Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

After reading our brief August 20th blog, by “Pocket Bullets” Paris about the status of online poker legislation in California, I decided to take a closer look at what was really going on in our home state. After all, CA is ahead of the curve in so many areas (think legalized marijuana, for example) it’s hard to believe they can’t muster the votes to legalize iPoker. How hard could it be?

Pechanga Resort and CasinoWell, it turned out to be harder than anyone imagined. One of the reasons is that the powerful proponents of the bill – AB 2863 (introduced by Democratic Assemblyman and Chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee, Adam Gray) – and the powerful opponents of the bill have done a last-minute role reversal.  For as long as anyone can remember, the major stumbling block to getting an online poker bill passed was the alleged stranglehold on poker revenue enjoyed by a tribal coalition consisting of seven tribes, spearheaded by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. By many poker fans and enthusiasts, they were viewed as hard-line “obstructionists.”

In a statement issued in June, the head of corporate communications for Amaya (owners of PokerStars) said: “It is a shame that obstructionist forces continue to block the passage of a pro-consumer online poker bill in California.”

Poker Payers AllianceThe Poker Players Alliance* (PPA) also got involved, especially on Twitter, where members made obstructionist claims against the Pechanga-led coalition in tweets like these:

@ppapoker – This is worth repeating. Some tribes don’t want you to play iPoker & no amount of compromise will change that.

@ppapoker – CA Tribes who oppose current Gray bill claim not be “obstructionists” but hard to believe that when they continually move the goal posts.

@ppapoker  – The tribes are and always will be obstructionist when it comes to online poker. Pure, venal, unenlightened self-interest.

However, at the last minute, Chairman Gray introduced an amended AB 2863. Although Gray maintained that it still had the votes to pass, it never went up for a full Assembly vote.

Why? Because those amendments turned out to be highly controversial, favoring the Pechangas. In fact, one source stated last week, “Chairman Gray and his team handed his drafting pen to the Pechanga coalition.” (source: Flushdraw)

PokerStars OnlineSpecifically, the bill always contained suitability language to handle previous “bad actors” (such as PokerStars) to sit out for five years or pay a one-time hefty fine.  But, according to Amaya, owner of PokerStars, the revised bill didn’t provide a path to negate the five year sit-out period and contained language that would prohibit certain assets indefinitely. (After paying $4.9 billion to acquire Stars and Full Tilt, this didn’t sit well with Amaya, which had worked very hard, and successfully to restore PokerStars’ reputation in the U.S.)

Well, turnabout is fair play. Now it was PokerStars’ coalition (which includes horseracing, labor unions, several tribes, and over a dozen card rooms) that was extremely unhappy, calling the amendment a “poison pill.”  With the Pechangas supporting AB 2863, it’s PokerStars and its allies (including the PPA) that are being labeled obstructionists and being criticized on Twitter:

@PPA – The CA online poker bill’s new “bad actor” amendment harms its prospects for passage by turning powerful tribes & card rooms against it.

@PPA – ICYMI, @PokerStars is now trying to block California online poker legislation if it’s not on their terms

@PPA-Where’s the @ppapoker letter writing campaign to demand @PokerStars stops acting against the interest of Californian poker players?

Various big names in the industry have called the bill’s prohibition of PokerStars, “punishment by legislation.” Attorneys have noted that the amended bill is not only unconstitutional, but would lead to the loss of millions in revenue for the state, as one of the global leaders in the industry would be left on the sidelines.

In a nutshell, it looks like a temporary win for the Pechangas, whose goal has always been to keep PokerStars out of the market. Conversely, PokerStars isn’t trying to keep anybody out; they’re simply fighting for the chance to apply for a license in order to compete.

The bottom line is that Californians lose again; there’s no legal online poker in the cards for the Golden State in 2016. All can we do for now is to keep you posted on this issue as often as we can, and whenever we can break away from the tables.

*The Poker Players Alliance (theppa.org) is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of over 1,000,000 online and offline poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players’ rights.

Leave your thoughts here!

Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

As just about everybody knows, currently online poker is regulated in only three US states: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, with California getting closer by the second. Of course, poker fans have been hearing that for a very long time, so here’s the latest.

 

PokerStars Online

On Monday August 22, 2016, a new amended AB 2863 Online Poker Bill will be reviewed, with an amendment that will enforce a five-year ban for PokerStars in the Golden State. In other words, Monday’s vote will decide PokerStars’ fate.

 

California Gold RushAlthough California, my home state, has made some progress in struggling through years of negotiations, regulations and hurdles necessary to get a bill legalizing online poker to pass, it is still illegal in the Golden State. As hard as it’s for me to believe after so much time has gone by, there is still one huge obstacle to overcome: a majority of hard-line Native American tribes simply do not want  PokerStars to enter the market and take any piece of their action.

That is the reason why the five-year moratorium has been introduced. Hopefully, it will receive a majority vote so that after all these years the bill can finally be advanced to the Senate.

Five years certainly seems like a very long time for the online players to wait around for all this legal mumbo-jumbo to finally be unraveled. But what is worse, in my humble opinion, is the loss of all the extra gold that would come into the Golden State.

So in the meantime, Californians will return to the offline poker tables and dream about when they can legally play for real money online in their PJs if they choose to. Like they can in every other country.

Send us your comments or thoughts!

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

Imagine my surprise when I checked the Global Poker League’s schedule one last time before posting my GPL blog yesterday, only to discover that the second half of the season, scheduled to begin next week, had been pushed back to September 20th.

