Freedom for Poker

I have not played much poker online since the final tournament of the Gank Open. The reason is a combination of a promise I made to my wife to not be quite so obsessed with poker, and a change in my job that has forced me to make some sacrifices in my “downtime”. I don’t currently have money on any of the sites that I play at, so I figured with the second season of the Gank Open starting up this weekend, that it was time to reload on Stars, and also make my first deposit on Lock Poker (that is after all where this season’s tournaments will be held). My preferred method of deposit has been the prepaid Visa gift cards that seem to be in every store that you bother to walk in. However, over the past few weeks, I have not been able to find any of the All Access Visa cards that I was buying. They have all been replaced by a new type of Visa card that specifically states “not for ATM or gambling” on the back. Of course I failed to see this on the first card that I bought, and was very frustrated when PokerStars kept rejecting it. I haven’t scoured the state or anything like that, I have only gone to a handful of places actually, and I am confident that eventually I will find one of the cards that work. But the whole ordeal has me frustrated with the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and even the way in which people are showing their opposition to the Act.

Poker Is a Game of Skill

On the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) website, they list several studies stating that poker is a game of skill, not chance. The UIGEA deems a “bet or wager” to be the risking of something of value on “the outcome of contest of others, a sporting event, or a game subject to chance…”. It goes further to exclude fantasy sports leagues from this definition because “All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominately by accumulated statistical results..”. I would never argue that poker is not a game of skill. However, while skill may be the largest factor in success in poker or fantasy football, chance does in fact play a role. This is what the “nanny state” types are trying to “protect” us from. The human mind has difficulty accepting as fact events that take a “longer than observable” length of time to prove (think Evolution..), and the truth is, that in the short term, luck can play a significant factor in success at poker.

True Freedom is the Freedom to Make Mistakes

I think that a better way to fight against the UIGEA is with a moral argument. We shouldn’t try to differentiate poker from other table games or slot machines. We should instead insist that we be given the freedoms that are granted to us by our Constitution. In order to be truly free, people need to be allowed to make choices about how they spend their time and money. This will lead to some people making the wrong choices. That’s okay, it’s how we learn. Providing a big umbrella of protection creates larger problems for society by eliminating the need for people to take responsibility for their own actions. This is what our country is turning into. There are several states that have proposed “sin taxes” on video games and television equipment, one state (Louisiana) has even considered calling their version “No Child Left Inside”. We shouldn’t have to fight to make our own decisions, but we must if we wish to remain a “free” country. Today it’s internet poker and Grand Theft Auto, but what will it be tomorrow?


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