Black Friday Reprise

One of my favorite political writers, Matt Taibbi, once said, “You don’t elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal.”

Taibbi, author of The Great Derangement, accurately described how Big Business co-opted politics in America. We used to live in a country where elected officials fought for the rights of the people, but these days, corporations are dictating public policy at the people’s expense.

Black Friday more than put a wrinkle into the lives of American poker players — it decimated the entire online poker landscape. Approximately one year ago on April 15, 2011, Americans discovered that we could no longer play on our favorite online poker sites after the Department of Justice pulled the plug on PokerStars and Full Tilt. Just the day before on April 14, Americans went about their lives with the ease and comfort of knowing their bankrolls were safe in a virtual bank account somewhere overseas. America is a country built on the freedom to make personal choices, so it’s up to us to come to the decision to gamble or not to gamble. Those rights are protected under the Constitution of the United States. The founding fathers went out of their way to specifically note that all citizens were born with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Online poker exuded all three of those attributes.

Online poker was also a short-term escape from the harsh realities of the world, specifically the downfall of the American Empire. Our politicians are owned by shadowy cabal of reckless international bankers (aka the Banksters), none of whom shed a single tear about your dwindling personal freedom to engage in any sort of activity (gambling or otherwise) on the Internet. If you haven’t been paying attention to bills like SOPA or the NDAA, then please get off your ass and do some research because politicians are trying to destroy the openness of the Internet.

Remember that scene from The Godfather, when the ailing Don handed over the reins of the family business to his son, Michael Corleone?

“You are like me,” Don Corleone said. “We refuse to be fools, to be puppets dancing on a string pulled by other men.”

I’m perplexed why some things in America are considered a crime (online poker) and other things are permitted (gambling on mortgage-backed derivatives). Then again, we live in a rigged political system that is rotten to the core. Corruption is the grease that keeps the wheels of Big Business turning. Corruption is what rebalances the scales of justice. On both sides of the equation, corruption is at the heart of why we’ve lived with a year of online poker prohibition.

I’m still trying to pinpoint the real culprits behind online poker prohibition in America. A year ago, I pointed fingers at the Banksters as the main culprits in conjunction with the faux-moralists on the religious right who pushed forth the UIGEA by tacking it onto the Port Security Act. Sure, we have the names of the politicians leading the witch hunt, but like Don Corleone explained, someone else is tugging at those puppet strings.

Who? Why? What is so terrifying about online poker?

Isn’t it absurd to think that the power base is threatened by a bunch of stoners, sitting around in their underwear playing PLO? You might be wondering how that simple act of participating in online poker is threat to the Establishment, but look at it this way — poker players are rebellious in nature and free thinkers. Many of us would not have taken the leap into the virtual waters of online poker unless we were strong-willed, determined, and looking for an alternative way to live our lives and find happiness, instead of the staying on the path (college > job > marriage > mortgage > kids > college fund > retirement) that had been beaten into our heads since birth. We’ve been conditioned to conform since the moment we popped out of our mother’s womb. We’ve been corralled into institutions like cattle, stripped of any semblance of individuality, brainwashed into living a life that we think is what we’re supposed to do — obey, consume, reproduce — all of this without questioning authority and expressing an independent thought. The moment we stray from the path, we’re ostracized and marginalized. And those who do stay on the path are thrust into a fabricated world where the entire point of existence is to be an obedient cubicle slave in order to generate profits for our corporate overlords, to generate tax income for the state, to create income to banks in the form of generating debt (credit cards, car loans, school loans, mortgages), to buy stuff we don’t need to generate bigger profits for Big Business, and to breed children so another generation of consumers will continue this maddening cycle.

I was drawn to poker because of its anarchist nature, but it since has been bastardized both economically and politically. Do you want me to scare the shit out of you? Many forces rallying against online poker are convinced poker sites (and other online gambling sites) launder money for terrorist organizations. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed by President Obama on January 1, 2012, which allows American citizens to be scooped up by the military and detained indefinitely as an enemy combatant if we’re suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.

Under the NDAA, the government can demonize online poker players simply by labeling them “enemy combatants.” You thought not being able to play in the Sunday Million sucked? Just wait until the military shows up at your front door, bags a black hood over your head, then whisks you away to Gitmo or some other secret prison, where you’re forced to do the naked pyramid with other Jihadists.

What the hell has this country come to? Poker is just a game. And Texas Hold’em is the most all-American card game ever invented. The Cadillac of Poker seems innocuous, but it’s now as dangerous as an armed tank driven by members of al-Qaeda.

“Texas Hold’em takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master,” according to Mike Sexton, the ubiquitous ambassador to poker. Unfortunately, with the NDAA already in place, Sexton’s name could theoretically now pop up on the FBI’s Terror Watch List along with Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah and Husayn Muhammad al-Umari.

Any way you look at it, unsuspecting Americans were squeezed by the government and we all got caught up in this shakedown when the UIGEA passed in 2006. Our last hope is to sway politicians to alter the laws, just like Matt Taibbi said in his famous quote.

Sadly, all the letters and emails in the world won’t change the minds of our elected officials. The poker industry dusted off millions in a futile attempt to lobby Congress, yet those we trust to get the job done drop the ball time and time again. We must think outside the box to solve the problem. We’re going to have to resort to drastic measures in order to fire up online poker sites again. It will take a shitload of cash and gold to persuade the immoral muppets in Washington, D.C., to end online poker prohibition on the federal level. If bribes don’t work, then our community might have to use a tactic straight out of the Godfather’s playbook. All it takes is just one severed, bloody horse’s head in the right politician’s bed to shape policy in our favor. Then and only then will Americans get a chance to exercise our freedom to play online poker.  

April 2012