Monday, October 22, 2007

Online Poker Players' Greatest Fears Come True

AbsolutePoker.comOver the past few years The Blot, like most of America, has become addicted to Poker and more specifically Texas Hold’Em. While I prefer to play poker live and in person, what has really spurred the recent boom of poker playing in America is online poker. I don’t really want to get into the legality of online poker or what was or was not outlawed by the ridiculous legislation recently passed by the United States Congress, because for all intents and purposes online poker is here to stay…or so I thought.

After reading a recent article by ABC News about AbsolutePoker.com and the alleged fraud it has been perpetrating on its users, I’m not so sure anymore. You can read the entire article here, but the gist of it is that someone within the organization had created a super-account which could secretly view a poker game and be able to see all of the table’s hole cards (those cards each player is dealt face down and not obligated to show anyone else in the game). That person was then working in tandem with a former AbsolutePoker.com employee who was playing in a poker tournament and was being told by the super-account what his opponents’ cards were. This investigation all but confirms every online poker player’s worse fears, that somehow the games are fixed.

The only one way to really send a message to all online poker sites is to go after AbsolutePoker.com hard and fast. They need to be made an example of to show other sites that there is zero tolerance policy towards cheating and maybe even go so far as shutting down the AbsolutePoker.com’s site. The only problem is most of these sites are too smart for that and have their servers spread out across the world. Thankfully, AbsolutePoker.com is located in Canada and not some far off secluded island so just maybe the company is actually touchable. It is being reported that the site has already released a statement apologizing for the incident and claiming that the situation has been resolved, but it sounded pretty vague to me and AbsolutePoker did not release any real details about what took place. (Link)

In many ways I blame the U.S. Government for the state of online poker today. To try and outlaw an internet game is just too difficult and not realistic. The Government needs to come to terms with the new global society spurred on by the internet’s accessibility. Instead of just banning something, the U.S. Government should have seen this as an opportunity to embrace it, not only to legalize it but to regulate it and tax it. Just think of all the taxable income our government is missing out on. Besides that, we could have forced heavier restrictions and regulations on the poker sites in exchange for allowing them to conduct business in the U.S. It would have also allowed many of the U.S. based casinos to get in on the online poker crazy and they would have in turn acted as industry watchdogs, keeping a close eye on their competitors in this growing industry. Nevertheless, the state of online poker in America is what it is for now and if I was you I’d stay far, far away from AbsolutePoker.com. I hope to see the laws amended in the future, but until they are it is truly play at your own risk.

The Poker Players AllianceIf you'd like to find out more about what you can do to help protect poker players' rights, check out The Poker Players Alliance at www.pokerplayersalliance.org.
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