Here is the .pdf, if you’re curious.)
Kept looking for something new about the history of PokerStars, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Black Friday indictment and civil complaint, or anything else that might be news to the state of New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement as it contemplates how to proceed in the matter.
But as others have already pointed out, there isn’t really anything there that those receiving the petition wouldn’t know about already. Even those of us with less direct reason to have followed the story as it has unfolded over the last six-and-a-half years know pretty much all of the details set forth in the petition. And in fact the brief seems at times to exaggerate or misrepresent certain details about the indictment/civil complaint and subsequent settlement, too.
I usually struggle a little reading these legal documents, sometimes having to admit limits to my knowledge and understanding that prevent me from appreciating what exactly they signify. Here, though, I felt more like a teacher reading a student essay. That is to say -- rightly or wrongly -- I felt as though I was in a situation where I could be fairly confident I knew as much or more than the author did about the chosen topic and argument.
Thus the primary message being delivered here is the desire of the AGA (i.e., the casino industry) to broadcast its opposition to the potential re-entry into the U.S. of PokerStars. F-Train spells it out for us in his piece for Flushdraw from yesterday where he explains how the AGA speaks for the casinos and its interests.
F-Train also alludes to the other bit of interestingly-timed news that Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars, has stated that Caesars Entertainment had approached Stars about selling them certain assets, including the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Apparently that offer also may have included the WSOP, too. (Diamond Flush posted a copy of Hollreiser’s statement in full.) According to Hollreiser, the offer was declined and that Stars isn’t interested in trying to obtain any other casinos just now.
Let me backtrack a little from my earlier claim to possess some understanding about online poker’s recent history. I’ll admit that when reading about these new moves in the burgeoning battle for online poker in the U.S., I feel a little like I do when reporting on a tournament in which the players are skilled and seeming to operate on levels well above my own, making it hard if not impossible to identify with their decision-making.
Sort of thing necessarily puts one in a passive mode, unable really to judge or even react immediately. Which works, I guess, given how long we’ve all been stuck in “wait and see.”
As I start to get that page together I now have a new entry to include, a write-up of last week’s poker-themed episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that appeared on CBS. I wrote about the show for my “Pop Poker” column on PokerListings, and the article appeared yesterday as “CSI Features Poker Serial Killer (and Tom Schneider).”
I’d known that CSI had an episode involving poker coming up for a few weeks now, having spotted a couple of reports highlighting David Cassidy’s upcoming guest spot on the show as an aging poker champ. As it turned out, Cassidy’s turn was mighty brief as his character gets offed in somewhat gruesome fashion even before the opening credits roll.
I had no idea my buddy (and 2007 WSOP Player of the Year) Tom Schneider was to appear on the episode as well until just a couple of days before it aired. Schneider happened to know the show’s producer who called him up a couple of months back asking about getting a consultant to help them with poker-related details. One thing led to another, and Tom ended up getting recruited to play a poker dealer -- a non-speaking role, but his character in fact is significantly involved in the episode’s twisted plot.
Read the article to learn more about how Schneider got involved in the show and a little more about the premise and story. I purposely avoided getting too detailed with explaining the episode’s plot or revealing any spoilers, since I know folks reading the article might not have seen it and might be curious to do so. I didn’t even get into talking about the two hands of poker that get highlighted in the episode, including the one from the final table of the 1997 Palermo Poker Classic (meant to resemble the WSOP Main Event) that ultimately sets what turns out to be a long-delayed revenge plot into motion.
Reading around today, I am seeing how a tennis-themed episode from January featured a tennis racket as a weapon, with Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, and Justin Gimelstob among that show’s guest stars. Looks like that show also features some knowing references to the world of professional tennis, not unlike some of what happens with regard to poker and the WSOP in this latest episode, the title of which in fact comes straight from tournament poker, “Last Woman Standing.”
At the end of the PokerListings piece I make a couple of disclaimers about the episode, one of which is to acknowledge that you’ll need to be able to suspend your disbelief a bit to enjoy it. The other is to warn the squeamish about the gore, which frankly amazed me. (I’m thinking of one scene in particular -- anyone who sees the show will know which one.)
I hadn’t really watched CSI much since it first began airing over a decade ago. So while I was aware of general complaints about the show (and prime time graphic violence, broadly speaking) I had no idea how far the standard had moved for what is allowed these days over network teevee.
Some of my academic writing has been about film, including a new article in the latest issue of Paracinema which I mentioned here back in January. Some time ago I found myself focusing on horror films for a while and among the pieces I published were a couple about Halloween III and The Stepfather -- two ’80s horror entries that get grouped with other “slashers” of the day. (If you’re curious about those old articles of mine, click the film titles to read posts over on FilmChaw where I talk a little more about each.) But even with that background, I was still surprised a little by last week’s CSI.
Anyhow, with those warnings having been made, I’ll echo what I say at the end of the PL piece and say that poker players might well find the episode interesting -- and perhaps somewhat different from the usual ways poker tends to pop up in mainstream popular culture.
Later on came the other “Sunday majors,” the Hard-Boiled Poker Home Games, that is. Last night we had a H.O.S.E. event (won by Bruckner_7th) and a Razz one (won by SmBoatDrinks). I somehow managed to luckbox my way into winning the Badugi tournament the week before.
I’m noticing this morning that the results of last night’s tourneys might not have been recorded in our Season 3 standings, which I’ll look into today.
