Archive for December, 2010

Online Regulation May be Possible in 2011 Despite Republicans; Politicians May Look for a Way to Save Face

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Many in the world of online gambling have thought that online gambling regulation of any kind died with the end of the lame duck session, or that it was at least put to bed for a long time. But this may not be the case. Harry Reid, the Nevada Senator who made the surprising turn around to support legalizing online poker as a way to pay back the Nevada gaming industry for supporting his narrow win in the midterm elections, is not giving up apparently. Reid has vowed that he will bring his online poker bill through to the Senate in 2011.

So says the good senator, and with the Senate still being held by a Democratic majority it just might be possible. It is the House, which will be turned into a Republican, anti-online gambling hothouse come the new year, that the opposition to Reid’s bill can be found. And as a senator, it is possible for Reid to bring his bill out of the Senate rather than coming out of the House, which is the way that Representative Barney Frank has had to go. And I have no doubt that Frank will keep pounding the floor with his own bill, which I do think is a better option for online gambling regulation than Reid’s. Frank is the Little Engine that Could when it comes to online gambling legislation—the man does not stop trying.

Another thing that could help US citizens see some online gambling regulation is that President Obama along with several members of the Republican party have said that they are going to try to work together in the coming year. Hopefully online gambling will be one of the things they will work together on. While I cannot say that Reid’s online poker bill is the best, I have to go with a phrase that my mother said: “Beggars cannot be choosers.” And by that I mean that some sort of regulated online poker playing is better than playing unprotected. And since Reid’s voice seems to be louder at the moment, online poker players may well be stuck with fifteen months of no playing as well as the loss of playing on overseas run sites since they do not have a land-based casino that has been in business in the US for a minimum of five years. Think positive—Reid’s bill may be the tip of the online gambling regulation iceberg…we can hope.

Another reason lawmakers on the federal level may turn a more positive eye to online gambling regulation is because several states, including New Jersey, Florida and California, are now looking at regulating online gambling on a state level. And New Jersey is leading the way with the loudest voice for state regulated online gambling. No surprise there.

The reason these states may well influence lawmakers on the federal level to roll over, accept and work on ironing out some good online gambling regulation is two-fold. One, these states stand to seriously cut their deficits from the income that will result from taxes from regulated online gambling on the state level. This will make these states look good, and cause residents of other states to wonder why those in DC do not pull in some money from online gambling regulation to cut down the federal deficit and potentially improve the country’s economy as a result. And we all know how federal level lawmakers do not like to look like a bunch of patsies and are not about to be outdone by some state lawmakers. And with the 2012 elections practically breathing down Washington’s neck, no one wants to look bad.

And then there is reason number two: the government, as a rule of thumb, always hates missing the opportunity to get in on money-making action. Even if US citizens did not wonder why their country’s lawmakers were turning up their noses at the chance to make billions in revenue from online gambling, those federal lawmakers would hate to miss the chance to stick their hands into a money pie.

So fans of and for online gambling, US online gambling regulation may not be out of the picture in 2011. We will have to wait and see what the states do and if they push federal lawmakers into saving face and regulating online gambling; and if Reid and Frank can succeed in getting their voices heard—but I am rooting for Frank. Here is a toast to a successful 2011 for online gambling regulation!

Women Some of the Top Earners of 2010 at PokerStars

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This time tomorrow when you are getting your dose of Online Casino Suite 2010 will only be a memory. But the women on team PokerStars have set the bar for earning in the next year. The top 40 list of who won what and who won more in 2010 has been released; and all of you lady poker players will be pleased to know that women were some of the top earners of 2010 on team PokerStars, in fact several made the top 40.

Three of the top 10 earners of 2010 were women, something that is not lost on fellow team member Daniel Negreanu: “That is three ladies in the top 10, and that is pretty impressive considering the fact that women only make up approximately 5% of tournament fields.”

Those three ladies who were top 10 earners were Vanessa Rousso in 9th place with earning totaling at $616,514. Then we jump all the way up to 2nd place where we find Liv Boeree whose 2010 earnings came to $1,825,425. And then at the top of the earners, beating the boys, is Vanessa Selbst. Her tournament winnings for 2010 came to a grand total of $2,865,830.

Negreanu said, “I found [it] interesting how badly the PokerStars boys were outplayed by the women!” But this is a case where the women have shown that the poker table is no longer a man’s world and that they are more than capable of not only holding their own in the world of poker tournaments, but that their skill can out do that of the boys.

