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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - Political Poker

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The USA is at the peak of the political season which happens every four years. When deciding which way to vote, we all tend to vote for the candidate who shares as many of our views as possible. For poker players, this is tricky because in this election, neither candidate has addressed the UIGEA and if they have feelings about it one way or the other. Maybe we would be asking too much for the candidates to put poker on their list of things they would address if elected, with the state of the economy, who cares about poker? Everyone who plays poker, that’s who and there are thousands of us all across this great land.

From reading about the candidates, evidently Obama likes to play poker. Poker author James McManus who penned Positively Fifth Street, wrote an article in the New Yorker magazine about Obama and his poker skills. In the article, McManus claims “Obama never played for high stakes. Only on a very bad night could a player drop two hundred dollars in these games, typical wins and losses being closer to twenty-five bucks.”  

One poker playing buddy describes Obama as a “calculating” poker player, avoiding long-shot draws and patiently waiting for strong starting hands.  And, former Senator Larry Walsh once told a reporter, “When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand.”

This sentiment was shared by Senator Terry Links, who hosted weekly poker games at his home that Obama attended. Links has said, "When he was a young state politician in Illinois, Barack Obama played his cards right. He had the stone face and he didn't stay in hands if he didn't think he had a chance of winning.”

 Not getting in a situation you don’t think you can win sounds like a good attribute for a president to have. But whether that means Obama likes poker enough to step up and do something about the UIGEA, who knows.

The UK’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper interviewed poker pro Andy Bloch about the presidential candidates. Mr. Bloch had this to say; “There are a lot of skills playing poker that would help the chief executive. In poker you have to put yourself in the shoes of your opponents, get inside their heads and figure out what they're thinking; what their actions mean; what they would think your actions mean; and reading people's bluffs. One thing that got us into the Iraq War was that George Bush didn't realize that Saddam Hussein was basically bluffing, trying to look like a big man, when he really had no weapons of mass destruction."

Where McCain is concerned, he has made his ideas clear about wanting all sports betting outlawed and making it a felony.  When it comes to gambling however, McCain has a well known penchant for shooting craps, with no mention of his views on poker. Regarding having a President who is a dice roller, Mr. Bloch said; “You're always at a disadvantage at craps. It's a problem, if you have a leader who believes they can beat the odds. You don't want him shooting dice with the economy."

Anthony Holden, a British journalist and poker player stated, "We poker players don't call poker gambling. It is a game of skill. Craps is an absurd game of luck. You may have thrilling short term wins but only madmen play craps."

Of course with the state of the financial markets, banks going belly-up, well established businesses going under, people losing their jobs and homes, it is doubtful the state of online poker will even be a thought to the President Elect. When it comes to the geography of challenges facing the next President of the US, poker isn’t even on the map. It is understandable, but still a sad state for us poker players to be in with the constant state of confusion about the future of online poker and what will happen next in the politics of poker.

Will more state governments follow the Kentucky Governor’s absurd example? And if they do, will they succeed? One thing for sure, the online poker sites who have not buckled under and are standing to fight deserve our support. While some poker sites have shut out US players, sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Bodog Poker all deserve our business just for not backing down. As long as there are poker sites brave enough to keep welcoming us, we will play and exercise what we as poker players consider a personal freedom.

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