So far we’ve played eight events in Season 3, and I think I’ll actually schedule three events on each of the next four Sundays. One will be at 16:00 ET on Sunday afternoons, and the other two at 20:00 ET and 21:00 ET (as usual). I’m hoping perhaps with those earlier events to enable some of my European buddies to play a few tourneys. Adding the extra tourneys will also help us get to a total of 20 events before Season 3 concludes at the end of March.
As was the case with Season 1 and Season 2, the top three finishers in the season’s standings will win prizes. Again one of the prizes will be a copy of Zach Elwood’s Reading Poker Tells, a very helpful book regarding tells in live poker that I reviewed for Betfair Poker here. I also have picked up a Rounders DVD that I’ll throw in as a prize, too, if perhaps someone doesn’t have it already.
I’ve yet to settle on what the third prize will be this time. If anyone has books or DVDs they’d like to donate, let me know. Meanwhile, these remaining events in Season 3 will be covering a variety of games (as usual). For those who have been playing, feel free to suggest games/variants in the comments below.
Sure, it ain’t quite playing for millions of dollars. But I know I’ve enjoyed the Home Games a lot, and I think they’ve provided a lot of fun for others, too.
Kind of wonder, actually, if all matters involving the FS+G and its debts will be resolved by the next Leap Day.
As I’ve mentioned here a few times, I became tangentially involved in the sad story of the Epic Poker League as I was one of a few writers recruited to contribute columns to the EPL blog. It was a good experience, particularly working with the blog’s editor-in-chief, Michael Craig, as I produced weekly columns for about six months. I wrote about a variety of topics, all under the heading of “poker and pop culture,” and my column was titled “Community Cards.”
The timing of the bankruptcy filing meant I ended up on the long, long list of FS+G’s creditors (I was owed one last invoice), and a year later I continue to be among the large crowd of folks still owed money. And who still receive the mailings regarding the latest happenings in the Maryland court where it all continues to play out.
A couple of weeks after the filing in mid-March, FS+G issued an angry statement responding to a Card Player article that outlined how “Epic Poker Bankruptcy Leaves Mountain of Debt.” That article referenced the more than $5 million owed to creditors and the $15,000 the company then had on hand. (I believe the amount of debt was ultimately found to be considerably greater than that.)
FS+G’s response to Card Player strongly suggested that the EPL wasn’t “shutting its doors” but that the bankruptcy was part of the effort to reorganize and somehow keep the sucker going. That the EPL “website and social media game are up and running” was cited in that statement as evidence that the league wasn’t planning to fold.
But even then few were being fooled by such optimism, and indeed by mid-June the company’s meager assets were being sold off to Pinnacle Entertainment, thus enabling FS+G to pay back a small fraction of the $2.1 million they owed Pinnacle. Those assets were highlighted by the Heartland Poker Tour, but also covered what was left of Epic, including the website with all of its live reports from the three tournament series, the blog, and other content produced over the league’s brief run.
It wasn’t long after that I noticed the EPL site had been taken down altogether, an occurrence I noted here with dismay in a post last August. Eventually I put it together that when Pinnacle sold the Global Poker Index to Zokay Entertainment, the contents of the website had gone over as well and soon all but the GPI stuff was scrubbed away.
I talked to Zokay CEO Alex Dreyfus since then, and he confirmed for me that this was how things went as far as the EPL site is concerned. Dreyfus, of course, is helping to promote the Global Poker Index ranking system into something the poker world has become increasingly intrigued by over the last few months. I believe the GPI will become a bigger part of the scene this coming year thanks to a new partnership with the World Poker Tour and plans for the upcoming WSOP in Las Vegas.
In any case, to mark this one-year anniversary I thought I’d today start reposting some of those “Community Cards” columns here on Hard-Boiled Poker. I won’t be publishing them all here, but there were a handful in I have wished were still around on the web.
I’ll tentatively plan to use the next few Fridays to share these columns, starting with one titled “Men, Women, and Poker in A Streetcar Named Desire,” which I’m posting separately today.
One scene in particular, coming relatively early in the film, well demonstrates how poker was thought of not only as a game for men, but also a ready context in which men could fulfill cultural expectations about masculinity.
The scene -- referred to as “The Poker Night” in Williams’s play -- comes about a half-hour in, by which point we’ve already gotten to know the story’s three primary figures, Stanley Kowalski (played by Marlon Brando in the film), his wife Stella (Kim Hunter), and her sister Blanche (Vivien Leigh). By then we’ve also come to recognize some of the effects caused by Blanche coming to New Orleans to stay with the young couple.
In a way, Blanche moving into their small apartment near the French Quarter instantly draws attention to several differences that exist between her vulnerable, newly pregnant sister and the callous, muscle-bound Stanley, a WWII vet turned factory worker. Stella, like Blanche, hails from rural Mississippi, much different from the gritty urban setting in which Stanley seems comfortable. There is also a class conflict of sorts going on, with Stanley’s modest upbringing clashing with the (now lost) aristocratic heritage of the DuBois family.
The most prominent conflict in the film, however, is the one ongoing between men and women, something Blanche’s upsetting the balance of in the Kowalski household certainly brings to light. And poker night -- happening shortly after Blanche’s arrival -- particularly underscores the contrast between the sexes the film intends to convey.
Stella understands the need for the men to be alone, and thus plans to take Blanche out for the evening. Before they leave, however, Blanche attempts a bit of flirting with Stanley, and when he resists Blanche responds with a back-handed compliment.
