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Views: 1433
Date Posted: May. 26, 3:01am, 1 Comment

Most people who don't own or run a business assume they are run in similar fashion. Even with some additional education, you are taught that a typical retail business involve goods being purchased from a vendor, "keystone it" (i.e doubling the price of purchase) and sell it within a reasonable period that often can be accelerated through special sales or incentives. That formula works if all the conditions are right; that there is an ease and reliability of purchasing, that there is little risk to your business and that you have sufficient turnover. But the reality is many businesses have to deviate from that model due to one or more of those conditions not existing.

I'll use the example of an art gallery because I owned one for twelve years before I entered the poker world. The typical gallery markets consigned artwork (i.e they don't own it/invest in it), receiving 25%-50% of the sale price. They can afford to receive a smaller percentage than typical retail because they run no risk related to the inventory. They must market, display it, and sell effectively, but if a show doesn't do well one month the art is returned to the artist and they start anew with a fresh inventory of art the next month.

My gallery deviated greatly from the standard gallery business model. The artwork mostly came from Zimbabwe, a troubled country half-way around the world. Considerable time, effort, and expense was involved in procuring the artwork directly from the artists throughout Zimbabwe and arranging its delivery back to the gallery. Without going into too much detail, I will say that doing any business in Zimbabwe is an extremely challenging affair. It wasn't feasible to consign the work as the cost to return the work was too great, so I purchased most of the art months in advance of it arriving at the gallery.

The unique dynamic of my gallery meant I had significant capital tied up in the art for long periods of time.  Without a monthly "must sell or it's gone" dynamic that most galleries artificially create, the permanent exhibition model can lead to a slower sales environment. As a result of these factors, it was necessary to have much larger margins on the artwork to cover all the additional costs and risks when it eventually sold. Unfortunately, this often created a tension with new customers. They would naturally assume we operated like other galleries, so it was necessary to simplify and explain the specific circumstances of our gallery. Much like in poker where the unknowing will come in with preconceived notions and blindly ask "but how much did you lose?" in the gallery it was "how much does the artist get?" For the dozen years that I ran the gallery, overcoming their pre-conceived notions never dissipated. So when conditions continued to worsen in Zimbabwe and the U.S. economy was slow to recover, I realized it was time to move on.

Relating this business discussion to the online poker world, we have learned in the nearly six weeks since Black Friday that U.S.-facing online poker rooms didn't operate as we imagined they did. Much as the customer walking in blindly to my gallery would, we assumed that PokerStars and Full Tilt were operating lawfully as they might in a regulated and legislated environment. They weren't. With the significant UIGEA obstacles in place, they faced challenging dynamics to the more traditional poker room business model that led them to consider non-traditional and as we are learning now some illegal methods to manage aspects of their business.

In a licensed and regulated market with a limited and controlled environment of competitors, you can map out your business with many of your variables already considered. In the unregulated and post-UIGEA environment U.S.-facing poker rooms didn't have that luxury. In order to maintain and grow their business while giving the appearance of smooth and efficient operations, they were making some questionable decisions. 

I unknowingly encountered this at PokerCurious several months ago. I used to host four weekly freerolls for members on Full Tilt Poker. I would fund the freeroll prizepools from my Full Tilt account. Every few weeks I would transfer funds to that account via electronic deposits from my PokerCurious bank account. Each time I deposited via the Full Tilt Cashier, the money was instantly credited and available. But we know it takes time for the money to actually be taken out of your bank account and arrive at Full Tilt. Somewhere along the line, Full Tilt decided to start fronting the money to players temporarily and assume the risk and float until player funds arrived to them.

Then some time after that I noticed that the bank account balance was larger than expected at the end of the month. I didn't dig very hard to discover why, because my Full Tilt deposits had been working smoothly for many months and who doesn't like a larger than expected balance. It turned out that I had stumbled onto the next decision that Full Tilt had made. Sometimes they weren't able to access the money that players tried to deposit via the various Cashier methods. Instead of making a fuss or reversing your balance, they absorbed it as a new cost of doing business. 

That decision was finally made public and clear in a paragraph within the recently released Franzen guilty plea agreement and DOJ press release:

"FRANZEN admitted that in early 2011 he had been asked to help Full Tilt Poker deal with a $60 million shortfall created by the company’s inability to find a payment processor to process transactions involving U.S. player accounts. The company was facing the shortfall because it continued to credit funds to player accounts despite being unable to actually debit (or "pull") funds from customers."

Not only was Full Tilt instantly crediting as yet unreceived funds from depositing players, but they chose to allow those credits to stand even when they were unable to actually collect the money from the player's banks due to their difficulty in processing deposits in the post-UIGEA environment.

At this point, we don't know how long Full Tilt was crediting accounts to the tune of $60 million in unreceived player funds, but that is a huge additional and unexpected cost of business they absorbed as they tried to maintain the facade of a smoothly operating depositing, playing and withdrawing poker environment.

Additionally, Full Tilt and PokerStars received considerable and justifiable scorn for choosing to miscode transactions. Irrespective of its illegality, it seemed like an unnecessary money grab to avoid the roughly 7% transaction fee and slower processing compared to the swift roughly 2% transaction fee if they miscoded the transaction.

Their alleged decision to purchase a bank, launder money, pay off bank officials, and commit bank fraud were clearly the actions of a desperate business. Their decision to co-mingle player and operating funds, which were seized by the DOJ on Black Friday leading to the extensive and ongoing delayed return of player funds back, was in retrospect highly suspect.

While I am not excusing Full Tilt in any of their decisions, my experience in having worked in a challenging and unregulated economic environment is that it introduces many tough decisions. There was no guidelines or set formula for how to run my gallery. It had never existed in the Portland before, with only a few in the entire country. No one could tell me how to manage it or how to buy or sell the art. I learned by doing, attempting to employ reasoned and ethical decisions along the way. But those decisions can always be seen from different perspectives that might see it otherwise.

In the end analysis, Full Tilt's questionable business decisions make a strong argument for creating a licensed and regulated U.S. online environment where all poker rooms can operate on a level and legal playing field as soon as possible. When businesses conditions are unclear with many uncertain variables, negative human-nature elements such as greed will prominently creep into the equation. I believe if Full Tilt had been operating in a legislated and regulated U.S. environment, none of these questionable decisions would likely have occurred.

