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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

What the DOJ’s reversal on the Wire Act really means. (Answer: The Barton Bill).

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently surprised everyone with a written legal opinion on the meaning of the Wire Act.  It was a surprise because the DOJ has been saying for years that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of online gambling, including poker. This is what it has been telling the major U.S. banks in its war against online poker, while “asking” them to block online deposits. But it now says that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. Why the reversal?  

After all, the words of the Wire Act are not inscrutable. It simply makes it illegal to place electronic bets “on any sporting event or contest.”  See 18 U.S.C. 1084(a).  So how is it that the DOJ suddenly became literate enough to read these words? 

At the same time it was pressuring the banks to block online  poker deposits, the DOJ surely knew that the federal courts have ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting and that poker is not a sporting event. All of a sudden it finds religion right before Christmas by finally admitting what it knows to be true?    

The DOJ also must know that the related Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – the dreaded UIGEA – is probably too vague to be successfully used to convict anyone of a crime. This is why the pending Black Friday indictments are based mainly on money laundering and bank fraud charges.   

It is interesting that the DOJ pressured the banks to block online deposits, which put the squeeze on such deposits, which led the major offshore poker sites to hide their true identify to facilitate deposits, which led directly to the Black Friday indictments for money laundering and bank fraud. 

As part of its war of fear against online poker, the DOJ threw the much-feared UIGEA into the Black Friday indictments to confuse and intimidate both offshore websites and online poker players, placing great emphasis on the UIGEA in its press release. But the DOJ arranged things so it would not  have to turn over its real hand. The Black Friday indictments will not be decided based on the UIGEA. Instead, the defendants are pleading guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud charges. In recently accepting a plea deal on those charges, Brent Buckley, co-founder of Absolute Poker, told the judge: “I knew it was illegal to deceive the banks.” The Denver Post, December 21, 2011 at 11B. 

It is in this context that the DOJ suddenly reverses itself on the very meaning of the Wire Act. This is a significant legal event. It has significance not just for the Wire Act, but also for the UIGEA. This is because the UIGEA relies on and references the Wire Act definition of unlawful online gambling. One refers to the other, so the two laws are interrelated. 

So what is behind the recent DOJ reversal on the Wire Act?  Has the DOJ abandoned its war on online poker? 

This brings us to the Barton Bill. 

The answer to all these questions may be a simple one.  If the currently pending Barton Bill becomes law, the DOJ no longer has to rely on the Wire Act or the UIGEA to shut down all offshore gambling and poker sites in the U.S. Thus the DOJ’s reversal on the meaning of the Wire Act probably reflects its belief that the Barton Bill (or similar federal legislation) will become law in 2012. 

The DOJ’s goal is too shut down all offshore gambling and poker websites operating in the U.S. If the Barton Bill becomes law, the DOJ doesn’t need the Wire Act or the UIGEA as currently written.  The Barton Bill makes these two existing laws obsolete and gives the DOJ the law it needs to shut down all the remaining offshore poker websites that still accept U.S. players every day.

The Barton Bill “strengthens” the UIGEA. This “strengthening” is reflected in the very title of the Barton Bill: “The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011.”  (Emphasis added).  

The Barton Bill strengthens the UIGEA with a much broader definition of unlawful online gambling than the Wire Act or the current UIGEA. It defines “internet poker” as a form of “unlawful internet gambling” and would make internet poker illegal without a U.S. license. Unlike the vaguely worded UIGEA, this is fairly clear and enforceable. 

There is more. The Barton Bill requires the government to create and maintain a list of all offshore gambling and poker websites targeted for shutdown. And given the broader and clearer definition of illegal gambling in the Barton Bill, there would no longer be any significant legal doubt that those offshore sites are illegal under U.S. law. 

At the same time it shuts down all unlicensed offshore sites, the Barton Bill would authorize any U.S. state or Indian tribe to issue online poker licenses. The licenses, however, are quite restrictive.

