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Revised Mass. Gambling Bill Won't Criminalize Online Poker 104

travdaddy writes "As reported on Slashdot only about a week ago, a passage of a gambling bill in Massachusetts would have criminalized online poker. That passage has been stricken due to the help of a grass-roots organization called the Poker Players Alliance. It 'quickly got the message to all of its Massachusetts members — around 25,000 people — and over 1,000,000 nationwide to make their voices heard; apparently lawmakers were listening since the language making online poker illegal — and online gaming in general — was taken out of the legislation.' Another Massachusetts bill may even 'take [poker] completely out of the gambling genre' and make it legislated as a game of skill."
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Revised Mass. Gambling Bill Won't Criminalize Online Poker

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  • Re:Oh teh noes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:24PM (#31864758)

    After watching Phil Ivey burn out at the WSOP last year... I'd say it's both. It's about making the right decision based on what you know, and what ou have. You can't last long in tournament play if you're a sloppy player, and on the reverse, no matter how good you are, if you're drawing crap hands, even if you muscle in with crap cards, it's going to destroy you.

    It's also certainly gambling, but it's not the same as blackjack or slots which is entirely a you vs the house, it is a you versus everyone else(the house gets a small cut) situation.

  • Re:Oh teh noes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rary ( 566291 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:57PM (#31865156)

    Considering that the biggest gripe of the WSP old-hands is that young players are ruining the game by relying too much on aggressive betting, I would like to argue that it is not nearly as much a game of skill as a lot of people think.

    Tournament play is heavily influenced by luck. One bad beat and you're out. End of story.

    Cash play, however, is a game of skill. A skilled player brushes off a bad beat, waits out the cold cards, and makes money in the long run. The overly aggressive risk-taker who just won a tournament will lose every penny of his winnings, and then some, if he chooses to sit down at a cash table and see how his playing style works for him in the long run.

  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:59PM (#31865160) Journal

    Yet strangely grandmaster chess games are often like 3-2, and not always 5-0. I guess chess isn't a game of skill then. Hmm.

    obligatory: I'm not saying that the apparent chance element of chess is in any meaningful way the "same" as the intrinsic chance element of poker, but it does seem hard to define legislatively. Certainly your definition would exclude (almost?) all interesting games.

    I mean, there are even people who manage to gain statistical edge in rock-paper-scissors tournaments. Apparently anytime there are 2+ people in symmetric situation, who both want something, a skill pops up.

  • by cosm ( 1072588 ) <> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:59PM (#31865162)

    if the deck keeps spitting out cards that favor your opponent

    Too much personification is misleading, and by grammar nazi rule, nicht erlaubt.

    Yes, there exist a probability that your opponent will receive repeated winning hands, but that is just probability. In a general sense, games of pure probability are not games of skill. The skill in poker lies in the ability to read people's playing tactics over a period of time, recognize biological cues and behavioral patterns to 'read' their hand, 'read' their non-verbal signals, and manipulate the table with a high degree of personal physiological control.

    Poker is a social game, and theirin lies the root of the skill. The probability involved in poker is just the medium for influencing the social dynamics that constitute the 'skill' portion of the game.

  • by thoughtsatthemoment ( 1687848 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#31865366) Journal
    The nature of poker is that it's impossible to create a system that can always win, at least practically. Ultimately it relies on gut feelings, or just whims. This makes me wonder what really goes through the mind of a poker player who's pondering the next move. Most of the time they are not playing a game of skill, but a game of deception, that's why they say things like "You don't play the cards, you play the players".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:37PM (#31867242)

    I came from a chess background but I'm also a hobby poker player. The government has no right to decide what I do with my own money. I consider restrictions on online poker a huge invasion of my privacy. Moreover, it's also quite hypocritical given that states support lotteries, horseracing and other gambling operations. The only reason poker is sometimes singled out is because casinos want a monopoly on the market and states want to tax poker income and operators but have not come up with a good system yet. They need to leverage the free market system and offer licenses to companies who wish to compete here.

    As for whether poker is a game of skill, I can only speak of no-limit holdem since I am not familiar with PLO or other forms. There is a tremendous amount of skill involved in this game even though it might not seem like it at first. When I started, I thought all it would take was to play TT+ and AQ+. In fact, it worked at my stakes, .01, .02 cents. However, at higher levels, you have to carefully consider your opponent's range based on position, stack size, history, bet-size, table dynamics, VPIP and PFR statistics etc. Then you often have to consider what he thinks your range is and what he'll think you're representing with your own actions. Especially at 6-max where you play more hands and have to use player dependent reads, there is incredible complexity. I cannot possibly go into this too deeply here but if you visit training sites and watch videos for NL200 and above, you'll get a flavor of the amount of thought that goes into real poker. With that said, poker is a long-term game and you may be a winning player but lose for 50K hands and vice versa. The important thing is making the right decisions, not any one day or even week. Plus, if poker wasn't a skill game, there wouldn't be so many winners even at high-stakes over MILLIONS of hands. This player comes to mind: among many others.

    I should note that all of the above refers to DEEP STACKED CASH GAMES (100BB or more). Shortstacked poker takes far less skill because there is so much less room to maneuver. Tournament poker is also with much less skill for the same reason. Most tournaments start with ~50BB and then go down to as few as 7BB average in later stages. Tournament poker also restricts your ability to make correct, +EV decisions because you have to be afraid of getting knocked out by a bad beat. For instance, you may be pretty confident that your opponent has high cards but you can't call his all-in with 88 being a 1% favorite on the bubble. The risk is too high. As Harrington once wrote, tournament poker is a lottery where some players get more tickets than others. A good player still has an edge in tournaments but that edge is much smaller than in cash games and it also involves infinitely high variance. A good online MTT player may have 6-7 big wins a whole year with months passing where he just loses money.

    Anyway, if you will inform yourself, I'm sure you will agree with this. At first I thought it was silly when someone told me that he thought poker was more complex than chess. I laughed and said, he only had three choices, check, bet/raise, or fold and that couldn't possibly be too complex. How wrong I was... I still believe chess at high levels is significantly more complex than poker but poker is a very rich game too.

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