folds around to me. Depending on ym cards, and my opponents, and other variables, it might be obvious to me what my best choice is, or it might not be obvious at all. Should I assume that there is always a right answer? And even in there is a right answer, should I assume that I can always know what that answer is? I believe the answers to these questions are no and no.

I believe it is correct to believe in unknowableness. Analyze, evaluate, ponder, and then let it be. Resist the gray area's mind-snaring entrapments. When you examine a betting decision, yours or someone else's, at the table or away, on your own or with others, remind yourself that debates point to close decisions, and that close decisions matter least, and that the answer is sometimes unknowable.


How glasses affect your image. Something to bear in mind at the poker table.

I've actually dabbled with getting fake glasses. I think wearing them can add 30 IQ points to someone's look. And I, frankly, need that type of help.

Dutch Boyd and WPT Tunica 

"Pot odds are for morons when all the cards out."
Dutch Boyd

I don't do much hand analysis here on this humble poker blog. There are many others who do so, and much better than I would. I don't get too hung up on particular hands.

As someone once said, it's not about pots, it's about the sessions, winner or loser. I guess that's why I don't play many tournaments.

But I saw a bigass honking thread with a Q&A with Mr. Dutch Boyd in a hand he played at the recent WPT final table in Tunica.

Here ya go:


Crazy Hand at the WPT Tunica!! What did Dutch Boyd have?

Today I drove down to the gold strike in Tunica Mississippi to watch the play down to the final table. The play was down to 8 players and the weirdest hand came up with Dutch Boyd. Boyd had about 250,000 chips (not exactly sure how many he had. And he got involved with a big stack.

With blinds at 8,000-16,000 Boyd made it 48,000 in EP. The big stack (Brett) called on the button, blinds fold.

Flop = 2-3-J two spades. Boyd bets 48,000, and Brett calls.

Turn = 9 of spades. Boyd bets 90,000, and Brett raises to 200,000, Boyd thinks for a long time and calls, leaving himself about 50,000.

River = 3 of hearts. Boyd checks, Brett puts him all in for his last 50,000, Boyd thinks for a long time and folds.

What could Dutch Boyd possibly have had that he wouldn't fold or committ on the turn? I can't figure it out.

What do you guys think?

BTW 2 hands later Boyd picked up A-A and had them cracked by As-Qs.


And luckily for everyone reading, Dutch hopped in and gave his post-mortem on the hand:


Ok Waco... you're one of the few players on here I respect, so I'll bite. How can it not matter what I had to make the play bad?

Here's how it went down. I had 357k at the start of the hand. I had just dragged a nice pot with KJ against Freddy Deeb when he bet the river with Q high on an Ace Ten raggedy board and I called with the second-nut no pair. So now I'm under the gun... blinds are 8k-16k with 2k antes. I have AsQd and raise 3x to 48k. Brett calls in the cutoff with 88. One of them is a spade.

Flop comes J32 with two spades. I Cbet, which is something that I hadn't been doing much of if I missed the flop up until that hand, so I really kinda figured Brett would put me on a pair and fold his hand. 48k. He gets stubborn and calls. So far I'm not seeing anything wrong with the play.

Turn comes 9 of spades. So now there's three spades on the board and I have two overs and the nut flush draw.

I don't put Brett on a flush, because I think he would have raised on the flop. I don't put him on a Jack.

Really, I put him on a pair smaller than nines, or a set (22s, 33s, or 99s). I'm sure if I check that he's going to bet. But I don't think he's going to call if I bet. So I make the semi-bluff of 90k. I've got 169k behind. Still don't see anything wrong with the play so far.

Now he does something unexpected and raises... but he doesn't raise > my stack. He raises 110k more. I'm pretty sure I don't have the best hand. Worst case scenario is he has a flush and I only have 7 outs. 14% to win the hand. But he didn't. He had 88s with a spade and I had 13 outs (three aces, two queens, 8 spades).

So I'm a 3:1 dog. Not the greatest spot to put the vast majority of your chips in. But the pot is 522k. I'm pretty much certain if I hit the hand I'll get the 59k call on the river... so really the pot is 581k. So I'm getting over 5:1 to call. If I call and hit I'm in a good position to make the tv final table and take down the tournament. If I call and miss, I still have enough chips that I can fade the BB and SB one time and wait for a hand that figures to be best preflop or wait for the BB to come around the second time. If I fold, I'm sitting on 169k, which is still enough to maneuver and make some preflop blind steals, but really not the position I want to be in.

Anyway, I called. Maybe you think it was the wrong call? I guess if you're going all perfect-path, annette15 no-look style, it doesn't really matter that I was getting 5:1 on a 3:1. All that matters is that the majority of the time I'm going to be crippled. I don't consider myself such a huge favorite against the 7 that were left that I'm going to be shying away from pos-ev situations like this one. I would have shyed away from it, though, if he had put me all-in on the turn.

