Listen to the Man

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007, 4:52 pm

I’ve nearly given up reading Bill Rini’s blog because everything he writes these days is SO depressing. Online poker’s in deep trouble, people don’t know how bad things are, blah blah blah. What a drag.

Unfortunately, everything he’s said on the subject so far seems to be spot-on correct. Terrifyingly so. I don’t have Bill’s expertise in building ACH networks, but I did work for a bank for a few years and know a bit about how those transactions are, uh, transacted, and it would be as nothing for banks to turn off the spigot. Indeed, Bill has a post today titled Why ACH Went Away that explains the situation quite nicely.

Bill also has a post today that is a must-read for anyone and everyone who plays online poker. Read it in it’s entirety, but let me quote part of it here. Bill was engaged in conversation with Haley, who said, “So Messrs. Shulman and Ivey, Seif and Hellmuth, Brunson and Negreanu, and all you others: It’s time to make a stand.”

To which Bill replied,

No Haley, it’s not time for Shulman, Ivey or Brunson to fight your fight. It’s time for you to fight this fight. It’s time for you, and me, and everybody who gives a rat’s ass. As much as I like old Pappa Doyle it’s easy to ignore one man. It’s hard to ignore millions of people. It’s even harder to ignore millions of pissed off people.

While I agree with Haley that it would be NICE if the big names would come forward and lend their weight, the question every single poker players should be asking is that, “What can I do to help?” We keep hearing that there are 50 million poker players in the United States. Where are they?

Why, as Bill asks, wasn’t there an mob outside the courthouse where the two Neteller founders were arraigned? Why has the response to Neteller’s withdrawal from the U.S. market been a collective shrug and an application to Click2Pay? Party Poker, the biggest online poker room in the world, shuttered its doors to American players and no one really seemed to mind. “I’ll just play at Poker Stars, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet”.

That is NOT a happy state of affairs, people. Searching out kinda-acceptable alternatives to successful and reliable companies forced out by the government is NOT a long-term solution. What happens when these stop-gap measures are also choked off, as they almost certainly will be?

The answer to this problem is not pre-paid phone cards or opening an Antiguan bank account. The answer is to get online poker legalized. That’s not the best-case scenario–almost certainly, it’s the ONLY case.

So, again, the question every poker player should be asking is “What can I do? What can I do to get online poker legalized?” Waiting for Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer to save the day is NOT acceptable behavior. Aggression is rewarded at the poker table, but if poker players continue to be so passive about fighting this there won’t be a game left to play. The government is trying to kill online poker, and they’ll succeed if players don’t try to stop them.

Don’t just sit there. Join the Poker Players Alliance. Throw a few bucks their way–think of it as a long-term positive EV investment. Write to your senators and representatives, and tell them (politely) why poker should be legalized. The next time your friends get together to play a little penny-ante try to get them involved too.

Let’s not forget, the targeting of online poker is just one minor offshoot of a broad assault on our civil liberties. Over the last few years the Bush Administration decided (and wasn’t checked by the supine Republican Congress) that it has the right to arrest and imprison you without charge. You can be held indefinitely without access to counsel. Your phone calls can be intercepted without a warrant, your financial records accessed without your permission. Laws that the President doesn’t want to follow can be ignored thanks to “signing statements”. The Attorney General said that there’s no right to habeas corpus in the Constitution. Very scary stuff.

The trend in this country has been toward giving up our rights in the name of “security”. Why so many of my fellow Americans have felt that the best way to feel secure is to abandon their responsibilities as citizens is beyond me, but that’s a post for another day. Or, no, it isn’t–read Fhwrdh’s post about the boiling frog treatment we’ve gotten in the U.S. the last few years.

Get mad, dammit, and then do something about it. Don’t wait for someone else to save online poker. Join the fight. There’s strength in numbers. Especially where politicians facing re-election are concerned.

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3 Responses to “Listen to the Man”

  1. BG Says:

    Wait, what happened to Al Can’t Hang, and why did he go away?

    /did not read the full post.

  2. Tom T Says:

    You’re right, Gene. Of course. And well said. So, I’m assuming you have written your Senator, your representative. And I’m hearing in the past few days that within four months a bill will be introduced at the federal level for a poker carve-out, like the ones they gave to (can’t imagine why) state lotteries and horse racing.
    Also hearing that similar bills will soon be introduced in several states, legalizing poker, thereby putting pressure on the fed to back off (altho considering the nature of this particular fed, I don’t know that they would).
    Meantime I’m also starting the immigration process. Canada. I’m really not sure that the damage done to this country is reversible, and keep thinking of a time in the mid-20th century when it was a damn good idea to get the hell out of Germany.
    Anyway, I’m off to write my rep and sen. Good luck to us all.

  3. Darcy Says:

    Bravo, Gene.

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