Almost two years after U.S. Congress passed the ban on Internet gambling, the Poker Players Alliance has over 1 million members. The PR man for the PPA, John Pappas, left his day job to tirelessly represent those members. John has learned quickly about the nexus of politics and influence. He has also learned well how to effectively get the message of the PPA across.
This week saw online poker players transforming Coors Field, the home of Colorado’s major league baseball team, into a poker palace. This being on the same night as the Democratic National Convention, with the clubroom over-looking the ball park.
It may seem strange that invitations were sent to the very people who anger them so much, the law makers who banned their gambling back in 2006. To make sure the event was an ‘A list’ affair, attendees included top celebrities Ben Affleck, Seth Myers from “Saturday Night Live,” comedian Sarah Silverman, TV personality Montel Williams and actor Richard Dreyfuss. Ben Affleck played a few poker hands with the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Republican Barney Frank. On the second night of the convention, which was the night of Hillary Clinton’s speech, the club room, held hundreds of delegates, members of Congress, celebrities and fans of the game of poker.
Essentially the poker tournament had to be a charity event because under new ethics rules, lawmakers can attend events hosted by organisations or corporations only if a charitable donation is involved. So players made a suggested $500 donation, a little less if they didn’t play, and the money went to Paralysed Veterans of America. Pappas expects to raise $100,000 for the group from the events in Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota. The PPA will host a similar event at the Republican National Convention next week.
WPA wants rule book universally approved
Another man so passionate about the game of poker that he spends a good portion of his retirement focusing his energies on trying to legitimise the game is Jesse Jones. Jesse founded the World Poker Association, which is a non profit organisation geared at protecting the rights of poker professionals and semi professionals who go to work at major poker events.
Jesse believes that big tournament circuits like the WSOP, and he WPT should universally enforce the WPA-approved tournament rulebook. This would establish a gold standard in player behaviour, as well as ensuring that all major events attended by poker tournament pros are run the same way.
Jesse was quoted as saying “I believe it’s the number one item, by far. Can you imagine going to an NFL football game, and they play four quarters a game, and then you go next week and they play five quarters? That’s what we have in tournament poker now; standards that are not uniform.”
He believes that standards are not only inconsistent from tournament to tournament, but also the rules are not universally enforced within individual tournaments, and favouritism of players becoming the norm. A recent example at this summer’s $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP saw Scotty Nguyen repeatedly harassing, badgering and taunting his opponents. Tournament officials did not step in and Penalise Nguyen, breaking the WSOP’s own rules, and this bad behaviour elevated Nguyen to victory.
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