Thursday, June 11, 2009

Department of "Justice"

As an Omaha-8 player my life is not exactly stress-free. At least once a day I will flop the nut flush and nut low, lose the low on the turn to a counterfeit, and watch the flush dissolve on the river as the board pairs. I also have to maintain concentration over many hours while sitting at tables with players who have screen-names such as "ilovetoeatpoo." But this is the life that I have chosen and all I really ask is that I be left alone to make my living playing poker.

Apparently in the "land of the free" this is overly optimistic.

It has emerged over the last couple of days that the Department of Justice, acting through the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has frozen $30 million of online poker players' winnings.


Apparently it has something to do with the 1961 Wire Fraud Act. My detailed research has revealed that whenever some social-engineering, mindless, bottom-dwelling federal attorney decides they want to make a name for themselves without bothering with the niceties of due process they invoke wire fraud. Which they are compelled to do in the case of online poker because playing poker is not illegal.

In fact why online poker gets certain politicians all riled up baffles me. "Gambling is a disease. It destroys families." I see. Well, first poker is a game of skill it isn't "gambling," and second where are these nanny-state legislators when it comes to state lotteries?

I went to my local gas station the other day to buy a carton of cigarettes. For the reasons given above I, like many Omaha-8 players, smoke heavily. The check-out guy asked me if I wanted to buy a lottery ticket. I peered at him over my shades with my best "wtf do you think" glare. "Sorry," he replied, "we have to ask everyone that this week."

Walking home I mulled this over. The corporation running this gas station instructs its employees to invite customers to engage in gambling. Since the lottery is state run it follows that they do so with the full support of the state. This is essentially solicitation to participate in gambling of a form that would be illegal in any Nevada casino because the house take is so huge. But if I choose to play poker online and by using my skill advantage win money I run the risk of losing my winnings because of "wire fraud."

Genuinely confused by all this I decided it was time to do a little background research into the man apparently behind this madness, Arlo Devlin-Brown, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. It seems online poker is the bee in the bonnet of Mr. Devlin-Brown since it was he who went after Neteller and Party Poker for reasons that are baffling to poker players.

Based on my extensive research it is possible that Mr. Devlin-Brown has spent much of his legal career involved in noble causes protecting the innocent and acting as an advocate for the disenfranchised. And that while engaged in these activities he has shunned publicity. Because a thorough googling of Mr. Devlin-Brown returns a remarkably thin curriculum vitae up until the point he got in on this wire fraud scam. Specifically since 1995, when Mr. Devlin-Brown placed 4th in the APDA Speaker of the Year contest, his only notable achievement was the prosecution of a Mount Vernon trash hauler:

Albert Tranquillo III, 30, of Armonk, faces a possible new indictment that will include a charge of bribing a Mount Vernon Department of Public Works official.

"There is a substantial likelihood a superseding indictment will be handed down," Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said during Tranquillo's hearing before U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson.

Appparently this case was insufficient to catapult Mr. Devlin-Brown into the spotlight and he is looking for bigger fish to fry. Thereby chasing all my fish off the poker sites and back to the state lotteries.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's WSOP time and I'm in... Kansas?

And I'm not at all happy about it. For the first time since 2004 I'm not in Vegas for the World Series of Poker. My personal recession and the indifference of the Government to my request for a financial bail-out have stranded me in the Heartland when I should be prowling the side action at The Mirage and Caesar's Palace.

So instead of the real deal I am at home playing the "Mini Series of Poker" courtesy of the good folks at Full Tilt. It's great! The events are the same as the WSOP but the buy-ins are 1/100th the size. This naturally means the prizes are somewhat reduced, so despite cutting through a field of 1500 to finish 77th in the LO8 my prize was a mere $36. $20 net. $10 after I split the profit with my backers.

I blew all my winnings on a modest lunch the next day and then got back to work playing the PokerStars 100k Nightly where I busted when someone accidentally called my AQ shove with K3. Flop A3x turn 3. Busted by a misclick. I immediately fired off an e-mail to Stars' support urging them to introduce REALLY HUGE ACTION BUTTONS.

Even though I'm not going to be out for the show I will be following the fortunes of several friends who'll be playing. Good luck today, Marky, in the PLO. And many congrats to Connie/sunfish2 for winning a Main Event seat through a Full Tilt satty. Connie helped me turn my LHE game from a firework display into solid poker. Like many pros over the last couple of years she's been under considerable financial stress so to see her have this big score really made me happy. It was also the best tournament poker I've ever seen her play.