“I can’t imagine any witch of a woman casting a spell over you,” she says. “That’s right,” says Stanley, repeating his same terse reply from before. Undeterred, Blanche continues. “You’re simple, straightforward, and honest. A little bit on the... uh... primitive side, I should say. The way to proceed a woman would have to...”
“She would have to lay her cards on the table,” Stanley says, abruptly halting her with a poker metaphor. Some shouting ensues, and their conversation-slash-argument ends without much resolution.
Cut to later that night. In the play, Williams’s stage directions unmistakably reveal his intention for the poker game to highlight the players’ masculinity. Explaining how each of the actors are to wear colored shirts, Williams notes “they are men at the peak of their physical manhood, as coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colors” they are sporting.
It is upon the ladies’ return that we first glimpse the game, now many hours old. The men are drinking and smoking cigars, the room darkly lit and claustrophobic-seeming. From upstairs comes banging and yelling from the wife of one of the players, impatient with the noise the men are making and wishing for the game to end.
Stella and Blanche hover over the game momentarily while a hand being is dealt. Blanche even goes so far as to lean forward and peek at one of the player’s cards. “Poker’s so fascinating!” she says. “Could I kibbitz?” “You could not!” angrily yells Stanley -- who, not incidentally, has been losing -- and he soon suggests the women should leave.
“How much longer is this game going to continue?” asks Stella. “Until we get ready to quit!” responds Stanley, giving his wife an aggressive slap on the backside when she is slow to exit.
The game continues while the women move to the neighboring room, the card playing having literally segregated the sexes. The sisters start to make noise, laughing and playing the radio, prompting Stanley -- not unlike the wife upstairs -- to yell across for them to keep quiet.
Eventually one of the players, Mitch (Karl Malden), leaves the game momentarily to talk with Blanche, with whom he’s instantly enchanted. Meanwhile, the poker continues, with Stanley announcing Spit-in-the-Ocean once it is his turn to call the game.
Incensed, Stanley gets up and races into the next room. There he grabs the radio and shockingly throws it through a closed window, the glass shattering in a loud explosion.
Stella responds in kind, rushing into the room where the men are sitting and pushing one of the players, the light above the table breaking in the process. An enraged Stanley then begins to beat his pregnant wife, the attack only ending when one of the men knocks him unconscious.
“We should not be playing in a house with women!” Mitch yells out amid the fracas, a line he repeats when Stanley, after finally coming to, throws everyone out. The scene ends with a disoriented Stanley alone yelling for Stella who has taken refuge upstairs -- the iconic “Stella!” scene everyone remembers from the film. Stella forgives him -- this time -- and comes back down.
There are a few possible reasons for Stanley’s outburst, including his well-founded suspicions that Blanche’s story about “losing” the DuBois family estate and being on a leave of absence from her job as a school teacher is untruthful. Such is an issue that will become more significant later in the film when her seduction of Mitch has further progressed.
But really here Stanley seems most upset at how the poker game -- an arena for men to be men, perhaps not unlike the war from which he’s recently returned -- has been disturbed. It is almost as though that “manhood” Williams describes the players possessing has been somehow threatened or at least compromised by the women’s intrusion.
Later Blanche talks to her sister about Stanley, calling him an “animal” and “subhuman.” Poker, too, becomes part of her argument when she refers to “poker night” as “his party of apes.” Blanche, arguing for the arts and other refinements, tries to convince Stella that she shouldn’t stay with Stanley and thus “hang back with the brutes,” but her argument isn’t working.
It is interesting to look back at the way poker was not-so-flatteringly represented in this signature story of mid-century America -- as a game not only reserved primarily for men (and thus a source for division between men and women), but also perhaps an arena in which players might readily indulge their most “primitive” tendencies.
I’ve played at the Palm Beach Kennel Club a few times in the past when we’ve gone, too. The trip is always timed, it seems, just after the WSOP-Circuit makes its stop down there, and indeed they just finished up again last weekend.
From there the WSOP-C moves up the east coast to Caesars Atlantic City, and I’ve made that trip once before in the past as well, writing about it here (Pregame, Arrival, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). And in fact I’ll be making that same trip again as well next weekend, which is another reason why I’m looking forward to seeing Pop and taking it easy a bit over the next few days.
Speaking of visiting family in Florida, I was just listening to the latest Thinking Poker podcast with Andrew Brokos and Nate Meyvis. The show continues to be a great one, with good strategy talk and a nifty line-up of guests since I made a visit on there back on Episode 4. The fellas are up to Episode 21 now, which means they’ve now managed to make it past the 20 Hard-Boiled Poker Radio Shows I did. (I continue to reserve the right to revive the HBPRS, by the way, so I could theoretically catch up with Andrew and Nate.)
this latest episode of Thinking Poker finds Andrew having visited and interviewed his grandmother in Florida. The subject of their talk was her brother, who happened to be a nightclub comedian and singer who performed back in the ’50s and ’60s as Tubby Boots. He also happened to be about 400 pounds and would sometimes wear ladies clothes during his act. As is mentioned on the show, “Uncle Tubby” additionally liked to gamble, and so that kind of ties his story in with the usual talk about poker.
I’m a fan of old comedy LPs and so had heard of Tubby Boots thanks to the fact that he made four or so albums way back in the day. I own none, but had heard him before, and thus can say he was laugh out loud funny (and also more than a little risque and not at all PC).
Anyhow, as I ready for my trip down to Florida to visit with family, let me recommend this latest Thinking Poker show to you where you can hear some of Andrew’s visit with his grandmother, Sylvia Brokos, and their talk about a highly interesting member of their family.
