Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A few from Iggy and Poker Backlash thoughts

After a semi-drought, Iggy's back with the sort of uberpost he's known and loved for. He starts with a meandering riff on tournament poker where he seems to claim both that he'll never play and/or exclusively play tournaments in the future... apparently dependent on whether he stops being a degenerate poker player and goes back to ah, legitimate work, which he also again seems to be threatening to do soon, too.

In any case in lieu of another blogger tournament, Iggy is offering "the Golden Hammer Award" to the winner of this year's tournament in Vegas. No word as to whether he'll take off the original "Hammering Out Solutions" faceplate first...

Is it just me, or is everyone starting to pick up on the poker phenom backlash? The most recent episode of Card Club has Sean and Stacks (mostly Sean) going on at length that if you think everything is on the up-and-up in professional poker you're a babe in the woods.

It took me a while to learn that most of the poker you see on television has more to do with clever editing than clever play. "Up-and-up" is a loaded term, of course. Are the hands you see on TV "real"? Only real in the sense that the hand shown may be one anomalous hand selected for drama out of the hundreds discarded on the editing floor. And Sean goes to great pains to disclaim that he thinks the fix is in anywhere. But, on the other hand, he does cite the fact that many pros have bought "pieces" of other pros and that things can get a little muddied when you have people at the final table and at least one person can make more money by losing rather than winning because of his investments in the other players.

Sean makes the interesting point that coverage of professional poker from media such as Poker Player Newspaper or Poker Magazine is similar to early 20th century newspaper baseball coverage pre-White Sox scandal, where it was in the reporter's best interests to promote the sport, even knowing that there were lots of nasty things going on behind the scenes.

Is poker heading for its own Black Sox scandal? Iggy links to an overwrought NY Times Magazine article about a college student reduced to bank robbery because of online poker. On the one hand, I got the distinct impression that if it hadn't been poker, the 19-year-old would have found something else to get hung up on... in my day it would have been drug dealing, which offered the prospect of fast, easy money with similar thrills and chills to boot. On the other hand, I recently was talking to another 19-year-old, a family member, who was excitedly telling me about a dorm mate who had over $60k in his Stars account and spent an average 10 hours a day playing online. Suddenly, I found myself in the position of someone trying to secretively stub out a joint while lecturing the younger generation on the dangers of pot. "It's not, uh, bad, per se, but you don't want to let it get out-of-control, y'know?" Fred says, shifting from foot-to-foot.

If that "save the children" article and the recent legislative moves in Washington and elsewhere are any indicators, I think the days of online gambling are probably numbered, at least as it's set up now. We're probably moving towards a Prohibition-like era next, where it will become increasingly difficult to sign up and/or cash out, and those of us playing online poker will be less forthcoming about it. It's already that way a bit. As the article alludes, more and more credit card companies refuse online casino transactions. The first time I ever tried to deposit money into UltimateBet, which I think was back in 2004, I not only got a big red "Refused" on my computer screen, I was actually called - and then lectured to - by my credit card company. Of course I found a way around it, as everyone does, but not without feeling like I should be looking over my shoulder for the Man to appear.

1 comment:

Ignatious said...

Suddenly, I found myself in the position of someone trying to secretively stub out a joint while lecturing the younger generation on the dangers of pot.
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brilliant.