Posts Tagged ‘Let’s’

Let’s Talk About PokerStars’ Disappearing Fold Button

 Let’s Talk About PokerStars’ Disappearing Fold Button

There has been a lot of talk lately about a seemingly minor change PokerStars recently made to its poker client: players are no longer given the option to fold their hand when a check is available. I have avoided the topic for no other reason than I just didn’t feel like writing about it, but since so many readers have e-mailed me* asking me to weigh in, I figured I might as well start off the New Year making all of you happy.

My initial, gut reaction to the removal of the fold button was that it is a stupid idea. For the most part, I’m sticking to that, but I will try to be a tad more eloquent. Look, it’s just not necessary to get rid of the fold button. Give players every option they would have in a “regular” (read: “live”) poker game. If someone wants to fold when they could just check and see a free card, let them.

One might make the argument that junking the fold button helps novice players who might see Deuce-Seven off-suit, know it’s garbage, and instantly decide to scrap the hand. It is usually a good idea to see a free flop (or turn or river, as the case may be) on the chance that you hit a hand and can soak up some money from someone who let you stay in the hand. That 2-2-7 flop is a gold mine against someone who decided not to raise with Tens.

But it seems to me that getting rid of the fold button wasn’t really meant to help novices, but rather to keep more players in the hand and create bigger pots. Bigger pots equals more rake for PokerStars. Yes, typically casual players enjoy more action (don’t we all?), so creating more action by reducing the number of folders could result in more overall poker enjoyment.

At the same time, though, there will be inexperienced players getting in trouble in hands they should never have been in. If that person with Deuce-Seven isn’t allowed to fold and ends up flopping a Two, he could get carried away and lose a lot more money than he normally would have. Now, I fully understand that nearly everybody will check if given the option instead of folding, but there are times where it can be a wise play. For example, if a player has been bluffing on every street and knows they won’t win a showdown, they may want to just fold if their opponent checks on the river to avoid showing their hand (then again, if they do that, everyone will know it was a bluff). Additionally, there could be tournament situations where one might not even want to take a chance playing a hand if, perhaps if they are on the money bubble with a short stack, facing a huge money jump, or in on the bubble in a satellite that awards the same tournament seat to everyone in the money.

Really, though, it feels bad to not simply give players the choice on whether or not they want to check or fold. Poker is about decision making, so let people make their own decisions.

*Nobody e-mailed me. Nobody cares.

Poker News Daily

Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

 Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

Online poker is once again back on the table in California, as California State Representative Adam Gray introduced Assembly Bill 2863 (AB 2863) on Friday. The bill’s goal is to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker in the Golden State.

This has been tried many, many times before in California over the last several years, but has rarely gone anywhere thanks mostly to a group of Native American tribes who want as much control as possible over online gambling in the state. There are so many stakeholders in this issue – tribes, card rooms, race tracks, and more – that so far, everybody has lost in the tug-of-war.

Last year, Rep. Gray introduced a similar bill, AB 431, which was considered a strong “compromise” bill. Rep. Gray is the chairman of the state Assembly’s Governmental Organization (GO) Committee and was able to get his legislation through a committee vote, but that is as far as it got, partly because of opposition from the select group of tribes and partly because daily fantasy sports (DFS) was pushed to the forefront.

The biggest difference between AB 2863 and last year’s AB 431 is an added compromise when it comes to the involvement of pari-mutuel facilities. The hardline tribes have not wanted racetracks to be included – the tribes want as big of a piece of the pie as possible – and in this bill, they are finally left out. Sort of. In AB 431, racetracks are not permitted to become licensed online poker operators, but in exchange for being excluded, they, as a whole, will be due to receive as much as $ 60 million per year from online poker revenues generated by the industry. This $ 60 million would come from the licensing fees paid by operators and the tax revenues they will be required to pay to the state.

The hope here is that the stubborn group of tribes will be appeased while at the same time, the racetracks will be content to receive money for doing nothing.

Operator licenses will be good for seven years, though the fees involved were not set in the bill. In previous bills, the initial licensing fee was $ 15 million, with 15 percent of gross gaming revenue taxed. Service providers – those that don’t actually operate the sites, but provide things like software and marketing services – must also be licensed, though it appears that they will not be charged a fee like the operators. They will, however, have to foot the bill for the investigation into their suitability.

Like in AB 431, there is no “bad actor” clause, which typically prohibits operators who accepted U.S. players post-UIGEA from applying for licenses. The hardline tribes have always wanted this because it would shut out established companies like PokerStars, but it does not seem that they will ever get it. In fact, a number of other tribes have formed a coalition with PokerStars and its parent, Amaya Gaming.

One aspect of the legislation that players will not like is that it makes it a felony to play poker on an unlicensed poker site. Other pieces of legislation that have been written around the country generally make it illegal to operate an unlicensed poker room, but it is unusual to make it an actual felony for someone to play on such a site. That doesn’t mean it would be strictly enforced – it is hard to imagine the police knocking on someone’s door for playing a $ 5 Sit-and-Go on, say, Bodog – but it is certainly possible.