The Barton Bill only allows licensed operators to accept bets from players located in the U. S. This isolates U.S. poker players from international play. While offshore sites like PokerStars would be eligible for a U.S. license, the Barton Bill prohibits them from accepting bets from any non-U.S. players. To operate in the U.S., offshore sites would therefore have to offer entirely separate poker games just for U.S. players.   

This is a relatively small online poker market. PokerStars only lost 28% of its total worldwide market as a result of Black Friday.  Since the entire U.S. online poker market is much smaller than the rest of the World, this means fewer online games, fewer players and less variety of games if the Barton Bill becomes law. 

But because of other restrictions in the Barton Bill, the numbers of online U.S. players will be much smaller than you might think. The Barton Bill only allows U.S. licensed poker websites to accept bets from players located in the licensing state or in other states that permits its residents to legally play poker. 

States where poker is illegal have the right under the Barton Bill to “opt-out” by forbidding its residents from paying online poker.  If you live in a state that opts out, you cannot play on U.S. licensed websites, which would be required by law to block all bets from such states. All it takes for a state to opt-out is a letter from the governor saying that state residents are not allowed to play on U.S. licensed poker websites. While nobody knows how many states will opt-out, it is a fact that poker is illegal under the laws of most U.S. states. Unfortunately, if you live in an opt-out state, you may have to move to another state that has not opted out if you want to play poker online.  You would no longer have the option of playing on existing or new offshore sistes, which would be shut dwon completely if the Barton Bill works as intended.

Under the Barton Bill, the U.S. will become like France, which only allows its players to play online at French liencsed webstites located in France. some French players do play on international poker sites, but only as outlaws using proxies and virtual private networks (VPN's) to hide their IP addresses.  If they get caught, however, Poker Stars and some other sites will confiscate their deposits and close their accounts. This is the future of  U.S. online players if the Barton Bill becomes law. If U.S. poker players want to play internationally, we will have to become outlaws.  

It seems un-American to prevent adult U.S. citizens from playing online poker with players from other nations. But this Iron Curtain of online poker will descend if the Barton Bill becomes law. 

While claiming to be a friend of U.S. poker players, it is evident to knowledgeable observers that Joe Barton is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing who is suckering poker players.  See “Poker and Joe Barton,” I. Nelson Rose, Poker Player Newspaper Online (Dec. 12, 2011).  After all, Barton voted for the UIGEA and now wants to “strengthen” it. 

Is the Poker Players Association (PPA) a sucker?  It likes Joe Barton and supports the Barton Bill, believing it is the best it can get. But its commitment to the Barton Bill will eventually hurt most online poker players.  I currently play online poker on a variety of websites that accept U.S. players and I don’t want the PPA and the Barton Bill to take that away from me.    

With a copy of the DOJ’s written reversal on the meaning of the Wire Act in its hand, the PPA should declare victory in the online poker war.  It should also abandon its support of the Barton Bill and urge U.S. poker players to return to online play.  If it does this, currently existing online poker sites will have more players and better games. And more and better poker sites will likely arise to fill the hole in the online poker market left by Black Friday.   

Because of its recent reversal on the Wire Act, which the UIGEA largely depends on to define what is illegal under federal gambling law, the DOJ needs the Barton Bill. But poker players no longer need it and should oppose it.       

Preston Oade for calvinayre.com,  December 30, 2011

Drinking the Tebow Kool-Aid.

Shannon Sharpe, who has never been a Tim Tebow believer, interviewed him in Denver for CBS Sports the week before the Chicago Bears game. Sharpe asked Tebow what he thought was a penetrating question on his lack of passing skills. "Doesn't a quarterback get paid to throw the ball," asked Sharpe. Tebow instantly replied that "a quarterback gets paid to win.”
Shannon Sharpe was almost speechless and you could see he didn't know what to say next.

