Pokery Presidential Politics

Prop-betting for a better future

by , Nov 1, 2008 | 10:34 pm

Sorry I’ve been a little out of pocket in recent days weeks months. But I got kinda hooked on election coverage. Dammit, promised myself four years ago that I wouldn’t get caught up in the BS-laden pre-election horse race coverage, but instead ended up making the biggest prop bet of my life about a month ago — $1,000 on Barack Obama.

Since then, I’ve spent my days and nights flipping news channels and scouring YouTube for funny/insightful political vids to send to that great online Deuce-to-Seven player, luvgamble, aka Donkey Bomber, aka Tom the Plumber. My original offer was $500 +3 points, and when given the opportunity for better odds without the points, I had to double my wager. (That’s just smart gambling, right?) So when the pundits are saying there’s a lot at stake this election … they ain’t kidding!

Tom’s an Arizona homer for McCain who’s been mass-forwarding easily disprovable, often hypocritical right-wing propaganda for about a year-and-a-half now — the sort that screams, imho, “Holy shit, is America really gonna put Hillary Clinton a black guy in there!?!” To be clear: I’m not saying luvgamble nor any of his email distro cronies are racists or sexists. I’m just saying they’re white … and probably don’t own any Dr. Dre.

And that’s why I felt (and still feel) that I had a better read on the election than he did.

$1k’s a pretty big bet for me. If I lose, totally not paying I will definitely feel it. It won’t make me cry or head to the pawn shop or anything, but no more upsizing combo meals and extra fries for the dog for a while. Basically, making this bet was like shoving all-in early, so I couldn’t get outplayed after the flop. And though I’ve had a few moments of discomfort about the wager(s) along the way, as Election Day draws near, if I, er, I mean Obama, does indeed win … that’s right, baby, we’re goin’ to Sizzler! America’s going to Sizzler!

Since the bet, Tommy-boy and I have been having quite the political discourse — educating and challenging ourselves like all good Americans should via Socratic dialogue and Lincoln-Douglas debate. But far from reaching any common ground or finding solutions to world problems (we both believe the other just doesn’t get it, and probably never will) we instead decided it was in both our interests to just gamble more. And admittedly, I’m a little less confident about our recently sealed sidebet of an extra $400 on a 5-point spread.

While Obama will be my first ever presidential vote for a Democrat, Tom insists his unbending support of McCain is all a matter of practical business — “Taxes! Socialism! Hillary! Terror!” — to which I really had no response other than to put my money where my vote was.

Shortly after the VP debate, Tom made me a buyout offer — $100 to call off the bet. Please. Am I really that much of a prop-bet rookie? I countered with $1,100, he declined.

After Prez-debate#2, he offered $400. Still wasn’t interested … ($650 or so probably woulda been enough to make me think about it …) but it did have me wondering if it was uncool of me to not even consider some sort of chop. So plagued by capitalist greed gambling addiction liberal guilt, here’s where I may or may not have made a bad add-on wager:

I said we’ll bet another $500 on a 4 point spread. Because really, all along I’ve felt in my gut — the poker-savvy innards Tom has been teaching me to get in touch with — that Obama will win in a landslide. So if Obama won the popular vote 52-48 or better, I’d win $1,500. If he just edged out McCain, I’d win only $500. And if he were to lose, Tom would get the pleasure of having me personally (and painfully) hand him a minor WSOP event buy-in.

Alas, due to a technical prop-betting error (my fault: I made the offer, Tom responded “cool”, but I didn’t confirm until three weeks later, when the polls were at their biggest disparity) the 500+4 was considered a non-bet (I declined arbitration), and we renegotiated, adding a $400 sidebet on a 5-point spread, adjusting the numbers above accordingly.

Oy, the gap between 4 and 5 percent seems huge — and I’m not just talking about the $800 swing it represents to me. The more I’ve thought about it … if Obama just barely wins, the country is still split as ever – and we can expect four years of Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, and even intelligent conservatives trying to tear him down by any means necessary. But were he to win by a sizable margin … well then the country is arguably unified once again.

