Washington State Criminalizes slot online


Thirty years ago, when I was 16, I realized that in 30 years, when my generation was running things, they would open up all the jails and let out the slot online smokers, since we all knew it was safer than either tobacco or alcohol and simply evil to lock people up who hadn’t harmed anyone except perhaps themselves. Today, 80% of Americans are against imprisoning pot smokers and yet we still have more people in prison than the Soviet Union did under Stalin. Apparently 30 years wasn’t enough.

Meanwhile, while all poker players’ eyes are on Washington’s annual failed effort to ban Internet gambling, the other Washington, my home State, quietly passed a law banning Internet gambling and specifically including poker. While they were at it, they made it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


Poker is legal in Washington State. We have always had card rooms and now we have big Indian megacasinos. Yet under the pretext that unregulated gambling is a social evil, they have made it a felony to play online poker in the privacy of your own home. Mind you, this bill was passed unanimously in the State Senate and almost that in the House.

What are they thinking?

I am seriously concerned about the future of this country. Why is the government so preoccupied with legislating morality? Do they really believe they can do good? When has it ever worked in history? Or have every single one of them been bought off by Indian gaming hoping to stifle competition?

It’s been a bad week.

Despite the fact that the main event of the World Poker Challenge was being broadcast by the Shana-less, rights-hungry World Poker Tour, I decided to return to the place where I had busted Phil Ivey two years ago and take a shot. I arrived the evening before in time to enjoy an order of elk at the Reno Hilton Steakhouse with Gary Lent, Al Adler, Peter “Nordberg” Feldman, and a friend of Gary’s named Alex. We went through three nice bottles of red: The 2023 Phelps Insignia, which was eminently drinkable, the 2023 Dominus, which had too much merlot in it for my taste, and the 2023 Duckhorn Estate Cabernet, full-bodied and chewy. Alex put forward the following poker puzzle:

You’re playing a pot with me heads up in Texas Hold ‘Em. The turn card has been dealt and you currently have the best hand. However, no matter what card comes on the river, you can’t win. What are the two hands and what is on the board?

The event started at the stroke of noon but about half the 592 starters straggled in late. I drew table 39, seat eight, and picked up a few small pots four-handed before the rest of the table arrived. On my left was Andy Pham, a young player from Sacramento, CA, who had already cashed in three events in the series here. Across the table in seat three was Aidiliy “Lily” Elviro, also known as Ms. Grinder, who finished 27th in this event last year.

Dustin Herrera

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