Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gambling propositions

We Californians have an election coming up. As has been the case several times over the last few years, there are propositions on the ballot to once again tinker with the indian gaming setup we have going on. As is always the case, it pits two powerful sets of special interests against each other: the indian tribes on one side and nevada gambling interests, card rooms and horse tracks on the other.

And, as always, poker players find we have no dog in the hunt. All of the fuss is about slot machines and other "house games." Poker is a completely different animal from those - with Poker, the vying is between all of the players seated at the table and the house has no interest in the outcome (because they rake the pot by the same amount regardless of who wins it). In virtually all other casino gaming, the player plays not against the other players present but against the house, and the house always has an odds advantage which insures the house will be profitable over the long term. Even bookmakers don't have any interest in the outcome of the events upon which they are making book, because of the "vig" - the difference in odds between the two sides of the proposition. If you want to be a profitable book player, you need to be better than everybody else at picking the outcomes, and so much better than you can overcome not only the odds, but the vig as well. At least with poker the rake is typically so small that it's easy for reasonably good players to overcome it. Besides, with poker you have a much larger percentage of the available information at your disposal when making a decision. But this isn't intended to be a diatribe espousing the virtues of Poker over other forms of wagering.

So where do I stand? I am voting my continued disappointment with the state of the restrictions on Internet poker players we currently enjoy in the U.S. I am voting "no" on all gambling-related propositions other than those that are aimed at restoring the rights of players to easily move their money back and forth between the financial institutions of their choosing and sites that provide honest and fair Internet poker.

I urge my fourteen readers to do likewise.

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