Archive for the ‘online poker’ Category

Quebec Poker Players May Lose Service

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Poker players in Quebec in North America are having a hard time so far this year. The most recent hit to their professional online casino game and popular form of online casino entertainment has taken a hard hit, and may result in Quebec poker players losing out on playing at all.

First there was the United States’ Black Friday indictments that resulted in the shake down that has Full Tilt losing some of its licenses, both from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission as well as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Full Tilt will also be undergoing a hearing in London tomorrow (July 26th) Unfortunately for Full Tilt, there is a snowball effect that has caught them up and is resulting in a revealing of the company’s personal business functions. This is tough for players in Canada and Quebec where the site was popular. But now things look to get harder for professional online poker players in Quebec.

There is now a disagreement between the Quebec Poker Tournament League (LTPQ) and Loto-Quebec. The two have a partnership that involves the use of that state run lotto company’s site. At this point the approximated 40,000 players that make up the LTPQ are unable to play any online poker because the LTPQ has to stop their online poker activities owing to a statement they made about Loto-Quebec, saying that there were some issues involving missing sponsorship and service payments to the state run online lotto company.

While the LTPQ is keeping their members up to date on the legal happenings, Loto-Quebec is keeping their lips tight only saying that that have begun the process of taking legal action against the LTPQ. Loto-Quebec is seeking CAD$175,000 (USD$184,599) in damages to its reputation from the LTPQ.

Unfortunately it is the online poker players in Quebec who have lost both their online casino to play poker in as well as now the online location of their league’s playing. There is hope that LTPQ and Loto-Quebec will settle their disagreement and allow poker players in Quebec to get back into their online casino poker playing.

The Right to Say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’ in Online Poker—the Difference Between Barton and the AGA

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Most would think that the American Gaming Association would be on board with Representative Joe Barton’s bill to legalize and regulate online poker in the United States. And while the AGA supports efforts to regulate online casinos in the US, they are not entirely in favor of the some of the measures in Barton’s bill.

Up to know the AGA has not signed on with any particular legislation for online gambling, including Barton’s bill, saying they have “not endorsed any specific legislation on this issue, we are pleased that Representative Barton wants to protect American consumers and understand the need for regulating online poker in our country.” But to date Barton’s bill is the closest that anyone has come to gaining the AGA’s endorsement, however Barton’s bill has two snags in it from the point of view of the AGA: the states’ say in whether they offer online poker or not, and how revenue for the states is handled. In an effort to back legislation that they feel fully supports online gambling without stepping on the states’ toes, the AGA is working on drafting its own online poker bill, which they will reveal in the next couple of months.

In Barton’s bill all states would offer online poker. All fifty states would automatically offer online poker to their residents without each state making their own voice. What Barton’s bill does not take into account is if state officials want online poker for their state. The bill that the AGA is working on would allow each individual state to opt into offering federally regulated online poker. Frank Fahrenkopf sums up the AGA’s idea of each state’s say in offering or not offering as such: “You have to make sure each state has the right to say yay or nay.” It is the hope of Fahrenkopf to align the AGA’s bill more with the Constitution, meaning to have a federal umbrella while giving each state more liberty in their online gambling offerings.

Another point that the AGA is marking a difference with in their own legislation is how revenue is handled. In Barton’s bill revenue is aimed at the federal government through collecting taxes, fees and user fees. While it is true that one of the ideas behind regulating online poker in the US is to earn some revenue for the federal coffers, the AGA feels that some money should be going to the states. After all, the revenue from online poker is going to be coming from the states’ residents. To go along with each state’s ability to choose whether or not they offer their residents online poker, the AGA bill would aim revenue to the states with the federal government collecting their revenue from taxing winnings, similar to how the federal government collects taxes on winnings in land casinos. The AGA’s approach is more along the lines of what US citizens already expect from land casinos and the gambling landscape; why change it by putting extra fees in place? Make it similar and there is more likely to be a positive response with a larger number of people playing online poker.

We will watch in the coming months to see the AGA unveil their online poker bill, and see just how far it goes on Capitol Hill.

