GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 22 - October 2012

By J Todd, Host, APCW Perspectives Weekly O ne of the things you learn after you have a heart attack is you need reduce the stress in your life. That’s not easy when you work in an industry like online gaming. Between chasing down payments, worrying if someone is going to cheat you, the pressure to deliver players, being on the lookout for shady programs and operators and retroactive changes to terms and conditions – life in the online gambling world is full of stress. That’s why when a nice judge comes along and helps you out, you have to smile and cheer, no matter how small the favor. In August, Judge Jack Weinstein declared poker a game of skill. Well, not really. But close enough. What he really said was: “To pre- dominate, skill must account for a greater percentage of the outcome than chance – i.e. more than 50 percent. “Because the poker played on the defen- dant’s premises is not predominately a game of chance, it is not gambling as defined by IGBA.” There it is. Poker is more skill than chance. Unless you sit down at a table against me. I play the game with lots of skill, but some jackass always hits a one- outer against me. There goes that stress level again. Time to refocus on the happy stuff. Finally, a judge who understands that poker is a game of skill! And not only does he understand poker is a game of skill, he ripped the DOJ for using an ex- pert witness who didn’t know anything about poker and hadn’t bothered to read any of the research presented by the expert who said poker is a skill game. That’s my kind of judge. And while we’re at it, what the heck was the DOJ doing prosecuting a guy with two poker tables? He had no connec- tions to organized crime. Heck, he had no connections to online poker. Was it a slow week in getting drugs off the street? The good thing about this ruling is Weinstein accepted the basic argu- ments poker players have been mak- ing for years – over the course of time, highly skilled poker players will win sig- nificantly more often than lesser skilled players. And yes, while luck plays a fac- tor, skill eventually wins out. The judge also rejected the argument that you have to view each poker hand as an individual, discrete event. By view- ing poker as a group of events, rather than a series of individual events, poker becomes more like base- ball than like flipping a coin. A lousy hitter can get lucky every now and then and scratch out a hit against a good pitcher. But over the course of time his inability to hit becomes clear. The other thing Weinstein accepted is that money won is a good metric (fancy word, eh?) to measure the success of a poker player. This is a big deal. It acknowledges that skilled players can take the same cards and win more money – or lose less money – than players who are not as good. And even though this is a big deal, I know it might not matter much. Gambling is regulated at the state level in the U.S. The ruling even says that poker is illegal under New York state law. And New York isn’t the only state where it would have been il- legal. States have all sorts of ridiculous laws regarding gambling and poker. And because states will likely have the final say on this, Weinstein’s ruling isn’t a panacea (I’m just full of fancy words, post-heart attack, aren’t I?). But it’s a start. If a federal judge can be convinced poker is a game of skill, so can others. Maybe other judges will read his well-reasoned opinion and use it as precedent. Maybe some politicians will look at what Weinstein wrote and reach the same conclusion. And even if nothing happens, it’s nice to have good news for change. A federal judge acknowledged that poker is a skill game. That’s enough to put Jack Wein- stein on the APCWWall of Fame. APCW’s Wall of Fame