Was an absurd prospect to ponder, really. Most legislators in the state had already made clear that they were comfortable with the changes suggested by Christie. And in fact when it came to voting on the revised bill yesterday, both houses passed it by wide margins (68-5 in the Assembly and 35-1 in the Senate). Then Christie signed it immediately, unlike the previous two times he’d had a similar bill before him to sign and took a full 45 days before deciding how to play his hand.
So New Jersey follows Nevada and Delaware into the new, exciting but uncertain world of online gambling. Regulators in NJ will soon start to work sorting out the details of licensing and ultimately paving the way for sites to get up and running, a process that likely is going to take at least a year, perhaps even a couple.
Right now only the dozen casinos in Atlantic City will be able to go for licenses. Those who do will be able to offer all of the same games online that they have in their casinos. Thus like Delaware, New Jersey’s law covers a variety of online gambling games, while Nevada’s law is sticking with poker only.
New Jersey is also giving itself that option of entering into interstate compacts with other legally willing states, which obviously will mean a lot when it comes to poker and building big enough player pools to achieve liquidity.
Also of interest is the Rational Group’s bid to acquire the Atlantic Club casino which will be decided upon by NJ’s Casino Control Commission sometime this spring. The Rational Group, of course, is a collection of companies that includes PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, and thus should their application to purchase the Atlantic Club be approved, that’ll be a step toward PokerStars and Full Tilt essentially finding a way back into the U.S. via New Jersey.
(Have to say, I like the idea of an entity called the “Rational Group” coming in and helping remove all of these irrational thoughts I seem to have about online poker and its future in this country.)
There’s a lot that will need to fall in place, obviously, before anyone is playing online poker in New Jersey. Before that day we’ll probably see some games going live within the next few months in Nevada. And we’ll continue to hear more about other states considering their options for joining in as well.
Now I find myself experiencing a different sort of absurd, worst-case-type imagining. Again, I have no basis for it -- other than six-and-a-half years or so of upset expectations and disappointment, I suppose -- but I find myself dreading some unforeseen, federal-level swooping in to stop everything from going forward.
Unfounded applesauce, I know. Like a weak-tight player crazily fearing that his opponent is holding some huge hand, sitting there slow playing while holding the nuts. But I feel like I’ve been conditioned somehow to think this way. Gotta unlearn.
At least it will be a while before any online poker games will happen. Maybe by the time they do I’ll have gotten over such instinctive feelings of dread when it comes to legislation and the online poker in the U.S.
Maybe by then I’ll be thinking more about what it means actually to play poker.
Online Poker Forums: Winding Through The Maze” -- has kind of a double application, referring both to the complex world of the forums and to the piece itself.
The article is actually the first of two parts, and despite the unclear organization and occasional Faulkernesque unwillingness to end a sentence, the article does manage to remind us that poker forums have been around for a long time -- more than two decades, in fact, with the once-prominent rec.gambling.poker (RGP) site among the pioneers.
I only bring up Eolis’s piece, actually, because it made me think of another article by Killian O’Leary and Conor Carroll published late last year in the Journal of Gambling Studies called “The Online Poker Subculture: Dialogues, Interactions, and Networks.” I had meant to write something about this study some time ago, and so am glad to have an excuse today to share it.
The study does a good job of explaining not just how online poker has evolved into an important “eco-system” over the last 15 years, but also how poker forums have come to affect and shape the functioning of what the authors refer to as the Online Poker Subculture (OPS).
As the authors point out, poker forums constitute one category or “platform” for interaction within the world of online poker, along with news sites (PokerNews, BLUFF, etc.), reporting/tracking sites (PokerTableRatings, etc.), and the online poker sites themselves. The forums are their focus, however, and they end up uncovering some interesting findings as they develop their ideas regarding how people tend to interact within these forums and how those interactions follow certain expectations regarding subcultures, generally speaking.
The methodology employed by the researchers was to follow procedures of “netnography” which if I understand it applies techniques used by anthropologists or ethnographers when analyzing a web-based group or subculture. In other words, they were essentially “lurkers” looking in on the forums of Deuces Cracked, High Stakes Database, and most primarily 2+2 in order to learn more about them.
They share a lot of interesting ideas and ways of describing how, say, a site like 2+2 functions and the influence the forums have over the OPS and even the poker world at large. As a way to make my own post more readable and also avoid going through the entire study point by point, let me just list a few of the findings presented in the article and comment briefly on each.
Collaboration and Competition
It is common to hear poker forums characterized as an antagonistic, combative environments, but what the authors of this study have found is something different, namely, “an ethos of collaboration/co-operation” within the forums that involves “conforming to the norms of OPS etiquette.” In other words, people often genuinely communicate and work together on the forums, as evidenced by the individuals sharing information in order to uncover insider cheating scandals as well as small groups discussing how best to play a particular hand.
That said, there also exists “a competitive hierarchy of status” in the forums. “The more one engages and participates in online forums the higher [one is] elevated within the subculture[’]s hierarchy,” they observe, noting for example how things like join dates and post counts greatly affect one’s influence when it comes to posting. There’s also a pressure to “enact and adhere to the ideals and ethos of the OPS” since “members are and have been in the past ostracized for non-conformity.”
Thus, the forums in particular show how the online poker subculture “distinctively enacts a contradiction, in that within a context of individually driven selfish motives (i.e., everyone playing to win), collaboration and cooperation comes to the fore within the OPS.”