Who Will Get Online Poker First, Nevada or DC?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

A few months ago the race to be the first state of state or jurisdiction to regulate online poker in an in-state, intranet infrastructure. It looked like it was going to be New Jersey, but then Governor Chris Christie handed down his conditional veto—which was not a bad thing; it just meant that a little more work was needed to tweak the bill to meet New Jersey’s needs. And so New Jersey has passed out of the news…for now.

But coming in fairly quick on New Jersey’s heels was Washington DC and Nevada. DC is considered a jurisdiction. They are able to make some laws for how to run their city, but ultimately Congress can look in on them and say no if Congress feels a law or bill will not be prudent. And we all know Nevada is a state and is not under the same constraints as DC.

Both Nevada and Dc have been neck and neck in the race to be the first with online poker. It was believed that DC was the first. A bill that would give the district intrastate online poker as early as next month was believed to be passed. However it has recently come to light that there might have been some questionable actions on the part of one of the council members. It is now known that the council member in question slipped the bill for intrastate online poker into the back end of DC’s budget, which was how it was passed; once Congress found out about the bill, the fussing and poking into the bill’s history began. That was how the actions of the council member came to light.

While all of this was going on, Nevada’s Assembly Bill 258 was moving through their Assembly, Senate Committee and Senate with unanimous approval. Only in the full Senate vote did anyone vote against it and even then it was only two senators. After that AB 258 went to the governor’s desk where it was signed in the early part of this week. At this point it need only be approved by the state’s gaming regulatory board.

The biggest difference between these two bills is when they will be enacted. If the fuss dies down over the DC bill and it is allowed to move forward, free online poker is set to be offered in July with real money online poker set to happen as soon as September. In contrast, the Nevada bill will allow for the creation of an online poker infrastructure for the state, which will be held in reserve until the federal government decides to legalize online gambling and online casinos in the US.

At this point we are all waiting to see whose bill will move forward faster, Nevada or DC. While both bills are only for online poker, there are high hopes that poker is only the beginning and that online casinos as a whole will be regulated on a federal level so that all Americans can play.

WPT Going After Disheartened Poker Players

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

clubwpt_promoLast night, I was watching baseball when an advertisement for ClubWPT came on the TV. Now, since I was home enjoying a game and not on the clock, I didn’t really care about poker at the time, but this caught my eye. ClubWPT is a website affiliated with the World Poker Tour and it is a site where Americans can play poker for free. The commercial played up the free status and, more importantly, seeks to take advantage of the disillusionment caused by Black Friday and its aftermath.

In the commercial, a spokesmen starts out by asking “Did you lose your place to play poker?” He was clearly referencing Black Friday there, with the shutdown of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. He then tells viewers that they can play at, an online poker website that is totally legal and where you can play for no risk. There are rewards available, though, such as cash prizes and seats at the World Poker Tour. In the ad, the spokesman says a catchphrase for the company “never lose a dime playing poker.”

In one way, it’s nice that they are providing an outlet for Americans to play poker online without having to worry about what happens to their money. On the other hand, this seems like exploiting a bad situation. Also, a lot of players aren’t interested in playing poker for free. Sure, you never lose a dime that way, but you don’t make much money, either.

In the end, the commercial doesn’t really matter. Free poker rooms were available before Black Friday and they are available after. They will continue to be popular but I don’t think the people who were used to playing for real money will suddenly play poker for free. Instead, they will find one of the few real-money online poker sites that still accept American customers.

Black Friday Suspect Detained

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

One of the suspects who was indicted in the April 15th Black Friday has officially been detained. Ira Rubin was charged along with eleven other individuals, including the founders of the three major US-facing online poker sites, with working to aid the three online poker companies in circumventing US law.

Rubin was caught in Guatemala after fleeing from Costa Rica on the day, now known as Black Friday, the indictment was unsealed; he was then brought to the US. Since then he was been locked up. However yesterday he was brought in for a detention hearing in Manhattan where it was determined that he needed to be detained because it was discovered he had a criminal history that dates back to the 70’s. It was also discovered that he had an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for contempt of court in a civil case; the case had been brought forward by the Federal Trade Commission for his part in telemarketing fraud.

