Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PokerStars to buy Full Tilt Poker?

Yes, please.

The worst kept secret of the last two days is that the Department of Justice's plan to sell Full Tilt Poker to Groupe Bernard Tapie fell through, largely because the DOJ is negotiating with a bigger fish that is more likely to have the resources to repay all players -- PokerStars.

In my humble opinion, it's certainly a smart move by PokerStars to acquire its biggest rival in a time of great distress, ensuring continued large profits and making it look like a hero in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of online poker players.

Here's an encouraging quote from a Wall Street Journal story on the issue:
PokerStars executives have been conducting due diligence at Full Tilt's Dublin, Ireland, offices for the last few days, according to the person. "Full Tilt Poker is more optimistic than ever that its number one goal will be obtained: Full Tilt players will be repaid," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "Full Tilt Poker has been in settlement discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice. As such settlement discussions are always confidential, we are unable to comment on any rumors related to the details of those discussions."

Maybe I'll get my $1,500 back -- heck, maybe I'll be reimbursed in some way for the $300 in FTP points I had earned (and maybe, um, Blair Hinkle will get his million dollars too.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Anti-online poker rants from the ignorant

The push for intrastate online poker will inevitably bring out the backlash from some. Several newspapers ran this op-ed in the last week from Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor and professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. In it Reich uses the standard logic from the ignorant of comparing poker with other forms of gambling as if they are equatable. Such as this paragraph:
That decision is about to create a boom in online gambling. New Jersey is close to approving a bill to allow gambling online in virtual Atlantic City casinos. Delaware, Nevada, California and Florida are considering similar bills. Within the year, high-stakes poker will be available on every work desk and mobile phone in the nation.
So Robert, are we talking about online poker or all forms of online gambling because you're mixing and matching here? Yes, I'm calling a former U.S. labor secretary and college professor ignorant. Either he is mixing apples and oranges by comparing poker and other forms of gambling as if they are the same because he truly is ignorant about it, or he does so purposefully to make his point, which would make him dishonest. It's one or the other. The San Francisco Chronicle also ran an editorial against a proposed online poker bill, throwing in the usual comparison to earlier gambling efforts, including the state lottery and the addition of tribal casinos to California.
Some bad ideas just won't go away. Case in point: a revived law to allow online gambling in California. This time around, all the big players - casino tribes, cardrooms and racetracks- want to bring online poker and its devastating social impact to homes and smart phones across the state.
Does the Chronicle have a crystal ball where it can predict that online poker will have "devastating social impacts" in the same vein that slots and blackjack might? How about the boom for others, from the jobs provided for those who run the games, market the games, write about the games, to those who supported their families by playing poker who were suddenly out of a job a year ago? The Chronicle says "there's no reason to double down" now. I can't recall ever doubling down in poker, can you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interesting California online poker talk -- no fooling

The San Francisco Chronicle has this interesting article on the intrastate online poker fight in California.

An interesting point of the piece is how entities in the state, such as cardrooms and Native American tribes, are talking of joining forces to get licenses and keep out the Harrah's, MGMs and Zyngas of the world. Meanwhile, there is also infighting, as horse tracks are pitted against tribes and cardrooms.

The bill under discussion has this provision:
Anyone who launches a site would have to pay the state 10 percent of gross revenue. Players would have to register with the sites, using their Social Security number to prove they are at least 21, and pay taxes on any winnings.
Author Demian Bulwa also makes an interesting point about the limited market. A high license fee would provide a barrier to entry, plus there is the likelihood that only a handful of sites would survive if the market were deluged with online poker offerings.
"The question is whether they can work out the politics over who should get licenses," said I. Nelson Rose, a Whittier Law School professor who blogs at "Nothing makes as much money as a legal gambling monopoly. And if you can't have a monopoly, you want an oligopoly." Ultimately, just a few websites are expected to go live. That's because of a proposed $30 million license fee - which would be credited against the 10 percent cut of gross revenue - and the expectation that consumers will flock to only about a half-dozen well-marketed sites. The result is alliance building. Dozens of tribal casinos and cardrooms, including Pete's 881 Club, joined the California Online Poker Association, which recently started a free online poker site called as a way to work out the kinks and start building a brand.
I think companies that one day hope to get into the U.S. online poker market would be wise to start building their free-play sites as a marketing tool now. Or yesterday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maximizing profits from your poker blog

And now a world from our sponsors...

