I had the advantage to allege to the Wednesday Poker Altercation Accumulation in Las Vegas afresh about my book Vegas or Bust: A Family Man Takes on the Pros, which appearance two capital storylines: an assay of how poker afflicted amid the access of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 and 2016, as able-bodied as my own adventure through the Apple Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2016.
That accumulation dates aback added than two decades, in the canicule afore the poker boom, accepting been started by Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher, two stalwarts in the poker world. Johnson founded Card Player annual and ahead served as anchorperson for the Apple Poker Tour. Fisher helped begin the Clash Directors Association, the primary accumulation that determines poker rules acclimated today. The two additionally co-own Card Player Cruises, which sets captain for alien destinations while alms poker tournaments and banknote games.
The accumulation aforetime met at the coffee boutique in the basement of Binion’s afore it closed; associates now accommodated every Wednesday at Ricardo’s on Flamingo Avenue, about a mile west of Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, which now hosts the WSOP. Afterwards bistro lunch, the associates usually accept to a bedfellow apostle and afresh accept an all-embracing altercation of a poker duke or two. It’s axiomatic from aloof one affair that these bodies anticipate acutely about the game.
The best part? Meetings are accessible to anyone, so anytime you’re in Vegas on a Wednesday do accede bottomward in.
Bob Fisher, who now runs the group, was affectionate abundant to action to let me allege about Vegas or Bust, which some associates had a agog absorption in because I allotment the trials and tribulations about one summer at the WSOP. While added — abundant bigger — writers accept explored capacity that accommodate success or abortion in the WSOP Capital Event (James McManus in Positively Fifth Street and Colson Whitehead in The Noble Hustle) or a year on the clash aisle (Anthony Holden’s Big Deal and Bigger Deal), I accept I am the aboriginal to appraise a run accurately at the WSOP from alpha to finish.
I took a baby $10,000 backing into the summer — aloof abundant to buy into the Capital Event if that money were to survive the antecedent six weeks of lower buy-in tournaments and banknote amateur — with a plan to ride the beachcomber of success or failure. If I started winning, I’d comedy added of those $1,500 WSOP armlet events, but if I was beneath acknowledged I’d focus on the low-roller contest on Fremont Street. Win or lose, I knew I’d accept a fun summer. Afterwards absolute too abundant about the results, I will say I wasn’t aghast in how things angry out.
Concurrent with that story, I chose to appraise the accompaniment of poker 10 years afterwards Congress anesthetized UIGEA, which afraid off online poker that was agriculture the booming advance of the alive game. Accede that in 2003, aback an online qualifier from PokerStars, Chris Moneymaker, won the Capital Event, there were 839 entries. As approved Joes witnessed that Tennessee accountant’s success and anticipation they could do it too, the numbers jumped added than ten-fold to 8,773 by 2006. But accord alone acutely afterwards UIGEA came into effect, seeing some assets in contempo years. Poker connected its apathetic ascend aback from the UIGEA border this year as 7,874 players entered the Capital Event that started on July 2, the additional better acreage ever.
In 2006, the better websites in online poker — Party Poker, Abounding Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, Bodog and Doyle’s Allowance — busy out assemblage amplitude at the Rio as business tools. You ability aberrate into the Abounding Tilt Poker allowance and appearance a affectation case abounding of the site’s sponsored pros’ WSOP bracelets, grab a alcohol from the Bodog allowance and a bite from Doyle. SWAG was everywhere.
That all aished post-UIGEA, as did abundant of the advocacy money that helped ammunition the advance of poker on TV, poker media, and the assets of pro players. “Cowboy” Kenna James told me he absent his house, car, marriage, and dog afterwards the aftereffects of UIGEA were felt.
“It was like actuality a mile abroad from Niagara Avalanche and you can feel the accepted alpha to cull you,” he said. “Next affair I know, I’m over the avalanche afterwards a barrel.”
McManus, who acquired ballyhoo from not aloof Positively Fifth Street but additionally his all-encompassing history of the d blue-blooded Cowboys Full: The Adventure of Poker, became a red pro on Abounding Tilt Poker. That was a business gimmick created by the armpit to attract players — they could appearance area the pros were arena and accompany them in games, both in low and aerial stakes.
But afterwards the Department of Justice bedeviled Abounding Tilt Poker in 2011, accusing it, Poker Stars, and Ultimate Bet of operating illegally in the United States, that money disappeared. While approved players eventually got their money back, those affiliated with the site, like McManus, were never paid. He additionally absent the assets he was accepting from Abounding Tilt Poker from arena in the games.
“My wife and I got absorbed to that money,” McManus told me, “and afresh all of a sudden, on April 15, 2011, it all went away. It was absolutely bad news.”
That day came to be accepted as Black Friday by poker players, and the d is still aggravating to balance from the effect. While the animation over poker isn’t absolutely as aerial as it was during the bang years of 2003-2006, the d charcoal popular, with the WSOP and added tournaments cartoon the masses to Vegas anniversary summer.
I’m additionally bullish on the approaching of the game, and will be agog to see how the aishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by the U.S. Supreme Court, which now permits states to approve sports action aural their borders, will affect poker. Sports action and poker generally go hand-in-hand — attending at how abounding sportsbooks are a poker apartment in casinos — so abounding of the states that acquiesce sports action will additionally acceptable acquiesce poker.
Before UIGEA, every American could log on to their computers and comedy poker adjoin bodies beyond the globe. It would be nice to see a approaching area that’s accessible again.
Johnny Kampis is columnist of Vegas or Bust: A Family Man Takes on the Poker Pros.
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