Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I’m going through

That’s from David Bowie’s song ‘Changes’. Funny how just a little vote of the Senate can make the world go a little haywire for a time.

One of my favorite pasttimes these days is playing online poker. And last Friday night / Saturday morning the Senator Bill Frist added text to a Port Security bill that ‘outlawed internet gambling.’ And the world turned upside down. The poker forums I’m on have been buzzing with activity. They were actually buzzing that entire week as Frist had tried to attach it to the Department of Defense funding bill, but that was curtailed, since internet gambling has nothing to do with the Department of Defense. The online poker community thought they had won, and then at the 13th hour, Frist got it in.

So my favorite pasttime has been in a bit of a limbo recently. I was in the middle of clearing a bonus (when you deposit money they give you more money than you deposited, but you have to ‘earn’ it by playing) when this happened at Party Poker. Party announced the very next day that they were going to be shutting their doors to US players. I finished that bonus off, and withdrew my money from there immediately. Then I waited. And I watched. Poker site after poker site released their interpretation of it, and whether or not they were going to let US players play on their site. Currently the only big-name poker site that hasn’t really announced anything is PokerStars, which is actually my favorite site at the moment. So I kept waiting. A couple smaller sites said they wouldn’t kickout US players, so I deposited a small amount on one of those sites and have been playing there. You get huge bonuses for depositing for the first time at poker sites, so I’ve got a lot of bonus to work off there.

I also decided to start playing No-Limit Hold’em, because if the poker ponds are shrinking, I want to be in the biggest pond. Since No-Limit is the one on TV all the time, that’s the one people want to play when they get online so that’s where I’m going. I’m starting small (very small) and reading about this variant alot so I can become skilled.

But watching this whole thing has been interesting. I’ve never planned to be a poker professional, or do anything more than supplement my income with poker playing so I have limited risk in this deal. But a lot of people in the poker forums, especially recent college graduates, do support themselves with online poker. So it started out with pure panic, and everyone screaming that the sky is falling and the world is ending. Especially since Party announced ‘no US players’ (PartyGaming is a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange, so it isn’t really surprising that they’d say ‘we won’t break the law to make money’).

Right now there are still two camps of thought arguing back and forth with each other. One side (which seems to include a lot of lawyers) are saying the bill doesn’t speak to internet poker. It’s largely meant to curtail sports betting (except horse-racing) and maybe internet casino games. Operators that are ‘in the business of wagering and betting’. That is, people are betting the house whether they win or lose. When people bet against each other and the house just takes a small piece of it hasn’t been outlawed, apparently. No matter what the Act never targets players. The other portion of the Act is meant to prevent these gambling sites from taking credit cards and using US banks for funding. Which is interesting, because I never could fund a poker deposit with a credit card. The credit card companies already refuse to allow that. Some sites do allow you to pull it straight from your checking account, but I don’t do it that way. I use a 3rd party payment processor, Neteller, which is already being cited as a ‘loophole’.

The other side says it’s all illegal, but keeps changing the reasons why, and it’s really hard to follow. They point to words of the law, then when that is refuted or argued they point to state law. Like I said, most of the lawyers are of the mind that internet poker really isn’t covered in the new law.

In the meantime the country of Antigua had filed suit against the US last year concerning the US preventing these online gambling transactions saying the US is being ‘protectionist’ concerning our on-shore gambling casinos. We allow gambling in the States, but won’t allow our citizens from accessing overseas gambling. Antigua won the case, but the US has ignored it. Antigua doesn’t have enough of a trade with the US outside of gambling to threaten us with anything substantial.

Now that we have passed this law and destroyed an overseas economy (public gaming stocks with online presences plummeted this week, losses in the billions) including some United Kingdom companies we might see the UK or the EU get behind this judgement and seek to enforce it. Supposedly that is being re-examined in November.

So, wow. In the long run, I’m not really effected other than the fact that something I like to do may not be available to me. I have made some changes in response to this. I’m playing no-limit now, which is the same kind played on TV and in tournaments. There are many bars around that have Hold’em tournaments weekly where you can win food, and even some cash in the end-of-the-season tournaments (you earn points during the season, and the top points play in the tournament). It looks like I’ll still get to play online poker, somewhere, and build up a bankroll in case I ever do get to make it to a Vegas, Tahoe, California or Florida poker table (that was my biggest concern, that if I wanted to play ever again I’d have to use household money and I could no longer build my dedicated poker money). And maybe, just maybe, I can work my way into some tournaments here and there.

Reading and following all this has really taken up a lot of my time lately, so I haven’t been doing much else. Work is starting to pick up a little, and I’m getting more involved in the projects. I just got back from Dallas where I got to meet my boss and other team-members and learn more about what they’re doing and my role. So that was a huge help as far as understanding my current position.

The boys and Teresa are on a field trip today to a pet-store. Next weekend is a camping weekend where I get to take the boys and camp the entire weekend. We get to make our own food and everything. I need to start planning for that.

Oh, I have started working out again. I’m pretty sore from my first workout on Wednesday, and I even made a special attempt and going light. I’m really out of shape. Going to go try again today.. it’s been a couple days and I feel a lot better than I did yesterday.


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