What was particularly frustrating is that I follow @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus on Twitter and Facebook, but the news didn’t come directly from either primary source. The announcement, along with the news that the Playoffs and Finals will take place in Vegas and not at TwitchCon and Wembley, came from Pokernews.com in an Aug. 10th blog by Matthew Parvis, retweeted by the GPL and Dreyfus. Their second retweet, after a bit of sleuthing, came from an independent poker site called www.backdoorquads.com, which also claimed to be breaking the news exclusively at the same time.

Global Poker LeagueI’ve not only been an advocate for the Global Poker League, but I’ve also blogged about it – 20 in-depth blogs to be exact. I expect breaking news about the League I’ve been following so closely and supporting so fervently to be announced by its CEO and the GPL. I don’t want to learn it in a retweet!

I don’t get it. I’ve focused on The Global Poker League from its inception. I introduced it, explained it, praised it, waxed poetic about it and motivated people to watch it. I applauded the innovative team concept.  I raved about the genius of Alexandre Dreyfus and his vision to “sportify” poker and to make it “fancentric.” I was a huge fan and followed the action closely.

Along the way I also pointed out what I considered its shortcomings and made some constructive suggestions about what I believed needed to be improved.

I noticed that my tweets were either liked and/or retweeted more than 16 times by @GPL and @Alex_Dreyfus when I had posted a positive blog, which the vast majority of them were. The likes and retweets seemed to stop when I incorporated suggestions or recommendations for improvement the League might consider. Probably just a coincidence, but still . . .

One of my major criticisms was directed towards the GPL website. After their incredibly successful professional inaugural draft, it soon became clear that the GPL site needed to be redesigned and then maintained consistently. Stories and features had to be updated frequently, a less cumbersome schedule and video archive had to be developed, the site had to load faster and, of course, it had to be optimized for mobile. In other words, the site MUST be a high class, high-functioning professional website.

I’ve been writing since the beginning that the GPL’s vision of poker as a team sport is what sets it apart. In fact, I wrote:” . . . it was that team concept that was supposed to build the fan base. Unless the mission has changed, I don’t believe the GPL did enough to reinforce the team concept.”

Global Poker League Team logos coveredFor example, during the online matches, I wrote in my blog and in the Twitch chat “, the logos of the teams ought to be prominent. Instead, they are often difficult to see. The design of the graphics covered up the team logos when the hole cards were being shown.”

During the Summer Series in The Cube, I also wrote, “ . . . the players should have been wearing their team t-shirts sporting their team logo”. There was practically no visible branding of the teams or of the GPL for the streaming audience. And, because the team merchandise was STILL not available, I lamented that a huge marketing opportunity had been missed: “ fans of the teams could have worn their t-shirts all over Vegas, including at the heavily attended WSOP.”

In other words, I bought into the team sport concept. Naturally I grew to have my favorites among the players; it was hard not to., But in the end, I explained, “If I don’t know what GPL team Fedor, Nano or Mercier play for, there’s something wrong with the marketing plan. Bottom line:  it’s the team that grows the fan base and excites those who root for them with a passion, motivating them to buy team banners, t-shirts, caps. . . and ultimately bring in sponsors.

The Cube as it is currentlyIn a couple of my blogs, I talked about my biggest concern, which was taking the Playoffs to TwitchCon in San Diego, where it would be competing for the attention of video gamers, a brand new demographic with millions of worldwide fans. I was concerned that bringing The Cube, even with some of the promised bells, whistles and enhancements, could be a disaster, and that “the huge video game audience would walk right by it without ever noticing it’s there.” And as far as Wembley is concerned, it never seemed big enough to be the center of attention in a huge stadium, at least not for a long time.

I’m glad that Dreyfus and team are committed to making the GPL a success on a long-term basis. I respect them for holding back until they’ve made some much needed adjustments. I am betting that within a couple of years, the League will have done what it needs to do to work itself into our hearts and minds; after all, it made me a poker fan and I can’t wait for more! I just wish they would have handled the re-scheduling and venue changes as professionally as they handled their inaugural draft.

Send me your comments or thoughts!

Texas Poker StoreJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

If you’re tired of Poker tournaments where you play endless hours to get to a final table, sometimes having to overcome and defeat thousands of other players, then maybe you’re ready for a quick cash game where you can cash out anytime you wish and take home your winnings, if any. Then, you can either jump to another table or go out and enjoy the pleasures of wherever you are, whether it is in Malta or Bulgaria or wherever the Cash Game Festival Tours are being played.

Cash Game FestivalThat is the concept behind The Cash Game Festival that co-founders Enri Orav and Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk came up with a few years back that is gaining ground in the poker world. Originally it began in Tallinn, Estonia and went international this year with its first stop in Aspers Casino, Westfield Stratford City in London in March, with a second stop at Casino Malta, located in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, in June.

Platinum Casino Sunny Beach, BulgariaAnd now, it opens up its tables on August 31st, 2016, at the Platinum Casino in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, a seaside resort located on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.

So y’all might wanna make some plans to head off to Bulgaria by the end of the month where the action at the poker tables will be hot and the night life might just scorch you. But don’t worry, y’all be able to jump into the Black Sea and cool off on the sunny beach.

Check out this little video from the Cash Game Festival in Malta if you need a little more enticement. Then hurry up and make your reservations. Maybe we’ll see you there.

Add your comments or thoughts!