Views: 992
Date Posted: May. 23, 8:01pm, 0 Comments

In the wake of the Black Friday indictments, we've heard several poker rooms indicate that they are closing off access to new American players. On Monday, Hero Poker became the latest poker room to announce it, while adding in similar fashion to the other poker rooms that they will continue to serve existing U.S. players. What they seem to be evoking is that these earlier players are essentially "grandfathered in." Although I'm not a lawyer, this has never made any sense to me. Either it's legal and prudent to serve American players or it's not. How are long standing players any different than new sign ups? Either you shun all U.S. players or you take your chances much as the Merge network has and serve everyone.

The legal concept and history of being "grandfathered in" has a uniquely American angle. According to Wikipedia, it originated in the 1890's as the Southern United States tried to prevent blacks, Mexican Americans and certain whites from voting by making voter registration available to those who had eligible grandfathers. The original grandfather clauses were eventually ruled unconstitutional. Despite the pejorative and manipulative origins the "grandfathered in" concept grew in popularity as a vehicle to create a cutoff date for new action to be implemented which allowed those prior adherents access but denied all future participants. There are many state and federal law implementations (e.g.  weapons ban, drinking age, interstate highway act, FCC laws etc.) that have utilized a "grandfathered in" date into their legislation.

In the sports world, there are many instances of grandfathered new regulations:

1. In 2004, the NFL outlawed the one-bar facemask but allowed existing users to continue to wear them.
2. In 2006, NASCAR passed a rule that required teams to field no more than four cars. Since Roush Racing had five cars, they could continue to field five cars until the end of 2009.
3. The National Hot Rod Association is enforcing a grandfather clause banning energy drink sponsors from entering the sport if they were not sponsoring cars as of April 24, 2008, pursuant to the five-year extension of its sponsorship with Coca-Cola, which is changing the title sponsorship from Powerade to Full Throttle Energy Drink.
4. Major League Baseball rule 1.16 requires players who were not in the major leagues before 1983 to wear a batting helmet with at least one earflap. The last player to wear a flapless helmet was the Florida Marlins' Tim Raines in 2002 (career began in 1979).

It is natural in all areas of business that long standing customers of a service request or demand that they get "grandfathered in" to a certain pricing or service packages out of loyalty when the terms changed. I recall it happening on multiple occasions when monthly charges rose at CardRunners.

I don't understand why U.S. facing poker rooms are utilizing a similar approach to treat long standing poker players differently than new sign ups due to increasing pressure from the U.S. authorities, I think it's a faulty approach that won't bear fruit. Sure the poker rooms don't want to lose loyal long standing customers, but the hope that by creating an arbitrary cutoff date and shutting out all future U.S. players will mitigate their legal exposure is a faulty one in my opinion.

Whereas there was significant speculation that U.S. authorities were only targeting the largest poker rooms, today's Maryland indictments of U.S. facing sportsbooks and poker rooms on the much smaller Yatahay network indicates that no one is free from investigation.

The "grandfathered in" concept may be popular and have considerable history in the U.S., but I don't feel it is applicable in any way nor make any sense for the remaining U.S. facing poker rooms.


Views: 933
Date Posted: May. 20, 1:20pm, 0 Comments

Part two of my "WSOP Memories" blog

7. Media credentials (2007, 2009, 2010) Having access behind the ropes is a feeling of freedom and privilege from the average spectator. You can wander almost anywhere, keeping in mind that the ESPN cameras and PokerNews reporting crew always have the right of way.  Until rule changes going into effect this year, you could talk to the players at the table to gauge how the tournament was going or how their chip stacks were faring.

Working media credentials also usually entails working tremendously long hours. As the tournaments start at noon, I would likely arrive a little after 11 am and be there till play ended after midnight. The two main poker rooms are massive with hundreds of tables to navigate between and then hustle back to your station at the media center or media corners to report or blog. In previous years, the media room received catered food, nowadays media can receive a $10 meal voucher each day and the occasional beef jerky. The timing for the media only tournament has only allowed me to play in one over the years, which I found to have a poor structure that made it a donkfest, so I don't feel I've missed much there.

8. Sports betting and Craps (2009) Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not a gambler at heart. I don't sports bet or play pit games. But to take in Las Vegas, you have to have an open mind to allow yourself to reasonably deviate from your normal disciplined patterns. In 2009, I had the occasion to have a professional sports bettor show me the ins and outs of sports betting at the Green Valley Ranch. I happened to win 3 of 4 picks he spotted me for (beginners luck obviously) making him money while drinking mimosas like they were going out of style.

Later that trip, my CR buddy Jeff218 showed me the finer points of Craps, degening up the evening at Gold Coast, taking a late night beer-infused bowling break and then back to Craps before he flew out the next morning with no sleep.

9. Celebrity-filled charity events (2006-2010) My first poker charity event was an exclusive affair at Caesars called the Wounded Warrior Charity tourney. It was hosted by Cowboy Kenna James and included Roland De Wolf, David Benyamine, Erica Schoenberg, Mel Judda, and many others playing alongside Taylor Caby.

Over the years Ante Up For Africa, the charity promoted by Annie Duke and Don Cheadle, has become the yearly charity event that brings out stars like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Nelly, Charles Barkley, Brad Garrett, Ray Romano and Jason Alexander. it brings out all the cameras and fans, regardless of the quality of the poker.

10. Final and featured tables (2006-2010) In the corner of the massive Amazon room is a mini-stadium seating venue where most final and featured tables are played while ESPN films.  The black curtain draped area has mini white lights that look like stars in the background and an emcee calling out the action as you watch the screen above the table showing the flop from afar.  The WSOP championship bracelet is displayed in one corner representing the goal of all who play there. It feels like you've left the hustle and bustle of the main poker rooms. Sitting in the audience isn't always that exciting or entertaining due to the slow pacing and limited information, but it gives great insight into the realities of filmed live play versus the highly edited finished ESPN version.

11. Training Site Parties (2006-2010) The three sites, DeucesCracked, LeggoPoker and CardRunners, have hosted multiple parties over the years. They are opportunities for members who come out to Vegas to meet and party with the pros they've studied under at the various training sites. Different versions have been hosted at bowling alleys with pitchers of beer, rented out bars playing beer pong, restaurants and often at one of their pro-rented large homes around Las Vegas.

Here are two experiences that made an impression:

In 2008, I was invited to a July 4th party at a large compound that DeucesCracked was renting. As was typical, a group of DC pros were living there for the series. They pooled their resources on the home, transportation and even a private chef and trainer. I took a cab out to this neighborhood and walked into the walled compound and through the large house to find the party out back. In the massive back yard were dozens of established young poker pros playing volleyball, swimming and playing wiffle ball on the miniaturized golf course that made up a large portion of the yard.

