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The Puritan and the cowboy in one. The combination represents a tempering balance of dualities: steadiness and adventure, calculation and risk, skill and chance, caution and greed, the cool reality of numbers interacting with the warm reality of luck — getting hot or not. That is the recipe that makes poker a great American invention.

An invention, like jazz, with pre-American roots. McManus has the credentials to write with authority about another quality of poker: the dreamlike and in a way democratic fact that an intelligent, persistent and lucky amateur can rise and thrive among the professionals. In , McManus, a writer of poetry and fiction, was covering poker-related stories in Las Vegas.

That sentence might be scattered with italics and exclamation marks. He came in fifth overall and won, as we say in the poetry game, a lot of dough. Nothing of the kind will ever happen in chess or baseball, and to say that does not diminish poker. This time around, instead of the poker-related murder trial that frames his earlier book, and his personal adventure, McManus undertakes the story of the game itself, as his subtitle promises. Aggression is at the heart of the game, which has a rich history of violence.

The violence follows naturally enough from the pioneer nature of the game. View all New York Times newsletters. Cheating matters, and in some times and places it has been central. There really were riverboat gamblers and they really did play some nasty and ingenious tricks. Green claimed that every manufactured deck was marked, asking volunteers from the audience to present a deck purchased at any local shop. He broke the seal and, inspecting the backs, he correctly declared the suit and number of every card before turning them over.

It emerged that he was using a tiny mirror at the edge of his stage table to read the undersides. Other cultural and historical strands McManus covers include game theory, online poker and the friendly game among local regulars, played for harmless stakes. The televised tournaments created stars and sold many copies of many books, how-to and anecdotal.

Computer programs designed to improve skills have sold well, too. I sigh with nostalgia. McManus writes with verve and knowledge, though his book is a little sprawling. Few readers will wish it were longer. The thoughts on poker terms and principles in global politics, and on the application of game theory to fields like cancer research, are interesting, although McManus does sometimes exaggerate or stretch a point. At the same time, online poker training sites were proliferating and poker analysis software was becoming increasingly more complex and more popular, creating a parallel threat to the health of online poker by exacerbating the skill gap between the regular players and the recreational and casual players.

But we mark the formal end of the era at the point when Nevada issued its first interactive gaming license in June of , accepting that there is a great deal of overlap between the two eras.

The risk society

The Black Friday Era for American online poker players was one with precious little silver lining. During this era, it became increasingly difficult for players to deposit and cash out. Traffic dropped across the board, causing an industry consolidation that saw multiple rooms and skins close their doors to players — often without allowing players to cash out their balances first. And what games did remain became increasingly tough to profit from, as payment processing hurdles dissuaded the recreational players from signing up and making badly-needed deposits.

The History of Poker

You could legitimately place the start of this era in American online poker at a few different points, but we chose the date on which Nevada issued its first interactive gaming license: June 21st, We chose this date as opposed to, say, the date Nevada passed the law to regulate online poker for a few reasons.

First, it has a nice symbolic quality. Second, it marks a point at which many — but not all — of the loose ends of Black Friday had been tied up or are in the process of being tied up. While the number of states that have actually passed regulation into law remains relatively small, the concept of nationwide regulated online poker or something close to it becomes far more plausible than at any point during the Black Friday Era.

But while there are reasons for optimism during the Regulated Era, there are also plenty of reasons for American online poker players to be concerned — concerned about their bankrolls at unregulated sites, where cashing out is becoming almost impossible at some sites; concerned about the future of the games at unregulated sites, which are closing at an even greater rate than we saw during the Black Friday Era; and concerned about the timeline for the return of a viable American online poker industry.

Online poker in America appears to be on a slow but set path to regulation. There are a number of potential milestones along that path that will mark significant advancements for regulated online poker in the United States. As of now, only three states in the U. But a greater number still have shown little or no interest in regulating online poker. While it seems that there will be a majority of states offering regulated online poker at some point in the future, it also seems as if the path to that point will be an extended — and, for poker players, a potentially very frustrating — one.

Once more states and tribes are participating in regulated American online poker, the next step will be the evolution of the agreements that allow those operators to share player pools across state lines. While such agreements may seem like simple affairs at first glance, a deeper look at the situation suggests that establishing internet poker compacts between states will be a complex and extended process.

Nevada and Delaware did pool their online poker players in a landmark liquidity agreement signed in February The Multi-State Poker Network official launched on March 25, , as players in the two states finally shared the same virtual poker tables and prize pools. Similarly, Nevada and New Jersey have discussed the same possibilities consistently, but the part of the New Jersey law that requires servers be located in Atlantic City has created a rift. Lawmakers are working to change that law, however, so online poker liquidity can grow and eventually include states like Pennsylvania that are in the process of legalizing and regulating online poker.

Tribal compacts are more complicated, however.

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The years of online poker efforts in California — still to no avail — are proof that the plethora of disagreements between Native American tribes, non-tribal casinos, and online poker operators are complex and many times lead to stalemates. Efforts to legalize online poker in Michigan is experiencing the same complications as they work to bridge differences between all of the special interests and tribal nations who want to participate in the new industry on equal footing.

One of the most exciting events on the horizon for US online poker players is the inevitable combination of live and online poker. New Jersey lawmakers and regulators have been in discussions with the UK Gaming Commission to discuss details and possibilities, but there has yet to be an agreement to make that international online poker liquidity a reality. This development could come earlier than expected, especially if the process of state-by-state regulation continues to drag on.

New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware are keenly aware of this need and hope to make changes in the system that allows international poker liquidity to happen in the coming years. US Senator Lindsey Graham had been pushing for any type of legislation or Department of Justice ruling that would overturn the decision regarding the Wire Act.

During the confirmation hearings of now-former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Graham asked Sessions about the Wire Act decision and was assured that the issue would be addressed, though Sessions ultimately had to recuse himself from anything related to Sheldon Adelson — which the DOJ opinion would be — due to close ties to the casino mogul. But when Trump fired Sessions in late , Graham saw another chance to influence another nominee for the position.


The History of Poker – Game Releases

Graham admitted that one of his questions for a nominee will relate to the DOJ decision. This new opinion reportedly solidifies that the Wire Act applies to all forms of gambling, not just sports betting.

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  • As of December 30, however, the opinion had not been made official. Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides.

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