Friday, February 03, 2012

Playing By a Different Set of Rules

The rules don't apply to meWorked on a couple of different poker-related stories this week that shared kind of a common theme. Both involved people in power -- who, not coincidentally, were people with money and/or access to money -- enjoying considerably greater freedom and influence than the rest of us poor saps (jingle-brained and otherwise).

One appeared over on Epic Poker, an entry for my “Community Cards” column on poker and pop culture that was inspired by the current presidential election. As we watch the Republicans continue with their debates, primaries, and caucuses in an effort to determine who will be their nominee to run against President Obama in November, I was reminded of an old story about another election in which Republicans were also trying to decide upon a nominee, this one for a U.S. senate seat in Minnesota back in the 19th century.

The story appears in a neat 1899 collection of poker tales by David A. Curtis called Queer Luck and describes how two backers of opposing candidates found themselves pitted against each other in a high-stakes poker match.

'Queer Luck' by David A. Curtis (1899)Eventually a five-card draw hand develops in which both pick up huge hands and after betting all of the money they have decide to add another, curious element to the pot -- namely, the promise of one that he’ll leave the state until the nomination and election is over so as not to be able to use his financial influence to promote his candidate.

You can find out what happens in the column, titled “When a Poker Party Influenced a Political Party.”

The other story concerned the recent headlines coming out regarding Full Tilt Poker, including those having to do with ongoing efforts to finalize that deal whereby Groupe Bernard Tapie will be taking over the site.

You’ve certainly been following these stories, too, including the one from last week in which Subject:Poker alleged Chris Ferguson and his lawyer, the appropriately-named Ian Imrich, were seeking payment of about $14.3 million from FTP, with the article suggesting the situation could possibly threaten the deal from being completed. Both Imrich and the GBT lawyer have since refuted S:P’s take on the situation.

Then yesterday Matt Kaufman (a.k.a. PokerSmell) of PokerStrategy shared another very curious bit of news regarding GBT’s lawyer saying Full Tilt Poker is actually owed “between $10 and $20 million” by several pros, including Team Full Tilt guys (Phil Ivey, Erick Lindgren, and Mike Matusow), ex-red pros (Layne Flack and David Benyamine), and perhaps most surprisingly, Barry Greenstein (of PokerStars).

Kind of an odd juxtaposition of stories, with one involving FTP apparently owing a pro and the other concerning players owing Full Tilt. I delved into all of it for a feature over on Betfair that went up today, titled “More Full Tilt Poker Headlines for Players to Fret Over.”

In any case, both of those stories highlight the extreme difference in status between the guys with money and/or access to it -- and the resulting freedoms and influence such status provides -- and the rest of us.

Wimpy's dealWith regard to the FTP situation, I realize certain individuals are obviously at greater fault than others, but I still can’t help but be enormously peeved at the idea that pretty much all along there were those who were able to borrow hundreds of thousands from the very site on which they then played with the money. Never mind the fact that we now know thanks to FTP’s failure to segregate operating expenses from player accounts that the money being loaned to these players came (essentially) from our accounts!

Anyhow, click on those links above for a couple of poker-related stories about corruption and injustice. And about how whenever there is money and power involved, there is generally always going to be a lot going on that is well hidden from the view of most.

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2 Comments:

Blogger genomeboy said...

"but I still can’t help but be enormously peeved at the idea that pretty much all along there were those who were able to borrow hundreds of thousands from the very site on which they then played with the money."

Why is this? People borrow money from casinos all the time. This is no different (btw, I have money still on FTP)

2/03/2012 7:01 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Because of the latter revelation regarding the failure to segregate funds -- i.e., the money being borrowed actually wasn't theirs to loan. (I prob. shouldn't have saved that for the next sentence, couched inside a rhetorical "never mind.")

2/03/2012 7:09 PM  

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