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Poker Books, And Some Time At The Tables

Super System, the original king of poker books.

The original king of poker books.

My friends at Titanbet Poker over in the United Kingdom asked me what poker books every poker player ought to know. They gave me free rein to cover the topic, and I reached across a wide variety of subgenres to suggest a library of poker books that would make a well-rounded, well-read poker player out of even the freshest newbie. From strategy guides for cash games, tomes on tournament poker, and help picking poker tells to instruction guides for would-be poker dealers, full-fledged histories of the WSOP and the game of poker itself, and even a novel about the game back in the 1990s, I tried to cover all the bases. Have a look and see how many of these titles are on your personal poker book shelf. (Continued)

Three Happy Dogs

We gave the dogs a special treat today: raw bison bones. This made them very happy.

happy brodie - photo (c) 2011 jason kirk

happy bonnie - photo (c) 2011 jason kirk

happy frye - photo (c) 2011 jason kirk

If happy dogs make you happy, click on each picture for a bigger version. If they don’t – well, suit yourself.

Black Friday for Online Poker

I spit my faith on the city pavement
To keep a smile
I bought my legs from the US Government
To keep me in line
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “US Government”

Every time something bad happens to the poker industry, it seems to bounce back in solid shape. After yesterday’s bad news, I have my doubts about its resilience this time around. I don’t feel this way because I think the actions by the Department of Justice actually have any basis in law. I actually feel this way because the DOJ’s action don’t have any basis in law.

As I recall, one “feature” of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was that it made processing financial transactions for “illegal online gambling” a crime, even though the bill did not define what “illegal online gambling” actually was and no previous law had ever codified the meaning of “illegal online gambling.” Because of the lack of a definition for this supposed crime, it seems pretty obvious that the DOJ is resting its case on its long-standing opinion that online poker is illegal rather than on any words that actually made their way through the House of Representatives and the Senate before being signed into law by the President. That opinion most likely has something to do with the Wire Act of 1961 since there are few other precedents for them to rest on, despite the fact that the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously rejected the Wire Act’s relevance to modern online gambling.

Normally if the law says something, it matters. But when the United States federal government is the party pressing a case that goes against the law, you can toss reason and logic out the window. The federal government doesn’t play fair because it doesn’t have to play fair; after all, who is there to hold the government accountable when its citizens have long since checked out and left the governing of this nation to whomever would take it up? The DOJ is not only a player in this game, it’s also the dealer. Given the federal government’s proud mastery of the mechanic’s grip in its games, I don’t expect online poker will get anything other than a raw deal when this case is fully resolved.

In the meantime I’ll need to find a new hobby since playing ultra-low-stakes online poker is fully off-limits to me. Worse yet, the livelihood I’ve made for myself writing about the game and the people who play it is at the very least going to suffer greatly, if it’s not altogether wiped out for the foreseeable future. At least there’s a silver lining here: some assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York is probably going to make a name for himself in this case and go on to a bright political career because of it, and online poker will eventually return as an above-board business with the major Las Vegas corporations backing it (and, of course, taking ridiculous amounts of rake that nobody would stand for in today’s market). The only real question is how long the process will take – and on a much less important and much more personal level, whether I’ll stick around to see how the story ends.

Speaking of Online Poker…

I’ve really been enjoying playing the multi-entry $1+$.10 Rush On Demand tournaments on Full Tilt lately. I wrote up a little post about them for the Poker From The Rail blog last week that you can read here. I was enthusiastic about them even before I had much success playing them – when I wrote the post I was in the middle of a really bad slump that’s since been replaced by a handful of top-nine finishes and even a few times where I’ve taken two or three stacks down to the final 18.

I’m not going to get rich playing them, but they’re good cheap entertainment. I think one of my favorite things about them is that there’s almost never time for people to use the chatbox. Some people still use it, of course, but their comments are rarely seen by their intended targets. And pretty often the things they say are ridiculous enough to make me chuckle, like the other day when I got called a “luckbox” by the guy who shoved preflop with sevens only to run into my tens.

The upshot is that I almost never see any of the words below, with the exception of maybe a “lol” here and there – it’s like the online equivalent of wearing headphones in a live poker room and that makes for a pretty smooth, enjoyable experience.

FULL SIZE: Full Tilt Poker Game Chat Cloud

Goodbye Sahara

sahara hotel las vegas

Pretty soon this will be just another memory.

I read just a little while ago that the Sahara hotel and casino out in Las Vegas is closing down. I can’t say I’m surprised to hear the news. The Sahara was already in the late stages of decline when I first made my first trip to Vegas in 2004, decades after members of the Rat Pack made it one of their regular drink-filling stations on the Strip and almost as long after The Beatles stayed there.

I do have fond memories of the place, though, namely playing in the cheap daily poker tournaments there. So far as your low-end Vegas tourneys go, the Sahara’s were about as good a value as you could hope for. Not that I ever did particularly well in any of the ones I played, mind you – like most of my Vegas tournament experiences, the Sahara ones usually ended with some variation on the old good-decision-bad-result. My good memories of the Sahara are much more about the quality time spent with friends there. When we took Charlie Tuttle on his poker pilgrimage to Vegas in ‘05 we trekked from our lodgings at the Westward Ho! – which preceded the Sahara in oblivion just a few years ago – to play in one of the dailies. In 2008 as the WSOP was getting going the PokerListings crew hit up the daily and, IIRC, Marty Derbyshire ended up making the final table. And of course there were a few trips to the Sahara during poker blogger gatherings – never a common destination, but rather the kind of place where four or five hardy souls who just wanted to break away from the pack could find a little action.

Vegas isn’t a regular destination for me these days so I doubt I’ll make my way back to the Sahara before its doors are closed for good in May. It’s okay – I never had a lot of luck there anyway, and online poker is a lot lighter on my meager bankroll for a good tourney fix – but I still thought it was worth noting the passing of another locale from my memories of Vegas.