With a top 40 list, and certainly that top 10 list to consider, it is going to be a very interesting year in the poker world next year. Negreanu’s comments lead one to believe that the boys might be inclined to step up their game to save face. As Negreanu put it “It will be interesting to see which one of these three ladies can out do the other in 2011. It will be perhaps more interesting to see instead which men will be able to catch these remarkable women players up come the New Year.”

I am inclined to think that Negreanu is not well-versed in the ways of women. Such a phrase as that last comment of his is usually greeted as a challenge of the ‘Oh, you think you can do better because you are a man? Well, we shall see about that, my boy’ variety. My money is on the ladies of Team PokerStars out striping the boys again in 2011. Obviously being in the minority on the team has not stopped them from placing in the top 10.

Big in 2010: UIGEA Causing (Some) Problems

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This is part of a series that will look back at who and what was big in the online gambling world in the year 2010. Earlier parts of the Big in 2010 series can be found here.

DeptOfInjustice-smallIf you have followed online gambling news this year, you have undoubtedly seen a lot of stories on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). For all the wrong reasons, UIGEA was a big part of online gambling in 2010, though not nearly as big as gambling opponents had hoped.

The U.S. Congress passed UIGEA back in 2006 as part of the SAFE Port Act, but the law didn’t actually go into effect until June 1, 2010. At that time, financial institutions were required to abide by the law. What the law actually required them to do has been disputed by many, but a literal reading of the law says that they are only required to block transactions involving “unlawful” online gambling.

The law never defines what types of online gambling are illegal. Courts have since ruled that UIGEA does not make any form of gambling illegal and only requires banks to block transactions from gambling that is already illegal. Therefore, you could argue that UIGEA only requires banks to block transactions related to online sports betting, which is banned by the Interstate Wire Act of 1961.

The banks and other financial institutions asked the Treasury Department and Justice Department for clarification of what types of transactions they need to block. No clarification was given. They asked for a list of companies to look for and transactions to monitor, but none were provided. The government put the burden on the banks, asking them to become investigators and lawyers at the same time.

Government-DespairAs a result, there were a few instances of banks blocking transactions, and many of them should not have been blocked. Some credit card companies, such as VISA, stopped accepting transactions with online casinos. Some online payment processors, such as PayPal, did the same. Overall, though, there was little change and American customers were still able to play at their favorite online casinos and poker rooms, with a few exceptions.

There were efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to repeal UIGEA and replace it with a framework of online gambling regulation, but those efforts failed. Another effort to regulate online poker only also failed during the lame duck session of Congress.

The UIGEA, though a nuisance, was found to be without teeth, and the banks have too much on their plate to spend a lot of time looking for transactions the government won’t even define as illegal. For the few people who had their winnings seized by the government or were unable to make a withdrawal from the casino, UIGEA was a major source of frustration. For most people, though, it was nothing more than a boogey man intended to scare people into complying with a non-existing ban. Still, effective or not, UIGEA and efforts to repeal it were huge stories in 2010.

Big in 2010: Live Dealer Games

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This is part of a series that will look back at who and what was big in the online gambling world in the year 2010. Earlier parts of the Big in 2010 series can be found here.

live-dealer-blackjackOnline gambling had a big year in 2010, with many companies and the industry as a whole making money despite the global recession. Playing casino games online has a lot of advantages, such as saving on other costs (travel, lodging, tipping, etc.) and reducing distractions (stage shows, loud games, etc.). Despite its many advantages, though, one thing that online casinos have always lacked has been the human interaction of playing with or against real dealers.

live_dealer_contentThat is why many casinos this year decided to add live dealer games to their websites. While it’s not exactly the same as interacting face to face with a real person, this is the next best thing. With live dealer casino games, players enter a table that is connected to a video feed of a live dealer. The dealer then deals the cards, operates the roulette wheel and more and the actions seen in the video correlate to the computer-generated actions affecting the player. For example, if the dealer in the live video deals an ace, the computer program would give that player an ace.

live-dealers-32redAt some online casinos, the live dealer is given a microphone and, if you have a mic of your own, you can talk to the dealer in real time. At other casinos, you can use an IM or chat feature to communicate with the dealer. Other casinos don’t have either, in which case you can only watch the dealer while you play. That’s actually not so bad, because I’ve yet to find an unattractive dealer.

