It was early in the morning here in California when a picture of a sad-looking child holding a royal flush popped up on my Twitter timeline. At first I thought it was simply a meme, jabbing some professional player for a bad play, but then I saw a big red header with familiar white lettering.
Upon clicking the link, my grin turned to audible laughter as I read the headline out loud.
Hilarious. Someone actually wrote an op-ed blaming the federal government — a body that shut down online poker in 2011 and has since then taken three-quarters of a billion dollars from the largest online poker operator in the world while leaving the states to decide the legality of online gaming — for the recent growth in legally regulated online gaming in three of the 50 states (just six percent of the country, and Nevada is poker-only).
Except it wasn’t an op-ed. Leah McGrath Goodman’s piece, which is filled with countless inaccuracies and completely ignores the pro-regulation argument, is presented as news. Goodman’s article, which is complimented with a photo of a child actor holding up a royal flush on an iPad with a look on his face that says “I just flushed my dead goldfish down the toilet and life will never be the same,” is presented as a fair and balanced summary of the online gaming landscape in America.
I still couldn’t help but laugh at the audacity of this article, but after digesting it some more I realized the impact that it could have on the general public. When it comes to regulated online gaming, the American people are still young and malleable. Likewise, they are more likely to read something in Newsweek or some other national publication than they are on PokerNews. This article, although littered with falsities, will be met with unknowing, impressionable eyes.
The laughter turned to anger, and I started to think of ways to thrash Goodman in this very column. I turned into a hungry B-Rabbit — minus the “mom’s spaghetti” vomit all over my sweater — jotting down ideas on post-it notes and vigorously researching the Internet to find ties between Newsweek and the Geppetto of the anti-online gaming movement; Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s bias is sprinkled throughout the article through quotes from Jason Chaffetz, a Republican representative from Utah.
If this was truly balanced, Goodman and company, then why is the only Rich Muny quote on the webpage down at the bottom in the Facebook comments? Muny, Vice President of Player Relations for the Poker Players Alliance, never turns down an opportunity to give his opinion on online poker, and it would’ve taken absolutely no effort to contact him and include what he has to say in order to actually restore balance to the piece.
My eyes were set on the beginning of this week, ready to fire off my hot take, but then the entire poker world stepped up in my absence. You tweeted directly at Goodman and Newsweek. You left comments on Facebook. You rattled the cage non-stop on the day the article was posted online. And in turn, both Newsweek and Goodman released official responses to explain their processes and try and convince us that this was indeed a news article.
So instead of joining the firing line and blasting off on Goodman or Newsweek, I want to instead thank the community in my first thought. Our voice is sometimes muffled, but this past week we were loud and clear.
1. I Am Poker, Hear Me Roar
The first response that I want to focus on was published right here on PokerNews by Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters. Unlike myself, I know for a fact that Donnie took no pleasure in reading the Newsweek article. Even the royal flush shenanigans wouldn’t be able to crack a smile on DP’s face. No, instead I can see him in his apartment with his hands over his face, wanting to punch through his laptop screen with Hulk-like ferocity.
Donnie initially focused on the quotes from Chaffetz and the lack of quotes from individuals within the poker industry. He then turned his attention to some of the numbers and terms used by Goodman to discuss under-age gambling. First, the word “students” is used rather than “adults” to describe 18-25 year-olds that participate in online and mobile gambling. Anyone that is 18 and older can be tried as an adult in the court of law and carries many of the same privileges and responsibilities as any other adult. They may be more easily influenced in those formative years, but they should still have the faculties in order to make correct decisions about money and time management.
There is also a lack of information regarding underage gaming in the current, regulated U.S. market. New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware all have strict regulations, and any other state that joins the fray will also follow these processes. We aren’t living in the pre-UIGEA Wild, Wild, West anymore.
Speaking of the UIGEA, Donnie completes his piece by diagraming how shady that entire ordeal was. But of course, Goodman would never mention the fact that an anti-online gaming legislation bill was tacked on to a must-pass piece of Homeland Security legislation.
Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com wrote an outstanding piece, highlighting nearly a dozen notable mistakes in Goodman’s article. You can find Grove’s work here: “11 Serious Problems With Newsweek’s Weird Tirade Against Regulated Online Gambling.”
Grove does a fantastic job on the legislation beat, as does our own contributor Matthew Kredell and everybody’s favorite Italian, Marco Valerio. These three gentlemen — among others — provide gasbags like me with pertinent information to help us form some kind of opinion. In his latest piece, Grove leaves no stones unturned, dissecting every word that Goodman wrote.
In the end, all Goodman and Newsweek did was affirm that they had received negative attention. They didn’t fix the factual mistakes in the article; rather they crossed their arms and shrugged their shoulders.
We were heard, however, loud and clear. If you are going to attack the poker community in any way, you better have your facts straight.
2. Seiver Discusses His Big Bluff
Daniel Colman won the $1 Million BIG ONE for ONE DROP and Daniel Negreanu climbed to the top of the all-time money list by finishing second, but the star of the show on ESPN the past few weeks was Scott Seiver.
Charming, intelligent, and funny, Seiver made for great television throughout the ONE DROP broadcast. His actions on TV likely had positive effects on older amateurs who tend to think that younger poker players are all overly-confident punks. Not every young player is an overly-confident punk, but it only takes one bad apple to destroy public perception.