The most reliable tracking poll in 2004 (the conservative Investor’s Business Daily) has the split currently at 4.5.

When I first started writing this post (more than a month ago), I had a couple links to some pop-culturey current-event commentary that I thought made convincing arguments. But the funny and telling kept changing by the day, so if you’re still with me here … below are some link and video highlights of what’s been keeping me warm at night while making a convincing case that, indeed, it was my patriotic duty to bet a fat wad on Barack Obama.

It’s the economy, stupid:

The endorsement that gave me actual confidence to pull the trigger and bet came from Wick Allison. The D Magazine publisher and former editor of the National Review is the most intelligently argumentative conservative guy I know (a McCain contributor no less):

A Conservative for Obama
My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.

Ask yourself, do you really blame George Bush for all our problems right now, or do you think he had help?

I’ve never seen in an election anywhere, ever, so many high-profile defections. Former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan:

Tom the Plumber dismissed the relevance of this. But hey, can’t be a total idiot, right? At a minimum, McClellan knows how to sell books!
What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception

Colin Powell endorsed Obama as well, and explains away pretty much all the anti-Obama arguments with a little more credibility than I can:

Disturbing Sidenote
I voted early the other day. Waited in line for a half hour. The election official who scanned my registration card never asked for me to show any ID. So I could’ve had a registration card with anyone’s name on it.

Oh, well, I’m not gonna say anything. Florida karma.

Opie for Obama:

Republican Tax Fears Legit?

One issue raised repeatedly by my prop-bet opponent and otherwise reasonable Republican stalwarts is something super-duper critical about taxes with promises of trickle-down catastrophe. I dunno, sounds similar to what they were saying before those dark days of relative peace and economic surplus under Bill Clinton and the Tax & Spend Liberals, when the nation’s biggest problems were getting one too many blowjobs.

Challenged to “find one successful businessman” who backed Barack Obama’s economic plan (“not counting Hollywood!”) I did a search on Wikipedia for “obama endorsements” and got this page — a list of what must be close to 1,000 notable names attaching themselves to Obama.

A search for “mccain endorsements” … no page with that title exists. Hmm, I wonder if the internet’s gonna factor into global finance in the 21st Century.

Anyhow, for those of us incapable of comprehending the socio-fiscal implications of Obama adjustments to the always-adjusting tax code, we can at least know that despite threats of imminent (and immediate!) disaster under Barack Obama, the following businessy-econ types still give him the thumbs-up:

* Martha Stewart (can she vote?)
* 6 Winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics
* Paul O’Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush
* Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton
* Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury
* Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury
* Marc Andreessen, software engineer, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and co-founder of Netscape
* Warren Buffett, investor and richest man in the world
* Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s [Note: They don’t count to conservatives]
* David Geffen, media executive, producer and philanthropist
* Nicholas A. B. Gray, owner of Gray’s Papaya hot dog restaurant in New York City
* Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, President, and CEO of Stonyfield Farm
* Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook
* Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television
* Jeffrey Katzenberg, film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation
* Billy King, former general manager and team president of NBA team Philadelphia 76ers
* Alex Rigopulos, CEO of Harmonix Music Systems, company notable for creating Rock Band and Guitar Hero
* Brink Lindsey, Vice President of Research for the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound
* William Louis-Dreyfus, billionaire New York financier
* Hugh McColl, former CEO, Bank of America
* Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and CEO of Shine Limited
* Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
* Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL
* Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman and CEO
* Leigh Steinberg, sports agent
* John W. Thompson, CEO of Symantec
* Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners
* David Voelker, owner and manager of Voelker Investments
* Craig Newmark, founder of website Craigslist
* Steve Westly, founding executive of eBay, managing partner of the Westly Group, and former California State Controller
* The Economist

And here, for good measure, Tom-look-a-like Jim Cramer explains (about 2:00 in) why Obama’s tax plan is no threat to the markets, at least no more of a threat than any other tax plans out there:

Meanwhile, McCain reached out to 17,000 members of the American Economics Association looking for signatories to his warning of dire consequences of Obama’s economic plan, and he got 70 to agree.

