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    Congressman Frank Wolf’s Online Poker Letter Full of Inaccuracies

    Posted by Coffee January 14, 2014

    Yesterday, Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia dispatched a letter to his colleagues in Congress to warn them of the dangers of online gambling.  In the letter, Rep. Wolf cites an FBI report linking terrorism to online poker, and urges his fellow members to vote against any expansion of online gambling.

    QuadJacks received a copy of this letter, and it is our belief that literally every point made in it is wrong. You can read it for yourself here: Frank Wolf Anti-Online Poker Letter.

    One of my favorite maxims states that “good intentions pave the road to hell.” One of the reasons that so many Congressional programs go badly is because the entire organization is comprised of people with good intentions. It seems likely that Congressman Wolf’s letter has been delivered in this vein.

    According to the letter, the Yahoo! article it quotes, and the website the article cites, Al-Qaeda terrorists can develop networks of poker players which will collude and cheat in order to launder money through online sites. This assertion belies the reasoning and definitions of both the terms “money laundering” and “collusion.” So…a quick lesson:

    Money laundering occurs when a criminal organization would like to exchange money or items that could be easily traced back to past criminal activities into new currencies which do not carry any such history. One of the most typical ways to do so is to take large quantities of cash to a casino, exchange them for chips, play for an hour, then cash out, because the money the cashier gives will be “clean,” i.e. no longer connected to the crime.

    Collusion at a poker table occurs when two or more players conspire to defraud a third player (or several) via various strategies that allow the colluders to overinflate their pot sizes. The most common tactic is the whipsaw, in which two colluders trap an unsuspecting mark between them and continue raising him. This tactic works best when one team member signals the other that he possesses a strong hand that will likely win at showdown.

    The mechanism described in these three inaccurate documents could instead be more accurately described as chip dumping, where one player intentionally loses his money to another. However, even though the background research describes a complex dumping scheme, the truth of the matter is that a) chip dumping in cash games is silly, because it doesn’t drag along any extra funds (since most people fold to raises), b) chip dumping in tournaments usually doesn’t work until the later rounds, which are never guaranteed, and c) chip dumping is easily tracked and discovered simply by following the money.

    This is especially true online, where nothing is truly untraceable. The so-called experts in the study overlook the fact that bread crumbs and footprints are so traceable in the internet that numerous career advice columns advise applicants to closely monitor and sanitize their personal Facebook and Twitter feeds. The only money that would be extracted from the stated schemes in the letter would be money Al-Qaeda already possessed, rather than some siphon from the American people.

    Congressman Wolf then concludes the letter with standard boilerplate about the deleterious effects gambling has on families, presumably because most politicians would asphyxiate if they didn’t mention the family in any speech or publication. Gambling addiction destroys families, causes suicides, creates massive puppy sacrifices – the usual stuff.

    Here’s the big problem: either poker is a game of chance or it isn’t. The game and mechanism he describes in the first part indicate a skill game. The second part indicates a chance game. These two concepts are mutually exclusive.

    Rep. Wolf desperately wants online gambling to be a facet of terrorism. However, he’s undone by his desire for online gambling to also be addictive and sinful. If it is so terrible, wouldn’t we want terrorists to play? Wouldn’t it be better if they played, got addicted, and then began experiencing “bankruptcy, suicides, corruption and the breakup of families?”

    Mr. Wolf no doubt has good intentions. Few would argue that supporting terrorism is a good thing. However, the toughest part of freedom is remaining committed to it when it challenges your beliefs. Restriction only grants the terrorists more power. Also, I don’t believe that many copies of Super/System are floating around terrorist camps.

    One last thing: I mentioned in a previous column that we have no friends in government. I can admit when I am wrong. The following people are some that are likely to support online poker legislation. They are also up in key midterm elections this year. Please try to support them if you are in their districts:

    Chris Collins (R-NY-27)

    Joe Garcia (D-FL-26)

    Dan Maffei (D-NY-24)

    Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1)

    Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9)

    Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15)

    Nick Rahall (D-WV-03)

    Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-01)

    Ron Barber (D-AZ-02)

    Ami Bera (D-CA-07)

    Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36)

    Scott Peters (D-CA-52)

    Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18)

    There are 2 Comments

    1. gary s williges
      - January 16, 2014

      none of information adds up to being correct !

    2. Pingback Draft Bill Being Written to Strengthen the Wire Act and Ban Online Poker

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