Posts by Lynn "Queen of Hearts" Paris

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

I have referred on many occasions to the vast sums of money that can be made playing poker. It never ceases to amaze me that a player can come in ninth in the WSOP Main Event and wind up winning $1 million. When can you ever place ninth in anything and walk away a millionaire? Or turn the $100 you walked in with into $5000 in one night?

But I never thought about how many losers there are in the game, especially among professional poker players. It seemed too obvious to mention – clearly for every big winner there have to be a ton of losers. But it’s not just about the percentages, or about losers on a particular night or in a particular high-stakes tournament. I’m thinking about serious, highly ranked poker players who have gone broke . . . and never came back from that.

In fact, according to a recent article by Alan Schoonmaker in Card Player Magazine , “If you’re a pro, you have a much higher probability of dying broke than members of other professions, including people who earn much less than you’re winning now.”

Yes, there are many pros that were extremely successful; former WPT and WSOP champions and bracelet winners like Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Gavin Smith to name a few, that not only lost it all and spent their final years penniless, but they also died broke.

How could that happen? Why didn’t they always save a portion of their winnings for their old age? Why weren’t they at least eligible to receive social security and Medicare?

The answer, according to Schoonmaker, is too much self-confidence, otherwise known as arrogance. That’s when you ignore the rules, thinking you don’t have to save money or pay taxes like normal people, believing instead that there will ALWAYS be another huge pot to count on every time you take a seat at a poker table.

Sometimes, there isn’t.

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

I doubt that many of us worry much about opinions issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, especially since the DOJ issues literally hundreds of opinions, on hundreds of topics, on a weekly basis. They are not laws, after all.

But, last week, when the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a new opinion concerning the 1961 Interstate Wire Act, the online poker industry was not only worried, but holding its collective breath. The opinion reversed the previous stance of 2011 which concluded that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, opining this time around that the Wire Act applies to online poker as well.

Again, it’s not the law; it’s an opinion that will definitely be tested in the courts. But it’s an opinion that definitely threatens the growth of the online poker industry, hitting hardest those states currently trying to get bills introducing online poker passed in their states. It could also have a major negative impact on the future of interstate compacts like the highly profitable one that exists between New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.

Senator Ray LesniakFormer New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak was a major player in the fight to get online poker in New Jersey and helped create the multistate online poker alliance that facilitates liquidity sharing. He’s ready to step back into the fray and do battle in the courts if necessary. As he told Online Poker Report:

“It looks like I will have to go to court again to straighten out the Justice Department’s overreaching on states’ rights, as I did with sports betting. This opinion is outrageous. It puts state lotteries at risk and state revenues. If Congress won’t fix it, I will through the judicial process.”

The burning question remains: can online poker in the U.S. survive this new Wire Act opinion? Or does it muddy the waters even more concerning which forms of online gaming are legal and which are not. It certainly will make those states that have yet to introduce gaming legislation proceed with caution, if at all.

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

About a week ago, I was ready to sing the praises of Michigan, the fifth state to join the three states with legal online poker sites already in operation: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware,  along with Pennsylvania, the fourth state that has passed the necessary legislation and is gearing up to join them.

Rick Snyder kills on-line poker for Michigan

By the time I sat down to write my blog, however, Michigan’s online poker bill had taken a dagger to the heart, having been vetoed by lame duck Governor Rick Snyder during his last few days in office. Despite the tremendous support of the Wolverine State’s poker players, and the fact that the bipartisan bill had easily passed through the state Senate and House of Representatives, Snyder decided that it wasn’t “appropriate to sign legislation that will effectively result in more gambling.”

Apparently, Snyder killed the bill due to concerns about how it might potentially affect the budget. In his veto letter, Snyder wrote, “Due to largely unknown budgetary concerns, I believe this legislation merits more careful study and comparison with how other states have, or will, authorize online gaming. To be blunt, we simply don’t have the data to support this change at this time.”

Michigan lawmakers expected this one to be passed easily due to broad support from both sides of the aisle. Now it looks like they’ll have to wait to see how newly elected Governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, feels about online poker.

Tell me what you think, send me your comments!