Sharpe, a Hall of Fame tight end and broadcast journalist, is a really glib guy. He always has something to say and never hesitates to say it. When he was playing for the Broncos, he picked up the sidelines phone in a game at New England to call the National Guard to get "immediate" help for the Patriots, who were being "massacred by the Broncos."  Before Tebow did it in the interview, I have never seen anyone leave Shannon Sharpe at a loss for words. 

After interviewing Tebow, Sharpe picked the Broncos to beat the Bears, which they did.  When questioned about his pick on the CBS morning pre-game show, Sharpe explained that he "has been drinking the Tebow kool-aid." 

The Broncos success since Tebow became a starter, when the team had 1 win and 4 losses, is widely viewed as an unexplained phenomenon of nearly divine proportions.  Many print and broadcast commentators just can't understand how Tebow can be successful given his sloppy footwork, imprecise throwing mechanics and many badly thrown balls.  ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge, for example, basically pronounced on both ESPN and Twitter that Tebow was not and never would be a legitimate starting NFL quarterback.
But Tebow's success is no mystery to informed observers who closely follow the Broncos. He is a highly effective leader who knows how to win. He inspires his teammates and seems to make everyone on the team a mentally stronger player and a better player. His teamates not only believe in him, they believe in themselves. Confidence is a huge part of sports success, and the Broncos know they can win and expect to win. They are winning as a team, including offense, defense, special teams and coaching. 

Tebow makes his teammates believe in themselves. When receiver Demaryius Thomas let a long nicely thrown pass slip though his hands, missing a clear touchdown, Tebow didn’t flinch.  He sat down next to Thomas on the bench, put his arm around his shoulders, and told him not to worry because he is a great receiver and would catch the winning touchdown pass. Late in the fourth quarter, Thomas caught a touchdown pass to bring the Broncos within 3 points of the Bears. He drank the Tebow kool-aid. 

The Broncos then kicked a long field goal with only seconds left in the game to tie it up and win in overtime. The kicker was apparently drinking the Tebow kool-aid.    

Former NFL coach Herm Edwards gets it. He warned other teams not to "let the Broncos hang around until the fourth quarter because Tim Tebow will find a way to beat you."  Everyone on the Broncos believes this. They all drink the Tebow kool-aid. 

Preston Oade for Bleacher Report.  All quotes are based on televised interviews or reports and the NFL Network audio of Tebow, who was “miked” during the Bears game.

December 21, 2011. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011



                            By K. Preston Oade, J.D.

It is clear that vast numbers of U.S. online players have abandoned online play. The question is why?  Are U.S. players so in love with Poker Stars, Full Tilt and UB that they are simply unwilling to play on the other online poker sites that were not shut down on Black Friday?  I doubt it.   

Do most U.S. players misunderstand the law?  Although the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) would like us to believe otherwise, it is not illegal to play poker online or to deposit money on poker websites.  See “Black Friday; The DOJ’s Campaign of Fear,” by Oade & Reber, Poker Player Newspaper (July 18, 2011); and “Lies the FBI Tells” by law professor Nelson Rose, Poker Player Newspaper (August 24, 2011).  

Many U.S. players may be confused about the law and are waiting for federal legislation, which they expect will make online poker both widely available and “legitimate.” This is a mistake for two reasons: 1) federal poker legislation is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future; and 2) given the federal poker legislation that has been proposed to date, if it does happen it probably will be not be good for U.S. online poker. See “Barton Bill has Serious Drawbacks for U.S. Players,” www.toptoadwisdom.blogspot.com.     

It is my view that most U.S. online players are sitting on the sidelines because of the Full Tilt deposit fiasco. They seem unwilling to put any more money into online play after losing their deposits on Full Tilt. Even those players who didn’t have money on Full Tilt have probably heard about those who did. Full Tilt has apparently poisoned the waters of online poker for U.S. players and damaged the online poker industry.   