The spade didn't come. The Queen didn't come. The Ace didn't come. So I checked and folded when he bet... getting over 10:1 to make the call... but pot odds are for morons when all the cards out. I don't have a 10% chance of taking down this pot. I either have a 100% chance of winning it or a 100% chance of losing it, and in this case I was sure that my AQ wasn't good. I guess there's always a chance that Brett had something like 45 with a spade and is just flatout lying about the 88s. But he swore that's what he had and I believe him, and it makes perfect sense with the action.

I really don't think I played the hand bad at all. But maybe you'd care to elaborate a bit about why you think I did.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit! 

Aw hell, looks like eBay terminated the Brandi auction. I guess it was only a matter of time.

Irish Mike made this post to RGP a bit ago and I thought I'd share his questions about the poker folks from yesteryear. Plus, it's an excuse to post a goofy video at the end of this.


Subject: What ever happened to...

We see certain poker players regularly because they have endorsement and sponsorship deals that keep them on TV. But what ever happened to these guys:

Thomas "Thunder" Keller. Heavy set guy with a big mole on his face.

Bryan Micon: Obnoxious little ass wipe that got a lot of TV time in the 2006 WSOP main event.

Russ Hamilton: Big guy that played high stakes cash games. Was a WSOP champ, once won his weight in silver (Wow!) at Binions. Binions used to run ads in Card Player advertising that Russ played at the Horseshoe.

Elix Powers: Semi-homeless guy who won $40K in a WSOP event a few years ago. When he saw he had won $40K he got so excited he just pissed away his chips so he could cash out.

No-front-teeth guy: Big talker at a WSOP event a few years ago. Never shut up. "Johnny Moss once said I was one of the best poker players he'd ever saw".

Ron Rose: Solid player out of Dayton Ohio. Won a WPT championship. Had a seat on the NYSE in his pre-poker life. Just seemed to disappear.

Paul Phillips: Mega bucks dot com guy. Dyed his hair a different color for every tournament. A regular player one day, seemed to be gone the next.

Paul Darden: Phil Ivy wanna be. Wore goofy sun glasses and always seemed over rated.

Gavin Smith: Boom or bust Canadian player in critical need of a weight watchers membership. Seems to have slipped below the radar.

Chris Moneymaker: Every one's favorite punching bag. You hear his name but never see him any more.

Josh Arieah: Made an obnoxious ass of himself at the WSOP final table when Raymer won. Insulted Mike Caro in another tournament.

Adam Schoenfeld: Pompous little shit. Always a mean, sarcastic comment on any poker subject. See him do little spot interviews on the WSOP events occasionally but haven't heard of him cashing any where in years.

Tom McEvoy: Wrote a lot of successful poker books. Won the WSOP in 1983, cashed in 2006 but nothing in between. Think I saw him bust out on a Professional Poker Tour show last year.

The fact that I haven't heard much about these guys doesn't mean they haven't done any thing. Maybe some one else has more up to date information.


Amazing Young Organ Player Rocks Out - Watch more free videos

EBay auction for Brandi Hawbaker's Sheriff's Card 

EBay auction for Brandi Hawbaker's Sheriff's Card (stripper / dancer).

Quick Brandi Update 

I know, I know, I said I was done with the Brandi drama but this is just too random not to mention.

Original 2+2 thread linked below:


Brandi is no more, hello Naami Dai

Register Of ActionsCase No. D-08-386744-NIn the Matter of the Petition for Change of Name by: Brandi Rose

Hawbaker, Petitioner(s). §

Case Type: Name Change Petition
Date Filed: 01/11/2008
Location: Department L
Conversion Case Number: D386744

Party Information Lead Attorneys
Petitioner Hawbaker, Brandi Rose
Pro Se

Events & Orders of the Court OTHER EVENTS AND HEARINGS
01/11/2008 Notice
of Petition for Change of Name
01/11/2008 Petition for Change of Name Naami Dea
Financial Information
Petitioner Hawbaker, Brandi Rose
Total Financial Assessment 148.00
Total Payments and Credits 148.00
Balance Due as of 01/23/2008 0.00

01/11/2008 Transaction Assessment 148.00
01/11/2008 Payment (Window) Receipt # 2008-01323-FAM Hawbaker, Brandi Rose (148.00)


Is it really only $148 to legally change your name? Hell, I'm gonna go for Stacks McGuligutty.

I saw that the protagonist of this whole mess, Brandon, had followed up with his explanation on her name change here:


Around September, she decided that she wanted to embrace judiasm. Started going to classes to learn hebrew, met with a rabbi, and attended temple.

