Poker World Predictions: Doomsday Edition
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2011-08-21, by Ozone, TwoGunEvery so often, we like to bombard our readers with some poker world predictions. This gives us a chance to either gloat or struggle to dislodge our feet from our mouths at some point in the future. So let's get to it.
Barton Bill Doesn't Pass, No Legal Online Poker at Federal Level in U.S. at End of 2012
Texas Representative Joe Barton's online poker bill has whipped the poker world, including us, into a state of optimism regarding poker's chances for legislation at the federal level in the U.S. Last week, the bill gained five new co-sponsors (four Democrats and a Republican) bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 25. The Barton Bill may seem like it's making good headway towards becoming law, but it's not gaining traction with everyone. According to Chris Krafcik, "no American gaming businesses (or the trade associations that represent them) have publicly endorsed the [Barton bill]."
How might this matter?
If the Barton Bill never gains the support of large gaming businesses like Wynn Resorts or Caesars Entertainment, it probably won't have much of a chance. Poker's best ally in the Senate is Harry Reid. Reid is powerful and his loyalty is firmly with Nevada casino groups. If those businesses do not want the Barton Bill for whatever reason, Reid can do a lot to kill it simply by not helping force it through the Senate a la Bill Frist with the UIGEA.
It seems unclear what reason(s) casino outfits could have for not supporting the Barton Bill, but so far, they haven't. And even if they do support the bill, that far from guarantees its chances. In all likelihood, the bill will never make it to a vote on the House floor, at least not anytime between now and the end of the 2012 session.
Online poker is as close as it's ever been to becoming legal in the U.S., but it still has a long way to go. We predict that the poker world's optimism for Joe Barton's bill will eventually amount to another dose of frustration. Sorry, Gary Loveman. We don't share your optimism.
Counterpoint (TwoGun): While I think we are still an underdog to get legalized online poker in the US, I think the chances are close to 30-40% that we will get a bill passed by the end of 2012. Harry Reid is arguably the most powerful senator, and he is making it clear it is a priority to him to get legalized online poker.
One thing I've learned about politicians is that, more than anything, they want to fudge numbers to make things seem better than they are. I think there's a good chance that during some budget debate, they introduce a licensing bill for online poker as a mechanism to pay for something and use some dubious, over-optimistic calculation of how much tax revenue it will bring in. Since there's a willingness on both sides of the aisle to pass an online poker bill anyway (one of the only bipartisan ideas out there right now), there's a good chance something will get snuck through, similar to how the UIGEA got snuck in to a port security bill in 2006.
Full Tilt Poker Completely Goes Under, Never Repays
The debacle that is Full Tilt Poker seems to get worse and worse every week. Last week, a second class action law suit was filed against the site. This one, filed by two Canadian customers of the site, Zayn Jetha and Donald Whelan, names Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, and Nelson Burtnick as defendants. Last month, a group of American poker players led by lawyer and poker pro Todd Terry filed a suit which named the entirety of Team Full Tilt, save for Phil Gordon and Tom Dwan, as defendants.
For the time being, it seems Full Tilt's best hope for repaying players is by selling the company to investors. The hope of such a sale is exactly what prompted the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), the oversight outfit that provides Full Tilt a license to operate, to adjourn their hearing with the company regarding their suspended license until a date no later than September 15th.
The clock is ticking for Full Tilt. If they are unable to put together a deal with investors in the next three weeks that will ensure players are paid back in full, the AGCC is unlikely to restore their license. The AGCC has stated that their priorities lie with the best interests of FTP customers. The message is pretty clear: either Full Tilt figures out a way to pay back their players, or they're effectively done as a business.
Sure, they could try to get back online by acquiring a license from some other oversight agency, but no poker player in their right mind will patron the site unless players are repaid in full. And even then, it's questionable if the poker world will find reason to trust Full Tilt again. The players have moved on. Full Tilt is dead. It's just a matter of if anyone can find money in the pockets of the corpse. We predict they won't. Why would any investor in their right mind fork over hundreds of millions for this site? The brand is shot and is now synonymous with ineptitude and thievery.
It will be interesting to see in what capacity figures like Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Phil Ivey attempt to remain involved in the poker world once the Full Tilt ship officially sinks. They should all have enough money to spend the rest of their years hiding on some remote island which is our recommended course of action for them if Full Tilt never repays.
High Stakes Online Games Dead Indefinitely
Between hundreds of millions stuck on the former mecca of high stakes online poker (Full Tilt) and the Jose Macedo cheating scandal, high stakes online poker is basically dead for good.
Drug down in the Macedo scandal was latest high stakes phenom Dan "jungleman" Cates who last week admitted, after previously denying, that he has multi-accounted on Macedo's accounts at various points.
That these young high stakes players would engage in ethical practices is really no surprise. It's been going on for a while. Not long ago, high-stakes superstars Cole South, Brian Hastings, and Brian Townsend came under heat for colluding to relieve 'Isildur1' of $4.2 million.
We could continue to name more examples of unethical behavior in high stakes online poker games, but it's not necessary. The message is pretty clear: when that much money is passing hands, people can and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on it including by playing outside of ethical parameters.
Between Black Friday, Full Tilt, and the track record of scandal in high stakes games, no player in their right mind should trust their piles of money at these tables. It's over. The bad guys won. It'll take several years before we once again see anything close to the volume of money changing hands in high stakes online poker games as we grew accustomed to seeing before Black Friday.
The Epic Poker League Will Fail
After publishing thoughts on why the Epic Poker League will fail, notorious scumbag Chino Rheem went on to win the inaugural event. It's nearly comical how bad Rheem winning the inaugural event is for the EPL. Last week, the EPL's Standard and Conduct Committee held a hearing in which they put Rheem on probation for actions contradictory to the Player's Code of Conduct. The hearing was held after outcries from the poker world to ban Rheem from the EPL for his habit of failing to repay large loans to various poker players. After Rheem's win, there was literally a line of people waiting at the cashier cage to get their cut of his $1,000,000 score. PokerNews reported that most people only received 10-20% of what they were owed by Rheem. One player, Erik Cajelais, reportedly used his body-builder physique to cause a scene at the cage that prompted Rheem to repay him in full.
Related reading: Daniel Negreanu's thoughts on why he too thinks the EPL will fail.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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