Posts Tagged ‘Disneyland’

T-LiciousBy: T-Licious

Continuing our discussion of the public’s attitude towards poker, and how the tide overall appears to be turning from traditionally strong opposition to broad acceptance, we focus on one American-born institution that cannot seem to face its fear of poker: baseball.

As a sociology major in college I remember learning the concept of a ‘social fact’ as originally defined by Emile Durkheim, the father of sociology.  There may be perceptions about a social group or community, but the way you know if they really exist…if they are indeed social facts…is if you cross that invisible boundary causing a reaction.  For example, Don Imus learned a social fact of American racial boundaries when advertisers pulled the plug on his show after he called Rutgers female basketball players, all African American, nappy headed ho’s.

A-Rod from Radar Online

A-Rod – Radar Online

Major league baseball appears to have a strong social fact related to gambling which extends to poker.  We all know that people bet on sports.  We also know that there have always been big heavyweight betters with ties to organized crime whose wagering can have an influence on the outcome of the game itself.  The 1919 “Black Sox Scandal” involving the fixing of the World Series led to the creation of the first commissioner of baseball. And then we have Pete Rose’s betting on baseball scandal of the late 80s where he broke baseball’s rule 21 whereby anyone associated with on-field play (players, coaches, umpires, etc.) is prohibited from betting on baseball games.  These events and their backlashes are understandable.  However, in 2011 we heard stories reported in the tabloids about Yankee’s franchise player Alex Rodriguez being involved in a home poker game held by a record producer.  The Commissioner’s office said that A-Rod could face a suspension if it was proven he had been at the games.

To me this is way different than betting on baseball where he has a chance to affect the outcome of the game.  He was playing in a high stakes game with poker pros, Hollywood stars, and big money executives.  I wouldn’t expect him to play in a local $20 buy-in game…what would be the point?  Why is baseball putting all gambling off limits?  The way the stories read in ESPN, New York papers and magazines, etc., was as if playing high stakes was the alleged violation…as if A-Rod would feel the sting of a $10,000 bet on his 10-year contract worth $275 million.  The story also mentioned that drugs were used by a few people hanging out (not A-Rod).  Welcome to Hollywood my friends.  It’s not Disneyland.  Finally someone attempted to explain that where there is poker there are people who are likely to bet on sports.  Again, no surprise here.  You will also find people who bet on sports may also smoke, drink, and stay out past ten on weeknights.

Does Major League Baseball have the right to restrict its players from anything a sports better might be involved in?  The sad thing is I did not see anyone jump to A-Rod’s defense.  So the end result is baseball is not helping poker’s image even though poker seems to have gained widespread public acceptance over the past 10 years.  Perhaps baseball’s top brass should sit back, relax in a comfy chair at a nice poker table, and take in a friendly poker game the next time one of their friends hosts at their baseball-themed man cave.  Maybe they will see that players deserve to do the same without fear of a lifetime suspension hanging over their heads.

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Vinny The Grinder By The Grinder

Phil IveyPhil Ivey was charged with fraud last year at Crockford’s casino where he won close to $13 million playing Punto Banco – a variant of Baccarat. Now, Ivey does win millions, and like Tom Dwan, he is used to million dollar swings. In other words, he is prone to losing millions of dollars in a single session during bad runs, and winning the same amount or more on good days. But $13 million is not a small amount, even for this poker legend. The casino claimed that Ivey demanded too many deck changes, and the dealer realized that most of the decks of playing cards had non-symmetrical patterns, which made them vulnerable to reads. Copag Peek-Index cardsAfter the  casino’s refusal to pay Ivey his winnings, Phil filed a lawsuit. This might be old news to some poker players, but I really wanted to share (actually vent) my opinion on this subject.

Did Ivey do the right thing? Yes, I believe so. Casinos are a money-making machine. I wouldn’t call them a money-making racket, because going to a casino is purely based on free will. Poker players do owe the casino for offering live poker action, during the unstable and irrational political times when online poker is banned.  However, casinos owe poker celebrities a lot more, for how much they’ve popularized the game.  Young poker players watch Ivey on TV playing high stakes poker and WSOP tournaments. They watch his genius moves, his watchful restless eyes, and they all want to be like him. Poker celebrities have generated a lot more revenue for casinos than they can imagine. Just as the top 5% in the U.S. generates more than 95% of wealth, the top celebrity poker players generate a global passion for poker, and in turn an enormous amount of rake for casinos.

I believe there needs to an Independent Poker Players’ Guild, consisting of top poker players who have, over the past 10 years, generated an income of more than $5 million. This guild will be prepared for all legal battles with wealth-mongering casinos who do not care about individual players. As Robert DeNiro’s character, Ace Rothstein, from  Scorsese’s masterpiece Casino rightfully say,s “The town will never be the same. Today, it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior’s college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it’s like checkin’ into an airport. And if you order room service, you’re lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it’s all gone.” I stand by Ivey in this battle. On the contrary, I believe Ivey won because he possesses skill. Though Punto Banco doesn’t require as much skill as Poker, I still believe Ivey did not commit any fraud whatsoever, and he deserves every bit of the $13 million. Like Judas Priest sings in their popular song Electric Eye, “I’m protected electric eye; Always in focus; You can’t feel my stare.” Let’s stand for and support Ivey.

Good Luck!

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