The entire bill can be found on the California legislature’s website.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: A Bright Day for Online Poker, But Let’s Not Break Out the Champagne Yet

 Editorial: A Bright Day for Online Poker, But Let’s Not Break Out the Champagne Yet

On Wednesday, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz took his – and donor Sheldon Adelson’s – pet project, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act of 2015 (or “RAWA” as it has derisively become known as), in front of the main stage of a House committee in Washington, D. C. That hearing, in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was important for Chaffetz on a couple of areas. One, this was a hearing in front of the main House committee, not some subcommittee that gets lost in the droning of Congress, giving Chaffetz a main stage to show his “abilities” in moving pet legislation along the road to passage. Second, it was a payback to Adelson (despite Chaffetz’s protestations, the bill was virtually written by Adelson’s lobbyists) and an attempt to move the legislation to the main floor for a vote that the billionaire has wanted for well over a year now.

But what happens when you try to show you are being “fair and balanced?” Your pet project gets run out the door and probably won’t see the light of day again unless it is as a rider (more on that in a bit).

Chaffetz tried to stock a hearing earlier this year with anti-online gaming advocates and sycophants in a subcommittee of the Oversight Committee, but was roundly derided for those efforts (let’s be honest, there wasn’t even anyone from any of the trio of states – Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware – to testify about how their states were doing with regulation). This time around, Chaffetz thought he had that under control.

He invited law enforcement, namely the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), whom Chaffetz probably thought was going to talk as if their viewpoint from 2000 was still their mantra (a letter from back then worried about online gaming’s impact and usage for money laundering; after further examination, that letter has since been rescinded as FBI policy). He had a Republican State Senator from Nevada, Mark Lipparelli, there to state how “awful” the business of online poker was doing in the Silver State; Chaffetz probably should have looked a bit deeper into the fact that Lipparelli, as the former head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, was responsible for many of the regulations that brought online poker to life. Finally, there were a couple of attorneys on the dais, but they would prove to be disappointing in their overall knowledge of the subject.

Honestly, there hasn’t been a worse battle set up since General George Custer chose Little Big Horn as the spot to fight off the Indians. Chaffetz was continually raked over the coals in the hearing, not only by those that support regulation of online gaming and poker, but also by those who believe that online gaming is a 10th Amendment issue (whatever actions are not given to the federal government’s jurisdiction are under the control of the state government). Even those that supported Chaffetz couldn’t muster sound arguments in the questioning of the witnesses that were fully prepared to discuss this issue in the light rather than in a smoky room. It finally reached the point that Chaffetz, after a break to attend to House votes, didn’t return to his own hearing before it concluded.

First, many kudos must be handed out to the staff at the Poker Players Alliance, Executive Director John Pappas, VP of Player Relations Rich Muny and the members a million strong. There has been tremendous heat put on the organization – and admittedly this writer has applied some of that heat – that their “text and Tweet” strategy was doing nothing to push the drive for regulation. The change of heart that some of the representatives in the House have shown – even from members of Chaffetz’s own party who would normally have backed him – can be at least partially the result of the efforts of the PPA and Muny; without the bombardment of e-mails, texts, Tweets and Facebook posts from the members, I am sure that the hearing on Wednesday wouldn’t have gone as well as it did. I will not be deriding the PPA for using this approach in the future and even may get more involved with it myself.

The hearing should also deal the death blow to RAWA, at least as a piece of stand-alone legislation. Chaffetz has been shown to be a fool for taking up this piece of toilet paper as legislation, letting the “crony capitalism” that Adelson and his ilk still love to employ while Chaffetz tried to sit back and say that RAWA was a “states’ rights” bill (I still don’t know how Chaffetz chokes that one down). The problem is that Adelson isn’t going to back away from the fight as quickly as you might like.

This is why it is a great day for online gaming and poker and its future federal regulation, but it isn’t time to sip champagne from goblets just yet. The bill could be tacked onto any piece of legislation that would come out of the House and, if Chaffetz has half a brain under that mop called hair, he would eagerly look for someone to take the ball out of his hands by tacking it on as a rider. Additionally, there is still that specter of a “moratorium” out there until a “study” is done, something that may receive a bigger push from Chaffetz.

There is also still Senator Lindsey Graham’s version of RAWA floating around in the Senate. If Graham – once he gets done with his Quixotic dream of being the 45th President of the United States – is able to come back to the Senate in 2016 and get his version pushed through either by the stand-alone measure or by rider, then Chaffetz would have the power back in his court. It wouldn’t take much for Chaffetz to dust the House RAWA off and try again.

All in all, however, Wednesday was the best news that online poker supporters have had in some time. Now it is back to the state-to-state battle, because winning a few more of those states (including Pennsylvania and California, two keystones in the online gaming and poker regulation battle) will force the hand of the federal government potentially to the point of passing regulation on the federal level so they get their piece of the pie. Yes, Wednesday’s win might be the turning point in online gaming and poker regulation, but let’s not celebrate yet.

Poker News Daily