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Monday, July 24, 2006

Ramblin' Post, Lotsa Poker and Cleavage.

Politics deal online poker a shaky hand

By Brandon Lowrey
Denver Post Staff Writer

Ken Bell, a former dot-com entrepreneur, lost his business two years ago and fell deep into debt.

The 45-year-old's search for a way to repay his overwhelming bills led him to online poker tables.

And that gamble has paid off.

Over the past year and a half, Bell, playing eight hours a day, has won enough to dig himself out from his failed business.

Internet poker "has basically allowed me to have a working income," Bell said. "If it didn't come through, they would have put me and my company into bankruptcy. Things would have gotten really bleak."

But the future is uncertain for Bell's new career and the online gambling industry.

This month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would make Internet gambling a federal crime.

Supporters of the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act say it's long overdue.

"This legislation provides real protection to American families from destructive and unlawful Internet gambling," said Tom McCluskey, the Family Research Council's vice president, who supports the bill, in a written statement.

If the Senate joins the House in passing a bill to ban Internet gambling and President Bush signs it, Colorado's professional online gamblers will be particularly at-risk. While many other states have land-based casinos with high-limit poker games, Colorado's $5 bet limit makes it nearly impossible to make a living at the state's casinos.

So, the Internet is the only option for professional gamblers who want to stay in Colorado and make a living at poker.

The act, as passed by the House, would modify the 1961 Wire Act, which courts have ruled covers only sports betting, to cover all types of gambling and communication facilities.

It would also prohibit the use of credit cards, checks from U.S. banks and money-transfer services that Americans use to send and receive money from offshore gambling sites.

The bill's supporters argue that gambling sites are accessible to children and that it's too easy to lose massive amounts of money on the Web.

But for more than a decade, similar bills have died.

"It never seems to be a real priority, and given the list of priorities Congress has, it never seems to rise to the top," said Gregory Gemignani, a lawyer with Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Las Vegas who specializes in online gaming law. "There's certainly no assurance the Senate will act on this."

If the U.S. government were to legalize and regulate the Internet poker industry, a study commissioned by the Poker Players Alliance estimated, it could bring in $3.3 billion a year in taxes. But that also seems unlikely.

A ban, however, would force Colorado's professional poker players to find another line of work or move out of the state.

Boulder resident Jonmichael Hands bought a car and is putting himself through the Colorado School of Mines using his online poker winnings. The 21- year-old engineering senior's first major win brought in $33,000.

"I had never even seen that much money in my life," he said. "I wish I would have been a little bit smarter with it."

He continues to play to keep money rolling in instead of picking up a minimum-wage job.

Hands' college poker career started with quarters in the dorms at the Colorado School of Mines. A year later, he hit an online jackpot and his life changed.

Hands exemplifies a younger demographic becoming part of the game. He plays long sessions for a consistent income. His record was 30 hours straight. Like Bell, Hands said he has read about 30 books on poker.

"I didn't accidentally win a big tournament," he said. "You have to get lucky and be playing well - you have to know what to do with your luck."

As evidence, on a bad night he lost $10,000 in a single hand.

"I was, like, distraught," he said. "I couldn't even sleep for a week."

Cal Spears, president of the online poker community, said poker is not a viable career for most people.

"I wouldn't recommend it to anyone - it's only for a certain kind of person," he said.

Hands doesn't want to see online gambling outlawed, and Bell, a former musician who tried to cash in on the dot-com boom, says poker really isn't gambling.

"You don't see any professional roulette players," he said, pointing out that poker is a game of skill with an element of luck while other casino games are mostly luck.

Sitting at twin LCD monitors in his home office, Bell watches the faceless poker mannequins surrounding a table - avatars of real players around the world. His 2-year-old German shepherd watches from his perch on a cushion as sometimes thousands of dollars are won and lost with the click of a mouse.

Bell has enjoyed his new career, but he concedes it has limited his choices.

"If I wanted to go back into the job market now, I'd be in for a rude awakening. I'm a dinosaur," said Bell, who is heading in August to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. "I don't think I'm going to be doing this for a living 20 years from now."


My wife today asked me: How can all these celebrities (Pamela Anderson the latest, Ja Rule last week)open up online poker rooms when it is illegal to gamble online in all the USA?