The demise of Full Tilt is both deserved and unfortunate. It is deserved because, in a free market where people have choices, any company that treats its customers badly will eventually go out of business. It is unfortunate for obvious reasons, but also because Full Tilt was an online innovator, with Rush Poker and multi-entry tournaments.

Currently, there are enough poker websites currently accepting U.S. players, but I wish there were more of them. The main problem is the relatively small number of players. This limits tournament prize pools, and the numbers and variety of available games. Things should change over time, however, as more U.S. players become aware of the continued availability of online play. 

Black Friday changed, not just the numbers of U.S. players willing to play online, but also the overall quality of play. One would think that only the most serious U.S. players are still playing online and that these players are generally better than average players. My experience, however, is to the contrary.

Most sites currently accepting U.S. players are populated by weaker players. Before Black Friday, the second tier poker websites were populated mainly by weaker, low stakes players. Since these poker sites were not shut down on Black Friday, their players apparently just continued playing. It seems they are still there, playing everyday.   

While most tournaments on the websites that accept U.S. players have very small  buy-ins, some  like Intertops have tournaments every day with buy-ins of $162, $109 and $55. While the number of entrants is usually under a hundred, there are significantly more players and larger prize pools in these tournaments on Sundays.

Intertops, which seems to have come online after Black Friday, has lots of deposit options. Credit cards deposits work on an intermittent basis. Just try another card if your first credit card deposit attempt is unsuccessful.  If that doesn’t work, send a check, use Western Union, or set up electronic fund transfers from a bank account.

Most cash games on sites accepting U.S. players are typically populated by lots of weak players. If you have the bankroll to survive the bad beats, current online cash games can be cash cows that are easy to beat for the better players.

Except for low stakes games, the main problems with current online cash games are fewer games and less variety of games. While it is easy to find $1/2 NLH cash games, higher stakes are hard to find except on some weekends. There are not enough limit games at or above $5/10 or $10/20. Pot limit games like Omaha are available, but it is difficult to find pot limit games with blinds of more than $.50/1 or $1/2.     

The good news is that we are still only a few months away from Black Friday and there are reasons to expect that, over time, U.S. players will return to online play in large numbers. This should happen for several reasons. 

First, the cash games on sites still accepting U.S. players are simply too lucrative for good players to ignore. It should not take too long before larger numbers of good players become aware of it and resume playing online.

Second, the urge to play online will gradually increase in more and more players. It should eventually overtake the fear of losing online deposits in all but the most risk-adverse players. 

Third, as U.S. players gradually return to online poker at sites that will accept our play, this will lead to the creation of new and better poker sites. This feeds on itself and eventually the situation will be much improved. It has to happen under a free enterprise system, where the profit motive always fills customer demand. 

Finally, online poker players will eventually get tired of waiting for federal legislation. Such legislation won’t happen in the next few years, and it may not happen at all. Eventually, it will become evident that the solution to this problem does not reside in Washington, D.C. 

The solution to more and better online play resides with the poker players who want to continue playing online. All we have to do is return to and keep playing poker online and the rest will care of itself. 

Copyright 2011 by K. Preston Oade, all rights reserved. Send questions and comments to preston.oade@comcast.net. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Barton Bill has Serious Drawbacks for U.S. Online Players

Barton Bill Has Serious Drawbacks for U.S. Online Players

                             By  K. Preston Oade, J.D.   

The purpose of the Barton Bill is to “strengthen” the UIGEA and make internet poker illegal under U.S. law except for U.S. licensed websites. This is clear from the title, the ‘‘Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011.”  (Emphasis added). 

The Bill would give the government the law it needs to completely shut down all offshore internet poker sites still accepting U.S. players, a legal power it currently lacks under the UIGEA. See “Black Friday; the DOJ’s Campaign of Fear,” by Oade & Reber, Poker Player Newspaper, (front page, July 18, 2011).     

The Barton Bill defines “internet poker” as a form of “internet gambling” and would make internet poker illegal without a license. It also creates an ongoing list of offshore gambling websites – including poker sites –  targeted for shut down. The intent is to limit U.S. online players to only U.S. licensed websites.  