After a while, people filtered inside for a break from the heat. Jay Rosenkrantz sat down at his dining room poker workstation with 30" monitor to see what was going on. At first, a few people were goofing on his classic weed brownie youtube video where they're playing $200/$400 NL and laughing hysterically like little girls.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpTvuLDA1zE

 

Then he decided to fire up some real $200/$400 PLO, a game he was recently learning.  As guests wandered in from outside, many were drawn to Jay's high stakes online match, pulling up chairs behind him to take in the match. Soon the room was filled with a couple dozen poker pros that included three WSOP bracelet winners from that summer (Vanessa Selbst, Scott Siever, and Phil Galfond, there might have been one more too), and at least 10 poker millionaires in their own right each railing his play. As certain crucial hands came up, the crowd would throw out their two cents to Jay, who made his own moves regardless of the input. But it was fascinating to hear all these talented minds share their thoughts on the game, their personal experiences and how they often didn't agree on one ideal course of action. The afternoon party ended when I got a ride back to the Strip with Phil Galfond and Hac Dang.

In 2009, Jay Rosenkrantz invited me out to the mansion where they were filming "2 Months, 2 Million" their G4 poker reality show that starred Jay "Krantz" Rosenkrantz, Dani "Ansky" Stern, Emil "whitelime" Patel and Brian "flawless_victory" Roberts. The large mansion and grounds were fascinating to tour as it seemed to have been built by an eccentric millionaire who had weirdly themed rooms. Honestly, it was pretty trashed looking when we visited but I heard they had a production crew of 15-20 people that "whipped" the mansion into shape before filming each episode.

When not filming, there were people constantly coming and going, hanging out, partying by the pool, trampoline, amongst the grounds, playing poker and assorted games, or feasting on the private chef prepared snacks and meals. I enjoyed seeing the poker war room and visiting the "smash" room where they took out their post playing frustrations. It's too bad G4 didn't renew the show because with some refinements and adjustments I think season 2 could have been more compelling to an even larger audience. There were definitely some amusing and classic poker moments captured in their lone season.

12. Fine Dining, CCR and Friends (2006-2010) A "WSOP Memories" blog wouldn't be complete without recognition of the fine dining with friends. What ultimately makes the World Series of Poker so meaningful to so many poker players is that it brings together many disparate online and live poker players, along with those of us who support or work in the industry. It's the one time of year where almost everyone in the industry is in one frenetic paced place. Las Vegas makes a great venue to host it all.

Some of the best times during the series are spent at one of the many fine restaurants in Las Vegas. While there are too many to go into detail about, here are a few places I recall having shared nice meals with poker friends; Gaylords, Buzios, and the Italian place at the Rio; Craftsteak and the old Yellow Fin at the Bellagio; the Country Club and downstairs fine dining place at the Wynn, Isla Mexican at TI, Tao at the Venetian, Sushi Roku at Caesars Palace, Little Buddha and Simon at the Palms, and Del Friscos off the strip.

Anyone familiar with the poker world and Vegas knows that meals amongst poker players will usually involve card roulette to determine who pays for the bill and your overall meal pain threshold. Run well and you can have many wonderful meals comped. Run bad and you are depleting your bankroll and subsidizing your friend's gluttony. Either way, restaurants, bars and clubs are some of the highlights of where we spend our off-time from playing poker or working the poker scene each summer in Las Vegas.

I look forward to future opportunities to meet, greet, rail and give cheers to old friends and new. I'll be flying in July 5th. Until then, be safe, have fun and make profit.

Views: 396
Date Posted: May. 16, 7:15pm, 0 Comments

With less than two weeks to go before the start of the 2011 World Series of Poker, I thought I would pull out the old "WSOP Memories" blog, reformulated and enhanced to get the juices flowing for this year's series.  My first "WSOP Memories" blog reflecting back on my first WSOP visit in 2006 only got 34 views a couple months into my blogging career. This one is much bigger and will be split up into two parts; the second part will go up later this week.

Here are the first six of twelve categories of memories that I'll share from my various WSOP trips.

1. Online usernames became flesh and blood (2006) As a predominately online poker player and remote-based employee, I had never met any of my employers or the online pros and friends I had cultivated until my first WSOP in 2006. The first gathering was at the now replaced Bamboleo Mexican restaurant at the Rio where I got to meet my bosses at the time, Taylor "GreenPlastic" Caby, and Andrew "Muddywater" Wiggins who at the time was too young to even play in the Main Event, along with early CardRunners adherents Latestlines2, RIKD, Samh133, spudt24, steamboat, Gaucho2121, and a dozen other members and friends. Soon after I met Jsup, Johnnydrama, and Cmitch. Putting a face and real life personality to the two dimensional relationships forged online created a richness and gravity to my my time in poker for the first time.

2. Following the entire WSOP journey (2007) I covered the entire 2007 Main Event, whereas I usually don't stay for the entire event. That year I got to report on and rail Lee Childs, one of the CR members that I was tasked with covering, from the very first moments as he navigated through 6,358 players over 8 playing days over 12 total days to finish 7th for over $705k. I got to know his family and friends along the rail and see Lee journey from unknown to TV final table fame and making a nice score that propelled him to professional poker status. If he had not made his infamous Q's laydown hand to Jerry Yang, he might have made life changing money and fame. Such is tournament poker.

3. CardRunners Memories (2006 and 2007)The first couple years, it was my work for CardRunners that brought me to Vegas. I'll share a couple memories from those trips. One night Ezra and I accompanied a CR member who had won a "party with the pros" promo on the site and was due a private sweat session with Brian Townsend and Taylor Caby. It was very interesting to hear both of these high stakes player's thought processes for the first time; both how they were so advanced and yet different in their approach. We then went down to a late night high end meal and then to Tryst for a dance floor private table night of drinking and dancing. Interestingly enough, several years later I now work for the host of our private table.

The other night was the infamous Saphire CardRunners Bluff party. I don't do the strip club thing so this was different, but they rented out a big room in back with a stage and open bar. It was packed with tons of live and online poker pros enjoying the open bar and entertainment. The CR crew was throwing around "Saphire bucks" and while I avoided it for a while, Brian "Stinger" Hastings bought me a lap dance from some "chica muy caliente" from Mexico City. To compound matters, Brian snapped a shot on his phone with her derriere by my face thus undermining any future political career I might have.