According to US Attorneys, more specifically according to US Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown, Rubin’s role in the whole online poker site payment processing was to recruit people to set up fake businesses that could be used to process funds in and out of the country. Devlin-Brown added that Rubin “processed hundreds of millions of dollars” all on his own. Hence his indictment in the Black Friday crackdown.

Whether there is evidence to back that up or not waits to be seen. According to Stuart D. Meissner, who is Rubin’s lawyer, what evidence the US Attorneys Office has is questionable at best. “I do think this entire case is a little bit of an overkill. We will fight the charges.” In regards to the detainment order that was handed out yesterday, Meissner has stated, “My client wants to address the charges here. He will stay in the US and would like to face the charges here.”

A date has not yet been set for Rubin to face those charges that were unsealed on Black Friday. Needless to say it appears that Rubin and his lawyer are going to fit the Black Friday charges of money laundering and bank fraud. The entire online casino industry has been shaken up by Black Friday and Blue Monday.

Black Friday Still Making an Impact

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

We are coming up on about a month and a half since Black Friday, and more and more of its impact is coming to the surface. And amidst all of the decline and fear and anger there is still hope that online poker will be legalized. And we here at are throwing our opinion in with those who believe that online poker will be legalized in the US; perhaps not in the immediate future, but within the next couple of years.

Until then things are only likely to get worse in the sphere of online gambling and online casinos what with the Department of Justice gearing up for their online gambling witch hunt. Some of the more immediate effects of the seizure of Poker Stars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker on Black Friday and ten other sites on Blue Monday have been a decrease in overall traffic in online casinos that are still operational to US players, as well as an increase in the number of guests in land casinos.

But the impact of Black Friday goes further than just the online casinos and land casinos. TV shows such as High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark are sponsored by some of the major online poker sites. While the shows are still legal in the US—we have not yet been told that watching gambling will send us to hell for being morally bankrupt—they may not be as successful in their reach or in even airing if major sponsors like Poker Stars and Full Tilt pull out their support after being blasted but the DoJ. Without the support it is possible the shows would have to be cancelled, causing US citizens from missing out on poker TV.

Another impact is face to face poker tournaments. The World Series of Poker is made up of players who can entrance to the final round of tournaments through satellite tournaments held online. Without online poker sites to have satellite tournaments on, the number of final players will decrease, thus decreasing the power of the World Series of Poker.

One of the more obvious impacts of Black Friday is the livelihood of professional poker players. In Pennsylvania there is a professional poker play named Josh Brikis. He used to be known as brikdog24 when he played as many as twelve virtual poker tables at a time. Now he is forced to play poker in a land casino which means playing at a slower pace and a heavy reduction in income as compared to what he was making playing online poker.

And these are only a few of the trickle down effects of the seizure of online poker sites on Black Friday and Blue Monday. As more time passes the more we will see the impact of those seizures.

Online Poker Protestors Gather in DC

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Oh, I do love a good protest!

First it was the seizure of Poker Stars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Two days ago it was ten more online gambling domains. Enough is enough. Online poker players have gathered at Capitol Hill to protest the Department of Justice’s intriguingly timed crackdown on online gambling, which seems to be focused on online poker. Funny, the state level bills that have significantly moved forward are online poker.

Former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato has said that gathering is to put a face to the ten million online poker players in the US.

While US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said the recent indictments and crackdowns on online gambling and online poker portals is to put some oomph behind the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), American online poker players are saying that their rights are being violated. As D’Amato put it, “We are deeply concerned about losing our rights. It is about rights of what you can do in your own home on your own time.”

Professional poker player Linda Johnson agrees with D’Amato: “It is not just a loss of a source of income. It is my hobby, my passion. I travel over two hundred days of the year, and at night in my hotel room I love to play online poker. And I often play it at home. How can they prohibit a game you can play in your own home?”