She wanted to leave the poker world and try to break into the entertainment industry by auditioning for sitcoms in LA (I am not making this up). She had several consultations with surgeons in regards to getting implants, her nose done, and other work on her. She decided that it would be best to change her name before entering the entertainment industry. She was afraid her past might be brought up/found at some point and it could appear on the cover of People or one of those gossip magazines (Again, I am not making this up). She wanted a new name that wouldnt be linked to her past


Video of the day. This guy needs TechnoViking to put him in his place.

Roid Head Loves Himself - Watch more free videos

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Poker Cheating and Who Cares? 

"Poker remains to this day a world divided: WSOP and WPT, Bluff and CardPlayer, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the biggest islands in the lawless industry ocean. If these entities stopped focusing on beating the other guy for just a minute of each day, it would mean so much to the long-term health of the game."

Good read here by Gary Wise for ESPN.

We've got some serious troubling issues with the world of online poker right now. Expect a rant.

For now, enjoy this:


Calling for action

Turning 18 is a big moment in any man's life. Granted, these days it's not as honorary as it was in the age of the hunt, but you can vote, serve in the military, and in some countries, you can play poker anywhere you damn well please.

Recently, Josh Field hit the big one-eight. Before we get into who Josh is, can you think of any time when an 18th birthday ever registered in your mind in relation to poker? Each year, lists of up-and-coming soon-to-be 21-year-olds are compiled as we try to figure out who the next big thing at the World Series of Poker will be, but 18 is a whole other matter.

Field is a different story because he's emblematic of a lot of the problems within this industry. That's not to say he's responsible for them. He's a kid who was smart and cold and merciless enough to take advantage. Those familiar with Field's story will tell you he epitomizes the problems in the poker industry. They're right, but the problems in question are not the ones they're thinking of. Bear with me.

Field is better known to many as "JJProdigy." It's his online alias that he once used at online tables. "Once used" because two years ago, he was caught multi-accounting and was made an example of, banned by PokerStars and PartyPoker and made a pariah by the online community he once called home.

Rather than take these developments as a calling to something more earnest, Field continued going with what he knew. "My immaturity again was working against me," he wrote in multiple online forums, confirmed by ESPN.com on Dec. 22, 2007. "I didn't think what I was doing was wrong. After that, it was a downward spiral. I was a fugitive in the online poker world. I used the reasoning, 'If I'm already a wanted man, I might as well maximize my value.'"

In the time since his actions first came to light, he's continued to break online poker rules by multi-accounting, purchasing accounts mid-tournament and gaming the system, all without showing much in the way of remorse. He apologized for his actions in that Dec. 22 posting, but without any reparations other than public embarrassment. After all, this is poker, where the object is to get the most money. In this particular version of the game, he was winning.

Justin Bonomo, a 22-year-old pro with experience in both the live and online poker worlds, wasn't impressed with that rationalization.

"In the history of poker, 'JJProdigy' is the only person to be publicly caught cheating more than once, and it was a lot more than once," he said. "I don't think JJ realizes, even now, that what he's done was wrong. I wish he would realize the damage that cheating does, not only to his opponents, but to the image and health of poker as a game."

Bonomo knows of what he speaks, because he used to be a "JJProdigy." He was banned from multiple sites for the same offenses, also around the same time Field was. Not surprisingly, in poker circles, their names have become synonymous. The difference however, is that Bonomo has expressed continued regret for his past actions, constantly taking steps to not only repair his once-fractured image, but also to educate the poker community about the mind-set behind cheating and how it might be prevented.

The reception to Field's writings was divided. On one hand, he was unrepentant and therefore undeserving of forgiveness. On the other, there was the realization that for all of the rule-breaking he's done and the monies gained through illicit dealings, there was no punishment. Cheat the system for a few years, apologize for a few years and move on. That's what Field was attempting to do, without so much as giving a penny back.

It was when Field mentioned in another post that he'd be going to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure a week after his 18th birthday (which made him legal to play in some live tournaments abroad) when a backlash began. PokerStars was flooded by complaints and as an apparent reaction to public demand, released a message to concerned players (and ESPN.com) which informed Field he would not be allowed to play in its event. Field adapted and decided that his first live tournament would be played at the 2008 Aussie Millions.

It was there he did two interviews that caught the community's attention . The first was with Amanda Leatherman for pokernews.com and the second was an appearance on Poker Road Radio, the Joe Sebok/Gavin Smith/Bart Hansen show hosted online. Both interviews threw Field some soft-toss questions, not shying away from the tough subjects but not condemning him for his actions, either.

It was after the two interviews when Dani "Ansky" Stern had enough. Stern, a 21-year-old pillar of the online poker community, wrote a long, passionate, frustrated diatribe about how the interviews had let Field off too easy and how the community should not. He called out to players to be more vigilant in ostracizing those few who would remind the world of poker's checkered past instead of embracing the newer, cleaner game. He also called out industry leaders to come together to ensure players like Field would not go unpunished.

