Aside from the very first hand of the tourney -- when I was dealt pocket kings (and won a whopping 105 chips with ’em) -- I didn’t see much of anything in the way of premium hands until those jacks came around nearly an hour later. Still managed to keep my stack level by stealing blinds now and then, then built it up a bit via a couple of fortunate flops and some fortunately-timed bluffs. Looking back through on Poker Tracker, I see that in the 88 hands I played prior to the last hand, I never lost more than 350 chips on a single hand, and never won more than 650. Talk about small-pot poker. I certainly played tighter than is probably recommended for a short-handed game. Like I said, I was out of my element a bit . . . . Still, a lot of fun. I may try one or two more events here before they finally award that big banana trophy on November 4th.
Meanwhile, I’ve been looking through all of the forums and whatnot in an attempt to educate myself a bit about the impending legislation. 2+2 remains the place to go for up-to-date info. You can waste some time on certain threads, but it isn’t hard to find good reporting over there. I've listened to several of this week’s podcasts as well. Ante Up! and Pocket Fives were both particularly informative. I recommend both of ’em to anyone wanting updates and/or analyses of where things stand at present. I've read I. Nelson Rose’s analysis of the Act, the response of Allyn Jaffrey Shulman (of CardPlayer) to the Act, and even the Act itself -- i.e., Article VIII (pages 213-244) of the Safe Port Act, titled the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.” Hell, I’ve even read Bill Frist’s victory speech-slash-column offering his view of what he managed to engineer in Congress that night.
I think I now have some idea of what is going on, and even some clues about what might be happening down the road. This week I’m going to write three posts in which I’ll offer my thoughts about the Act and what it means. I’ll also be speculating a bit about how I think it might further affect my ability to play online poker (and keep a poker blog, for that matter).
The first post will talk about how the Act tries to redefine a “bet or wager.” What was passed on September 29th is a version of the Leach Act (which was a revision of the Goodlatte Act) minus that section attempting to update the 1961 Wire Act to include more than just sports betting. Even though the attempt to update the Wire Act was taken out, there remains in this new Act an attempt to redefine “bet or wager” to include not just sports betting, but also “risking . . . something of value upon the outcome of . . . a game subject to chance.” As Nelson Rose explains, that phrase “a game subject to chance” is specifically meant to include poker.
The second post will concern that part of the Act that discusses “Interactive computer services” -- a legalistic way of referring to Internet Service Providers (or ISPs). It is notable, actually, that the former name of the Act -- the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act -- was revised last week to become the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The new version of the Act that Congress passed is mostly about how to enforce what some believe to be preexisting laws forbidding online gambling. One of the mechanisms described concerns federal agents being able to order ISPs to remove internet sites that are transmitting money to gambling sites. ISPs can also be ordered to block sites with hyperlinks to gambling sites (such as the one you are reading right now).
In the third post I’ll try to assess how various poker sites reacted to what happened in Congress last week. No one saw that coming, it seems. I imagine that Bush will have signed the Act into law by the time I post that one, so we may have even more news by then to consider.
In the meantime, I’m still playing . . . . In fact, I’ll be talking about one crazy hand in particular in my next post, one that I think helps to address this notion that poker is, indeed, “a game subject to chance.”