My reply:

I believe playing online poker is a lesser crime then jaywalking. Really. If you jaywalk right in front of a cop car you are probably 50-50 to get a ticket. I have done it 3 or 4 times in front of my work and never got a ticket with a cop nearby (we all have to jaywalk across a busy street to get to work). Usually they have more important business then writing you a ticket.

To the best of my knowledge, not one online poker player has ever been prosecuted or written a ticket in the USA. Prosecutors have more important things to do. Many of them would never jaywalk in front of a cop but they would certainly tell a cop that they took down a $5 sit n go or won $1200 in a UB $20 MTT!

Cops, lawyers, prosecutors and judges all play Poker! They smoke cigars, drink expensive scotch & bourbon, have fun and don't hurt anyone. Now its cool for their wives and daughters to play. My wife use to cost me money every time we went to Vegas or Reno (slots, BJ). Now shes a heavy favorite to pay for her half of the trip at the Mirage 6/12 game.

Man Show (Shark Version) Cleavage Break:

Vanessa Rousso

Hottest "Poker Babe" on Tour just signed a sweet deal with Pokerstars (link above).

She needs a new photographer to compete with Shark honorary member, vixen and Unabomber main squeeze Jenny Tilly. Check her out in good flick (w/Michael Madsen, Alec Baldwin) The Getaway. This shot is a connjure favorite.

Tilly with nipple wandering, NSFW (not safe for work computers)

This next cleavage shot is hard to see. Watch carefully as the Grinder kisses momma goodbye while he heads out to the WSOP event. You may have to rewind 8 or 12 times like I did born, Lazzy. Good vid to. Day in the life of Grinder. Funny how they call 2 year old "baby grinder".

Day with da Grinder

Lotsa great posts in our forum currently. Check out this one. I can't resist funny Philly Boy Hellmuth stories

So far Shark Player of the Month honors go to Lazrus. Check out this guys cashes and fine play culminating in a $2,000 cash this week!

Shark Vet LAZZY en fuego, clik and post here ya laggs

First Sharks Vet Series a BLAST! 44 entered at and plunked down 5.50 to be seated with my best players. Man, what a field. The PRO structure and 2500 chips to start gave all lots of bang for the buck and encouraged aggressive play. was our sponsor and set up a Shark Pool Party Table! Shark Legend GARY812 was too tough on this hot summer day as the heads up battle with strong newcomer DINGO64 went on forever. I didnt get a total time cause I had to go to bed but when they knocked me out in third I checked back much later and DINGO was still in the lead.

GAR ended up cashing $168 for first, Dinger got 105 and yours truly paid for the next trip to the Sizzler with a sweet 63 buck casher. I launched known min. bettor and host Clayshooter so no need to send a shark tee this week. Sorry, brudda, he played great and finished 5th for 33. and change.

I made one fatal error when GAR bet 3X BB into my SB. I smelled a rat since he had been raisin a ton. I look at A2o and push 16K (short stack). He insta calls with AKo and its nitey nite for yer one toofed leader. Bad play, had time to find a better spot. Cardluvr and Reel were tough as always and seated to my left (yuck).

Congrats to newcomer MUZZA who finished 4th. This UK young lady has a ton of game, so look out for her in the future. She made her first post in our forum after playing in this event. Please join our forum, introduce yourself and post. Its scary at first but everyone is friendly and helpful. This event is every Sunday! Next up:

7/30 Host: Feared Shark Vet, TajMahal Titan Poker 8:00 PM EST Password is: tajmahal 6 seated, 2500 chipsters, 20 min. blinds! $200 added! $5.50 buyin
Plus $33 Satellite for host! TITAN POKER

MUZZA, send me your tee size and address, i'll send ya a Shark tee for the nice forum intro and great first cash with us! All non USA players:Please be patient when waiting for Shark gear. We send promptly but since we pay postage it must go slow mail and sometimes takes 4-6 weeks to receive it.

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At 7:58 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

The tilly nipple made my night. It reminded me of that speed dating scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin...

At 7:14 AM, Blogger lightning36 said...

The first Shark Vets event was great. Good competition having both you and Clay at my table. Gonna have to step up my game to keep up with you guys.

Catch ya at the next event.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger LAZRUS said...

thanks for the kind words
and the skintillating hotlinks
I really thought tilly was great-
still nice to look at-- until I read the intro to the richard marcus book' dirty poker'--a facinating if somewhat disheartening educational
reflection on cheating, collusion
and the like in poker all the way up to yes---the WSOP


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