Monday, July 20, 2009

Just Play

National Poker Week is upon us and a drive is underway by organizations such as the Poker Players Alliance to defend The Holy Game from the stupidity of the UIGEA, the DoJ and quite probably the DMV since they are usually involved in making life difficult. This raises a question for professional and recreational online players alike: What can we do to keep online poker legal and help it thrive?

There are petitions that can be signed and form letters that require a couple of mouse clicks to send to members of the House and Senate. The major online sites have been ponying up prize-pools for freeroll tournaments for those signing these petitions and sending letters, thereby providing additional incentive for players to get involved in this process. I strongly encourage everyone who supports the right of citizens and residents of the U.S. to play online poker to take the thirty seconds required to petition and write. However, I am also convinced that the most important weapon we have in our fight against dim, repressive, and flawed legislation is the simplest of all.

Just play.

The fundamental reason that the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. was repealed is that people continued to manufacture and consume alcohol. Similarly tobacco remains legal despite its health consequences because so many people smoke. The U.S. will eventually follow the worldwide trend of decriminalizing marijuana largely for the same reasons. One does not have to approve of drinking and smoking to recognize that attempts to make them illegal are counter-productive and lead to a lessening of respect by the public of laws in general.

Playing poker online is not currently illegal, of course. Part of the cynicism of lawmakers opposed to online poker is that, recognizing the popularity of the game, they have attempted to cripple it through indirect means such as attacking the flow of money between players and online sites. And this has clearly succeeded in driving away many U.S. players. Particularly the bad ones, unfortunately. We have endured scares over seized funds going back to the Neteller fiasco. I had nearly $10k tied up for several months. I didn't like this at all. Eventually every penny ended up safely in my bank account.

Clearly one can make the decision to cease playing and wait to see how the legal situation pans out. That is exactly what the opponents of our freedom to play The Holy Game want you to do. So be the change you want to see in the world. Just play.

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