The Barton Bill would authorize any state or Indian tribe to issue online gambling licenses. The licensed operators, however, may accept bets only from players in the licensing state or “located” in other states that have not given notice of “opting-out” of the Barton Bill. 

If your state opts-out of the Barton Bill, you cannot play on licensed websites, which are required by law to block all bets from opt-out states. All it takes for a state to opt-out is a letter from the governor saying that state residents are not allowed to place bets on U.S. licensed gambling websites. Nobody knows how many states will opt-out. 

Significantly, international players would not be allowed to play on U.S. licensed poker sites. The Barton Bill only authorizes licensed operators to accept bets from players “located in the United States.”  Section 104(a)(1). This is consistent with the provision limiting players on U.S. licensed sites to the licensing state and non-opt-out states. The combination of these two related provisions would have significant consequences for U.S. online players.  

By limiting U.S. licensed sites to only U.S. players in non-opt-out states, the Barton Bill seriously fragments the online market and would isolate U.S. players from international play. We will be playing online with only other U.S. players located in the limited number of states that have not opted-out. This is a relatively small market. 

The market would be further limited by the exclusion of players under age 21, whose bets will be blocked.  Eighteen year olds are old enough to fight and die for their country, but apparently not old enough to play online poker. 

While offshore sites like PokerStars would be eligible for a U.S. license, the Barton Bill does not allow them to accept bets from any non-U.S. players. Thus each offshore site would presumably have to establish entirely separate games just for the U.S. market. This separation of U.S. players from the players of other nations amounts to an Iron Curtain of online poker.   

PokerStars only lost 28% of its total worldwide market as a result of Black Friday. Thus the entire U.S. online poker market is much smaller than the rest of the World. This means fewer games, fewer players, less diversity and less variety of games. And the U.S. online market will be even smaller under the Barton Bill, since many states are likely to opt-out. 

Unfortunately, if you live in an opt-out state, you may have to move to another state that has not opted out if you want to play poker online. You would no longer have the option of playing on offshore sites, which will be shut down completely if the new law works as intended. 

We can do better than the Barton Bill. Even the current situation might be better; and can only improve as online sites still accepting U.S. players expand and others enter the U.S. market to fill the void left by Black Friday. It will happen if we all continue playing online. 

  Preston Oade plays online poker and is a partner in the Denver law firm of Holme Roberts and Owen, www.hro.com.
Comments and questions  to preston.oade@comcast.net

2011 Copyright by K. Preston Oade.  All rights reserved. 

The Role of Skill and Chance in Poker

Skill Or Chance In Poker: Legal Perspectives

By Ingo Fielder Phd. and K. Preston Oade J.D. 

Most gambling opportunities are driven by chance. Poker is not. Skill affects results, but how large are these effects? And does this make any difference for the legislator or the juror?

One way to identify games to be regulated is the so-called “predominance test”: If a game’s skill elements predominate over the chance elements, it is considered a “game of skill” and – in many jurisdictions - usually not subject to any restrictions.

Many jurisdictions outside the U.S. use some form of the “predominance test” with various results. In the U.S., however, the legal issue of whether poker is “gambling” depends on state law, and many states do not use the predominance test, making the skill/chance debate legally irrelevant[1]. Most of those approaches are neither coherent nor sophisticated but instead lump too many things together. The result are laws which are constantly under debate.

Criteria are needed to distinguish between different games. Arthur Reber, a psychology professor, made a good step in the right direction by pointing out that every game has two dimensions: expectation and flexibility. Expectation is a game’s expected value; flexibility is the possibility to modify the payoffs. While most gambling has negative expectation and no flexibility, poker can either be played with positive or negative expectation and flexibility exists. But is the flexibility in poker sufficient to make it a game of skill?