And both Johnson and D’Amato have a point. Online poker is played with players’ own money. Money that they have earned; money they pay taxes on. And now you have the government trying to tell the millions of Americans who play online poker that they cannot, that how they choose to spend their own money is illegal and morally bad for them. It is not the online portion of online gambling that Conservatives have a problem with, it is the gambling—it is the gambling that is morally bankrupt as they think of it. If that is that case then why is there no movement to ban land-based gambling? Simple. They are likely making money off of it themselves through stock or from campaign donations from the Sovereign Nations who run a large portion of the American land-based casinos.

It is not like American online poker players are against the US government sticking their noses into their favorite online game. “We believe in proper rules and regulation, and for them to be followed,” D’Amato has said. In fact, online poker players believe that the US government needs online poker to be regulated for the revenue it can bring in, and with ten million players in the country they have a point. “[The goal is] regulating and licensing. The government is in dire need of funds and this could provide a steady revenue stream. And [poker] is fun! It is something fun that the government can earn money off of,” said Eric Prag, who is the DC State Director for the Poker Players Alliance.

If the seizures continue it is likely that online poker will go underground and US players will be pushed to play unprotected on foreign sites. Should that happen the US will be missing out on a large chunk of that it desperately needs. As New York protest Daniel Alexander’s sign read, “Ease the Debt, Let Us Bet!” We will see if the federal government will listen to reason.

Poker Stars Having a Rough Time in US and Australia

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Things just do not seem to be getting better for Poker Stars. First they got in quite a bit of trouble in the United States when some of their top executives were indicted on charges of bank fraud and money laundering; this was also when their domain was seized and operations ground to a halt as a result of the seizure. Turns out Black Friday might only the beginning of troubles for Poker Stars.

With that being said I invite you to take a look at what is happening for Poker Stars in Australia. One of the online poker site’s subsidiaries, GP Information Services which is owned by Oldford Group which is owned by Poker Stars, is potentially looking at being the target for the Australian Crime Commission. Not surprising, it is always easier to kick someone when they are already down.

The problem with GP Information Services is that it handles the advertising and promotion of Poker Stars in Australia. Unfortunately Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) makes it illegal for any company to advertise or promote an interactive gambling service. And online poker definitely qualifies as an interactive gambling service. As the indictment reads that GP Information Services is one of the companies that “Poker Stars did business…at various times relevant to [the] indictment.” In fact all of the companies that the Australian Crime Commission is going after in this indictment are somehow a part of Poker Stars and are being referred to as “collectively, Poker Stars.”

Really makes it apparent that the target is not one or two companies but the online poker site giant. Thankfully not everyone thinks that the Australian Crime Commission’s indictment will hold water. According to Australia’s Digital Economy Minister, Stephen Conroy, “As the Internet is a cross-jurisdictional medium, it is difficult for Australia to enforce our laws on companies not based in Australia.”

And that, folks, is a two-fold punch. On one hand it makes it clear that the Australian Crime Commission is looking for someone to prosecute, which they have been urging the Australian federal government to do for some time now; up to know they have only been able to issue warnings, but nothing heavy handed. It seems like they are chomping at the bit for some action. On the other hand, Conroy is getting a dig in at the US for trying to prosecute companies that operate outside of their borders. True, the crimes committed were very illegal but it still makes for a sticky situation.

It will be interesting to see in the coming months whether or not the Australian Crime Commission can make the indictment stick. Either way it is one more headache being added to Poker Stars.

Absolute Poker is Breaking the Rules

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As I am sure you and every other air breathing online gambling enthusiast has heard, Absolute Poker was one of the three main sites that were seized last month in the Black Friday occurrence. The other two sites that were seized did exactly as the Department of Justice told them to do—they agreed to leave the United States market so that they could temporarily open their sites back up in order for US players to retrieve their money; both sites also agreed to no longer accepting US players.

Absolute Poker however has been a right fire starter about the whole thing. There was some legal debate on whether or not they would comply. Antigua was threatening to go to the World Trade Organization to say that the US was violating international trade laws. It was a blast.