The authors have much to say about how in the process of participating in the forums, individuals create identities that extend beyond the forums and into the OPS at large, or even beyond. “Online poker forums allow players to develop their own online persona,” explain the authors, “through interaction, participation and engagement with the subculture, thus reaffirming their reputation amongst their poker peers.”
They go on to address how “online poker celebrities” sometimes emerge from the poker forums. In fact, they point out how within the OPS it is often the case that “to become a highly successful online poker player and to receive accreditation, monetary results are not solely sufficient,” but some sort of meaningful, “intense interaction” on the forums is needed as well.
The authors also come away from their study concluding that their influence upon the way poker is played -- not just online, but live as well -- “has revolutionized the game.”
They go into some detail explaining in what strikes me as a knowledgeable way how forums have affected strategy, introduced new terminology, and sometimes even the behaviors exhibited in live poker (e.g., “the lack [of] social interaction/dialogue during physical game play”).
Two Plus Two’s “Sacred Status”
Having explored all of these areas, the authors are prepared to refer to 2+2 in particular as enjoying a so-called “sacred status amongst this online poker subculture.”
Such talk reminds me a little of some of the fuss that arose couple of years ago when 2+2 Grand Poobah Mason Malmuth once suggested that “2+2 is where the poker community is.” But truthfully the authors are not suggesting 2+2 is “the” poker community. (Neither was Malmuth, in my opinion.) Rather are they pointing out how the site and its forums possess special, extensive influence on the online poker subculture and its functioning.
I’m reminded here that BLUFF just released its “Power 20” last week and once again neither Malmuth nor any representative of Two Plus Two were listed. (I actually was asked to vote this time, and in fact I did include both Malmuth and Kevmath in the lower half of my 20.) I believe the last time any reference to 2+2 was made on the list was 2009.
Anyhow, if you’re at all curious to read a smart, studied analysis of poker forums, go read O’Leary and Carroll’s “The Online Poker Subculture: Dialogues, Interactions, and Networks.” They absolutely prove that the “OPS” exists, in my opinion, and also do a good job explaining the role forums play within that subculture.
The writing is dense, of course, following as it does the dictates of academic discourse (with lots of citation). But the argument is clear and the style still accessible, I think, particularly to readers of this blog who presumably already have an interest in online poker and the way those of us who play it (or used to play it) tend to interact.
(EDIT [added 2/27/13]: Thanks to @PokerScout1 for pointing out to me over Twitter that O’Leary and Carroll’s introduction actually contains a few glaring mistakes regarding online poker’s historical background, most coming in a single paragraph I have to confess to have only skimmed in my haste to get to the study. Also worth noting -- as @PokerScout1 reminded me -- is the fact that in referring to tracking sites the authors failed to mention Poker Scout [!]. I do think the study is insightful and highlights a need for similar kinds of inquiry, although have to acknowledge that as was the case for me with Eolis’s article, I can see how these errors might prevent some from wanting to delve further into what the authors have to say.)
Poker Is America.” It comes as part of a series of editorials written by various authors about “Games People Play,” and while the piece is kind of personal in nature it does ultimately provide a kind of defense of poker as a worthwhile pursuit.
I tweeted about Murray’s article yesterday, noting how some of the points he makes resonate with readings I assign in my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class. In fact I shared the op-ed with my class, too, inviting them to respond and think about how some of the ideas Murray advances might compare to things we’ve been reading about and discussing.
If you haven’t seen the article, you might click over and give it a look. It’s fairly brief (less than 1,000 words), and in truth there isn’t a whole lot that strikes me as particularly new among the points the author makes. Perhaps my coming at it from the perspective of my class affects my response somewhat, but there’s not too much Murray says about poker and its relationship to American culture that others haven’t pointed out repeatedly before.
Even so, Murray is writing in The New York Times. And since he’s defending poker, his article amounts to something notable for those of us here in the U.S. who also like to defend our game, particularly in the context of creating legislation to allow us to play it (including online).
Murray highlights a couple of points about poker that I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately, mainly because I keep encountering the same ideas being made over and over in our course readings. One concerns what might be called the “egalitarian” nature of the game whereby it really is open to anyone regardless of his or her background -- provided, of course, he or she has the money with which to play.
Murray looks around the table at the West Virginia casino at which he likes to play and rejoices in the fact that the players represent a mix of men and women, different races and ethnicities, and different age groups, even going so far as to say the games there could “give lessons to the rest of the country about making the melting pot work.”
I actually think Murray is being a little overly romantic about how peacefully this variety of people get along at the poker table. (He seems to have encountered a remarkable lack of conflict in the games he’s played.) But I get what he’s saying, and like I say it echoes things we’re reading other authors talk about in my class when they describe poker as being a “democratic” game that brings together people from all sorts of backgrounds, much as the country as a whole might be said to have done so, too.
The other point about poker Murray highlights is the way it rewards skill, or, as he puts it, the way “poker tables are pure meritocracies.” Again, we might quibble with Murray some here, too, and point out that the luck component of the game makes it somewhat less than “pure” in the way it doles out rewards based on an individual’s “merit” as a skillful player. But he’s talking about how the poker table tends to be a place where people can’t get by merely on their backgrounds but have to perform in order to succeed -- i.e., a place where you’re much more likely to be measured by your worth, not your birth.
Thinking in terms of society as a whole, Americans often like to think of their country as both egalitarian and a meritocracy. Of course, in practice neither of those ideas necessarily play out as envisioned. We don’t all get equal chances at succeeding here in the U.S., nor are we all always rewarded on the basis of our merits. (That is to say, in some cases the “American dream” really is just a dream.) But we like to think those ideas apply to our experiences here, and as Murray points out, the poker table does tend to provide a context in which we can realize those ideals, if only for the duration of a session.
