Archive for August, 2010

Beware! The Republicans Are Coming!

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

This November, an election in the United States will determine the entire House of Representatives (as so happens every two years). Barney Frank, a congressman from Massachusetts who has held a seat in the House since 1980, need not worry about being re-elected. He’s a lock to win his re-election; the Republicans often don’t even put someone on the ballot against him. But what Frank does stand to lose is his chairmanship over the Financial Services Committee, a position he’s held since 2006. If the Republicans take over majority control of the House, something that the Intrade Prediction Markets currently say has about a 77% chance of happening, then Frank would be out as Financial Services Committee Chairman.

Replacing Frank would be a Republican, most likely Spencer Bachus from Alabama. This story is significant for poker because Frank and Bachus hold polar-opposite viewpoints with regards to legalizing and regulating online poker.

Since taking over as committee chairman, Frank has introduced multiple bills to legalize the online poker industry in the U.S. The latest example of this is H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, which passed the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 41-28 a month ago.

While H.R. 2267 passing the House Financial Services Committee was great news for poker, it is ultimately only a small step in the right direction. In order for the bill to become law, it needs to pass the House, Senate, and be signed into law by the President. Most importantly, all of this needs to be done in the same legislative session. In other words, unless those three steps are completed by November, H.R. 2267 having passed the House Financial Services Committee will not really matter and this bill will not become law in 2010. And unfortunately for the poker world, those three steps will not be completed. It’s incredibly unlikely the House will even get around to taking a full vote on this bill. The only chance H.R. 2267 has of being passed into law in 2010 is if it is tacked on to a larger, must-pass bill, much like the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was in 2006 when former Republican Senator Bill Frist attached it to an unrelated port securities act. The chances of this happening again only this time to the benefit of the poker world are slim to none.

So as you can see, H.R. 2267 doesn’t stand much of a chance in this legislative session which means the results of November’s election is crucial for the bill’s chances. If the Republicans take over control of the House, and thus Bachus seizes the reigns of the House Financial Services Committee, you can all but kiss this bill’s chances goodbye for two years, if not longer. Bachus has been one of the sharpest opponents of legalizing online poker. In his opposition to H.R. 2267 last month, Bachus said, “After all of the talk of the past year of shutting the casinos down on Wall Street, why would we take steps today to open casinos in every bedroom and every dorm room on iPods, Blackberrys, iPhones, and computers?”

Where Bill Frist’s last ditch effort against online poker succeeded in 2006 just as his party was about to be shut out of power in Congress, Barney Frank’s is likely to fail. With Bachus as House Financial Services Committee Chairman, he gets to control the agenda regarding what bills the committee debates and votes on. So even if the support for something like H.R. 2267 is still there votes-wise after the November elections, as long as Bachus is committee chairman, it probably won’t matter.

There’s a lot on the line for the poker world in this November’s election. Unfortunately for us, it’s not looking good.

Annie Duke is a ‘F***ing C**t’

Monday, August 30th, 2010

According to Daniel Negreanu, poker pro and The Celebrity Apprentice runner-up Annie Duke is a, “f***ing c**t”. That’s what “Kid Poker” said during what he believed was an off-the-record moment in an interview for PokerPlayer.co.uk. Unfortunately for Negreanu, his comment was published. Needless to say, Duke was none too pleased to hear it.

The comment came after Negreanu was asked what he thought of more than a dozen men participating in the Ladies Event at the 2010 WSOP. He proceeded to go on a tired about Duke, who has always voiced her displeasure at the Ladies Event saying that there should be gender equality in poker. Negreanu commented, “What irked me is that this woman has the audacity on her website to call herself ‘the best female poker player in the world.’ So I’m like ‘how offensive are you, you f***ing c**t? You want to say you’re speaking for women, yet you claim superiority over all of them.’”

Duke responded on her Twitter, “Thank you for the support. I was certainly shocked at the language myself. I welcome criticism, but not abuse.”

PokerStars, the online poker room that sponsors Daniel Negreanu, initially responded in this way to his comment: “Although Daniel Negreanu is a Team PokerStars Pro, he is an entity to himself and as such will always be encouraged to express his views and speak his mind as he would otherwise do so, PokerStars Pro or not.”

