Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I Long For The Days When Poker Icons Filled My Screen: A Wistful Look Back

The world of online poker was fantastic five years ago. New sites were popping up on a regular basis, new promotions were always around, and the players were about as terrible as could be. Even a clown like me was able to do very well at the right sites in the right situations.

Playing poker online was like being a little kid entering a candy store and being told “You’ve got five minutes.” You want an online poker bonus? Choose one! They were everywhere!

However, the first blow to the head was administered by U.S. politicians when they passed the UIGEA – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The big blow came three months later in January 2007 when payment processor Neteller was forced to freeze its U.S. accounts, leaving U.S. online poker players in limbo – no way to access their online account, no way to process their usual methods of deposit and withdrawal.

And with that the icons on my desktop began to disappear. And online poker suddenly was not nearly as easy and not nearly as fun for recreational players in the U.S.

Recent actions by Senator Harry Reid and a lame duck congress gave us hope that a new era of online poker was on the horizon, but efforts fell short. Of course, by the time the corporations with deep pockets and plenty of influence are able to tweak new laws to their benefit, who knows what online poker will look like? Will government oversight, sanctioning, and control (cha-ching!) make turning a profit much more difficult? Will more unskilled players and fish (uh – guys like me?) decide it is no longer worth it since the “government vig” will lessen the ability to turn a profit?

In the meantime, what is one to do? I have found that my greatest joys have been the private tournaments I have entered -- playing against friends, trash talking in the chat boxes, just generally making the online experience as close to a home game as it can be. I have also been satisfied with playing some cash games on a few selected sites. Go into a cash game on the right site at the right time and it can be like having a private ATM. However, go to the wrong site at the wrong time and you will quickly find the sharks getting ready to tear you apart.

So for now … I will continue to play online poker, characterizing myself as a purely recreational player. I may not be a player that many others will fear, but I do have my good days, can win more than I lose, and have the ability to make some deep runs in tournaments.

But ahh … those days before UIGEA …

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

I think the World Poker Tour on TV was important, too. Now it's on some channel that I'm not even sure where. When players watched it, they wanted to be like Gus Hansen, etc. A lot of that's gone away and less fish online.

6:32 PM  

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