When I started this blog in 2004 it was to chronicle my impending travels across the country to play poker the next year. It was merely for my amusement and, I hoped, for some of you.

It wasn't until I got the occasional email from marketers wanting to buy ad space that I realized I could make a little coin, too.

Without doubt, I have not maximized this blog's potential over the years, a situation I am now obviously trying to correct with a new design and more useful and frequent content. Having been in existence for eight years and with a page rank of three this web space has a little value I've realized.

Recently, I went down the blogrolls of other poker bloggers, clicking and viewing to see 1) who is still active or at least semi-active, and 2) who has advertisers. I then found emails for those bloggers and sent out a mass email inviting them to trade advertiser info with me.

Only one replied.

We emailed each other our spreadsheets, and then I went down the list and sent an email marketing my blog to each one. I got two positive replies, and sold two ad deals for $400.

Lesson here to other poker bloggers: email me back!

But seriously, I am happy to share any info I have that could help you maximize profits from your poker blog (or any type of blog) if you'll do the same for me. I can be reached at

Monday, April 09, 2012

Stock trading: The legal version of online gambling

I finally blew the virtual dust off my TDAmeritrade account a few months ago.

Years ago, in the fat single days when I made a decent living at The Tuscaloosa News and a sweet supplemental income playing poker several hours a night most nights, I plunked $6,000 in an Ameritrade account. Being the wise trader, I bought up stocks like Blockbuster, Sirius and Southwest.

More than 50 percent in losses later I kinda put the stock trading to the side.

Since I play almost no poker these days, and with the economy on an upswing, it seemed like a good time to get back into stock trading. Part of my long-term plan to take advantage of the second poker boom is to invest in companies likely to benefit.

I already owned Shuffle Master, having bought it nearly a decade ago for $34 and change. At one point, the stock dropped under $3, but has since climbed to around $18. I actually sold what I had about a month ago for just under $15 to invest in Zynga and liquidate some of my account for home improvements.

I did well with Zynga, buying it for $9 and selling it for $15. I sold my shares to invest in Apple, planning to reinvest in Zynga if it dropped below $12. The plan has worked out great, as I've made nearly $300 in profit from three shares of Apple (bought at $530, about to sell at around $630) and Zynga is down to $11.50 this morning. Hopefully, I can make a few hundred bucks on Zynga in the next few months.

If this stuff is legal why can't poker be? I'm merely "running hot" at the moment in my amateur stock trading career, which shows a net loss over time.

Friday, April 06, 2012

California sports betting?

I generally hate to link to TV news stories, but well here we go.

The cliched phrase "a day late and a dollar short" is pretty apt when it comes to TV news. Generally speaking, TV stations find their news from reading that morning's newspaper unless the news just lands in their laps in the form of scanner chatter or a press release. Don't believe me? Study your area's newspaper and TV coverage for a week. You'll figure out how the news organizations work pretty quickly.

Anyway, enough ranting. This piece actually spreads some new light (at least new to me) on potential plans in California. To wit:
And no more going to Vegas, another proposal would allow sports betting at current gambling establishments like card rooms and race tracks, but California would have to ask the feds for permission because that's currently illegal except in four states.
I knew neither that California was considering legalizing sports betting nor that the act was legal in four states. Honestly, I thought you could only bet sports in Nevada. I sort of wonder in which other three it's legal, but I don't care enough to look it up. It's no skin off my nose either way because I only bet sports occasionally and for fun.

My only concern is on the latest online poker rooms, and better sooner than latter.

