Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Poker Players Alliance Pays For Testimony Of Statistics Profressor Who Says Poker Is A Game Of Skill And Not Chance!

It's All In Attempt To Get Brick & Mortar Poker Legalized Everywhere And Then Online Poker As Well!...Good Luck!

Read this:

Possibly the biggest no-no in a poker game — a no-no that in the days of Wild Bill would get you shot in a saloon — is collusion. That’s when at least two players work together to take money off the other players, either by avoiding each other, dumping chips to each other or downright cheating, as Edward Norton’s character did with Matt Damon’s in “Rounders.”

But Kevin Raley of Windsor wanted to prove poker was a game of skill — and only partly because he wanted to use it as a defense to dodge a professional gambling charge in his criminal trial. He also had another motivation: He wanted to do his part in building what he called a “mountain” of cases of positive verdicts for poker and poker players. As a result, Friday’s jury verdict of not guilty, where the jury stated the prosecution failed to prove poker was not a game of skill, gives more ammunition to poker players who want to see state and even federal laws changed to declare poker a game of skill and not chance.

“The poker players have to work together as a group on this,” Raley said.

Last August, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and other agencies raided Rafferty’s, 5990 10th St. in Greeley, and arrested five patrons and members of a poker club on professional gambling charges. The club only accepted invited members and required them to read bylaws. Rafferty’s didn’t take any percentage of the game, commonly called a rake. State law prohibits games of chance from being played at bars with a state liquor license. So Raley, with his attorney, Todd Taylor of Greeley, wanted to argue that poker was a game of skill, not of chance. That was important because the state law does not include risking anything of value on contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance. Poker does have an element of chance to it, Taylor said, something he acknowledged in court and knows himself as a poker player.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not a contest of skill,” Taylor said. “Remember the Immaculate Reception? That was based partly on chance. But would anyone argue that football isn’t a contest of skill, speed, strength or endurance?”

Two points in the trial helped his defense, Taylor said. One was when the undercover CBI agent who played in the game told the court he was losing on purpose. It’s almost impossible, Taylor said, to lose on purpose in games of chance. Try it sometime in slot machines or roulette.

The second was testimony from Robert Hannum, professor of statistics from the University of Denver. He’s the author of “Practical Casino Math” and has done a lot of research on gaming modeling and applications. Taylor said Hannum once ran a billion hands in a simulation with two players in a heads-up match. He programmed one player to play his cards randomly, and the other to raise with a certain number of select hands. The player selecting his hands and raising with them won 97 percent of the hands, Taylor said.

The Poker Players Alliance, a nationwide organization lobbying to legalize poker across all states and also online, paid for Hannum’s testimony.

Jury trials don’t make decisions that have precedence-setting power, said Gary Reed, director for the Colorado chapter of the Poker Players Alliance. But it could help the cause of the alliance if decisions like this one keep coming down. Last week, a Pennsylvania judge also ruled that poker was a game of skill, freeing a man who ran a small no-limit hold ’em game with no rake out of his garage. The Colorado chapter would like to see the law changed, declaring poker as a game of skill. That would help protect games such as the one hosted by Raley and the four others who were arrested at Rafferty’s that night.

“We don’t advocate the unrestricted and unlicensed play of poker throughout the state,” Reed said, “but we do think this was the correct decision, and we certainly applaud it.”

It could even help legalize online poker, rather than it be subjected to the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits players from transferring money from an American bank to a gambling site. The alliance wants to see poker carved out as a game of skill, something that’s allowed sites to offer fantasy football and games such as solitaire for money.

“I would hope that these decisions would send a message that reasonable people would look at it,” Reed said, “and have it show that reasonable people believe that poker is in fact different than games such as roulette and craps.”

As for Raley, he said he would discuss whether to start up the poker club again with his other organizers once their legal issues are resolved. They intend to resume the game, but they’re not sure. They need to discuss it, together, possibly over a game of poker.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Global Economic Crisis...How Will It Affect Gambling And Cheating, Both Online And Off?

You’re a gambler, right? (Or maybe a cheater!) And the world is undergoing a severe financial crisis, right? Well, here are two issues that should concern you: How will the slumping worldwide economy affect both brick and mortar and online gambling? And how will it effect cheating in both venues? The answers to these questions might not be what you think. Before we get into how falling financial markets and failing businesses might affect cheating, let’s first take a look at how the global economic swoon is changing overall casino and poker room gambling, both online and off.

As you might expect, brick and mortar casino gaming revenues across the world are sharply down the past few months, but less so in Europe and the UK than in the US and Asia. Some land-based casinos in the most stricken areas have taken drastic measures in what is probably as much the anticipation of casino revenues continuing to fall as reaction to the current dismal situation. The most pronounced of these has been taken by the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, USA, since its opening one of the most profitable casinos in the world. Mohegan officials have recently announced that all of its employees will be subject to pay cuts in 2009. Whether this is due solely to realised drops in revenue or in conjunction with projected drops, it is concrete evidence that the worldwide brick and mortar casino industry will be suffering somewhat in the months to come.

Another remarkable example of real-world gambling chaos is the boom to bust devolution of the giant casinos in Macau. Just six months ago we heard how revenues and profits of the casinos in this Asian gambling mecca had surpassed those of Las Vegas, becoming the new gambling capital of the world. The children of casino mogul Stanley Ho and others were embarking on yet the development of more billion-dollar casino megaresorts. Growth seemed like it would sprout up forever with a never-ending influx of gamblers from mainland China and the Pacific Rim. Well, that bubble the size of London has burst, and now reports out of Macau say that ex-casino workers are transforming into everything from day labourers to clerks at the post office to simply unemployed. Despite this, Ho’s son and daughter claim they will continue developing billion-dollar projects already in the works.