Until now nearly all efforts to answer this question were qualitative. Courts and legal scholars listed various reasons for poker being a game of chance or skill, but did not quantify the relative amounts of skill and chance. However, Ingo Fiedler and Jan-Philipp Rock of the University of Hamburg, recently published the first quantitative analysis in Gaming Law Review and Economics.

They compared the relative skill, represented by players’ net expected value with the chance elements, represented by the standard deviation of the outcomes. Their approach makes clear that there is a third dimension involved in games: repetitions. While the expected value increases in proportion to the repetitions (n), the standard error of the mean increases only in the square root of n: skill adds up, chance cancels out.

If only one hand of poker is played, chance dominates skill; if poker is repeated infinitively, skill dominates chance. In between, there is a threshold where the outcomes (gains or losses) of a poker player are 50% due to skill and 50% due to chance. It’s called Critical Repetition Frequency (CRF) and is different for every player. The higher his expected value (positive or negative), the faster he reaches CRF.

The answer to the question of predominance therefore depends on 1) the relative skill of the players, 2) the chance elements of the game, and 3) repetitions. Legislators should consider all three dimensions. The best way is to target the average player and determine if he reaches his CRF or not.

Based on a 51,761 player sample Fiedler and Rock showed that the CRF for the median no limit midstakes online cash game player is about 1,000 hands. When he plays more than one thousand hands, the outcome is dominated by skill and not by chance.

This number is surprisingly low because the median player is a big loser. In 100 hands he loses 32 big blinds! This lack of skill quickly dominates chance.  For a player winning 10BB/100h it takes much longer, about 30,000 hands. But legally,the average player should matter. The crucial question is whether the average poker player plays 1,000 hands. If yes, that limit holdem cash game is a game of skill under the predominance test.  

In tournament poker the CRF is not as easy to calculate. The effect of skill varies depending on the amount of starting chips, blind structure and length of the rounds. The skill component rises monotonically in the proportion of stack sizes to the blinds. A tournament with 5-10 big blinds is basically push or fold and therefore involves only one betting decision, which leaves little room for skill.  A tournament with an effective stack of 250 big blinds requires much more skill.

The degree of skill relative to chance also varies between cash games and tournaments. In every tournament, the proportion of stack sizes to blinds decreases constantly and eventually reaches a very low level.  In this final stage of the tournament – which is most important for the overall result – the outcome of the game often depends mostly on chance. 

The impact of skill therefore varies highly according to the tournament structure and there is no general answer for tournaments. But as a guideline, most online tournaments are played with small stakes and therefore involve less skill than cash games. But tournaments with very large stacks relative to the blinds usually involve considerable skill.     

Poker’s situational nature therefore seems to preclude any sweeping generalizations about whether it is primarily a game of skill or chance. It depends on the nature of the particular game, the players’ skill, and the number of hands actually played. 

This seems to be confirmed by jury verdicts which have applied the predominance test.  These verdicts – which set no legal precedent precisely because each case is based on its own unique facts – vary from case to case.  In a 2006 U.K case, London’s Gutshot Club was  found quilty by a jury of violating a law against operating a poker club taking a rake without a license. The law contained an exception, however, for any games that are “predominately based on skill.  The jury, however, was not persuaded.[2]

The predominance test does not legalize poker. It just provides a defense to a charge of gambling if you can prove that the particular game favored skill over chance. This fact must be proved like any other disputed fact. The answer depends on the factors discussed here and how particular judges and juries interpret them.. 

Defining and prohibiting “gambling” by reference to the role played by chance is largely a moral and social judgment made by each state legislator. Juries often make the same judgment when presented with the issue of whether the outcome of a particular game is determined mainly by chance or skill. When deciding this issue, the moral and social values of each jury member can easily prevail over math or statistical models presented by expert witnesses. 

Whether poker is defined as “gambling” under the various laws of the 50 U.S. States has historically depended on religion, morals or politics – not math or logic. And it remains to be seen if it ever will. It is a mathematical fact, however, that skill will eventually dominate the chance elements in poker. The only question is how many repetitions are required. The answer depends on the different players and the structure of each individual game.

