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The Kentucky Derby: A Day of Reflection for US Online Poker Players

Later today, the “greatest two minutes in sports” will be taking place: the Kentucky Derby. If Black Friday left many of us online poker players feeling disenfranchised, then today should leave us feeling outraged. UIGEA, the piece of legislation that allowed Black Friday to happen, leaves the status of online poker ambiguous (Bill Rini wrote an excellent blog post on this). Yet, UIGEA leaves clear exemptions for horse racing and fantasy sports. One of the consequences of this is that horse racing fans can bet on today’s big race at without any worries. Meanwhile, online poker players are stuck on Merge, Cake, and Bodog – not knowing whether those sites will eventually suffer the same fate as PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UB/AP.

I’ve been ranting a lot recently about how our (US) legislators don’t have our best interests in mind. When legislators act as puppets for lobbyists with big pockets, the free market dies, and a small handful of powerful people grow more powerful – forcing everybody else to work harder for the increasingly fleeting American Dream. Don’t misinterpret this for being a spoiled rant. I acknowledge that US citizens enjoy many privileges that people from some other countries don’t. However, doing things “better than some” isn’t the same as “doing things as perfectly as possible.” And though the few with deep pockets would love to keep us brainwashed, the bottom line is that if US Congressmen continue to be puppets for special interest groups, it’ll become increasingly difficult to realize our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (note that I use Congressmen to refer to Senators and Representatives since both are members of Congress)

In UIGEA, Senators Leach and Kyl specifically included exemptions for gambling activities that most people don’t equate to gambling – things like trading stocks, trading commodities, derivatives, and purchasing insurance. By the mere inclusion of these exceptions, Senators Leach and Kyl demonstrate that they have a much more educated view of gambling than most would given them credit for. Respecting one’s enemies is important, and I respect Senators Leach and Kyl for recognizing those types of things as gambling.

By recognizing things like trading, investing, and insurance as forms of gambling, by providing special provisions for activities like horse racing and fantasy sports, and by declaring all other forms of gambling to be illegal or (at best) ambiguously legal, Senators Leach and Kyl crafted legislation to manipulate the gambling market – under the guise of protecting the supposed moral fabric or our country and protecting citizens from a force as strong as crack cocaine. Senators Leach and Kyl crafted legislation that favors some companies while leaving others without a way to enter the supposed free market that the US stands for.

For me, the Kentucky Derby is a day to reflect on how broken the legislative branch of US government has become. Members of US Congress are puppets for hire and have become too powerful in their ability to help special interest groups and to push personal moral agendas. Please join me in figuring out how to restore proper checks and balances to US government.

May Your EV Always Be Positive!

Tony Guerrera


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Tony Guerrera is an established poker author, an instructor at PocketFives Training, a member of Team Moshman, and host of the popular poker strategy podcast, Killer Poker Analysis. Tony blogs about decision optimization on and off the felt at


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