Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Selfish Perspective

There's been plenty written elsewhere on the fall out from the UIGEA, and obviously many of my American friends are going to find themselves increasingly restricted in their freedom to play poker, as the sanctions bite deeper.

Losing Neteller is clearly a huge blow.

That said, from a selfish perspective I'm not entirely convinced it will have a detrimental effect on my game. Recently I've been playing earlier in the evening and there seem to be ample supplies of European donks at the tables.

Indeed the geographic reach seems to be moving east with more Poles, Russians, and Israelis appearing to supplement the Irish, British, Scandinavians, and other Western Europeans.

So, the loss of US fish maybe isn't such a crushing blow. What's interesting to me is whether the new entrants will bring a similar proportion of good players to bad, or whether there will be a period where there is a higher proportion of newbies, and fewer good players.

Clearly there were a large number of US players playing a serious amateur, or semi-pro type game, who are now unable to access all the sites I can.

It's a question of whether there are now proportionately less sharks than fish in the pool I swim in. At the moment I have no clear opinion either way on this, but it's a point worth considering.

Something else I'll be interested in is just how far the UK government goes in meeting US demands for information. The international financial services market is ultra competitive and London guards it's position jealously.

The UK government has been keen to bolster London by marketing it as a financial centre for online gaming companies, due to their anticipated growth rates.

So, how will Gordon Brown - current Chancellor, and Prime Minister in waiting - react to the howls of protest from the mega institutions who have been hit with DOJ subpoenas?

He will realise there must come a point where many of these companies will choose to up sticks and head for more accommodating regimes, be they in Germany, Switzerland, or the Far East.

The US is developing quite a reputation recently for trying to impose their will on other financial markets, without providing reciprocal arrangements.

I'm sure the likes of Peter Birks will cover this in greater, and more knowledgeable, detail than me, but the thought does occur a lot of nations, and mega corps, must be getting to the point where, in the immortal words of Father Jack, they tell the DOJ to 'Feck off'.

Writing anything about the US at present is a fraught subject, since it's easy to be tarred with the anti-American label.

I like America. I've only been twice, but I had a great time on both visits. I liked the people, the cities, the attitude.

What puzzles me, and many other Europeans, is that such a powerful nation chose to elect such a fundamentally flawed regime.

At a time when the draft dodging, coke snorting, drink driving, company wrecking, chimp impersonating, miserable excuse of a president is sending yet more troops out to die in a pointless and unwinnable war for democracy - whilst simultaneously driving a coach and horses through the US Constitution - the economy is faltering, the currency declining, and the new economic powers of the Far East steadily buying up American assets, one might imagine politicians had bigger fish to fry than online poker.

Because let's be serious. Online poker is a big thing to those who play it, but in the grand scheme of things it pales into insignificance beside rigging elections, and possibly sentencing people to death on the basis of coercive evidence and hearsay!

So while we might all hope that the City of London, the WTO, and the UK and other governments finally grow sick of the current shenanigans in the online poker world, ultimately they are a small part of a much bigger picture.

One which only the American electorate can restore to something approaching normality.

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