another sign of the changing times


Poker has become more than a national phenomenon, it is a world-wide one.  It wasn’t always that way, but it has always had its loyal players; poker seems to have been around for at least 150 years in one form or another.  Even when the casino gambling, slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette and lotteries were against the law, poker managed to hang on to its status as a friendly game between friends with just a small wager to keep everyone interested.  In most states poker remained legal in its private sense when nothing else was allowed.  I certainly first played poker as a child in a family poker game – we did not bet money, we did put something at risk for a chance to peak at the next card and see the others hand.

In my early casinos days, poker was just becoming a significant event where I worked – the Club Cal-Neva in Reno – later we tried to operate a poker room at the Comstock, but failed miserably.  Most other casinos were more successful and through the 1980s poker expanded in Nevada.  Conditions changed in Nevada and poker became much less important, if fact most casinos had closed their poker rooms by the 1990s;  the main force that undermined poker in Nevada was poker in California.  Before the Indian casinos started to grow and dominate the landscape, California had a very dynamic poker industry and some very large and successful poker clubs.

Indian gaming cut into the market and threatened to destroy it, but then the Internet poker came along and gave poker in California and every place else a boost.  Internet poker, whether it is legal or not, is popular and it is the driving force behind the major poker tournaments that tour the world.  It has also created  a group of celebrities whose claim to fame, endorsement income, sponsors and seat at any poker tournament all come because the Internet generates the money that fuels the rest and creates the player base from which the champions come.

That leads me to this girl, Annette Obrestad from Norway; before she was old enough to play poker in Nevada, she was a world-class poker player.  [Las Vegas Sun]  A woman, just 21 years-old, from Scandinavia and yet an experienced, successful poker professional – not exactly the path poker champions 10 or 15 years ago followed.  Ms. Obrestad is coming to Las Vegas to play in the world’s largest and richest tournament; she comes with a following, sponsors and the attention of media around the world.  But she will not be alone or without competition, there is a world of poker players out there who practice their skills on the Internet before they enter their first tournaments and all of them hope someday to be sitting in the final table in Las Vegas.  They have nothing to lose and like Annette are fierce competitors.

The Internet made this generation of poker and poker players;  poker is making table games and gambling an entertainment attraction. Poker is everywhere on the news, in the newspapers and it is on television,  there are even poker channels.  All of that is changing the way the world views and regulates all forms of gambling.  There is more to come, but if you think about the smokey, men-only, backroom poker games of earlier times you can get an idea of the changes yet to happen.  Senate Major Leader, Harry Reid denied that he is secretly crafting new legislation to regulate Internet gambling. [Card Player] Reid sites a concern to protect the casino industry in Nevada, which rightly so, is his first priority.

Reid may not introduce the bill, a bill may not pass this congress, but it is only a matter of time – the technology is just to persuasive and ubiquitous with a loyal user base that grows daily – before Internet gambling does become legal.  Slot machines and blackjack may face an uphill battle, but poker, horse racing and some form of sports betting are certain to gain some degree of legalization.


1 Response to “another sign of the changing times”

  1. 1 rbest May 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Interesting and thanks for the insight, I’ll stay tuned and keep you posted on my endeavors…

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May 2010
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