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Married to my childhood sweet heart, father of a teenage daughter, amateur poker degenerate by day, cape wearing super hero by night.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thank you, Department of Justice!

I played Hold'em and Omaha on Pokerstars last night, play chips of course. It's just not the same. Like tens of thousands of other Americans, I truly miss being able to play online poker for real money.  I'm not going to lie, I may have played a bit too often before April 15th, 2011. On the one hand the federal government may have done me a favor taking away my right to play a game to which I was addicted.  After all, I now have more free time on my hands to do things around the house, spend more time with my wife and daughter and catch up on reading some of those classics I only read the Cliff's notes to in high school. So, instead of sitting in the back yard, next to my wife, our laptops fired up running multiple tables of micro stakes cash games and sit-n-go's, and discussing betting strategies and bankroll management, or teaching my daughter things like probability and positive mindset to deal with stress, I'm watching more and more television. Shark week, Seinfeld, History channel, How It's Made, The Secret Life of the American Slut, er, Teenager, Pretty Little Liars (hey, I live with two females give me a break!). 
My wife and I weren't crushing cash tables and shipping mtt's like Durrrrr or Phil Galfond, but, after a couple of years playing, learning and relearning, we were finally beginning to come out ahead. In the first three months of 2011 we had combined cashouts from Full Tilt in excess of $700. That doesn't sound like a lot, but this is what economists call "disposable  income". This money went directly into the economy of the United States. Shoes, gasoline, movie tickets. That $700 paid another American citizen's salary somewhere.  It helped a company's bottom line, which, (aided by other small online poker wins by other players) could be used by a company to hire more Americans in the future. And let's not forget, had the federal government legalized and taxed online poker sites from the beginning there would be millions (if not billions) of more revenue dollars in the fed's coffers! 
It's a hard concept to wrap your mind around but try: the U.S. is fighting wars in two countries in the Middle East where sons & daughters, mothers and fathers, are dying every day to "protect democracy" and keep us safe from terrorism. Our economy is in shambles, our elected "leaders" are in Washington DC at this very moment arguing, like kids on a playground, about how to fix our problems (and getting nowhere!).  Unemployment and violent crime are escalating here at home. And, sadly, morale of Americans is at a low not seen since the great depression. I have never, ever in my life, wanted to live anywhere but the United States of America, and I still don't. But what does it say about my confidence in my government when I think about it now? The thought of moving to Canada or Europe has crossed my mind. Not that I was seriously considering it, just a thought, like a daydream, wondering if the grass is actually greener somewhere.
Somewhere, right now, in the former Soviet Union and in China and the eastern part of Germany, and even in the middle east, people are poised in front of their computers, clicking away at buttons labeled, in their respective languages, "bet" "raise" and "fold". Massive pots, of U.S. Dollars and Euros are being scooped and ridiculous bluffs are being pulled off. Some people are jubilant and others are throwing their mouse across the room. But they're all enjoying a piece of freedom that we no longer do.  
My trips to Starbucks and McDonalds are becoming less frequent and my wife and daughter haven't had mani/pedi's in a while. I don't have that extra little bit of income to spend here or there anymore.  But it's ok, I now have time to fix that leaky faucet and clean my storage closet. And, since I'm not gambling my life savings away, my child won't starve. Thanks, DOJ, you've made me more productive. 
Did anyone see where I left my copy of The Grapes of Wrath?

10 comments:

  1. I feel your pain. Who wants to clean the closet when you can be happily clicking away in the lazy boy. We didn't realize how great we had it...

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  2. Thanks for reading, Terry. I think we all took it for granted, knowing full well that something like "black Friday" could happen at any moment!

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  3. Online poker was a net drain on the American economy. These companies were foreign-based (not their choice, exactly, but even if they could've been based in the US, tax & regulatory environments likely would've still led them overseas). These companies took a big chunk of deposits (over 50% by many estimates) as rake as money churned through play. So, your $700 of extra disposable income was really $1000+ of other people's lost disposable income.

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  4. Grange - thanks for posting. Its true that the $700 might be from a $1000 loss from someone else, that $1000 deposit from another player is their money to spend how they like. They are spending $1000 for the product of "online poker". I'm not saying that online poker would save the country, by any means. The real message here is the politicians deciding what's good for us. My money, my time, my choice. Do you really believe that online poker (not online gambling - just poker) is more damaging to a person than alcohol? How about day trading in stocks? I've seen more people hurt (ruined, even) by the latter.

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  5. Well said! Maybe with all this free time u can practice ur NHL 93 skills and finally overtake a former coworker!

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  6. Lol. You found one glitch in the game (slapshot from the top of the right circle) and beat me like a red-headed step child! Well played, sir, well played!

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  7. Very well written, SH O'Rourke. Now that online poker is gone, go fishing

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  8. Good idea Lt. Exley, perhaps on a beach in South Jersey somewhere?

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  9. How were they able to shut down these sites? What grounds did they have? I didnt follow it but thought it was along the lines of what goes on in Iran and China with their autocratic rule that whole land of the free is starting to become more and more like a cheap catch phrase.

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  10. Thanks for reading Jim (jhaney). In 2006 congress passed a Safe Ports Act and attached the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act to it. This effectively made it unlawful for any financial institution to process payments to or from any gambling site in the U.S. On 4/15/11 the US Atty's Office in NYC decided to enforce the act and indicted the owners of the 3 biggest poker sites on money laundering and related charges and seized the site domains. The online poker industry has been conducting lobbying efforts in D.C. For the past few years basically asking politicians to overturn the law and begin taxing and regulating them!

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