4. WSOP July 4th Parties (2009 and 2010) Everest Poker was the title sponsor for several years and as such they held one of the best parties to celebrate their role.  It was held on the roof top club portion of Pure, at the top of Caesars. There was an open bar with beautiful girls bringing you drinks while you nibbled on the Euro-inspired hors d'oeuvres listening to the live DJ. Then when the fireworks start, they are literally going on over your head with thousands on the ground several floors below you. One year the ash from the fireworks was falling all over us. In 2009, I invited a couple friends along and we danced the night away in the club once the rooftop party ended.

 

5. Access to poker stars (2010) - For the amateur player or fan, one of the greatest aspects of visiting the WSOP is your access to see all the most famous poker players in the game. Unlike most sports where superstars are sheltered from easy public access, at the Rio convention rooms, you can rail, wander the halls or even bump into in the bathrooms with the biggest stars in poker.

"Take seven minutes from my day today. I walked down the long hallway from the Rio, passed through the press room, and wandered into the Amazon room.

World Series Main Event champions I passed:

2007 - Jerry Yang
2006 - Jamie Gold
2005 - Joseph Hachem
2003 - Chris Moneymaker
2000 - Chris Ferguson
1989 - Phil Hellmuth
1977 - Doyle Brunson

The next seven minutes that I wandered the Amazon room I encountered seven more great young players who might join them some day:

Tom Dwan
Annette Obrestad
Jonathan Little
Daniel Kelly
Brian Rast
Vivek Rajkumer

David Benefield

6.
Poker Room Parties (2006-2010) One of the regular fixtures over the years at the WSOP has been the online poker room sponsored parties. These rooms benefited from the online play of many of the players coming to Vegas for the series and they get to promote themselves and give back a little to their players who can mingle with some of their pros.

My first poker room party was in 2006 on the rooftop of the Rio at the Voodoo Lounge for the UB party. Lots of hot girls were hired to work the crowd and Phil Hellmuth held court as the open bar vodka and Redbulls went down smooth and easy.

Another party that year was associated with the Wounded Warrior function held at the private exclusive residential enclave attached to the Rio, where Kenna James, Amir Vahedi, Devilfish Ulliot, Gavin Smith, Brooklyn Dan Pugliese, and Marcel Luske all sang karaoke during the evening.

I recall a couple fun Doylesroom sponsored parties at Blush in the Wynn which were always crowded but fun poker star studded affairs. A PokerStars party at Ghost Bar at the Palms was another interesting event with Negreanu, Boeken and others.

In 2010, Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman held a BBQ and UFC party at his Panorama Towers pool side townhouse. Victory Poker pro in attendance included Antonio Esfandiari, Andrew Robl, Dan Bilzerian, Keith Gibson, Paul Wasicka, David Chicotsky, and Sarah Underwood. In addition to fellow poker industry affiliates, there was a Scandinavian contingent of high stakes pros, including Sami 'LarsLuzak' Keloupro. Other pros in attendance included Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Justin Bonomo, Sorel Mizzi, and Lacey Jones.

Views: 578
Date Posted: May. 4, 12:28am, 2 Comments

Federated Sports and Gaming finally released the list of the first 218 poker pros who are eligible to play their FSG poker league that will commence in August and culminate in February 2012. The goal, according to Commissioner Annie Duke, was to reward players who have shown extraordinary performance in the game with an elite poker league that would reward them with exclusive televised value-added tournaments. The rake free events will offer $400k in guaranteed prize pool overlay for each of the four Main Events and a $1 million freeroll championship prize.

The FSG eligible list requires players have won over $1.25 million in live tournament earnings with their biggest win capped. Consideration was given both to their long term impact in the game and an emphasis on results in the last three years. (More details here - http://www.federatedinc.com/poker-league/qualification-criteria)

Players who were close to meeting the qualifying standards, will have another chance for consideration come August 1st. Duke indicated that it was FSG's goal to have roughly 25 five year, 40 three year, and the rest be two year cards owners in the league.

Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack shared that they had extensive discussions concerning the qualifiers. Since they are claiming that this group represents most if not all of the best live tournament players in the world, according to their formulation, the general public and greater poker community should be adequately aware of their abilities and accomplishments. As such, they will be prioritizing marketing and informational releases regarding the eligible players participating in the league.


First, let me say that it is no easy task to come up with one qualifying set of standards for an invitation only poker league like FSG has established. To try to incorporate live vs online accomplishments, historical vs. recent accomplishments, varying field sizes, capped results etc is a gargantuan task. That said, if their goal is to be popular with poker fans and garner significant television ratings, it seems some more tweaking could have been done to the eligibility process to include notable players. It is a fine line to balance credibility derived from some objective and transparent formula rating the best players with their previous or future marketability, but I'm concerned that the balance is presently skewed to include too many unrecognizable or lesser recognizable players that will hurt it's ultimate viability.


I've worked in the poker world over the last five years. While my focus has been more on online play than live tournaments, the last year I have been focused on creating poker content that focused on poker news, tournament reporting, doing notable player profiles and generally keeping a finger on the pulse of the poker world and I'm baffled by some of the names included.

No offense to any of these players or their results, but have you ever heard of...

Chris Bjorin
Salvatore Bonavena
David Daneshgar
Quin Do
Mike Ellis
Dmitry Gromov
Roger Hairabedian
Sirous Jamshidi
John Kabbaj
Hafiz Khan
Moritz Kranich
Andreas Krause
Valdemar Kwaysser
Antony Lellouche
Mihai Manole
Thang Pham
Claudio Rinaldi
Farzad Rouhani
Nichlas Saarisilta
Soheil Shamseddin
Mike Wattel

Can you construct a viable poker league when 10% of your list isn't even known to poker regulars? Can FSG really bring proper attention to these lesser known or marketed players that will compel fans and viewers to tune in? 

There is another Poker players that I know of by name but have made little impact recently or seem to have little public awareness or draw:

Josh Arieh
Mike Binger
Dutch Boyd
Steve Brecher
John Cernuto
Andrew Chen
Jason DeWitt
Dean Hamrick
Rob Hollink
Alex Jacob
Ted Lawson
Jason Lester
Jeff Madsen
Chris Moore
Jean-Paul Pasqualini
Mark Teltscher
Julian Thew
Ryan Young

I could list another 40 players who have very little or no name recognition with the general public or casual poker player. I must admit that some of the unfamiliarity may be due to a significant non-American contingent as part of the list. Certainly poker is growing and more popular, some would say, in Europe, but as there has never even been a repeat winner in seven seasons on the European Poker Tour, the big name recognition is going to be more limited. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the FSG poker league going to be televised to an American audience or are their international broadcasting plans?

Is there not a way to include some highly marketable young stars from the online and live world?

