The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure -- the first leg on the new North American Poker Tour -- is finally winding down in Nassau, Bahamas. Harrison Gimbel (aged 19) took down the Main Event, earning a head-spinning $2.2 million. And last night another youngster, William Reynolds (aged 21), took down the High Rollers event, winning $526,240.
Meanwhile, the Aussie Millions has gotten underway down in Melbourne and will be running for the rest of the month, with the Main Event happening Jan. 24-30. Follow the action at the Aussie Millions over at PokerNews’ live reporting page.
Another bit of news came out yesterday, via Daniel Negreanu’s blog. The presence of 441 Productions at the PCA -- the crew ESPN uses for its WSOP coverage -- had suggested the possibility that ESPN would be carrying the NAPT, and according to Negreanu that indeed is going to be the case. Stephen A. Murphy gives us a good summary of that story over on the Card Player site.
The news that ESPN will be there at the Venetian for the next NAPT event -- the main event of the Deep Stack Extravaganza series (Feb. 20-24) -- certainly will attract a lot of folks to the Venetian who might not have been there otherwise. Will be interesting, too, to see whether this next NAPT event will affect the numbers at the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic, also going on in February, although if I am reading the schedule correctly the Main Event over there doesn’t begin until Feb. 26. Many will play both events, I imagine, although a large number of players may only have the bankroll to choose one. (Links to schedules: NAPT Venetian; WPT L.A. Poker Classic.)
So it’ll be the NAPT vs. the WPT. The Venetian vs. the Commerce. ESPN vs. Fox Sports. And PokerStars vs. PartyPoker (sort of, as Peerless Media, Ltd., a division of PartyGaming, acquired World Poker Tour Enterprises late last summer). And, er, Vanessa Rousso versus Kara Scott? (Scott signed this week as a PartyPoker pro.)
Speaking of conflicts, while we’re all distracted by these other stories, most of us have taken our eyes off of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 after the deadline for the implementation of the law’s final regulations was delayed for six months to June 1, 2010. In what appears a bit of petulant politicking, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), one of those involved in authoring versions of the bill that would eventually become the UIGEA, has discovered a way to respond to the delay. He’s currently blocking the appointment of nominees to fill various Treasury Department posts, apparently as a kind of payback for the decision to delay the UIGEA’s enforcement.
Maria Del Mar gives a good summary of the situation over at Poker News Daily, including some references to comments by various observers, such as Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who are marveling at how Kyl can find it worthwhile to delay the filling of key positions in the Treasury Department while the U.S. continues to try and find its way out of financial crisis. Specifically, Kyl is preventing the appointment of six key officials, all of whom would help manage tax policies and international finance, posts which, as Del Mar points out, “even for the most hardcore poker fans, it should be clear that they ought to have a much higher priority than the UIGEA’s implementation or repeal.”
Among other folks, Del Mar points us to the political blogger Matthew Yglesias for more commentary. Seems more than a little unreasonable for Kyl to hold up the functioning of the Treasury this way in order to make known his grievance over the UIGEA delay.
But then, every single step of the legislative history of the UIGEA has been characterized by such self-serving, dysfunctional applesauce by its authors and backers.
A bill punted around in various forms for nearly a decade gets attached to another and passed into law without debate. Regulations get drafted, failing to clarify even the most rudimentary aspects of the bill (e.g., what constitutes “unlawful internet gambling”). A lame-duck administration finalizes the regulations, scheduling the sucker to go into effect on its last full day of its government. Banks and financial institutions, charged with enforcing the law, continue to plead they don’t know how to do so other than by “overblocking” all suspect transactions, and so a further delay is granted to revisit the issue, and perhaps entertain other legislation related to online gambling in the U.S.
Of course, all of these stories are connected pretty closely, as the fate of the UIGEA will directly affect that of the NAPT, the WPT, the online sites connected with those tours, and more. So, as I say, it will be interesting to see what happens in February in L.V. and L.A. And after that in D.C.
All in all, a busy week. Some will have recognized my headline as taken from the old BBC show. And while we’re on the subject of the U.K., go check out my interview with Victoria Coren over on Betfair about her book For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker. Coren was nice enough to take a little time out from her PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to answer my questions.
Have a good weekend!