In other words, it sounds more like Murray is saying “poker is America” as we might like to imagine America to be, but not really as it is.
I’m also not quite certain about the conclusion of Murray’s op-ed where he seems to be delighting in something fairly odd, namely how he and a group of players from a variety of ethnic backgrounds can bond over a shared prejudice regarding another group (Italians) for which no representative is present. Sounds a little like an ironic “praise” of poker for reflecting U.S. culture in a less than admirable way, namely as a place where intolerance (or at least suspicion of foreigners) is common.
In any event, it’s an interesting piece and I think ultimately probably helps poker’s cause somewhat, even if the argument in favor of the game isn’t necessarily as persuasive as it could have been.
Among those tasks was a visit with our tax preparer. Used to do all that on our own, but as life became more complicated we’ve begun having someone offer some assistance, and it’s been a great time-saver. Also this time around I managed to spend a lot more effort during the year keeping careful track of income and expenses, documenting and categorizing everything so as to make today a lot easier.
I did, however, take some time last night going back over the year and kind of reliving some what I’d experienced, including those trips to Uruguay, Las Vegas, Macau, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Not the nonstop globetrotting that some of my colleagues engage in during the year, but a lot of running around, for sure.
Sometimes I talk to people about what I do, and how a lot of my work happens at home, and we talk about how being able to work from home is most certainly a good thing, if you can manage it. However (I point out), when I do leave for work, the commute is often pretty long. As in thousands of miles!
Anyway, all of this going back over the year and tallying the totals makes me think a little about how I’d do something similar with online poker, always looking back over the year and scrutinizing the graph and thinking about what it represented.
But I’m realizing today that 2012 was the year where that sort of work stopped for me. I still goof around a little online, pushing pennies back and forth with others over on Carbon now and then. But the fact is I’m not depositing, I’m not withdrawing, and I’m not really paying attention anymore to how that ledger looks.
This development occurred sometime during the latter half of last year. I’m seeing a post as recent as April 2012 where I was stubbornly attaching some sort of significance to the little black book in which I’d enter results of sessions over the years. But that’s stopped now. I keep track of lots of other stuff now, but not that.
Sometimes when having those conversations with people about what I do I’ll get asked if I play poker myself. I’ve caught myself using the past tense sometimes, particularly with regard to how “I used to play online.” I’m hopeful some of these developments in Nevada, New Jersey, and elsewhere might one day eventually evolve into some situation where I’m able to play again, but I’m obviously not holding my breath.
In a way I’m thankful now I never rose above the level of a dedicated recreational player -- i.e., someone who took poker seriously, learned a lot about the game, but never reached a point where it was anything close to becoming more than an important hobby.
Would’ve been hard, I think, if somehow playing had become more of a “business,” to have to admit all of that had been taken care of.
The live feed was a little choppy, often freezing up and resetting and thus making it tricky to follow every exchange. In fact, it was a little headachy at times, kind of resembling the whole stuttering, start-and-stop-and-start again nature of online gambling legislation in the U.S. over the last several years.
Nevada, of course, passed its own online gambling bill (for online poker only) back in June 2011, and about six months later the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved regulations to provide a framework for licensing and operating online gambling in NV. At the time a number of companies had already applied for licenses, and by now many more operators, technology providers, and service providers have applied with many having now been approved.
It was at the end of 2011 when that new opinion from the Department of Justice regarding the Wire Act first appeared, an opinion clarifying that the half-century old law about taking bets over the phone across state lines only applied to sports betting. That was taken by many to open the door to a new era of online gambling in the U.S. Following Nevada’s lead, Delaware passed an online gambling law last year, and several other states have had bills proposed. In fact it now appears that New Jersey is on the verge of passing its own online gambling law, with Governor Chris Christie perhaps about to sign a revised bill into law next week (after having earlier appeared poised to veto it).
So we have individual states passing laws and preparations being made to start allowing for certain kinds of online gambling in the U.S., with sites in Nevada sounding as though they’re ready to go live within the next few months. (In fact, I believe at least one might have already has gone online with play money games.)
A lot of the discussion to this point has focused on states offering “intrastate” online gambling -- i.e., for licensed sites to serve individuals within the state, including residents and visitors. However, that reinterpretation of the Wire Act did appear to allow for the possibility of a state offering online gambling to individuals not physically within its borders. Such a development would obviously be significant when it comes to online poker where having a sizable enough player pool to keep games going and achieve “liquidity” is crucial.
And so among the sections of A.B. 114 comes one specifically noting how “The Governor, on behalf of the state of Nevada, is authorized to: (1) Enter into agreements with other states, or authorized agencies thereof, to enable patrons in the signatory states to participate in interactive gaming offered by licensees in those signatory states; and (2) Take all necessary actions to ensure that any agreement entered into pursuant to this section becomes effective.”
A.B. 114 covers other ground, too, including further defining terms with regard to so-called “bad actors” (i.e., those who continued to serve U.S. customers post-UIGEA) and the time period they’d have to wait before applying for licenses as well as increasing the fees for the initial issuance of a license and for renewals. But for those of us living other states, it was that section about Nevada possibly trying to offer some interstate online poker that has pricked up our ears.
There was some disagreement over the amount of the licensing fee ($500,000 or $1 million?), as well as some questions regarding how long the “bad actors” should have to wait before applying for a license (five or 10 years?). Ultimately those matters were resolved, and the meeting ended with a unanimous vote in favor of the bill.
