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Poker Players And Their Careers

One of my favorite things about being involved in the poker industry for the last 10 years has been getting to know people from all walks of life. When I say “all walks,” I’m probably exaggerating a bit. Then again, a decade in poker has put me in contact with billionaire hedge fund managers, people who used to be (and some who were on the borderline of still being) homeless, and an awful lot of people in between. I think that’s a wide enough spectrum to justify the phrase, so I’m going to run with it. Cool? Cool.

All this is a long-winded way of telling you that I wrote a piece that’s just been published by TitanBet Poker over in the U.K. It’s called 10 Professions That Make Great Poker Players and it takes a look at some of the “in between.”

Poker chips on a poker table

The people sitting around this table could work almost any kind of job because poker draws a diverse crowd. (Photo by Flickr user slgckgc, licensed under CC-BY 2.0)

Naturally, a lot of the careers on the list are ones that give you enough income to set aside a bankroll big enough to play against serious competition – think pro athletes, stock traders, and the like. There are others on the list that are closer to the other end of the spectrum, though, people who have to build a bankroll by actually playing poker instead of reloading from their ample paychecks as they learn the game.

Most of the poker dealers I’ve ever met, for instance, have been far from rich. Come to think of it, most of the writers I’ve ever met have also been far from rich. Hmmm. I’d say I got into the wrong profession, but I don’t have the temperament to be a banker.


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.

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