Party Casino is one casino that offers live dealers and they are available for blackjack, baccarat and roulette. At many casinos, the live dealer tables are available around the clock and with hundreds of dealers, there is usually no wait for one.

While watching a video feed of a live dealer still isn’t the same as stepping onto a casino floor and playing in person, it’s the closest we can get online, at least for now. I expect more and more casinos to add live dealer games to their collections, meaning that although live dealer games were already big in 2010, they might be even bigger in 2011.

Drinks on Demand for Slot Machines in New Jersey

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Do you not just hate to have to flag down a waitress when you want a drink and you do not want to leave you slot machine? It is just a pain and it interrupts your game play on the slot machine—you might have been on a roll or the slot machine might have been hot. But then you have to stop to get some waitresses attention—well, it is just a pain.

But slots players in the four casinos owned by Caesar’s Entertainment Inc. will not have to worry about flagging down a waitress for a drink regardless of whether they want a Coke or a Jack and Coke. In the first quarter of next year, the slot machines in Bally’s Atlantic City casino, Caesar’s Atlantic City casino, Harrah’s Resort casino and the Showboat Casino Hotel will all be installed with an automatic beverage on demand feature. This will go along with the electronic downloadable credits system the Caesar’s Entertainment Inc. casinos in New Jersey will also receive.

The way the beverage on demand feature is supposed to work, per the explanations of the casino group, players will have a player rewards card that they will not only use in lieu of chips or a paper-y slots cards. They can take these plastic loyalty cards and stick them into slot machines to play any of the available slots games since the cards will keep track of their credits in an electronic format. But this card will also be the ticket to accessing the drinks menu.

Players are slot machines can access the drinks menu and order something as simple as a soda to an array of pre determined alcoholic drinks. Caesar’s Entertainment has intent to eventually increase the sort of drink service available on the slot machine menus so that players can order custom drinks. And not only would they be able to order custom drinks but players’ loyalty cards would also remember their preferences for the next time they order a drink..

Naturally Caesar’s Entertainment maintains that the beverage on demand feature is “purely customer enhancement,” according to Michael A. Magazzu, who is one of the corporate attorneys for Caesar’s Entertainment Inc. And it is true that there will be a system built into the beverage on demand feature that would allow for players to be cut off if they have had enough or too much, and to help prevent underage drinking.

Now I have a bit of a think on this. True, slots players would love to not have to flag down a waitress. But let’s stop and think for a moment about drinks and gambling. You will find tips all over saying to watch how much you drink when playing casino games of any kind as intoxication can lead to poor gambling decisions, such as not stopping when you should or gambling more money than you intended. And this is especially true with slots where it is so easy to gamble more and more and more.

So by all means, slots player in New Jersey, enjoy the drinks on demand. But always be mindful of how much you have had to drink if you value your bankroll, and do not go out and get drunk at the slot machines. Slot machines do not require strategy but you do not want to mismanage your bankroll either. But I will say the drinks on demand feature does have a certain appeal—one that online casinos are not able to offer.

Greece Steps Ahead of United States in 2011 on Online Gambling

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Both Greece and the United States saw changes in regards to gambling in 2010. Although between the two, I think Greece has made more steps forward in gambling, especially in online gambling, than the US. And while I think Greece will continue to move forward, I have a feeling that the US will be coming to a halt on the gambling train considering that the government is turning over to mostly Republican again; the last time it was this bad was when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was created. But let’s take a look at what the two countries have done with themselves this year.

For the United States, progress on a federal level was not really seen in regards to either gambling in brick and mortar casinos or in online gambling regulation. Representative Barney Frank kept pushing forward with his bill to repeal UIGEA and set up a regulation structure for online gambling. And he did succeed in getting his bill passed in the House’s finance committee. So we will say that there were baby steps on the federal level.

But the big progressions have been made on the state level in several states. In Florida the Seminoles settled their long standing debate with legislators on whether or not their blackjack tables were legal. The Seminoles maintained that they were based on a compact struck with Governor Charlie Crist. But legislators said it was not since they, in short, had not been able to say their piece about the tables. Long story short, the Seminoles did get their blackjack tables in five of their seven casinos and a five year exclusivity on the table game to go along with, but that was not the only outcome. As a result of the Seminole negotiations the state’s long-standing $2 buy in limit on poker was lifted to no limit. Florida has now set itself up to begin pumping some revenue into its programs from the tax revenue coming as a result of its gambling law changes.

