Wiesenberg (s107 poker): Sophie and the future


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player. This entry in the “Aunt Sophie” series covers poker and is the last in the series.

Michael Wiesenberg index.


Black and white photo of Michael Wiesenberg

Michael Wiesenberg

Aunt Sophie wonders about the future

Nu, tsatskeleh,” began my Aunt Sophie, “did I tell you I got my own website?”

We were in the second bedroom of Aunt Sophie’s apartment, which she had converted into an office. She had kept my things in the room for years after I left, perhaps in a subconscious hope that I would come back. I had of course come back many times to visit, but once I left the fold, I left for good, and had never again spent a night there. She finally accepted that fact about the time that she find it inconvenient to keep her computer on a bedside table and play online poker while sitting on her bed. So now the computer was in the office on a nice desk. She had a large flat-screen monitor and great speakers.

Own website

“What?” I wondered. “You’ve graduated from being SophieNeny on MySpace?”

“No,” she answered, “still that I got, but now a link there is to my own site where I can express myself.”

“And what,” I demanded, “is this site called?”

“PokerYentes.com!” she exclaimed proudly. “Poker blog and advice, and I got a sponsor.”

“A sponsor,” I marveled. “Who might that be?”

“Renta-Yenta,” she replied. “Anyone needs an old lady for a chaperone or maybe an old lonely zaydeh wants a little company for a family dinner or someone’s mother is out of town and misses being nagged. And can you believe, the first customer already they got. Someone named Maxwell was looking for a cocktail waitress in his friend’s casino. Guy’s name is Big Dummy, and he likes the mature type. I think he’s just cheap, because Renta-Yenta’s rates are in the bottom of the rock.”

Now I knew she was pulling my leg. “OK, OK,” I said, “What was your real reason for asking me over?”

“You mean just to see your favorite aunt ain’t enough?” she asked.

“Aunt Sophie,” I patiently responded, for we had gone down this path many times before, “you know you’re my only aunt. And I love you like my mother, since you were really my mother for most of my formative years.” This always got to her.

Future of poker

She blinked quickly a few times, and then offered, “The future of poker about it I was wondering. Now that online poker has been killed.”

“Actually,” I pontificated, “online poker has not been killed, which you’d know if during your cyberspace peregrinations you had looked at the legal news page on Card Player’s website.”

“Oy,” she scolded, “such big words you use.”

“Excuse me,” I corrected, “Internet surfing. Anyway, poker is decidedly not dead. Nor even is online poker dead. Some online poker sites have found portions of their business threatened. Those that are publicly traded on the London stock exchange are worried that they might be jeopardizing their business by continuing to deal with customers within the United States, so several sites have informed their American customers that the customers are no longer welcome to play. The executives in these operations are perhaps worried about what might happen to them since two other company officials of gaming sites got arrested on U.S. soil, but those arrests were not due to having a poker presence in the U.S.. And, on top of that, the U.S. government did not make poker playing on the Internet illegal; that has yet to be determined and has not gone to any court. What the government did was make it more difficult for U.S. players to transfer funds to Internet gaming sites. Banks and credit cards have been warned not to do business with such sites, though what the penalties might be has also not been determined. Nonetheless, banks that have any U.S. presence have caved in and do not allow their members to make such transfers. However, most banks and credit card companies had already had such policies in place, and players were using Internet money transfer services. Now some of those online services have denied such transfers, but companies that are based outside the U.S. are leaping in to get that business. I think we’ll just see a change in how online funding is done. Those companies that are still offering their games to U.S. citizens are also letting players know how to transfer money.”

“But what about the sites themselves?” she wondered.

Don’t underestimate

“Now that,” I commented, “is interesting. The former top site has plenty of business outside of the U.S. But the site has had to cancel many of its guaranteed prize pool tournaments, because those prize pools were bolstered mainly by the participation of American players. The Nos. 2 and 3 sites in the field are poised to move up one position by dint of their adopting a wait-and-see attitude. And I predict that by the end of the nine-month period from the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act before final decisions are made, a lawsuit will be decided that determines that online poker is not illegal or else the sites will have figured out some way for players to access the games safely and legally. Don’t underestimate entrepreneurship. This is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, and it’s not going to just go away.”

“Yah,” she nodded, “that makes sense. But in the meantime, what I’ve been noticing is more action in the cardroom.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “I have too. And I think in the short run some players who are worried about playing on the Internet will instead come in to cardrooms and we’ll see increased business. Also, some of those who might not otherwise have tried live play will discover that it’s a lot of fun, and what they’ve been missing by playing online is the interaction with living, breathing human beings. But, at the same time, the fewer sites will have added business, and those games will be better, too. So it looks like everyone wins all around.”

“Well,” Aunt Sophie concluded, “not everyone. Everybody can’t win, or it wouldn’t be poker, which you always tell me is a zero-sum game.”

Note: The entry above is the final one in Michael Wiesenberg’s “Aunt Sophie” series.

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