Why I continued to play at the Venetian poker room this week in spite of the boycott
Six months ago, I made the move from Connecticut to Las Vegas. I’m from the online world, and I was doing well until Black Friday. (More about my story here.) For a year and a half I was making good money playing live games at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, but soon I figured out that I needed to be closer to more live action and so I moved to Las Vegas.
I’ve been playing live poker professionally ever since. Poker is how I get the entirety of my income. It isn’t a hobby for me, and it isn’t something I can interrupt easily. It’s what I depend on to support myself.
My poker room of choice is the Venetian poker room. I think it’s by far the best in Las Vegas, and I’ve played pretty much everywhere else. It’s the nicest room and the most comfortable room. The staff is nice. The floor is cooperative and usually on point. When you play live poker as much as I do, that type of thing matters a lot. Above all, the games are good at Venetian.
I did not participate in the boycott of the Venetian poker room this week. I played poker at the Venetian as I typically would, as did practically everyone else I know who is a serious poker player there. I don’t think any of us did any harm to the poker community by continuing to do our job.
Yes, I’m aware of Sheldon Adelson’s comments regarding online gambling, about how he doesn’t think it should be legal and that poker is not a skill game, and they don’t budge me one bit. Obviously I know he’s wrong, but what am I supposed to do about a 79-year-old man being out of touch with today’s poker world?
As for the power he supposedly would have in stopping the legalization of online gambling, I think it’s being hugely overrated. I don’t think Sheldon Adelson is going to single-handedly stop the progress being made by numerous other interests. Yes, he’s powerful, but so is the totality of all the other gaming companies, such as Caesars, who are lobbying for something to get done. Maybe Adelson can stall things a little at the federal level, but it would be nice if we ever got a bill that was even close to passable in the first place.
If online poker doesn’t come back to America, it’s not going to be because of Sheldon Adelson, nor will it be because not enough people took part in a boycott or in some other demonstration meant to “create awareness.” To be clear, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Nolan Dalla and what he’s trying to do. I think his heart is definitely in the right place – but this boycott wasn’t. As turned out to be case, this boycott had basically no impact on the Venetian poker room, let alone Las Vegas Sands or Adelson’s position. Me boycotting the Venetian wouldn’t have hurt Adelson’s bottom line. However, it would have definitely hurt my own.
As I said, poker is a job for me, and it’s something that I have to take very seriously. EV is my paycheck, and when you’ve settled into a certain routine, interrupting it can definitely hurt your EV. Yes, I could go play at Bellagio or Aria, but I don’t want to. There’s a reason I play at Venetian, and it’s because it’s not the Bellagio, where the tables are all cramped together, the room is uncomfortable and the floor acts like you owe them something for something as simple as a table change.
In the end, I think that the best course of action in response to things that may threaten the future of poker is to play more poker, not less of it. That’s why I’m hopeful about the return of online poker in certain states and the introduction of new online poker rooms, even if they have to rely on a smaller intrastate pools for the time being. We already have Ultimate Poker, and soon we’ll have WSOP.com and others. It’s also spreading to other states beyond Nevada. Sheldon Adelson’s comments aren’t the end of the world. The best thing that the poker community can do to support and help advance online poker in this country, in my opinion, is to remain patient, positive and optimistic.
QuadJacks – July 26, 2013