Other state level changes included Pennsylvania passing laws to allow table games. This resulted in slot machine parlors expanding into fully fledged casinos, and in new casinos being built and opened. Again, another positive result in terms of incoming tax revenue and job creation in Pennsylvania from a change in gambling laws.

Then there is New Jersey who has made some bigger waves this year, to the point that there could just be some international impact. New Jersey is moving forward with its intent to legalize online gambling and regulate it within their state. Their own citizens would be allowed to gamble and international sites would be allowed to apply for licensing to operate within New Jersey. Naturally the federal government is not entirely pleased with this, but then UIGEA did give each state its own power to say yay or nay to online gambling regulation within their own state. But if New Jersey online casinos were to accept international players, which it seems they would like to do, it would bring in the World Trade Organization and international trade issues. And Florida and California are not too far behind New Jersey in their attempts to legalize online gambling—perhaps the federal government should sit up and listen to what the states are saying.

And those are only three states who are gearing up to move forward in the world of gambling and online gambling. But while a lot of progress was made this year for states on a state level, Greece has still out stripped them by not only legalizing online gambling—which had a tighter ban than UIGEA resulting in a $4 billion a year black market—they have also repealed their ban of slot machines made by other countries. This not only puts them in line with EU laws, but also puts them in the position to generate some much needed revenue for their country to begin setting their economy right again as well as work on repaying the €110 billion bailout they received from the EU.

With all of these changes happening in 2010 it will be interesting to see if they play out in 2011 how their countries and states want them to. If the gambling and online gambling law changes play out well and the revenue is generated it is possible that other states and countries may make changes of their own to gambling. Who knows, maybe even the Republicans will have a change of steal heart and move towards regulating online gambling for the chance of generating some much-needed funds for the US.

Big in 2010: Gambling Expansion

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This is the third in a series that will look back at who and what was big in the online gambling world in the year 2010.The first two parts of the Big in 2010 series can be found here and here.

If you followed gambling news in 2010, you probably noticed a trend: Some jurisdiction expanding their gambling market. Sometimes it was adding more brick and mortar casinos. Sometimes it was adding table games to slot parlors to make them full casinos. Sometimes it was allowing online gambling. Sometimes it was liberalizing the market to allow competition where there had previously existed a protected monopoly.

money-managementWhatever the type of expansion, it’s clear that gambling expansion was big in 2010. It makes sense. In 2010, economies all over the world were struggling through a bad recession. In some countries, the biggest problem was unemployment and a downturned market. Other countries were and are crushed by debt. In either case, it became necessary to increase revenue without increasing spending. Expanding gambling markets or creating new gambling markets is one way to do that.

Some governments have been morally opposed to gambling, as if somehow playing blackjack is less respectable than being a politician! Some have opposed gambling because they feel it leads to increased crime – a claim that is difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate. Some feel that legalizing or expanding gambling would only lead to more problem gamblers. Whatever a government’s reason for opposing gambling, it’s a lot more difficult to stick to their principles when they need money. Therefore, strapped for cash, many governments looked to gambling expansion in 2010.

The number of jurisdictions that expanded their gambling markets is staggering, and I won’t go through the whole list here. Some notable examples occurred in the United States, where Florida allowed the Seminole tribe to offer blackjack at their tribal casinos and Pennsylvania added table games to their casinos. New Jersey and California are well on their way to regulating intrastate online gambling early next year, with bills that could be signed by the governors as soon as January.

loto-quebec-svgIn Canada, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched North America’s first online casinos. Loto Quebec quickly followed them with a second Canadian online casino. The province of Ontario plans to have an online gambling website up and running by 2012.

Europe saw considerable gambling expansion as well, as several countries came into compliance with EU rules by allowing foreign competition. France abandoned their protected gambling monopoly and allowed overseas online casinos to obtain licenses from the government. Italy did the same, opening a market that began in 2007 as a monopoly.

All of those stories and more were part of a global effort to expand access to gambling, online and offline, in 2010. Strapped for cash and forced to look at whether their current laws and regulations for gambling still make sense, many jurisdictions opted to expand gambling. For that reason, gambling expansion was big in 2010.

Big in 2010: WSOP Bracelets

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

This is the second in a series that will look back at who and what was big in the online gambling world in the year 2010.The first part of the Big in 2010 series can be found here.

