Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Poker Abstinence is Hell

Seriously - this is a real deck of cards you can buy.  But why?
Almost anyone who considers themselves an avid poker fan, especially the derivative known as “online poker,” recognizes that April 13, 2011 is the day when the Department of Justice cracked down on the alleged crimes of the major offshore operators like PokerStars and Full-Tilt.  This so-called “Black Friday” is when online action ended for players based here in the USA.

Except it didn’t.

It took a little while…but very soon after, poker sites that were not crushed by the DOJ’s ruling began to court American players.  And when the DOJ reversed itself later than year, more sites like America’s Cardroom, Bovada, Carbon, Full Flush, Lock, and plenty of others.  Soon, players were back at it, although not as wild and crazy as before (especially those who had funds tied up at Absolute and FT).  UIEGA put an end to SOME American online gambling, but not all, as it continued, and still does, though it’s a much smaller deal.

My last poker game for cash was a few days earlier than Black Friday.  It was a 5-table Sit ‘n’ Go at PokerStars on April 9th, where I lasted all of 15 minutes, busted when I shoved a set against a nit who was hoping for a straight…and he got there.  This continued a string of 15 straight multi-table micros where I failed to cash.  Truth is, ice cream season had started* and I was only playing late at night to fill some time while the work laundry was in the dryer.  It had been this way (killing time and ice cream season) for the last 6 weeks.  I had been testing a few new playing modes, with not a lot of success, and made a mental note to test a few more before giving up serious poker for the summer’s season, and then getting back into it with renewed vigor in the fall when the store was closed.

I never got the chance.

I stopped playing for a while, and then, when the last (and best) DOJ ruling came down in December 2011, I loaded up some of the above-named software.  But never got around to depositing.  I heard about some issues at some sites, and just figured I would wait until Harry Reid and Joe Barton and Congress got around to finally legalizing online poker like we used to play.

I never got the chance.

Inactivity was the word for a couple of years (I think it’s the actual motto of Congress now), and then, when all hope seemed lost, New Jersey and Nevada (and then Delaware) took matters into state hands and there was hope that this movement would spread, and then once again I could play safe, legal, regulated poker online.

And then, Sheldon Adelson.

You know where we are now.  The battle continues, and now, with the reintroduction of a new (yet same old) RAWA by Jason Chaffetz (R-on-the-Adelson-take) with a soon-to-be-companion bill from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Wimp), even the meager legal online action that exists, plus any expansion, is at risk.  There are plenty of former online poker players who are up in arms, and fighting for their right to play poker.

There are also plenty of former online poker players who are…playing poker.  Online.

Now some of them are also up in arms and fighting for their right to play poker.  I realize that for some poker is a way of life and a business, and you gotta go and do what you must.  I’ve never been one to tell others what they can and can’t do (I leave that to the politicians), and many of them are very vocal when it comes to the fight for online poker.  In fact, they are an asset where they are, because they constantly talk it up when they play to others who are not aware (or just don’t care).  For those in the latter group, there are no issues with online poker, because…hey, THEY’RE ALREADY PLAYING!

Sure, there are times when depositing is tough, and getting withdrawals are tougher (or impossible – we’re looking at YOU, Lock Poker), and system failures and DDOS and times when you can’t log in or a tournament gets interrupted.  But hey, it’s like the old Canada Bill Jones story, about being told that a Faro game he was playing was crooked. “Yeah, but it's the only game in town!"  As long as online poker players can play online poker, they will continue to be less-than-enthusiastic (apathetic, lazy, and don’t give a shit) about joining the fight for legal, safe, regulated online USA poker.

I am very pleased that many of my poker friends do a great job in “converting” the unwilling and/or ignorant masses.  We need every voice to shout in unison that Uncle Shelly’s shills are on the wrong track.  Prohibition is not the answer.  Regulation is.

And abstinence is still my game plan.  For now.  I understand the desire (and the need) to continue to play online.  I've still got FullFlush loaded on the laptop, and I play for fun on several sites (including PokerStars just to be nostalgic).  But I've been "poker celibate" for quite some time, and I think I will continue to be that way until I can play legally somewhere in the USA.

And I will continue to fight like a bastard to get legal, safe, regulated online poker again.

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