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It's Another Suitcase in Another Hall for U.S. Online Poker Players

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Poker - Poker Editorials

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“...So what happens now? So what happens now? Where am I going to. Where am I going to...?” Sings the abandoned character of the Mistress in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway smash Evita. And this song could very well echo the sentiments of many of the online poker community in the United States.

The events of last Friday, later nicknamed “Black Friday”, have left online poker in America virtually impossible. For many, this is a nuisance, and the loss of a very valuable and much-loved hobby. For others, it is much more. Many more than you would probably think made their primary living off playing poker online, and winning. It was their career.

Across the United States, online poker winnings were what bought meals, put clothes on backs, footed bills and paid rents; not any more. The example being made of giants such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimatebet.com has frightened many other online poker rooms into to abandoning the United States entirely, whatever the current arguments for poker's true legality. This leaves the hardcore players in something of a mess. In the immediate instance, as many are finding it impossible to withdraw winnings from online poker accounts, but long-term as their source of income has now been denied them. Some have been playing online poker for upwards of 20 years, and until now knew nothing else, nor probably wished to.

Even highly successful players face a dilemma. They posses a great deal of money, true, but only a very few could boast of having enough to down tools and retire on. So, as the song says, what does happen now? That is a very good question, and one that is not so easy to answer. Many of these players, successful but not stars, are not going to be thrilled with washing dishes in restaurants or pen-pushing in an office. Besides the fact that many of even the most successful poker players are high school and college drop-outs (Tom Dwan, Randal Flowers, Jonathan Duhamel and Joe Cada to name but a few), many are unqualified to do anything else.

Although you and I know that poker provides more transferable skills than your average hobby (patience, timing, mental strength, learning to read people and mathematics for a start), the average employer is likely to be less open minded. Iowa looks as if it may be a possible candidate for the first State to legalise online poker, but it could still be years until regulated online games go federal in the U.S. And where are they going to? Many online players have stated in blogs and articles across the web that they are, in all seriousness, thinking of moving to somewhere which offers poker free of legal disputes; Canada and Europe being the most likely competitors. It seems the events of “Black Friday” may have been the final straw for poker in America.

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