WSOP_gold_braceletFew things were bigger in the gambling world in 2010 than World Series of Poker bracelets. That’s because for the first time people could obtain the bracelets two different ways. You could get one the traditional way, which would be by winning it in tournament play, or you could buy one in an eBay auction.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet is the biggest non-monetary prize in the game of poker. It is like a Super Bowl Ring for football players or an Olympic gold medal for individual athletes. The winner of every event in the World Series of Poker gets a bracelet, with the best and fanciest bracelet going to the winner of the Main Event.

23-year-old Canadian pro Jonathan Duhamel surprised some by winning the WSOP Main Event in 2010, earning a bracelet in addition to the $8,944,301 he took away from the poker table. Though Duhamel’s win may have raised some eyebrows, it was nothing compared to what Peter Eastgate did.

peter-eastgate-26556Earlier this year, Eastgate announced that he was retiring from professional poker and placed his WSOP bracelet up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds going to UNICEF. Eastgate won the Main Event in 2008 and at the time was the youngest champion ever, though Joe Cada beat that record the next year. Only 25 years old, Eastgate’s decision to retire shocked the poker world, but it was auctioning his bracelet that really got the poker blogs buzzing.

Many people thought it was disrespectful to the game of poker and to the poker tournament to put the bracelet on eBay, a website where you can also buy virtually anything of unsentimental value. Others came to Eastgate’s defense, saying that the bracelet was his property and he could do with it as he wishes. Some humble people don’t like having awards around because they don’t want to show them off, so why should anyone be bothered by Eastgate selling his award?

Whether you agree with Eastgate’s decision or not, there is no denying that it started a trend. Soon after, a WSOP bracelet won by Eskimo Clark in 1999 was put up for auction on eBay. Clark’s bracelet was from the Razz Event, rather than the Main Event, but it was still an official WSOP bracelet. Then Brad Daugherty (no relation to the former Cavs basketball player), who won the Main Event in 1991, put his bracelet up for bid.

tonyg2No one made more headlines regarding a WSOP bracelet than Tony G, though. The controversial poker pro (real name Antanas Guoga) said that he would buy the bracelet and make it into a dog collar. In the end, it sold to an unknown bidder for $147,500 and, as far as I know, is not being worn by a dog.

To the event winners, a WSOP bracelet is a memento and a prize for reaching the ultimate achievement in the game of poker. To poker fans, the bracelet is a piece of poker memorabilia that can’t be topped. Only time will tell whether this trend will continue and if it does, people will continue to debate whether the selling of WSOP bracelets is a good thing. One thing can’t be debated, though. World Series of Poker bracelets were big in 2010.

Florida—Will it Become the Next Vegas?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

What do casinos and Mickey Mouse have in common? A home in Florida.

With some changes made in the gambling laws this past spring in the Sunshine State, the traffic has increased at the Florida casinos, causing some to wonder if Florida will become the next second in popularity casino state. Nothing could top Las Vegas after all. But Atlantic City up in New Jersey has not been faring well the last few years since the United States economy did the equivalent to an adult making a cannonball into a swimming pool—fast drop and a lot of waves radiating outward. Atlantic City is now also contenting with a rather nasty blizzard too. A history of tourism and nice sunny weather, not to mention all the beaches, could make Florida a very enticing place for the casino community to find a new second.

What made the change in Florida? Why the sudden draw? With a strong Seminole presence it is not like brick and mortar casinos are anything new. Nor are the racinos scattered around the state. Now Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi is proud to call Florida home with more poker pros looking to make a move to Florida, and the World Poker Tour booked the Seminole Hollywood casino for a televised tournament next April. So what changed?

Quite simply put, the law. There were two major changes in Florida’s gambling laws in regard to what is now allowed in the state. For one the Seminole tribe finally settled their several years long battle with Florida lawmakers on their right to blackjack. Originally, they were not allowed to offer patrons the table game. Then they struck a compact with Governor Charlie Crist that gave them blackjack tables in all seven of their casinos, with tax revenue from the table games to go to the state’s education programs. Florida lawmakers got in a snit and a several year battle ensued that was finally settled this past May: the Seminoles can have a five year exclusivity on blackjack, only offer blackjack at five of their seven casinos, and the tax revenue goes into the general state fund. Out of the revenue $1.75 million will be allotted for state funded gambling addiction programs as well.