Phil Galfond
Ashton Griffin
Viktor Blom
Brian Hastings
Matt Hawrilenko
Dan Cates
Ilari Sahamies
Liv Boeree

What about consideration for well recognized and historically significant players?

Eli Elezra
Mike Sexton
Phil Gordon
David Oppenheim
Dewey Tomko
T.J. Cloutier
John Hennigan
Phil Laak

Billy Baxter

How about Main Event winners left out?

Jonathan Duhamel
Joe Cada
Jerry Yang
Jamie Gold
Robert Varkonyi
Chris Moneymaker
Dan Harrington
Tom McEvoy

Could there be a handful of exceptions granted to highly visible celebrity poker players?

Let me be clear, I'm not saying that the 218 poker pros listed today aren't good or deserving players. I'm not saying all my additional suggested players belong in the league, or that there aren't other even more deserving names. I'm only suggesting that FSG consider the overall marketability of the group. I don't pretend to know the perfect formula or frankly what FSG's ultimate goal is. They may have some pure intention that forsakes making money on the venture, but I feel the formula needs to be tweaked some to make the overall group more appealing to the casual poker fan and general public so they will embrace it and watch the televised versions that will ultimately decide FSG's fate, in my humble opinion.

P.S. I found the designation between 2 year, 3 year, and 5 year cards interesting, but I haven't given it the time it deserves to comment on it yet.

I've attached the list of 218 eligible names if you want to look for yourself.

Akenhead, James 2 Year B
Alaei, Daniel 5 Year
Antonius, Patrik 2 Year A
Arieh, Josh 3 Year
Bach, David 2 Year A
Baker, David 2 Year B
Baker, David 2 Year B
Baldwin, Eric 3 Year
Bansi, Praz 2 Year A
Barbero, Jose Ignacio 2 Year B
Bari, Allen 2 Year B
Baron, Isaac 2 Year B
Bell, Christopher 3 Year
Benyamine, David 3 Year
Billirakis, Steve 2 Year B
Binger, Mike 3 Year
Binger, Nick 2 Year B
Bjorin, Chris 3 Year
Bloch, Andy 2 Year B
Bonavena, Salvatore 2 Year B
Bonomo, Justin 2 Year A
Boyd, Dutch 2 Year B
Brady, Matthew 2 Year B
Brecher, Steve 2 Year A
Brenes, Humberto 2 Year A
Brown, Chad 2 Year B
Brunson, Doyle 2 Year A
Buchanan, Shawn 3 Year
Buchman, Eric 3 Year
Busquet, Olivier 2 Year A
Cajelais, Erik 2 Year A
Cantu, Brandon 3 Year
Cernuto, John 3 Year
Chan, Johnny 5 Year
Channing, Neil 2 Year B
Chen, Andrew 2 Year B
Chiu, David 5 Year
Cimpan, Cornel 3 Year
Clements, Scott 5 Year
Corkins, Hoyt 5 Year
Cunningham, Allen 5 Year
Daneshgar, David 2 Year A
De Wolfe, Roland 5 Year
Deeb, Kassem (Freddy) 5 Year
Demidov, Ivan 2 Year B
DeWitt, Jason 2 Year B
Do, Quinn 2 Year A
Duke, Annie 2 Year A
Dwan, Tom 2 Year B
Eastgate, Peter 3 Year
Ellis, Mike 2 Year B
Esfandiari, Antonio 3 Year
Ferguson, Chris 5 Year
Filippi, Amnon 2 Year B
Flack, Layne 3 Year
Flowers, Randall 2 Year B
Forrest, Ted 2 Year A
Fricke, Jimmy 2 Year B
Froehlich, Eric 2 Year B
Giang, Chau 3 Year
Glantz, Matthew 2 Year B
Gomes, Alexandre 3 Year
Graham, Matthew 2 Year B
Greenstein, Barry 5 Year
Griffin, Gavin 2 Year A
Gromov, Dmitry 2 Year B
Grospellier, Bertrand 3 Year
Guoga, Antanas (Tony) 3 Year
Habib, Hasan 3 Year
Hachem, Joe 3 Year
Hairabedian, Roger 2 Year A
Hamrick, Dean 2 Year B
Hansen, Gus 2 Year A
Harder, Christian 2 Year B
Harman, Jennifer 2 Year A
Haxton, Isaac 2 Year B
Heimiller, Dan 2 Year A
Hellmuth, Phil 5 Year
Helppi, Juha 2 Year B
Hollink, Rob 3 Year
Isaia, Alessio 2 Year B
Ivey, Phil 5 Year
Jacob, Alex 2 Year A
Jacobo, Fernando 2 Year B
Jacobson, Martin Per 2 Year B
Jaka, Faraz 2 Year B
Jamshidi, Sirous 2 Year B
Jetten, Peter 2 Year B
Johnson, Marco 2 Year B
Jrgensen, Theo 2 Year A
Juanda, John 5 Year
Kabbaj, John 2 Year B
Karr, Mclean 2 Year B
Kassela, Frank 2 Year A
Katchalov, Eugene 3 Year
Keikoan, Matt 2 Year B
Kenney, Bryn 2 Year B
Kessler, Allen 2 Year B
Khan, Hafiz 2 Year B
Khan, Hevad 2 Year A
Kitai, Davidi 2 Year B
Klodnicki, Chris 2 Year B
Kostritsin, Alexander 3 Year
Kranich, Moritz 2 Year A
Krause, Andreas 2 Year B
Kravchenko, Alexander 3 Year
Kwaysser, Valdemar 2 Year B
Lacay, Ludovic 2 Year B
Langmann, Florian 2 Year B
Lawson, Ted 2 Year A
Lederer, Howard 5 Year
Lellouche, Antony 2 Year B
Leonidas, Toto 3 Year
Lester, Jason 2 Year A
Levy, Adam 2 Year B
Lichtenberger, Andrew 2 Year B
Liebert, Kathy 3 Year
Erick Lindgren 5 Year
Lisandro, Jeff 5 Year
Little, Jonathan 3 Year
Lunkin, Vitaly 3 Year
Mackey, James 2 Year B
Madsen, Jeff 3 Year
Mahmood, Ayaz 2 Year B
Makhija, Amit 2 Year B
Manole, Mihai 2 Year B
Marafioti, Matt 2 Year B
Marchese, Thomas 2 Year A
Markholt, Lee 2 Year A
Martin, Michael 2 Year A
Matros, Matt 2 Year B
Mattern, Arnaud 2 Year B
Matusow, Mike 5 Year
McDonald, Mike 3 Year
Medic, Nenad 3 Year
Mercier, Jason 3 Year
Minieri, Dario 2 Year B
Mizrachi, Michael 5 Year
Mizrachi, Robert 3 Year
Mizzi, Sorel 2 Year B
Molson, Will 2 Year B
Montgomery, Scott 2 Year B
Moore, Chris 2 Year B
Mortensen, Carlos 5 Year
Mueller, Greg 2 Year B
Negreanu, Daniel 5 Year
Nguyen, Men 5 Year
Nguyen, Scotty 5 Year
Obrestad, Annette 3 Year
Pagano, Luca 2 Year B
Papola, Jeffrey 2 Year B
Parker, John Brock 2 Year B
Pasqualini, Jean-Paul 2 Year B
Perry, Ralph 3 Year
Pescatori, Max 2 Year A
Pham, David 3 Year
Pham, Thang 2 Year A
Phan, John 5 Year
Phillips, Carter 2 Year B
Pilgrim, Dwyte 2 Year B
Racener, John 3 Year
Rajkumar, Vivek 3 Year
Ramdin, Annand (Victor) 3 Year
Raymer, Greg 2 Year A
Reinkemeier, Tobias 2 Year B
Rheem, David (Chino) 3 Year
Rinaldi, Claudio 2 Year B
Robl, Andrew 2 Year B
Rodman, Blair 2 Year A
Romanello, Roberto 2 Year B
Rouhani, Farzad 2 Year B
Rousso, Vanessa 2 Year B
Ruthenberg, Sebastian 3 Year
Saarisilta, Nichlas 2 Year B
Schulman, Nick 3 Year
Schwartz, Noah 2 Year B
Seed, Huck 5 Year
Seidel, Eric 5 Year
Seiver, Scott 2 Year A
Selbst, Vanessa 5 year
Shak, Daniel 2 Year B
Shamseddin, Soheil 2 Year B
Shorr, Shannon 3 Year
Shulman, Barry 3 Year
Singer, David 3 Year
Smith, Gavin 3 Year
Smith, Jordan 2 Year B
Smith, Justin 2 Year B
Smyth, Marty 2 Year A
Soulier, Fabrice 2 Year B
Sowers, Mike 2 Year B
Steicke, David 2 Year B
Stein, Samuel 2 Year B
Storakers, Johan 2 Year B
Sunar, Surinder 3 Year
Sung, Steve 2 Year B
Tehan, Joe 3 Year
Teltscher, Mark 2 Year A
Terry, Todd 2 Year B
Thew, Julian 2 Year B
Thien Le, Nam 3 Year
Thorson, William 2 Year B
Timoshenko, Yevgeniy 3 Year
Torelli, Alec 2 Year B
Tran, JC 5 Year
Trickett, Sam 2 Year B
Tureniec, Michael 2 Year A
Ulliott, Dave 3 Year
Van Alstyne, James 3 Year
Vedes, Tommy 2 Year B
Wahlbeck, Ville 2 Year B
Watkinson, Lee 3 Year
Watson, Michael 3 Year
Wattel, Mike 2 Year B
West, Timothy 2 Year B
Williams, David 3 Year
Young, Justin 2 Year B
Young, Ryan 2 Year B

