Saturday, April 16, 2011

..And Poker to the Rear

I have not played as much poker as I would like to recently. And if Uncle Sam has his way, it's not going to happen anytime soon. Yesterday, the government seized the bank accounts and took over the websites of several online poker outfits (including PokerStars and Full Tilt). Yesterday was also the final day for Americans to file their 2010 Income Tax Returns (I guess they aren't related..but it sure makes for a funny "coincidence").

When I play online, I tend to play very low buy in multi-table tournaments (MTT's). Some of the entries are as low as two dollars. There are not many things in the world that you can buy for two bucks. Take a moment to think about activities that cost two dollars to participate in that can result in heavy fines and/or jail time. I know, it seems ridiculous. In the most free nation on earth (America?), there should be nothing that you do for two dollars that gets you into legal trouble, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Sadly, this is not the case.

Poker is considered a game of chance and is illegal to play online in our country (though not at "brick and mortar" casinos...odd?). But Poker is a game that involves skill as well as luck, just like every sporting event that takes place on television. Just like every investment made on Wall Street. The morality police (i.e. religious fundamentalists) will tell you that poker (all gambling for that matter) is a sin. They want the government to ban all forms of gambling as part of a greater effort to clean up society and make us more “god fearing”. But not everyone shares the same god (or believes in one at all). Up to twenty percent of the country now defines themselves as agnostic or atheist. And just for a moment, lets consider what happens when we push an activity in to a back room or alley. That is when it becomes dangerous and REAL criminal acts can take place.

Of course the REAL reason that online gambling is illegal is because the federal government has yet to come up with a way to tax it (which is ridiculous, because almost every other country has already starting taxing it and moved on). It is estimated that the online gambling world produced revenues of over twenty billion dollars in 2009. That’s a large untapped source of income for the Fed (peanuts compared to our 14 trillion dollar deficit, but politicians are desperate). And the government needs that money to pay for some of the large social programs that are run out of Washington D.C. But if we allow Big Brother to open a larger “umbrella” of protection over us all, we also allow it to create a longer, more restrictive list of rules that we have to follow. Similar to when your parents tell you as a teenager, “My house, my rules”, or “As long as you live under my roof…” (you heard something like this I’m sure).

Today it’s gambling with your hard earned money that is wrong, what will tomorrow bring? Something to consider before getting caught up in the utopia of socialized medicine and other entitlements (I'd actually rather burn part of my paycheck than hand it over to the government so they can pay for food stamps and cheap housing for the lazy...sorry, but it's true). True freedom should ALWAYS mean that you have the freedom to do stupid things as well as intelligent, well thought out things. Along with the freedom to gamble, comes the responsibility to NOT gamble with the rent money. And if you screw that up, is it really our fault? How many more "footnotes" are we going to add to the phrase "Land of the Free"?

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