Seems like a bit of a steep price to pay for blackjack at only five of the seven casinos, but at least blackjack is now allowed, it is perfectly legal and the state is going to receive more than a billion dollars in taxes from blackjack alone. And that money is well needed for a state that depends on tourism, and whose tourism economy—like all tourism economies in the US—has suffered as a result of the economic cannonball.

The second big change came as a result of the deal struck between the Seminoles and the state for blackjack. Florida lawmakers wanted to make sure the racinos and non-Sovereign Nation casinos did not suffer as a result of the Seminoles getting a five year exclusivity to blackjack and a twenty year exclusivity on slot machines. So to give other casinos something else to offer the state’s limit on the maximum amount a player can pay to play in a game of poker was changed. It was changed to no limit. It used to be that the maximum amount a poker player in Florida could pay to play was $2. As you can well imagine the death of that limit was well-received. “The Grinder,” one of the most well-known poker players of Florida, said, “[This is] a dream come true. There is nothing better than playing poker with the beaches.”

Now rather than winning $20 or so in a game of poker players have the opportunity to win a heck of a lot more. Just compare the implications of a change from only being able to buy-in for $2 to some of the poker tables now out in Florida with a table minimum of $50—poker players are able to set themselves up with opportunities of win thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in a single game.

But there is some speculation that Florida will transform itself into the next casino playground, second to Las Vegas. And while I can see where such a concern comes from, Florida becoming one of the gambling Meccas is unlikely. Why is that? Well while the casinos and their joint resorts are built up around some of the world’s most famous beaches, there is a far greater world-renowned attraction in the center of the state: Disney World, home of four Disney theme parks, two Disney water parks and several Disney resorts. That means that Florida is also a family destination on the tourism map. And it is very hard to compete with Mickey, who now comes $80 a head for one park.

Florida residents, while making room to accommodate the increased number of tourists coming for the high stakes poker, are not likely to find their state home to another Vegas thanks to also being home to the Disney World Resort that put Orlando and indeed Florida as well on the map.

Big in 2010: PokerStars Player Fatima Moreira

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

This is the first in a series that will look back at who and what was big in the online gambling world in the year 2010.

Fatima Moreira De MeloPoker may be a game that is exciting to poker players, but it has always been rather dull as a spectator activity. For that reason, despite its increasing popularity and the respectable television ratings, there has always been the feeling that poker has plenty of room to grow. What the game needs is a star with crossover appeal.

fatimaSure, players like Phil Ivey are exciting to watch if you’re already into poker, but he’s not going to bring in new fans. What poker is looking for is not the next Jimmie Johnson, who has won five consecutive NASCAR championships. It is looking for the next Danica Patrick. What she lacks in wins she makes up for in charisma, charm, a great personality for endorsements and, of course, sex appeal. Fatima Moreira de Melo may be what the game of poker needs.

In 2009, the Dutch beauty announced her retirement from field hockey, a game she had dominated, including winning a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics. A lover of the game of poker, on September of 2009 she joined the PokerStars team as a poker pro.

Shortly thereafter, she placed 12th at the 2009 Dutch Poker Open and 9th at the Lido International Dutch Open. She then started 2010 with more impressive showings in live poker tournaments – including placing in three events of the World Series of Poker – with winnings $126,544.

She has also had a strong presence online. On the PokerStars website, where she goes by the name FatimaDeMelo, she has made money at a number of tournaments, including winning the PokerStars Nightly Hundred Grand.

fatima-meloWhile I certainly wouldn’t mind having her winnings, they don’t compare with the likes of Phil Ivey or Doyle Brunson. That’s not the point, though. She’s not Jimmie Johnson; she’s Danica Patrick. Moreira is a player who draws everyone’s attention when she sits down at a poker table. She draws onlookers and cameras wherever she goes. She is a poker player that people who don’t even play poker want to meet. After all, it’s not often that poker players grace the cover of FHM magazine. Doyle certainly never will.

Some will resent that Moreira gets more attention than better players without the looks, but such is life. Poker isn’t an exciting game to watch, with the dark glasses and stoic poker faces. Charismatic and beautiful players like Moreira, who also have the talent to win any tournament, are just what the game of poker has been searching for. After making a splash in 2010, Moreira is looking ahead to a big 2012, where the plans to play in the PCA, EPT and WSOP.