Views: 524
Date Posted: May. 4, 12:27am, 0 Comments

Federated Sports and Gaming finally released the list of the first 218 poker pros who are eligible to play their FSG poker league that will commence in August and culminate in February 2012. The goal, according to Commissioner Annie Duke, was to reward players who have shown extraordinary performance in the game with an elite poker league that would reward them with exclusive televised value-added tournaments. The rake free events will offer $400k in guaranteed prize pool overlay for each of the four Main Events and a $1 million freeroll championship prize.

The FSG eligible list requires players have won over $1.25 million in live tournament earnings with their biggest win capped. Consideration was given both to their long term impact in the game and an emphasis on results in the last three years. (More details here - http://www.federatedinc.com/poker-league/qualification-criteria)

Players who were close to meeting the qualifying standards, will have another chance for consideration come August 1st. Duke indicated that it was FSG's goal to have roughly 25 five year, 40 three year, and the rest be two year cards owners in the league.

Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack shared that they had extensive discussions concerning the qualifiers. Since they are claiming that this group represents most if not all of the best live tournament players in the world, according to their formulation, the general public and greater poker community should be adequately aware of their abilities and accomplishments. As such, they will be prioritizing marketing and informational releases regarding the eligible players participating in the league.


First, let me say that it is no easy task to come up with one qualifying set of standards for an invitation only poker league like FSG has established. To try to incorporate live vs online accomplishments, historical vs. recent accomplishments, varying field sizes, capped results etc is a gargantuan task. That said, if their goal is to be popular with poker fans and garner significant television ratings, it seems some more tweaking could have been done to the eligibility process to include notable players. It is a fine line to balance credibility derived from some objective and transparent formula rating the best players with their previous or future marketability, but I'm concerned that the balance is presently skewed to include too many unrecognizable or lesser recognizable players that will hurt it's ultimate viability.


I've worked in the poker world over the last five years. While my focus has been more on online play than live tournaments, the last year I have been focused on creating poker content that focused on poker news, tournament reporting, doing notable player profiles and generally keeping a finger on the pulse of the poker world and I'm baffled by some of the names included.

No offense to any of these players or their results, but have you ever heard of...

Chris Bjorin
Salvatore Bonavena
David Daneshgar
Quin Do
Mike Ellis
Dmitry Gromov
Roger Hairabedian
Sirous Jamshidi
John Kabbaj
Hafiz Khan
Moritz Kranich
Andreas Krause
Valdemar Kwaysser
Antony Lellouche
Mihai Manole
Thang Pham
Claudio Rinaldi
Farzad Rouhani
Nichlas Saarisilta
Soheil Shamseddin
Mike Wattel

Can you construct a viable poker league when 10% of your list isn't even known to poker regulars? Can FSG really bring proper attention to these lesser known or marketed players that will compel fans and viewers to tune in? 

There is another Poker players that I know of by name but have made little impact recently or seem to have little public awareness or draw:

Josh Arieh
Mike Binger
Dutch Boyd
Steve Brecher
John Cernuto
Andrew Chen
Jason DeWitt
Dean Hamrick
Rob Hollink
Alex Jacob
Ted Lawson
Jason Lester
Jeff Madsen
Chris Moore
Jean-Paul Pasqualini
Mark Teltscher
Julian Thew
Ryan Young

I could list another 40 players who have very little or no name recognition with the general public or casual poker player. I must admit that some of the unfamiliarity may be due to a significant non-American contingent as part of the list. Certainly poker is growing and more popular, some would say, in Europe, but as there has never even been a repeat winner in seven seasons on the European Poker Tour, the big name recognition is going to be more limited. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the FSG poker league going to be televised to an American audience or are their international broadcasting plans?

