Monday, December 1, 2014

O, Canada! Wheeze Tendon Guard For Thee!

Calgary eventually won a close game - 20 to 16 - over Hamilton
This really is about poker, online poker to be exact, but first, let me tell you how much I like Canada.  A lot.  I was born in Michigan, near Detroit, the one place in the US where if you went directly SOUTH, you’d run into Canada.  I almost moved there years ago – the year was 1970, and if you wonder why I considered becoming a Canadian, here are some other numbers - 18 (as in years) and 6 (as in draft number).  I remained in the USA because of another number (4F).  But that’s another story.

I like Canada because it’s very similar to the US, but it’s different, and in many ways better.  They are more polite, and in many ways more practical than we Americans are.  They went metric.  Better access to health care.  Prettier money plus they had the good sense to get rid of paper ones and twos and the penny.  And Tim Horton’s.

I’ve visited several Canadian cities - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, and Vancouver, BC (please note that as a citizen of Oregon we ALWAYS say “Vancouver, BC” to distinguish it from Vancouver the city of 162,000 in Washington just across the Columbia River from Portland - it’s much the same as East Coasters discussing Seattle in Washington, the State).  Every one of them has a football team.  As in the CFL - Canadian Football League.  And, like so many other things about Canada, it’s somewhat different than the American version - and in my opinion, better.

There are many features unique to Canadian football, but here are the biggies: The field is longer, and wider.  There are twelve players on a side and you only get three downs to make 10 yards, not four.  They have no “fair catch” rule.  We only allow one player in the backfield to be in motion - sideways - before the snap.  In the CFL, ALL backfield players can be in motion - IN ANY DIRECTION - before the snap. And then there’s the scoring of “the rouge” - one point - which can best be explained here and seen in its crazy glory here.

And there’s advertising on the field.  I mean, right on the damn field, not just the sidelines.  And, like our soccer teams and WSOP Final Table, advertising patches on the players.  Which gets us to online poker…almost.

I learned about the on-field ads while watching Sunday’s Grey Cup game, which is the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl, except that it’s been going on longer (102 years).  Like Lord Stanley, Earl Grey was intent on giving a trophy to the victors…of the Canadian Senior Hockey League!  Well, that’s what he intended, but since they already had the Allan Cup, it was awarded to the amateur rugby champions of Canada.  The football pros eventually got it in the Thirties.  See, the Canadians even recycle better than we do!

One other thing about the CFL which might make them seem more American - while they eventually saw the wisdom of changing a team’s nickname because it duplicated another teams nickname (the Ottawa Rough Riders became the Redblacks so as to not be confused with the Saskatchewan Roughriders) – they still have the Edmonton Eskimos, the CFL’s answer to the Washington (not the state) R***kins.

Back to the Grey Cup, which was being held in Vancouver, BC.  As you can see from the photo above, there were lots of ads on the field…including one for Bodog (sports - poker - casino).  In doing research for this post, I learned that they are the official “free-to-play sports gaming and poker partner.” They may be official, but not exclusive, as has also done some promo work with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

Why does Canada have a much-more relaxed attitude about online gambling than we do here in the states?  Because they have a much-more relaxed attitude about ALL gambling than we do here in the states.  You can gamble in all ten provinces and three territories, and they even have a NATIONAL lotto.  Rules for casinos vary by location, and their First Nations also conduct various gambling venues, too. 

As long as it’s sanctioned by the province, it’s OK – and three provincial lotteries – British Columbia, Quebec , and soon Ontario – have or will have their own online gambling sites.  Many more Canadians still play poker at the off-shore sites, and as of yet, there have been no repercussions and no prosecutions to the players.  In fact, some of those “offshore” sites are technically not in Canada, but just outside of Montreal, on the Kahnawake native reserve.

The rules for online gambling are kinda “in flux” as there are some in Canada not happy with the tight relationship Bodog and others have regarding advertising since, technically, Bodog is not a “legal” site sanctioned by any province.  Most of this unhappiness comes from the competition (the Provincial Lotteries).  Sound familiar?

At least they don’t have the 10th richest asshole trying to muscle into their country and setting up shop, and then buying off politicians trying to pass laws.  Oh, wait

Of course, all Bodog is providing to Canadians are “free to play” games.  So did PokerStars, here in the states, too.  Just sayin’.  And speaking of which…Bodog’s agreement with the CFL was for three years, meaning it’s in its last year.  Perhaps another gambling entity, one headquartered in, say, Montreal, will step up.  I’m looking at you, Amaya.

 In short, Canadians have the best of it – Loonies and Two-nies and online gaming, and Tim Horton donuts.  Pretty good, eh?

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