Sunday, January 21, 2007

Help Wanted: Hero

I read the headlines as frequently and diligently as anyone, and I have to say I'm saddened. Saddened, because none of the big names with deep pockets have stepped up and sought an injunction against the UIGEA and the actions of our federal government. There's certainly no shortage of lawyerly types among the top levels of poker heirarchy, or all they all just full of it, buckling under when a real challenge arises?

I find it hilarious that so many institutions are cutting and running, as if they never believed the "poker is legal" line themselves. I'm still waiting to see if anyone in this poker generation has the guts to be the next Billy Baxter, willing to fight the wrongs inflicted by the U.S. government. Let's see, the UIGEA is both overbroad interference with legal enterprises, likely illegal in terms of the damage it causes to collateral businesses, and it also includes mandates which are clearly First Amendment violations. So far, we look like one of those old-western posse crowds, milling in the street, finding excuses to slink off into the sunset when it turns out the bad guy can really shoot.

Bunch of libertarian, free-thinking, independent spirits, my ass. Grow some, oh poker world.

I love reading the posts about which famous American poker name is going to get arrested first. Whether it's Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson, Greg Raymer, Chris Ferguson, or someone in the publishing end like Barry Shulman, does it really matter? Shulman already gave up the high ground when he accepted the Washington State legislation without a fight, Allyn Jaffray's long-winded proselytizing notwithstanding. It's painful to watch the poker world, supposedly of above-average intelligence, be so collectively stupid. Dear dumbasses, quit playing a tight/weak game of politics and start fighting, or you're going to get blinded out or forced all-in with a weak hand. Now is the time to go on the offensive, get injunctions and have that goddamned UIGEA declared the unconstitutional (and also WTO-violating) piece of shit that it is. Otherwise, the U.S. government wins, picking off segment after segment after segment, person after person after person.

I guess that's why it frustrating to read stuff like Bill Rini's recent posts. Now, I know both Bill and Amy Calistri, either in person or through innumerable e-mails, and they are both in the top handful of media types I respect. But as knowledgable as Bill is, as accurate as some of his forecasts have turned out to be, I still can't join him on this one, and this is why: If his worst-case scenarios are correct, then it doesn't matter anyway. And if those scenarios are true, then all that extensive hand-wringing... and hand-wringing... and more hand-wringing... is just an unproductive waste of time. If it's not true, and there are actions that we can take to put up the good fight, then we need to do that stuff now, rather than do these second-tenor auditions for the poker-world performance of "Woe is Me." That's my problem with Bill's approach. As much as I like and respect him, no bonus points this time.

So Messrs. Shulman and Ivey, Seif and Hellmuth, Brunson and Negreanu, and all you others: It's time to make a stand.

If you don't, then keep on checking over your shoulders, peeking into the shadows. Because one of these times, when the bell tolls, it'll be tolling for you.

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