The poker community was dealt an odd, but significant, blow in the past days by the Denmark High Court. According to The Official Website of Denmark, a new ruling by the court effectively makes private poker tournaments illegal. Obviously, this news has no bearing on online gaming, or anything incredibly significant, directly, but it is indicative of a growing tread against poker in the world which seems to get larger in correlation with the popularity of poker.
We all know online poker is a massive grey area where it is unclear what can and cannot be restricted. But, recently in Germany, legislature has been passed which has created German online poker restrictions similar to the United States. In Denmark, this ruling has criminalized up to half a million Danes, but moreover criminalized the Denmark Poker Federation which has helped players in Denmark hone their skills.
What is most disturbing about this ruling is not that private poker tournaments are banned, but the reasoning. The high court claimed that, based on a 1926 ruling, poker is a game of chance, not skill. Obviously, mathematically speaking and knowledgably speaking, over the long term, a good player will always win out over a poor player, which all of us know. So, the question is, how did the Danes come to this conclusion?
It seems this ruling shows the negative connotation existing, especially right now, among the non-poker-playing community about what it is to be a gambler, professional or otherwise, and what it is to play online poker. Personally, ruling that private tournaments in Denmark are illegal has no bearing on myself or anyone around me, but referring to our legislature and now Germany’s, it is a scary thought as to what will happen if we continue in this direction. It is interesting that there is so much heat around this issue of gambling when there seems to be so many bigger things with which we could be concerned. In talking to a lot of successful online players, and also reading ISF’s interviews, it is easy to see that the players who are winning are not doing anything harmful to themselves or anyone around them. For example, Sauce is going to travel around and play poker. What is better life experience than going to foreign cultures? Congress keeps arguing about the issue with age, but most likely it is the younger players who are taking the money from the older people who are blowing their paycheck and that has nothing to do with online gambling by itself at all. The people who want to be successful obviously want to make money, but that is really a barometer for how good you are. As ISF said in his Northwestern TV interview, it’s just like wanting to get good at another game of skill—yes, it is a game of skill! The poker ban displays general misguidances the governments has towards dealing with the problems that the public doesn’t, for the most part, think are imperative; but, that is a separate issue entirely.
On a positive note, starting out the New Year, online poker room usage is at an all-time high and this is a step in the right direction. As poker players, it is important to make as many people as possible understand that poker is a game that is not necessarily left to chance and there are actual issues, like our economy, with which the government should be more worried. Let’s keep the traffic in the online sites and keep poker alive and let government deal with the things that they should; maybe Obama in office can help as Courtie said in her post. Viva Poker.