This further angered Duke who posted An Open Letter to Pokerstars in which she condemned the site for not clearly chastising Negreanu’s comment. In that letter, Duke stated, “So, PokerStars, you are encouraging Daniel to continue to express views in this manner, to conduct these public attacks using offensive slurs and inappropriate language? I am more than dismayed that PokerStars is making a statement here that they encourage this kind of behavior, this kind of language use. According to PokerStars, this kind of behavior enriches our community.”

In a response to that letter, PokerStars released an official statement saying, “PokerStars does not support the use of derogatory or hurtful language directed at any other player. While this was a personal matter between two players, we wish that better judgment had been used in the choice of words.”

Negreanu has yet to apologize to Duke for whom he has held an open distaste for since 2003 when he posted that she has smelly feet among other unflattering things.

To Negreanu’s credit, it is hypocritical of Annie Duke to cry for a game in which gender is a moot point and then advertise on her website that she is the “best female poker player”, but obviously his comment crossed the line. The real loser here is the poker world: it’s kind of hard to take the activity seriously when two of the most high-profile professionals engage in such childish (albeit entertaining) banter.

Second “durrrr” Challenge Begins

Friday, August 27th, 2010

About a year and a half ago, Tom “durrrr” Dwan offered a challenge to the poker world: play him heads-up in a minimum of four-tables at a time for a total of 50,000 hands. If anyone can book a win over the course of that session, he’d give them $1.5 million in addition to their winnings. However, if it is Dwan who is ahead after the 50,000th hand, his opponent must ship him an additional $500,000.

This offer drew immediate interest from Patrik Antonius who began playing Dwan in February 2009. According to durrrchallenge.com, their match still has 10,564 hands remaining as Dwan holds a little more than a $2 million lead. Since his match with Antonius has progressed at a sluggish pace, Dwan has agreed to start playing against his second challenger, Daniel “jungleman12″ Cates.

Cates and Dwan got started last night and managed to complete 5,829 hands of play. At the end of the session, Cates holds a substantial lead of $518,191. To the delight of railbirds, the two played four tables of $200/$400 no-limit hold’em for nearly 12 hours before Dwan called it quits. It took Antonius and Dwan over a month to complete their first 5,000 hands, so poker fans are delighted to see this match off to a quicker pace.

Cates’ lead this early in the challenge is very substantial for a couple of reasons:

  • The two agreed to use the “run it twice” feature for any all-ins meaning that there will be quite a bit less variance over the course of their session.
  • They are playing no-limit hold’em which tends to have less variance than pot-limit Omaha (which is what Antonius and Dwan have played for their challenge).

There’s still a long way to go, though. Cates, a 20 year old student at the University of Maryland, better hope his early huge lead is enough to hold off one of the best players in the world for another 45,000 hands.

Asian Poker Boom?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

For the longest time, online poker has remained mostly unpopular in Asian countries. There is at least one sign that this could be starting to change. Zynga, a company that runs the largest online poker game with 28 million players on Facebook, is launching their software in Mandarin Chinese to attract players from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

According to Venture Beat, Chinese players will receive 8,888 starting chips and compete for $880,000 in Taiwanese dollars (about $27,500 USD). The number 8 is considered lucky in Chinese culture.

It is unclear how well Zynga poker players tend to convert to real-money online poker rooms like Party Poker, but even if the conversion rate is extraordinarily low, with so many members (28 million and counting), this is good news for the longevity of online poker. Unfortunately, most Asian countries are hostile to online poker and will often try to block access to online gambling sites.

WPT Holding Auditions for On-Air Broadcasting Role

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

The World Poker Tour announced in a press release recently that they are holding open auditions for an on-air commentator to host a new segment called “The Raw Deal”. The company says they are looking for a brutally honest poker enthusiast to share the screen with commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. This new role calls for someone who can be the Simon Cowell of cards, a nod to the harsh, but honest former American Idol judge.

Applicants can choose from two ways to audition for the new role:

1. Come to the Bicycle Casino on August 19th from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm to audition as the WPT staff prepares for the Legends of Poker Tournament. The WPT says this is the best way to win the job.

2. Go to WPT’s “Raw Deal” Facebook page and upload a 45 second video. Friends and fans will be able to vote on the submissions. The top 10 vote-getters will be put on a shortlist for callbacks from WPT producers.

Submissions close at midnight on August 15th.