Is there not a way to include some highly marketable young stars from the online and live world?

Phil Galfond
Ashton Griffin
Viktor Blom
Brian Hastings
Matt Hawrilenko
Dan Cates
Ilari Sahamies
Liv Boeree

What about consideration for well recognized and historically significant players?

Eli Elezra
Mike Sexton
Phil Gordon
David Oppenheim
Dewey Tomko
T.J. Cloutier
John Hennigan
Phil Laak

How about Main Event winners left out?

Jonathan Duhamel
Joe Cada
Jerry Yang
Jamie Gold
Robert Varkonyi
Chris Moneymaker
Dan Harrington
Tom Schneider

Could there be a handful of exceptions granted to highly visible celebrity poker players?

Let me be clear, I'm not saying that the 218 poker pros listed today aren't good or deserving players. I'm not saying all my additional suggested players belong in the league, or that there aren't other even more deserving names. I'm only suggesting that FSG consider the overall marketability of the group. I don't pretend to know the perfect formula or frankly what FSG's ultimate goal is. They may have some pure intention that forsakes making money on the venture, but I feel the formula needs to be tweaked some to make the overall group more appealing to the casual poker fan and general public so they will embrace it and watch the televised versions that will ultimately decide FSG's fate, in my humble opinion.

P.S. I found the designation between 2 year, 3 year, and 5 year cards interesting, but I haven't given it the time it deserves to comment on it yet.

I've attached the list of 218 eligible names if you want to look for yourself.

Akenhead, James 2 Year B
Alaei, Daniel 5 Year
Antonius, Patrik 2 Year A
Arieh, Josh 3 Year
Bach, David 2 Year A
Baker, David 2 Year B
Baker, David 2 Year B
Baldwin, Eric 3 Year
Bansi, Praz 2 Year A
Barbero, Jose Ignacio 2 Year B
Bari, Allen 2 Year B
Baron, Isaac 2 Year B
Bell, Christopher 3 Year
Benyamine, David 3 Year
Billirakis, Steve 2 Year B
Binger, Mike 3 Year
Binger, Nick 2 Year B
Bjorin, Chris 3 Year
Bloch, Andy 2 Year B
Bonavena, Salvatore 2 Year B
Bonomo, Justin 2 Year A
Boyd, Dutch 2 Year B
Brady, Matthew 2 Year B
Brecher, Steve 2 Year A
Brenes, Humberto 2 Year A
Brown, Chad 2 Year B
Brunson, Doyle 2 Year A
Buchanan, Shawn 3 Year
Buchman, Eric 3 Year
Busquet, Olivier 2 Year A
Cajelais, Erik 2 Year A
Cantu, Brandon 3 Year
Cernuto, John 3 Year
Chan, Johnny 5 Year
Channing, Neil 2 Year B
Chen, Andrew 2 Year B
Chiu, David 5 Year
Cimpan, Cornel 3 Year
Clements, Scott 5 Year
Corkins, Hoyt 5 Year
Cunningham, Allen 5 Year
Daneshgar, David 2 Year A
De Wolfe, Roland 5 Year
Deeb, Kassem (Freddy) 5 Year
Demidov, Ivan 2 Year B
DeWitt, Jason 2 Year B
Do, Quinn 2 Year A
Duke, Annie 2 Year A
Dwan, Tom 2 Year B
Eastgate, Peter 3 Year
Ellis, Mike 2 Year B
Esfandiari, Antonio 3 Year
Ferguson, Chris 5 Year
Filippi, Amnon 2 Year B
Flack, Layne 3 Year
Flowers, Randall 2 Year B
Forrest, Ted 2 Year A
Fricke, Jimmy 2 Year B
Froehlich, Eric 2 Year B
Giang, Chau 3 Year
Glantz, Matthew 2 Year B
Gomes, Alexandre 3 Year
Graham, Matthew 2 Year B
Greenstein, Barry 5 Year
Griffin, Gavin 2 Year A
Gromov, Dmitry 2 Year B
Grospellier, Bertrand 3 Year
Guoga, Antanas (Tony) 3 Year
Habib, Hasan 3 Year
Hachem, Joe 3 Year
Hairabedian, Roger 2 Year A
Hamrick, Dean 2 Year B
Hansen, Gus 2 Year A
Harder, Christian 2 Year B
Harman, Jennifer 2 Year A
Haxton, Isaac 2 Year B
Heimiller, Dan 2 Year A
Hellmuth, Phil 5 Year
Helppi, Juha 2 Year B
Hollink, Rob 3 Year
Isaia, Alessio 2 Year B
Ivey, Phil 5 Year
Jacob, Alex 2 Year A
Jacobo, Fernando 2 Year B
Jacobson, Martin Per 2 Year B
Jaka, Faraz 2 Year B
Jamshidi, Sirous 2 Year B
Jetten, Peter 2 Year B
Johnson, Marco 2 Year B
Jrgensen, Theo 2 Year A
Juanda, John 5 Year
Kabbaj, John 2 Year B
Karr, Mclean 2 Year B
Kassela, Frank 2 Year A
Katchalov, Eugene 3 Year
Keikoan, Matt 2 Year B
Kenney, Bryn 2 Year B
Kessler, Allen 2 Year B
Khan, Hafiz 2 Year B
Khan, Hevad 2 Year A
Kitai, Davidi 2 Year B
Klodnicki, Chris 2 Year B
Kostritsin, Alexander 3 Year
Kranich, Moritz 2 Year A
Krause, Andreas 2 Year B
Kravchenko, Alexander 3 Year
Kwaysser, Valdemar 2 Year B
Lacay, Ludovic 2 Year B
Langmann, Florian 2 Year B
Lawson, Ted 2 Year A
Lederer, Howard 5 Year
Lellouche, Antony 2 Year B
Leonidas, Toto 3 Year
Lester, Jason 2 Year A
Levy, Adam 2 Year B
Lichtenberger, Andrew 2 Year B
Liebert, Kathy 3 Year
Erick Lindgren 5 Year
Lisandro, Jeff 5 Year
Little, Jonathan 3 Year
Lunkin, Vitaly 3 Year
Mackey, James 2 Year B
Madsen, Jeff 3 Year
Mahmood, Ayaz 2 Year B
Makhija, Amit 2 Year B
Manole, Mihai 2 Year B
Marafioti, Matt 2 Year B
Marchese, Thomas 2 Year A
Markholt, Lee 2 Year A
Martin, Michael 2 Year A
Matros, Matt 2 Year B
Mattern, Arnaud 2 Year B
Matusow, Mike 5 Year
McDonald, Mike 3 Year
Medic, Nenad 3 Year
Mercier, Jason 3 Year
Minieri, Dario 2 Year B
Mizrachi, Michael 5 Year
Mizrachi, Robert 3 Year
Mizzi, Sorel 2 Year B
Molson, Will 2 Year B
Montgomery, Scott 2 Year B
Moore, Chris 2 Year B
Mortensen, Carlos 5 Year
Mueller, Greg 2 Year B
Negreanu, Daniel 5 Year
Nguyen, Men 5 Year
Nguyen, Scotty 5 Year
Obrestad, Annette 3 Year
Pagano, Luca 2 Year B
Papola, Jeffrey 2 Year B
Parker, John Brock 2 Year B
Pasqualini, Jean-Paul 2 Year B
Perry, Ralph 3 Year
Pescatori, Max 2 Year A
Pham, David 3 Year
Pham, Thang 2 Year A
Phan, John 5 Year
Phillips, Carter 2 Year B
Pilgrim, Dwyte 2 Year B
Racener, John 3 Year
Rajkumar, Vivek 3 Year
Ramdin, Annand (Victor) 3 Year
Raymer, Greg 2 Year A
Reinkemeier, Tobias 2 Year B
Rheem, David (Chino) 3 Year
Rinaldi, Claudio 2 Year B
Robl, Andrew 2 Year B
Rodman, Blair 2 Year A
Romanello, Roberto 2 Year B
Rouhani, Farzad 2 Year B
Rousso, Vanessa 2 Year B
Ruthenberg, Sebastian 3 Year
Saarisilta, Nichlas 2 Year B
Schulman, Nick 3 Year
Schwartz, Noah 2 Year B
Seed, Huck 5 Year
Seidel, Eric 5 Year
Seiver, Scott 2 Year A
Selbst, Vanessa 5 year
Shak, Daniel 2 Year B
Shamseddin, Soheil 2 Year B
Shorr, Shannon 3 Year
Shulman, Barry 3 Year
Singer, David 3 Year
Smith, Gavin 3 Year
Smith, Jordan 2 Year B
Smith, Justin 2 Year B
Smyth, Marty 2 Year A
Soulier, Fabrice 2 Year B
Sowers, Mike 2 Year B
Steicke, David 2 Year B
Stein, Samuel 2 Year B
Storakers, Johan 2 Year B
Sunar, Surinder 3 Year
Sung, Steve 2 Year B
Tehan, Joe 3 Year
Teltscher, Mark 2 Year A
Terry, Todd 2 Year B
Thew, Julian 2 Year B
Thien Le, Nam 3 Year
Thorson, William 2 Year B
Timoshenko, Yevgeniy 3 Year
Torelli, Alec 2 Year B
Tran, JC 5 Year
Trickett, Sam 2 Year B
Tureniec, Michael 2 Year A
Ulliott, Dave 3 Year
Van Alstyne, James 3 Year
Vedes, Tommy 2 Year B
Wahlbeck, Ville 2 Year B
Watkinson, Lee 3 Year
Watson, Michael 3 Year
Wattel, Mike 2 Year B
West, Timothy 2 Year B
Williams, David 3 Year
Young, Justin 2 Year B
Young, Ryan 2 Year B