Now A.B. 114 goes to the full Assembly for a vote, and it sounds as though things might move quickly with Sandoval perhaps signing it into law relatively soon (like today, even). Here’s an article just posted by the Las Vegas Sun detailing this morning’s meeting and its significance.
Getting back to that section regarding agreements with other states, or interstate “compacts” that would allow non-Nevada folks to play online poker on the NV sites, there were some questions about how that would work, including how exactly Nevada and the other states would be sharing revenue in such cases. Assembly Majority Leader William Horne also clarified that Nevada probably would not be entering into compacts with other states that had their own online gambling licensing regime in place.
That sounds a little like we might have certain states (e.g., Nevada and New Jersey) being kind of like central “hubs” offering online gambling to certain other states with which they establish these agreements, although to be honest I’m not completely sure how it would all work. (Or even if it ever will.)
In any case, those are among the many specifics that will eventually have to be hammered out by those drawing up the regulations (assuming A.B. 114 gets signed into law). As of now, looking into the future is kind of like that choppy feed, with visions of progress and actual change occurring interrupted by stasis and uncertainty.
Episode 258 (2/13/13), the one with Dan Shak et al.
Was diverted a little by a conversation early in the show between co-hosts Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz regarding the news (now over a week old) that the International Olympic Committee had announced that starting in 2020, wrestling will no longer be contested at the summer Olympics.
Technically speaking the IOC has only recommended that wrestling be removed from the list of summer Olympic sports, although it sounds highly unlikely it will be voted back in when the IOC meets again in September to ratify its decision and also to decide whether the 2020 games will be hosted in Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid. In other words, after being part of the summer Olympics since 1896 and included at every Olympics since (aside from 1900), there will likely be no wrestling happening in 2020.
You’ve probably read or heard about the general dismay being voiced at the IOC’s recommendation to remove wrestling, a sport that besides being a major part of the modern Olympics also obviously connects the present-day games with the ancient Greek games from way back in the 8th century B.C. For a humorous take on the matter, see Charles P. Pierce’s Grantland piece on the matter in which he fears Zeus might seek some form of retribution.
Anyhow, what I found interesting in the discussion on the Two Plus Two Pokercast was the way Johnson and Schwartz drew an analogy between the traditional offerings at the WSOP each summer and Olympic sports. Not pursuing the idea that far, the pair talked about how the WSOP keeps certain games on the schedule -- razz being the example on which they focused -- more for the sake of tradition than for business reasons.
Indeed, business reasons apparently forced the IOC’s hand with regard to wrestling, as the committee apparently not only factors in a sport’s popularity, but also TV ratings and ticket sales.
That got me thinking again about what events were left out of the 2013 WSOP schedule which was announced a day after that episode of the Pokercast. And how the hosts might have discussed the analogy with the Olympics a lot more had the schedule been out by the time the show was recorded.
Comparing the 2012 and 2013 schedules reveals quite a lot of changes, including events dropped and added and a lot of moving around of events, much more so than has been the case in recent years.
There are 62 events this year, one more than last year. If you look through last year’s schedule, there are exactly 48 tournaments on this year’s schedule that are identical from a year ago (same game, same buy-in). In other words, 13 of the events on the 2012 WSOP schedule did not return, while there are 14 on the 2013 schedule that don’t have an exact parallel from last summer.
Here are the events that were on the 2012 schedule that didn’t come back in 2013 (arranged by buy-in):
And here are the ones appearing on the 2013 schedule that represent additions to what the case last year:
On that latter list you see two $1,500 NLHE events -- those represent two additional ones over and above the total number of $1,500 NLHE events from 2012. I also haven’t included the Ladies event here with its new “differential pricing.”
Comparing the two lists reveals a couple of small changes in buy-ins (e.g., the NLHE re-entry going from $1,500 to $1,000), the switch from $10K to $5K buy-ins for a few, and the removal of the Mixed Hold’em event and the Limit Hold’em Shootout.
No single variant was utterly removed from the 2013 WSOP schedule à la wrestling being taken taken out of the list of summer Olympic sports, although one might look on the changes and say lowball games or even seven-card stud might be endangered, relatively speaking.
My sense, though, is that unlike the IOC which imposes on itself a finite number of summer sports (26), the WSOP probably won’t be finding itself having to choose between variants anytime soon. That is to say, should it become desirable to add something new like an Open-Face Chinese bracelet event, I don’t think doing so will mean having to get rid of something else, given the tendency just to keep on adding more bracelet events.
What do you think of the 2013 WSOP schedule? And do any of the changes stand out for you as particularly good or bad?
(Illustration above by John Wray.)
On the poker side, Haley Hintze wrote about Buss yesterday for Flushdraw, discussing his WSOP cashes (and one final table), his popularity in L.A. cash games, and his having turned up on various poker shows over the last few years (including High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and the NBC Heads-Up tourney).
Meanwhile, Grantland’s Bill Simmons spent part of his Monday morning writing about Buss and his importance to the NBA in “The Lakers Lose Buss, the NBA Loses a Titan.” A frequent critic of other NBA owners’ decision-making, Simmons highlights Buss’s positive contributions both to the success of the Lakers (who won 10 titles for him while he was owner) and to the league as a whole.
Both pieces help convey Buss’s character as a genuinely giving person who often put others’ welfare and interests ahead of his own. Both touch a little on the contrast between the “playboy” image sometimes applied to him (thanks largely to his poker-playing and frequent appearances with younger female companions) and the modest, friendly personality that won him many friends and fans.