Finally Absolute Poker agreed to the terms set down by the Department of Justice. This was only a few days ago that they finally rolled over and agreed. The Department of Justice crowed their victory in a statement dated May 5th saying, “Absolute Poker agrees that for the duration of the agreement, it will not allow for, facilitate or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing poker for ‘real money’ or any other thing of value.” Once US players had their funds back, Absolute poker was supposed to shut down their operations in the US.

However it seems that they have not kept to their word and are not leaving the US market. A poker tracking site made the discovery that players with US locals were still playing online poker for real money; the cities noted were Chicago, Cincinnati and Colorado Springs.

According to the agreement between the Department of Justice and Absolute Poker, should Absolute violate their agreement they only have ten days to cease those operations and pull out of the US market. So the clock is ticking.

Also of note though is the word going around that Blanca Games is thinking of pulling its operations out of the US market for unspecified reasons. Personally, I think it is because the Conservatives are making it too damn hard for anyone to operate in the US. It is like having mosquitoes constantly buzzing around. The reason that Blanca Games matters is because they own the Cereus Network, and Cereus owns Absolute. This may be a case of Absolute pulling in all that it can before the inevitable pulling out on Blanca’s part. But on the other hand, way to stick it to the Conservatives, Absolute!

Freakonomics Economist Proves Poker a Skilled Game

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

steve levittIs poker a game of skill or chance? It’s a question people have been debating for some time. Why they continue to debate it I don’t know, because it seems like a pretty simple question. It seems obvious to me that poker is a skilled game that also has an element of chance. Luck determines what card you and others draw, but skill determines everything else.

It’s an important question, because in some jurisdictions whether or not poker is considered a skilled game determines whether or not it is legal. Various courts have ruled on the subject, including the ridiculous Swedish Supreme Court, which said that poker involves skill as long as you’re not playing a cash game.

Most of the debate about the skill of poker has used logic, but it rarely uses scientific data to actually prove it. Steven Levitt is doing his part to change that by releasing a scientific report that purports to prove that poker is a game of skill. Levitt is an economist best known as co-author of Freakonomics. He likes to teach economics using odd examples and comparisons. In this case, he released a report called “The Role of Skills Versus Luck in Poker: Evidence From the World Series of Poker.”

Levitt studied the results of the 2010 World Series of Poker for his report. In the study, he determined whether players were considered to be players of “high skill” or whether they were average or unskilled poker players. His research showed that, on average, players assumed to be skilled earned a 30% return on their “investment” wager. That’s better than most people do on the stock market, folks. The other players didn’t do so well, losing 15% of their wagers.

Even if you excluded the players in the Main Event from the data, since they are the crème de la crème, the “skilled players” gain an average of $350 per tournament. The rest of the players, on average, lose $400 per tournament. You can see that there’s a big difference between the results of the most skilled players and everyone else. Things get more interesting when Levitt compares poker to baseball.

From 2007 to 2010, Levitt found that the number one factor in a team making the playoffs is beating up on weaker teams. During that span, playoff teams won 55.7% of the regular season games against teams that did not qualify for the playoffs the previous year. By beating inferior opponents, they were able to win enough games to make it to the postseason. Likewise, Levitt found that in the World Series of Poker, the skilled players won 54.9% of the matchups against players with less skill.

All of that shows that the more skill you have, the better your chances of winning at poker. That makes poker a game of skill. Sure, there is chance involved as well, but that is also the case for baseball. No one would say that baseball isn’t a skilled game, but there is a lot of luck involved. You can hit a ball perfectly on the sweet spot and have the line drive hit right at a fielder, who catches it for an out. You can get jammed and hit a weak pop-up that drops for a hit between the infield and the outfield. Pitchers have good pitches hit for home runs and sometimes get a strikeout on a bad pitch. Players can reach base or score on a fielding error. There is a lot of luck in baseball, but because there is a high level of skill involved, and because in the long run you need skill to win, it is considered a game of skill. The same should be said of poker.