"The casinos are brutally efficient in weeding out the card counters, they even keep records with rival casinos about the card counters because it suits both their interests to do so," he wrote. "If someone is caught counting cards at the Bellagio on Monday, do you think he will be able to walk into the Venetian the next week? Fat chance.

"Card counters are not cheaters, and yet they are so vigilantly and unequivocally barred from casinos. Yet known cheaters are banned from one site and not the next, or are banned from one tournament and not the next. Why is there no unity amongst the casinos or the sites in this case, but such fervor for unity in the case of card counters? Oh right, money, it's always about money, and never integrity. Card counters win money from the casinos, multi-accounters and cheaters pay rake just like everyone else, they are only stealing from us. This is why the burden is on the PLAYERS to pressure the casinos, the sites, and even TV networks to be harsher about this, and why people like JJProdigy should not feel comfortable enough to sit down face to face with two important figures in the poker community."

There weren't a lot of answers in Stern's post. It was more an attempt to wake the world up and inspire some action. In reading through Stern's and Field's writings, one thought kept screaming through my mind: "Who cares?"

Harsh? Yeah. I mean, I obviously don't want these actions to occur, and more importantly, the offending players aren't being punished. Like Stern wrote, it's all about the money. As far as the short term is concerned, caring for the state of the game is not a profitable endeavor. The answer to "Who cares?" is "The wrong people."

I've long held to a theory about poker players in business doing business like poker players. Accustomed in their time at the felt to employing a "me against the world" mentality, they often (or so the theory goes) allow that mentality to supersede other logical progressions in their business dealings. "Grab as big a piece of the pie for me while I can. Rake in those pots. Let someone else worry about the greater good, I'm here to make money."

There are exceptions to the rule, but their pleas often fall on deaf ears, and that leaves an industry that exists in a cyber Wild West vacuum. Without a regulatory body, everyone makes their own rules and those rules only fall over the scope that the rule-makers survey.

There are no real solutions here. After all, I'm just a lowly writer sitting on my perch commenting on the big things other people should do. The thing is, if I were one of the folks sitting on an eight- or nine-figure bankroll, looking at the game that had attained me that lofty station, I'd want to do something for the good of the game, even if that wasn't commensurate with profitability. Knowing I feel that way, I take the prerogative and wonder why those folks have done no such thing.

Poker remains to this day a world divided: WSOP and WPT, Bluff and CardPlayer, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the biggest islands in the lawless industry ocean. If these entities stopped focusing on beating the other guy for just a minute of each day, it would mean so much to the long-term health of the game.

A regulatory body supported by, funded by, but not answering to industry biggies could codify the rules of the game and the punishments for breaking them. It could blanket the players in a measure of security. The relationship between regulatory body and poker room would benefit the latter in being recognized by the former. Is there any way to ensure rogues don't try to get their piece of the pie? No, but at least the prospective player would know the risks they'd take by taking a seat with an unrecognized entity. Any company donating either time or money toward this endeavor would gain the benefits of being recognized as an industry pillar that wants to better things for all of us.

Greg Raymer, the 2004 World Series of Poker main event champion, has been one of the few TV pros who has been open-mouthed with their disdain for Field's actions, vigilant in his referrals to them as criminal activity. On the idea of our autonomous body, he's cautiously optimistic.

"Anything we can do to make cheating more difficult is going to be a deterrent," he said. "There are always going to be people who try to cheat the system, but knowing there are real ramifications for those actions might stop them before they start."

Raymer points out there are many little issues that would need to be handled. Overshadowing them all, however, is the reality that this is an industry in which the money is the scorekeeper, so chucking some cash at "the good of the game" endeavors is about as likely as I am to find the money needed to start such a project in a jacket pocket.

Bonomo agrees, however, that our hypothetical organization's existence would go a long way toward stopping cheating at its roots: "A set of standardized rules could eliminate the gray areas of cheating. Once everything is defined as right or wrong, it becomes a lot harder to justify the wrong."

Cheating, unfortunately, is inherently human. We as a species are never wholly content to sit on our laurels when there are advantages offered, especially without matching consequences. It's frustrating to know that players like Field have cheated, but if it weren't him, it would be someone else, and then someone else and then someone else. It's also inherently human to strike out at those few individuals who tarnish the game in loud, emotional but ultimately forgotten strokes. Companies of massive standing have the power to be inhuman, to do the things that individuals can't for the greater and enduring good. The real blame should be placed on the shoulders of those with the power to make change that aren't seizing the opportunity. Until they do so, the Josh Field's of the world won't have much to disincline them from doing what they do.

I hope I'm wrong. Happy birthday, Josh.

All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

100% Signup Bonus at PokerStars.com up to $50

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?