According to the story on California, two million residents are currently wagering $13 billion on online poker sites. The report does not provide any info to back up that statement, or the source of the statistics. Given the current state of affairs I have my doubts that is an accurate number. However, I'm sure when California legalizaed online gaming it will provide the biggest casino sites for US players.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

One step closer for online poker

A bill for online gaming passed a Senate committee in New Jersey recently. This guy's in a rush:
William Pascrell III, a lobbyist representing the online gaming industry, warned that New Jersey had better move quickly or Delaware, Nevada and California — nipping at the state’s heels — will reap the financial benefits. "We must be first," Pascrell said. "We need to create the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming in New Jersey."
Meanwhile, Delaware's getting in the game. If these states want to rush to be the first I got no problem with it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Poker Nation -- Now New and Improved!

So I finally decided to upgrade to the new Blogger software last night, and redesigned the site. My fear before was that I could lose some of the info in my sidebar (including those all-important advertisers), but I figured out how the new stuff TA DA. I hope you like the site's new look and thanks for your patronage.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Indian Wrinkle & Were You an April Fool?

During my usual morning troll of Google news "online poker" article I came across this article on a Native American publication.

What picqued my interest was this line in the piece:

Tribes should have the right to offer online gaming even if a state “opts out” of the federal regulatory scheme

As you probably know, the most discussed federal possibility for online poker legalization would involved an opt-out clause for any state that did not wish to participate. Utah has preemptively agreed to opt out of any legislation, for example. (I'm sure Alabama would too, lame-o lawmakers -- and to be fair, constituency -- we have here.)

What would happen if tribes were allowed to offer games in "opt-out" states? As I understand current federal gaming laws, tribes can offer the same "class" of gaming that the state in which the tribes are located allow. If your state has a lottery (Class 2) you can offer the same, but not a a full-fledged casino (Class 3).

I would love to see a situation where a state opts out, but tribes can opt in, but I don't see how that would work. I assume you wouldn't just limit players to fellow Native Americans in the tribe. So if all players in a state were allowed under such a scenario, you have effectively opted the entire state in anyway.

On another note, you didn't fall for my third April Fool's Day post did you? I admit I get a kick out of my little jokes. If you missed my first two, you can see them here and here.

Mega Millions -- for lottery players and Nevada coffers

Americans fell all over themselves buying handfuls of lottery tickets late last week, with three splitting the $650 million or so grand prize of Mega Millions, the grand jackpot linked to all the states that have lotteries.

The Daily sent me up to Ardmore, Tenn., about 35 miles north of here, where people were parking on the sides of the road at the first Interstate 65 exit to buy tickets at two gas stations and a lottery store.

That was the closest stop for north Alabamians seeking tickets (we are one of only eight states that does not have a lottery).

I believe the prevailing theory around the newsroom is that I am into all forms of wagering, but no I'm just about the opposite of what one might think of a degenerate gambler as I seek to make wagers where I have the advantage -- or at least a fighting chance -- and the lottery is definitely not that.

I didn't even buy a ticket.

It was a fun article to write, nonetheless, because the chance -- however minute -- of winning a life-changing sum of money gives people hope and happiness.

I used some material from an Associated Press article written earlier in the day that had this interesting line:

The jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $347 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million, less if your state also withholds taxes.

What's wrong with this theory?

Even if it were physically possible to buy every combination, you have to account for multiple winners that reduces your prize (which was, unsurprisingly, what happened.) I joked with the folks at the Daily that's why you need to send a "degenerate" like me to do the gambling stories. I know the math and logic.

Great editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal this morning urging state honchos to move forward with online poker efforts.

I found this line interesting:

"We estimate the U.S. online poker market at $5 billion in revenue, relative to the current $24 billion global Internet gaming market and (the) $33 billion commercial casino market in the U.S.," Union Gaming Group analyst Bill Lerner wrote in a report last year. "In our opinion, the commercialization of online poker is a 2013 event."

Let me just say, for the record, that post Black Friday, but before the DOJ ruling I also predicted federal legislation in 2013. Here's hoping Lerner and I are proven correct.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

California legalizes online poker, games should be running in May

Can you believe it? The day is here, and in surprisingly quick fashion.

In an unusual Saturday session of the California legislature, lawmakers met late into the night with tribal gaming interests, finally hashing out a plan that they both could abide by. Leigslators signed a bill into law at 12:01 this morning that lays the groundwork for online poker in California.

The state is expected to move quickly, issuing licenses this month with hopes that games will begin in late May.

Read the full story here.