What about online poker and casinos? How the deflated economy is affecting them is a bit harder to gauge. The problem is that nearly all the news and statistics analysing online casinos and poker rooms comes from online sources, whose accuracy tends to be less dependable than that of real-world news networks. I have read online reports whose data measuring the drop-off in Internet gaming vary from 20% decline to 80%. Whatever the true number, it is clear that online gaming is suffering, although the online poker and casino sites themselves have displayed no signs of panic.

Personally, I would be surprised if online gaming revenues are truly down as much as 80%. Why? Well, first of all, online gambling has proven to be more addictive than brick and mortar gambling—as much for its easy availability as its speed of dealing and playing hands. Furthermore, there has always been a correlation between unemployment and increased online gambling by those newly jobless. To put is simply, people out of work often find themselves more frequently online gambling because they have more time on their hands than when they’d been working. Unfortunately, many of these people dig into their savings to stay in the games when their luck runs bad. Others look to online poker and casinos to make their ends meet while out of work. Of course you don’t need me to tell you that these attempts more often fail than succeed.

But there is potentially an even darker side to the effect on online gambling from the current economic plight. You might have guessed it: I’m talking about the possibility of more cheating and more large-scale online gambling scams. One very notable aspect of this financial crisis is that it has exposed many financial frauds, including perhaps the biggest in history, the $50 billion “pyramid scam” allegedly engineered by American Bernard Madoff that victimised some superrich owners of online gambling entities. As far as actual play on online sites is concerned, the average number of players will, for at least a while, remain lower than in recent years, but the average number of cheaters and scammers will likely rise. We probably won’t see any major inside scams like Absolute Poker and UltimateBet any time soon, but mid and lower-level cheaters using poker bots, collusion and other outside cheating techniques will increase their raids on online poker rooms.

Why am I saying this? Well, actually I am only using real world history to predict the immediate future of online gaming. Since the Great Depression of the late ’20s and ’30s, whenever there are economic struggles and hardships, financial scams proliferate. That’s because in these times people are desperate to earn money—and cheaters and scammers know how to find the ponds these people navigate in search of making money. Throughout history, one of those biggest ponds has been the gambling world, which nowadays makes the online gambling world prime territory for Internet savvy casino thieves.

In addition to outright cheating incidents, there may be other, more severe, problems plaguing the online gaming world if economic conditions don’t improve relatively quickly. That is, we could see (if online gaming revenues continue to fall) a dej√° vu of Internet gambling’s early days when a number of online casinos disappeared from the cyberworld without returning funds players had on deposit with their sites. This is not likely but could certainly happen if there is a major failure in the online gaming industry.

So, what’s my advice to you online gamblers during these times of financial crisis? It’s not to panic but to be vigilant when you’re gambling online, especially in the poker rooms. If you suspect cheaters at your table, whether you think they might be “botting” or playing in collusion, your best choice is to move to another game or another site. If you find that you’re continually losing even without suspecting you’re a victim of cheating, still do the same. It could equally be a spell of bad luck or some new online poker scam we haven’t heard about yet. And most important, remember: if you are suffering non-gambling financial woes due to the fiscal crisis, and surely lots of you are, don’t look to gambling, either brick and mortar or online, to bail you out!

Texas Hold'em Soon To Be Legal--In Texas???


Poker Inches Closer To Legalization In Texas!

It is kind of ironic that the state which has given its name to the most played gambling and poker card game in the world, TEXAS hold'em, has steadfastly outlawed Texas hold'em and all other poker and gambling games. But now that may finally change, giving "real" legitimacy to Texas's sons' favorite poker game.

Poker advocates in Texas are making a serious push in the upcoming legislative session to legalize the game, according to a story with the Dallas Morning News.
Currently there is no casino gambling of any kind offered in the state of Texas but the underground poker scene seems to be exploding and with it the amount of police raids. Dallas alone had 10 raids on poker rooms between 2006 and 2007 with a total of 270 players arrested. Poker advocates are arguing that with the newly elected House Speaker Joe Straus (who many see as much more open-minded about the issue than his predecessor) the time is right to legitimize No-Limit Hold'em in the state.

Perhaps the most positive development for poker fans has been that Rep. Jose Menendez has submitted HB 222, which would see poker games operated under the authority of the Texas Lottery Commission. The bill's supporters say that Texas is missing out on a huge financial opportunity and that legalized games would bring more safety to poker players in the state.

"Right now, you don't know what kind of game you're walking into," said Mike Lavigne, Texas director of the Poker Player's Alliance in the Morning News article. "It could be a game with cheating. There could be collusion. There could be guns. The bill gives the players a safe place to plan in an honest game."

Last session the HB 3186 bill (which was similar to HB 222) made it through committee but never to the full House. It was estimated the bill would bring over $1 million to the state of Texas over two years time.

One of the biggest supporters is Dan Michalski, the editor and founder of poker blog Pokerati.com. Michalski is a former Dallas resident and mentioned the danger of not legalizing the game in the article with the Morning News.

"It can turn into a criminal enterprise, which is something we don't want it to be," he said. "When you make something legally questionable it has to underground, it starts to attract people who are looking to make money in an off-the-radar way."

Ironically some of the world's best poker players including Doyle Brunson and the now deceased Johnny Moss and Sailor Roberts all hailed from Texas.

Michalski is encouraging Texas poker fans to write emails of encouragement to both Straus at joe.straus@house.state.tx.us and Menendez at jose.menendez@house.state.tx.us.