Views: 510
Date Posted: May. 1, 2:09pm, 0 Comments

As I read through the fascinating Tampabay.com investigative article by Kris Hundley on Saturday, I was struck by so many "what if" parallels from my own life. She researched the background of some of the original owners of Absolute Poker following them to their present day predicament. I thought it might make for an interesting creative writing focused blog reflecting on different paths I could have taken. (I would recommend reading it to better see the parallels that I'll be sharing.)

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/article1166818.ece

 

1) In High School, I participated in Junior Achievement and Free Enterprise week developing a business interest which caused me to only apply at colleges with business programs. The college I ultimately attended, Bucknell University, accepted me not into their business program, but into their liberal arts program. What if I had kept my focus purely on business?

2) During Rush week at Bucknell, the only fraternity that felt welcoming and inclusive of me was Sigma Alpha Epsilon. They were upbeat guys who were both service oriented and achievement minded. What if I had joined SAE fraternity instead of remaining on my own through college?


3) In my mid 20's I moved out to the Pacific Northwest with my girlfriend. It was an intuitive little researched move, but to this day we both feel it called to us as we fit in well here. What if I had gone to Montana instead of Oregon?


4) I had grown up around wealthy communities. We weren't one of the wealthy families, but I could have probably tapped those in the community for an investment in starting an online business much as the Absolute guys did. As it turned out I didn't ever strive to prioritize the accumulation of wealth, but what if I had?


5) I only discovered poker in my late 30's, when I had business, family and home involvements already well established. This led me to treat my poker interest as a hobby and occupation opportunity, but not as a serious playing or entrepreneurial opportunity. What if I had discovered poker early, I could have become a serious player or likely wanted to get in on the ground floor of a poker room like Absolute?


6) I grew up overseas, living in three African countries by the time I was 10. My major in college was International Relations. I have always embraced international opportunities. What if I had joined the Absolute team I would have been supportive of moving to Costa Rica, utilizing a Korean subsidiary, Norway financial instruments and Portugal tax status.


7) Early on in my experience with big business, I saw corporations as bureaucratic, manipulative and uncaring. What if my first impression had been positive, so much so that I would have embraced the opportunity to manipulate financial reports, enrich myself at the expense of deceived customers and investors?


8) I've been involved in small businesses that struggled. I always kept my business structure simple and as transparent as possible to keep the resulting problems on small scale. What if I found myself in a convoluted larger company where it became so complicated and twisted that my natural choice would be to deceive and avoid the issues rather than face them head on?


Looking at who I am today, it seems ridiculous that I could find myself in the predicament that these young Absolute owners are. But when I read that article and thought about all the parallels and similarities of "what ifs" I was faced with during my life, I found it wasn't out of the realm of consideration that if I had chosen the other side of some or all of those "what ifs" that I couldn't have found myself as an indicted owner of Absolute Poker.


Our lives are defined by the choices and circumstances we encounter in life. The Absolute owners may be enjoying the life of luxury on their ill-gotten gains in Panama or Costa Rica or they could end up penniless and in prison. As for me, I'll accept the simple humble family life I have in Oregon and just blog about it from afar.

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