And for those who like it a little simpler, BusinessPundit gives his 5 Reasons Obama is Good for Business.

So warn me all you want about the danger our economy faces under an Obama Tax Plan … I have confidence that successful businessfolk will always figure out how to succeed, no matter what the set-up. After all, I can only imagine that getting rid of slavery threatened to be pretty “disastrous” for the economy, too.

Obama Girl explaining the tax issues:

This election is not just an American issue, — it’s of global importance. In the Bahamas recently, I saw T-shirts that said “Bahama Obama“, and in Mexico signs that said “¡Viva Obama!” Nothing of the sort for McCain, though he did get an endorsement from Al Qaeda.

Since then, The Economist has put out a really cool map of how the election would break down were Manifest Destiny ever fully achieved and all the nations of the world admitted to the Electoral College.

Apparently the rest of the world has taken sides (wow, what a concept, a whole planet agreeing on something!) and, eager to love America again, has all its hopes for us on a mulatto from Chicago with a funny name.

An Italian “commercial” for Obama:
(thanks, Jen!)

Kenyan Afro-fusion musician Makadem’s new hit song, “Obama Be Thy Name”:

The Kenyans also have Obama the Musical:

Hillary Clinton is Fucking Obama:

But not this drunken Hillary Clinton supporter … she likes black guys – just not A-rabs!

So while the meth crowd might not be down with Barack, Obama does seem to have a handle on the booty-shaking demo:

via Barely Political via Justified Right

BTW, if you liked that vid … Obama Girl back in the day when she thought she might be duking it out with Giuliani Girl:

Deadheads for Obama:

via Huffington Post

Negative campaign ads:

It’s not about race, though I gotta say I am pretty excited about the chance to vote for a black guy. Seriously, I was raised to embrace diversity and pshaw racism, yet never in my 36 years have I had the chance to take part in something that would serve as such vivid testament to those non-racist ideas — and dare I say ideals? — actually being put into practice.

At a minimum, it would essentially be a national resolution telling people like these motivated McCain/Palin supporters to STFU!

Chris Rock on why successful black people can’t be content with just barely winning:

An inspiring, non-partisan performance by 7th graders that, let’s face it, wouldn’t have happened were it not for Barack Obama:

Meanwhile, a McCain spokesman is trying to scare the Jews:

Did a search for “official mccain ads” on YouTube, and this was the first vid to come up:

The internet must be frustrating the shit out of the R’s, as Obama fans are using it to show the textbook similarities between McCain and Bush:

A search for “mccain supporters” brought up all sorts of stuff like this now infamous back of a lady’s head, who expressed her grave fear of Othello:

She’s probably what … 65-70ish years old? Think about it … When she was a little girl, the old people in her time were born in the 1800s!

True Bar-bettable Factoid:

When was the last time the Republicans won the presidency without a Bush or a Nixon on the Ticket?

Separated at Birth: John McCain and Cotton Hill

via My New Plaid Pants

Sarah Palin’s kinda a ringer for Peggy Hill, too.

More on who the real Obama is, according to McCain supporters:

Poker Factoid:

Barack Obama has read Positively Fifth Street. Jim McManus’ wife works on his campaign’s finance committee.

Surprisingly poignant video from Paris Hilton (for Fake President):

Funny/sad/inspiring vid from the Budweiser “Wasssup!” dudes (offering personal opinions, not necessarily those of Anheuser-Busch):

It’s all about getting out the vote, and getting it out big, so there is no question about what the nation really wants. Nish Gaveer, a West Philly rapper rhymin’ for Obama … seriously, you didn’t see this kinda shit with John Kerry or Al Gore, and it’s what gives me a little confidence about my landslide sidebet:

(via The Audacity of Dope)

Also via TAD, via, with a passionate get-out-the-vote vid from HipHopster Jay Smooth that I’m pretty sure is resonating even with the laziest among us:

Kinda interesting (to me) that I can’t really tell if he’s black or white … and frankly, two months ago, I probably woulda researched it to find out. But now, really, it doesn’t seem to matter. The message (and the beat, yo) is good enough for me.

And maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little inspired … my Obama support started as a simple matter of anti-Republicanism … but as I have followed the guy and gotten to know more, it’s the first time in my life that I can actually see the possibility of an America that I long ago figured didn’t really exist. I suppose that’s the dream Martin Luther King was speaking about … say what you will about taxes and job creation under McCain’s plan, but I gotta think the inspiration, the proof, that anything really is possible for anyone in this country, no matter what your prior circumstance or current obstacles, is worth more than a trillion dollars.

Joe Biden, pumping up the crowd:

More Kool-Aid, please!

In his most positive ad yet — seriously, this is an official spot — even John McCain seems to suggest if you can’t beat’em, join’em:

Ahh, now that’s the honorable John McCain we woulda given serious thought to voting for, had we had the chance 4 or 8 years ago. Very noble of you to lay on a grenade for the sake of American history.

In a way, we owe a debt of gratitude to the leader of the people who took so much advantage of their power, practicing politics without principle, that it brought us to this point – and you can express your thanks by shopping at the official George W. Bush CafePress store.

Seriously, the same way I could never have imagined the fall of the Soviet Union growing up, I never thought I’d see a speech like this in Richmond, Va., the former capitol of the Confederacy:

So there you have it. Exciting times. Should be a good Thanksgiving. Sorry for preaching to the choir/pummeling deaf ears here, but I kinda had to think through it all … and having now given my $.02 (and voted early), I think it would only be fair of me to offer Tom the Plumber a buyout for $1,399.98.

(I’ll consider it a gracious redistribution of wealth hedge-gift from one friend to another just in case you’re right about any of that economy stuff.)

8 Comments to “Pokery Presidential Politics”

  1. donkey bomber

    Dan. You are making the same mistake as the Dixie Chicks and other Hollywood idiots thinking that people are interested in what you think about politics. They are barely interested in your thoughts on poker.unfortunately for the US you are one of the better informed voters who is unable to digest the info in order to come up with the right answer. Also unfortunately you are another example of the liberal bias in the press. Also unfortunately I’m going to lose my bet. No big deal. The way I’m running obama wii have to redistribute it back to me.

  2. DanM

    Don’t go dissing the Dixie Chicks. The willingness of these Dallas girls to speak their minds no matter how unpopular the opinion makes them real mavericks.

  3. Kevin Mathers

    They couldn’t find an awards ceremony in the US to make those comments?

  4. California Jen

    So refreshing to see a post that is so detailed and thorough… To see some of your thought process that led to your presidential pick is educational, and I hope that others would put the same process into play when making big decisions.

    Donkey Bomber, I think this is exactly what people need to see, not because of some non-existent media bias in the press, but because a decision to pick the president should be based on as much info as a person can possibly absorb.

    Go Obama! (And thanks, Dan, for the post.)

  5. DanM

    Jen, my mom greatly disagrees with you/me/the rest of the country/world. She sent me an email:

    Sorry, but I will not feel good if Obama wins. I TOTALLY disagree with man who wants us to “share” what your father has worked so hard for.

    [Inaccurate tax info about family finances redacted.]

    Also, just a sidenote, I really don’t think you should have made such a lengthy stand on Pokerati. A sentence or two is okay, but all that other stuff, was just a waste of time and very boring.

    Now what I am really hoping is that you made your bet but will cast your vote for McCain

    Love Mom

    Mom, ouch! Well I think your blog is boring, so there!

    ***some non-existent media bias in the press***

    I’d be careful with that comment Jen. The bias is definitely there … if anything, I think the media is doing a make-up call for buying so much Bush BS hook, line, and stinker.

  6. California Jen

    I’m not saying that there is NO media bias, but if people really take a look at all of the media with open eyes and do a little investigative follow-up, they can see the truths. My point is that people who use the all-encompassing term “liberal bias in the press” really aren’t looking at the big picture.

  7. DanM

    I just learned that Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are 8th cousins.

    Yikes, that sort of nepotism makes me very uneasy.

  8. DanM

    Great article about the Web 2.0 nature of this election year: