Posts Tagged 'gambling'

MOFT: Episode 16 (PokerStars)

You’ve seen a lot less of me on dagblog lately, and while I’d love to put all of the blame for my absence on my Beyonce and the wedding plans which have been set in hot and heavy motion (It’s mostly painful, stressful stuff, but registering at Target was hella fun – come to Papa, Wii!!), but there is a much bigger badder beast than Mrs. All-Consuming Wedding at work here – and its name is PokerStars.

The truth of matter is, if we’re going to point fingers at anyone, Genghis is really the one to blame because it was partly due to his move to Philadelphia that our weekly NYC poker game, which has been going on regularly for more than eight years, has become very hit-and-miss, and I can’t have that. I need my cards fix.

So I decided to take the plunge and join Pokerstars, which easily earns the award for this week’s My One Favorite Thing. This isn’t the first time I played poker online – A few years ago I was on PartyPoker before that company decided to give up the U.S. market when Congress passed a law banning banks and other financial institutions from funding customer deposits.

The whole issue of the legality of online poker remains in flux, which is a complete joke considering the haphazard nature of this country’s gambling laws (yeah, state lottos and ‘riverboat’ casinos that aren’t even on the water, I’m talking to you) and considering that poker is a skill game enjoyed by millions and millions of Americans.

Indeed, poker is as American an institution as apple pie, and I’m pretty convinced now that the Democrats and card-loving Barney Frank are in charge that it’s only a matter of time before online poker becomes a fully regulated, fully taxed, fully legal activity. In the meantime, I had no qualms about rekindling my little addiction by joining Pokerstars, which along with a couple of other companies decided to take the risk and continue operating in the US.

As far as the site goes, it’s pretty good, very reminiscent of the PartyPoker look and feel. While Texas Hold ‘Em is far and away the most active game on the site, PokerStars offers up enough variety for a non-specialist like me to keep entertained, and I probably most enjoy playing Omaha Hi-Lo and 8-Game (which is eight different games that switch every 5 minutes or so).

And also like PartyPoker, I am convinced that the card distribution on PokerStars isn’t totally random – there are just way too many runner-runner flush suck outs that I see the bigger stacks hit. (This won’t make sense to you unless you know poker, but it basically means that the site’s algorithm seemingly has a mysterious way of moving games along – which if true makes the site a lot more money – by enticing people with few chips to call, only to nail them later in the hand. However, it’s possible it only seems that this happens a lot because you see so many hands playing online – I generally have three games going on at any one time).

I’m trying to keep my cardplaying to at least a reasonable minimum, but I have to admit it’s definitely eating into my blogging time, and sleeping time, and eating time. I’m just thankful we have such solid new contributors to keep the site active. I promise eventually I’ll start caring again about the real world – aside from poker and weddings that is. But right now, I have a game to get to.

Hating hypocrisy …

I can’t stand hypocrites. (Of course, I’m pretty sure I have some hypocritical beliefs, and I can stand myself, so I guess that makes me a hypocrite twice over).

But seriously, a little consistency when it comes to opinions is all I ask for.  Unfortunately, hypocrisy is everywhere. So before numbness to its existence permanently sets in, I wanted to express my outrage at two examples of hypocrisy that strike me as particularly galling.

1) Pro-choice folks who believe prostitution should be illegal (usually feminists).

It’s simple: If you believe as I do that a woman should be able to do with her body as she wishes, then you cannot believe that prostitution should be illegal. If the fetus is fair game, then certainly the vagina is.

Laws already exist that protect women from abuse, or underage sex, or forced prostitution, or any of the other crimes typically associated with solicitation. If you legalize and regulate the act – as has been done in parts of Nevada – you can actually cut down on many of those tragic stories.

2) Governments which run lotteries (or in the case of the federal government, tolerates them) yet outlaw other forms of gambling, most notably online poker.

This one is also self-explanatory. It is criminal that the federal government and most state governments ban many forms of commercial gambling yet sanction the use of state lotteries, which is certainly one of the worse bad bets in all of gambling history (the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 146, 907,162the odds of dying by ignition or melting of nightwear: 1 in 1,249,356).

it is particularly aggravating when governments target poker or other gambling games that are a mix of skill and chance. Poker is practiced by millions and millions of people all over the world – and it is at least as American of a tradition as baseball and apple pie. The game generally tends to be played by higher-income, higher-educated people, unlike the lottery, which appeals disproportionately to down-on-their-luck, desperate folk (just like OTB horserace betting – another government-approved activity) .

Once again, if the fear is underage gambling, or addiction, regulation could help address those issues, while legalization would also bring in much-needed tax revenues and remove much of the potential for criminal or fraudulent activities associated with the sport.

Ok, that’s enough ranting for now. But before I end, i just also wanted to say how sad I felt when i learned today of the death of Randy Pausch, the ‘Last Lecture’ Carnegie Mellon professor who died last week after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. I saw him on Oprah a while back, and he gave me a bit of the initial inspiration for that story I hope to start working on sometime soon. If the way he approached life and death can’t motivate me to follow my dreams, I’m not sure what can.

July 2016
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