I Want My Poker Back

We knew playing online meant entering a netherworld whose legality was in dispute. The prevailing wisdom was the players were operating legally, but the poker rooms not so much.

About a week ago Helaine called me to her computer screen. She’d gone to play poker at PokerStars and was greeted by a message. Cash games to the United States were suspended. A quick look at the PokerStars website showed the pokerstars.com domain had been seized by the US Justice Department.

We knew playing online meant entering a netherworld whose legality was in dispute. The prevailing wisdom was the players were operating legally, but the poker rooms not so much.

I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect a government shutdown.

We enjoy playing. We don’t play for much. We can play for hours with only a few dollars at stake. Seriously, Helaine has complained I play for too little!

Why is this game illegal? Why are we prevented from playing? Aren’t there bigger financial miscreants that need to meet the law?

The actual charge is the poker rooms have been playing fast and loose by money laundering. I don’t doubt it’s true. There was no way to move player’s money in and out of the United States without skirting the law.

Proponents of poker say legalize it and let the taxes flow. Right now these businesses make oodles of cash in the U.S. without paying a penny. Who do they think they are, General Electric?

Poker is a game which will work better under government supervision. Tighter control (and even taxes) implies honesty and integrity. Integrity is a big deal when the cards are being dealt from some secret foreign server.

In the meantime while this whole thing stinks. Helaine’s watching “Say Yes to the Dress” and I don’t have poker to distract me.

10 thoughts on “I Want My Poker Back”

  1. At least you are better off than the fellow I read about from Las Vegas who has/had $280,000 in his account at PokerStars. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever see it. Wow!!
    Do they still have online bingo? Maybe you can give that a whirl! ­čÖé

  2. We are the only nation on the planet where online gambling is against the law. Protected again by the Nanny State.

  3. this may seem counterintuitive , but if you see the invisible hand of business behind most of the laws that attempt to prohibit, as i do, this may just be a clearing of the decks for the large american casino interests to eliminate powerful, well run and largely honest on-line sites (i’m talking about stars and tilt here…not cereus). i’ll take some light action on the likelihood that we’ll be playing harrah-hold’em or calling-stations or poker mgm grand style in the next 18 months. state by state you will see on-line poker “legalized” well within that time. nevada, dc, hawaii and other states are already on the way.

  4. You have every right to kvetch, Geoff. I’m surprised they aren’t allowing the low-end money game to continue.
    The government is being its typical “heavy handed” (although they would say thorough) selves…

  5. This won’t be the same but there is a halfway decent poker game on Facebook called Zynga Poker. When I can’t find anything else to do I play that. It might be distracting enough for you instead of watching Say Yes To The Dress!

    1. To expand on what Rick is saying the misconception is poker is purely a card game. If that were the case winning would be random. It’s actually much more a betting game. On each hand and with only limited knowledge a player has to make choices of whether to call, raise or fold. When cash is removed that strategic part of the game disappears.

      Poker is only poker when played for money.

  6. the play money games at tilt and stars are bad enough but zynga or wpt facebook aren’t really poker. gotta have skin in the game. it applies to law ,love ,war and poker i think…got nothing to lose you have nothing worth fighting for.

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