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Christmas Gifts and Lumps of Coal

By Lou Krieger©
For Poker Player Newspaper
It’s that time of year, the time to take a look at who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and reward them with a nice holiday gift or a lump of coal.  This year, some of the same folks who deserve a Christmas gift also earned a lump of coal—so this may prove confusing.
Deserving of both a gift and a lump of coal is the Poker Players Alliance.  They’ve been active throughout the year pushing poker’s agenda and getting behind a variety of Congressional hearings regarding poker’s legitimacy and they’ve been working hard to undue UIGEA and the nightmarish Black Friday.
But everything hasn’t come up roses for the PPA.  With the advent of Black Friday last April, the PPA’s major supporters—the online poker rooms—were summarily removed from serving players in the US. Once Full Tilt Poker, one of their primary supporters, proved unwilling—and unable—to repay player deposits, PPA was forced to distance itself from them. 
The net result was that the PPA—which had heretofore been the driving force behind congressional action aimed at bringing online poker in from the cold—was compromised, and forced to revise the methodology behind their mission.
PPA had a trying year in 2011, a year that saw them register some achievements as well as falter.  Here’s hoping they do better in 2012.
Numerous politicians jumped on the online poker bandwagon this year, and hearings on the subject seemed to be going on almost all the time.  While these effort earns them a round of applause, Congress hasn’t really achieved anything yet.  When you learn never to confuse effort with results, and that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it should come as no surprise that a November 2011 New York Times poll showed a congressional approval rating of only nine percent.  To put this abysmal rating into perspective, the same poll showed that Congress’ approval rating is lower than pornography, or the moral acceptability of polygamy.
No mixed reviews here for Full Tilt Poker, or for any of the principals who took an active role in managing the company—Ray Bitar, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer.  They all get lumps of coal for their abysmal lack of ethics, decency, and the basic fiduciary relationship to their customers that they chose to ignore.  Each of those principals deserves an entire coal bin all to himself.
If I were Santa Claus I’d deliver unlimited online and brick-and-mortar poker play to each former online player who’s had to learn how to survive in traditional casino poker games, or had to uproot themselves and move to a country where playing online poker is not a crime.  That’s a lot of gifts to a lot of former online players, but Santa’s sleigh has a lot more carrying capacity than it might appear.
But I’ve still got two lumps of coal remaining and I want to deliver one to casino magnate Sheldon Andelson for his remarks that served to set back the cause of online poker in nothing more than a few ill-chosen words.  My final lump of coal goes to US Attorney General Eric Holder, who can’t seem to get anything right—from his ridiculous views about online poker to his more serious transgressions, like the Fast and Furious scandal, a botched drug sting that saw more than 2,000 guns go missing, only to see these weapons wind up in the possession of violent Mexican drug cartels and used against a US border patrol agent.
But in the spirit of the holiday season, I wish each and every reader a hearty season’s greetings, along with a healthy, happy, and poker filled New Year.  May your dreams and wishes all come true.

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