It’s funny how the game of poker is portrayed in America and around the world. My last blog entry reported on gambling law changes in New York and how it was viewed by advocates as a positive revenue and job creation engine that kept dollars in state, but was viewed by opponents as an invitation to chronic gambling addiction and impending moral ruin. At the heart of any debate over state gambling laws, whether it be allowing home games or establishing casinos, is the role of politics which feeds directly off public opinion. So is poker’s image mostly good or bad? From what I’ve seen, poker has two distinct faces.
Make no mistake about it, gambling overall has a bad reputation which, in turn, has sullied poker’s good name. Wild west card cheaters, the 1919 Chicago White Sox World series fix, underground sports bookies, pool hall hustlers and organized crime are just some of the examples of negative gambling hiding out in our sub-conscience. Gambling has few if any boundaries and can take many forms, from throwing dice to betting on elections. Indeed, gambling’s promise of instant fortune has created bad stereotypes which have placed a heavy burden on poker.
Contrast this image with James Bond matching wits against the best poker players in the world. Set inside a gilded casino where luxury drapes every premium detail. His breathtaking companion holds as much mystery in her eyes as the next hand. This is not black jack vs. the house…it’s a cerebral test of player vs. player. It is the spirit of this scene that many a man cave and home game aim to recreate.
So where does poker stand in the court of public opinion today? Better than ever, but still getting a bad rap in many ways which I will explain next time.