Copyright by Ingo Fielder and Preston Oade, 2010.  All rights reserved.  

[1] See Recreational Gambling Laws State by State; Pennsylvania to Wyoming, Hartley Henderson, http://majorwager.com/index.cfm?page=27&show_column=578
[2] See Hartley Henderson, Major Wager.com, 02-17-2008. Recent verdicts in some U.S. states have gone the other way. 

Overcoming Bad Beats with Positive Thoughts

Good and bad feelings come from within you, not from external events. Your feelings are created by your thoughts about events, not by the events themselves.

An example in Zen and the Art of Happiness (Chris Prentiss, Power Press 2006),  illustrates the power of  thoughts to change negative emotions to positive ones.  Suppose there is a very large new house being built right next to your existing smaller home.  It blocks your view and the construction noise, dust and debris is an ongoing irritation. You become more and unhappy as the days go by and the new house rises to overshadow your house. 

As your patience wears thin, however, the contractor in charge of building the house tells you that a rich relative ordered the house built as a gift to you. 

The same house, the same dust and debris, and the same everyday noise, now evokes a much different emotional response after you receive this new information. What before seemed oppressive, is only a temporary inconvenience now that you know the new house is yours. Nothing has changed, however, but your state of mind. It the same house and the same construction noise, dust and debris. But your feelings towards it have changed simply because your thoughts about it have changed. 

In poker, the same bad beat has can have negative and positive consequences depending on how it is perceived.  If you suck out on a bad beat to win a huge pot, you probably feel relief and happiness. The loser of the pot, however, might feel really bad about it.   He might feel so bad it affects his judgment and decisions on future hands. The loser of the pot, however, has a choice on how to react to a bad beat.  He can change his feelings just by changing his thoughts.

Let us take two different bad beat reactions. In the first, the loser reacts emotionally, curses his bad luck, blames the dealer or the poker gods, and goes into an emotional  funk. These negative emotions perpetuate themselves by effecting the loser’s body chemistry in very specific and very negative ways.  See Candice B. Pert, The Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (New York: Touchstone, 1997).  

According to Dr Pert, a type of  “information molecule” called a peptide is produced in the hypothalamus in the brain. The type of peptide produced is determined by what you are thinking or feeling at any given moment and duplicates every emotion you experience, from fear, anger, and frustration, to joy and happiness.  Some peptides make you feel good, and others make you feel bad.  

In our first bad beat victim, the peptides produced by his negative emotions cascade throughout the player's loodstream, entering the cells of the body through receptor sites on each cell.  They are produced in the millions and make the player feel bad by blocking cell receptor sites which could otherwise  accommodate positive feeling peptides. This chemistry often has disastrous consequences at the poker table.     

Our second bad beat victim, however, has a totally different experience. He maintains a healthy internal body chemistry because he doesn’t respond to it with negative thoughts.      
He avoids becoming a victim of  negative body chemistry by looking at it as just a part of the game. If not for bad beats, all the unskilled players would go broke and go home.  Since he is a skilled player, he knows that most significant loses should come from bad beats simply because he is usually getting his chips into the pot with the best hand.  He knows that’s  exactly how he should lose, not by my making mistakes or losing control of his emotions.

So when you take a bad beat, don’t let it bother you. If you perceive the bad beat in positive or netural ways, you will stay calm, cool and collected, and won’t create and perpetuate negative feelings from millions of peptides spreading negative emotions throughout your body.

When you take a bad beat, know and feel that you have the skills to recover from it.  Know and feel that bad beats are part of the game. Remember that all good players experience and overcome bad beats all the time. Think positive thoughts, which create emotionally healthy body chemistry and allow you to maintain concentration and focus.   

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts
we make the world.”  Buddha.  

Copyright 2010 by Preston Oade,  All rights reserved.