No, Seiver was a pleasure to watch, speaking eloquently about the ONE DROP Foundation and the importance of philanthropy while also providing superb comedic beats – even when he was eliminated.
“They should really let me squeeze it,” Seiver said on his final hand, all in and at risk with a draw against Negreanu.
The most notable hand that Seiver played was his all-in bluff against Tobias Reinkemeier, who tanked for 10 minutes before folding pocket aces. The banter between the two made for some of the best television in poker history.
“Everybody knows your hand anyways.”
Brilliant. These boys are playing for $1 million a piece and yapping back and forth like it’s a $10 home game.
PokerNews’ Remko Rinkema caught up with Seiver in Barcelona to ask him about the epic hand:
Seiver’s rapport with Reinkemeier allowed him to run the big bluff, and he should be proud of how calm he was with millions of dollars in equity on the line. This hand will be talked about within the community for a very, very long time.
3. The “Alleged” Edge-Sorters Strike Back
Cheung Yin Sun and Phil Ivey have recently been targeted by both Borgata and Crockfords for edge-sorting, but now Sun is on the offensive, filing a lawsuit against Foxwoods Casino.
According to the lawsuit, Sun climbed up to around $1.1 million in chips when she and her colleagues had their chips withheld and their lines of credit frozen.
PokerNews contributor Maurice “Mac” VerStandig took an in-depth look at the case, and he developed a troubling theory after analyzing the lawsuit.
VerStandig calls it whimsical, but it seems like there is a non-zero chance that Foxwoods was fully aware of the dangers it assumed when Sun was playing on their property. They knew that she was an advantage player, capable of winning millions, and yet they allowed her to break the rules in order to freeroll her.
It’s a plausible, sensible, terrifying theory. If Sun wins big, then Foxwoods can just refuse to pay her and withhold her winnings. If Sun loses, then Foxwoods profits. As VerStandig puts it in his piece, this is a very abrasive suggestion by Sun’s attorney Marvin Vining.
Vining is noted for his representation of “advantage play” bettors in lawsuits in the United States.
It’s only a matter of time before another casino pops up and either sues Sun and/or Ivey or visa versa, right? And do any of these cases create a precedent for another even though they’re in different jurisdictions?
The gambling industry seems like something that should have a certain set of autonomous rules, but with brick-and-mortar casinos all over the world in different jurisdictions the rulings could be made in three different ways.
4. Oh Mickey, You’re so Fine!
In preparation for the 100th stop on the European Poker Tour, PokerStars Team Online member Mickey “mement_mori” Petersen penned a piece titled “Dear players: Here’s how to be good to your dealers.”
I always considered Petersen to be a good guy – I am likely bias because we share a not-so-common bond, both being fans of a lesser-known Seattle hip-hop group named Blue Scholars – and this blog post affirms my beliefs.
The main bullet points that Petersen lists are:
- Put your chips and cards so the dealer can reach them
- Ante up
- Moving the button
- Don’t be that guy
- It’s not the dealer’s fault when you lose
- Say hello and smile!
Petersen admits that the final tip isn’t mandatory, but he suggests it will make players a bit happier if they are more positive at the table.
The Dane’s explanation for anteing up is my favourite part of the piece:
”Once the antes kick in, they never disappear again. As shocking as it seems to some people, every single hand for the rest of the tournament is going to have them! Yet so many people seem to forget to do it over and over and have to constantly be reminded. I don't know how they forget but if you put in an ante last hand, you are absolutely going to have to put it in in next hand as well, guaranteed.”
There are few things as annoying as telling your neighbor to ante every single hand – and they say poker is dying.
If more poker players took Petersen’s advice and were more helpful and courteous to dealers, their job suddenly becomes discernibly easier and the game will speed up and be more enjoyable. This seems pretty obvious, and yet so many players seem to go out of their way to make dealers feel miserable.
We forget that these dealers are just doing their job. You wouldn’t go up to the register at a convenient store and drop your change so far away from the cashier that they can’t reach it. Use some common sense, think about the human being in the box, and do your best to make experience more positive for everyone.
Nice work on the blog, Mickey.
5. The G is Wed!
Last week, Tony G married his long-time companion Aistė Šlapokaitė in a ceremony in his beloved Vilnius, Lithuania. Based upon the pictures I’ve seen – and the stories I was told – it was a very enjoyable day for Tony and his many guests.
Among the guests were Phil Hellmuth, David “Devilfish” Ulliott, and Warren Lush, who signed the legal documents for Tony.
In the last few months, Tony has turned his attention to politics, winning a seat in the European Parliament. He has also been involved with the Lithuanian national basketball team, travelling to the 2012 Olympic Games. While his attention has turned slightly from the poker world, it would be a mistake to ignore all of the positive effects he has had on our industry.
I find the parallels between Tony’s marriage and my own – I tie the knot in two months – to be interesting because he has played such a big role in my life without even knowing it. I’ve been lucky enough to meet with Tony on a few occasions, and he is absolutely nothing like the character you see on TV. He has a kind heart and a soft voice – although I’ve heard he still likes to get rowdy when the right people are around or the wrong person says the wrong thing. Without his vision, there would be no PokerNews. Without PokerNews, my life would be dramatically different and I’m not sure I would be with the person I am with.
The butterfly effect is a crazy thing.
So thank you, Tony G, and I raise my glass to you and your lovely wife. May you two love one another until the end of days. Salute.