Buss was obviously an intelligent, creative thinker, earning a Ph.D. by age 24, realizing substantial success in real estate, and then as an NBA owner helping build a consistently-winning, wildly popular franchise. He was also highly competitive, a trait many former Laker players and high-stakes poker players have been talking about a lot for the last couple of days as well.
I never met Buss and in truth my experience with him at the WSOP pretty much entirely consisted of reporting occasional hands he played and once in a while overhearing some interesting table talk. As others who played with him have been unanimously attesting to over the last 24 hours, he was certainly an amiable presence at the tables, never seeming to mind frequent questions from other players (or even from the rail) about the Lakers or questions an NBA owner.
I remember once Buss being at the WSOP and playing in an event while the Lakers were making another NBA playoff run, and recall his telling someone how the team seemed to perform better without him being there, thus explaining his decision to be in Vegas rather than attending games. (Haley discusses that story as well in her piece.)
I also recall covering a $2,500 Omaha/8-Stud/8 event in 2011 (the last year Buss came to the WSOP) and overhearing lots of questions to Buss from others asking for his thoughts about various NBA players. I also wrote a post here sharing some reflections on the relaxed atmosphere created by the players in that event, the sort of thing that often provides a ready context for fun table talk and characters to emerge.
It sounds as though the WSOP might be considering renaming an event after Buss in recognition of his friendship and positive influence on the poker community. The NBA also will surely be focusing some effort toward remembering Buss and his important role during the league’s period of dramatic growth.
All seems appropriate and deserving. And as a fan of poker, basketball, and friendly people who serve to build communities rather than break them down, I, too, wanted to commend Buss for his positive contributions and influence.
Some had noticed previously how the site -- which bills itself as “The Internet Newspaper for the Gambling Industry” and appears under the International Gaming Awards aegis -- often lifts articles verbatim from other news sites, republishing them without attribution and sometimes even with different by-lines. In other words, the recent brouhaha isn’t really a new thing, although the latest round of accusations appear to have finally gotten the attention of a number of poker media types.
For details, see John Mehaffey’s article from yesterday chronicling several examples of iGaming Post’s thievery. Mehaffey describes what the site has done as “plagiarism.” Others are using terms like “content theft” or “copyright infringement,” but it all amounts to the same offense. Stealing! With both hands!
There are quite a few of these “portal”-type sites publishing pieces about poker and/or gambling that operate in a similar fashion. Some follow iGaming Post’s brazen cut-and-paste method. Others use “scraper” programs to lift material off sites and republish it on their own. And some involve a person performing a few minor edits such as changing a word or two here and there or reordering paragraphs in order to fool the Google gods into thinking the post is something new.
As someone who has published lots of “original content” on the web, including here on my personal blog and on a number of other sites (most of which have been poker-related), stories such as this one obviously grab my attention. Having a background that has included teaching thousands of college students how to write essays further positions me to want to say something here as well.
Do I have anything original to say? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But I feel reasonably comfortable claiming all of these words and ideas about the matter as having emanated from my own jingle-brain.
In my composition classes I always considered learning how to incorporate other sources into one’s own writing as what distinguished “college writing” from whatever students might have studied before. Getting students to understand when to quote (or paraphrase or summarize), how to quote (and cite), and also how to sort out their own thoughts and words from others’ were always, to me, primary goals in such classes, lessons that had to be learned before writers could figure out how to communicate meaningfully with an audience.
And, of course, understanding what plagiarism was and avoiding it at all costs was part of the instruction, too. No compromises, there. (And no points if you plagiarized.)
The internet isn’t a college classroom, though. Notions of “originality” or “authorship” get complicated on the web. The stark distinctions a teacher might make on a college writing assignment about quoting and citing and penalties for failing to document properly are essentially out of place here.
In fact, a lot of what passes for “original content” say, on a poker news site, tends to stretch the definition of “original,” with the great majority of articles and even features mostly consisting of material that has been rewritten in some fashion or another.
Yesterday Barry Carter wrote another interesting post talking about the practice of “newsjacking” in poker media wherein someone might produce genuinely “original content” by writing a piece that responds to a current item of interest. An example he gave was writing a post last week sharing his initial thoughts about the new WSOP schedule, something I, too, did here at Hard-Boiled Poker.
Despite the confrontational sound of the term (and hard-to-ignore connotations of theft it suggests), “newsjacking” is in fact a lot like writing a college essay in which one has been asked to use sources and respond with one’s own argument regarding an issue. The idea is to inject your own interpretation or analysis, referring to what others have said (and citing appropriately) while positioning your own self within a kind “conversation” about your chosen topic.
But again, on the web, ideas of authorship and even the relationship between the self and others often get fuzzy. Thus does “newsjacking” often become more like carjacking with a writer aggressively taking someone else’s words and ideas and going for a joyride, heedless of the ethical responsibilities of “owning one’s writing.”
I have to admit that after dwelling for so many years within the internet’s echo chamber, I find it difficult to get too animated when hearing about another lame site like iGaming Post distinguishing itself by its lack of originality. That said, I’m glad they’ve been called out, and hope perhaps it does a little to discourage others from being too easily tempted by the treacherous two-step of Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V.
HOW IT WORKS
Scan your favorite poker blogs every day.
Search over 150 poker blogs
Click to visit the blog or browse all of the bloggers intros.
Poker bloggers reach new audiences and readers find new poker blogs and keep up with their favorites.
Link to PokerWonks