Amy Calistri = Socialist, Closet OU Fan

by , May 5, 2009 | 4:59 am

It’s true. And she’s been palling around with druggies and convicts just so she can “write about it” and (don’t tell anyone I said this) I’m even hearing unconfirmed, squalidly detailed rumors from an imaginary source that she’s got a thing for Somali pirates! I’ll pull short of calling her The Ann Coulter of Poker … but she certainly touched a nerve by questioning the “good fight” behind our beloved little Texas HB 222.

Player safety, protection from shady games, capitalist personal freedom not real enough issues to vote on?

I might be extra-sensitive because, frankly, the bill seems to be stalling in Calendars Committee. Why that is, I’m not sure … they’ve heard our message, they know it has passable support … throw an amendment on if you need to, but c’mon … put us on the agenda already! I’m a little removed from what’s going on in Austin during this hectic part of the Session, but I’m pretty sure if we don’t move the bill forward in like the next -2 days, we might be in trouble … Just sitting there for like two weeks seems odd, assuming it’s ready for a simple yay or nay. I suppose it’s possible we’re getting Fristed somewhere in the process. Or, perhaps they’re just having a sincere intellectual dilemma, inspired by Amy Calistri’s question:

Why Do I Want to Pay a Rake?

Why is the PPA wasting time feigning a “grass roots” issue over a Texas bill whose only beneficiary is commercial poker – in a state where poker is unquestionably legal? … It doesn’t exactly meet my definition of fighting the good fight. I mean, even the banking lobby doesn’t ask me to petition my legislators for higher ATM fees. And they can be shameless.

[OK, deep breath, find peace … no tilt]

Amy raises some fair questions, which deserve answers. Yes, indeed. [Breathe]

First though, allow me to defend the PPA (full disclosure: card-carrying member): I think it’s hardly “feigning” a grass-roots movement when the PPA, over the years, has built a well-connected network of state directors, who are in a position to say, “Hey, we’ve got a real fight here!” — like a bill moving through the Legislature (which 90 percent of the states out there can’t say) — to which the national headquarters is ready to respond with some assistance … like sending out emails and setting up a special website to allow people to communicate with their elected officials. How is that a bad use of resources? Shouldn’t members be more bothered if such a state fight was going on and the PPA didn’t get involved? Maybe I’m just ignorant and optimistically cosmopolitan, believing the whole world has an interest in seeing Texas “legalize” poker …

OK, so back to her fair question … We all know the arguments and basic math behind how much money can be raked on the state’s behalf — pretty much just look at WinStar and multiply by 15 + Texas. But I’ll admit, that’s just the politics of HB 222, not the principle, because really it is easier to say, “Hey, this bill will generate money, not cost any.” But where would that money come from? The players, of course … and that’s where Amy raises her question about why she should want to patronize a for-profit poker operation when she can play at home for free.

My answers:

1. Because. Why shouldn’t I have the right, theoretically, if I were a legal, licensed operator, to rake my game (within the bounds established by law)? You tell me your legal, un-raked multitable home game is pretty good, and I’m sure it is. I’d love to play, can you get me in, along with 100 of my friends? Because if not, we’d like to have the option to go to Lone Star, where they might be running a 7 pm tourney. That doesn’t hurt your game does it? Cool, because if someone thinks they can throw a better game using a for-profit business model that charges the patrons, shouldn’t they have the right to do so? It is just poker, after all, not drugs or puppy-skinning. And letting the market decide where people play for what price … that’s just capitalism.

2. Protect and Serve. I’ve had dozens of friends and poker colleagues robbed at gunpoint. A few shots have been fired. Because they’re playing a game, and hosts are not allowed to hire off-duty police officers for security. Shouldn’t a game — your game even — have the right to protect its players how it sees fit? We’ve had one guy killed already (Arlington) and even a birthday tournament at suburban micromansion (Cedar Hill) has been robbed at gunpoint, in front of the wife and kids, no less! What’s so wrong with giving these players — or people simply living in bad neighborhoods — a safer option that requires no clean-up? Or more specifically, what’s right about not allowing such a place to exist? We’re not talking about opium dens and needle exchange programs, we’re talking about clarifying the law in a way that reduces the chance of a good wage-earning, tax-paying, family-man (or a hot soccer mom) finds themselves at the wrong end of a 1/2 No-Limit gun barrel.

3. Police and Courts would Appreciate the Help. Right now, law enforcement has to expend resources busting games and tie up the court system with misdemeanors that prosecutors would rather not have to deal with, knowing the current laws in place aren’t enough for them to rely on for a conviction. That is why so many law enforcement agencies and officials have given at least a tacit thumbs-up to regulated brick-and-mortar poker in Texas. Again, this shouldn’t affect Amy’s game at all … but should she not allow others the option to pay a rake, then she is tacitly telling the cops and DAs that she doesn’t really care about your time and fiscal resources.

4. The People Want More Stephenvilles. The Cowboy Capital tourney was a huge success, as it always is, revealing just how many truck-driving, church-going white people love to get together every so often for a big poker competition. The people involved in this event are fortunate to have a non-profit host willing to put on a good time for a few hundred of his friends at a loss. But few can afford to do this. Offering legally raked games in Texas would allow for more of these events, which Amy’s home game is simply too small to handle.

5. The Handicapped. Residential home games don’t have to be ADA compliant, and therefore the handicapped are plausibly excluded from enjoying the same activity as Amy and her best poker friends. This would not be a problem, though, if these valuable (and lovable!) physically challenged citizens could play at their nearest horse track or Indian casino.

So there you have it … five good reasons for HB 222 that don’t even take into account all the revenue generation our politicos are promising or bore you with comparisons to competitive, raked fishing tournaments. I’m sure there are other reasons that I’ve overlooked, too, and these still may not answer directly why any particular Texan should want to pay a rake … but preventing a Texan from having the sensible-to-them option of doing so? Well, at least as it pertains to poker, that’s just Oklahoman.

Look, we’ve got a good bill ready to be voted on … now all we need is our representatives to do their part and let the State have a respectable debate to determine if we can allow such a thing as Texas Hold’em tournament with an entry fee in a way that doesn’t harm those who don’t wish to pay it.

10 Comments to “Amy Calistri = Socialist, Closet OU Fan”

  1. Johnny Hughes

    I am a big Amy Calistri fan. Calling her an Oklahoma fan is really severe. I’ll lay 20 to 1 that Amy has not been robbed….yet.

    I have played in one non-rake game in Texas in the last fifty years. I only played once.

    Under capitalism, poker games will compete with each other with lower rake, delicious food, and better security. Just like they do right now. If some slick runs a poker joint with no rake, and they are playing high, keep looking around.

    Johnny Hughes

  2. Amy C

    Johnny’s right. I’ve never been an OU fan. Dan’s right. I’m probably left of a socialist.

    And I admit that my home game in Texas is probably far better than what most people have…no rake…good security…and handicapped accessible. (Granted, we have to run across the street for food.) And as a totally legal game in Texas, it’s never been raided in the 15 years of its operation.

    Maybe I should stop being selfish and give the rest of Texas a chance to play under the same healthy conditions — albeit with a rake.

    Although the whole idea of a rake just erks me — especially in a state where I can play legally and rake free today. For one thing, I’m really cheap. And, perhaps, most importantly: I think a rake is the only difference between me being a positive and negative EV player. I’m just not that good:)

    But I’m sure I’ll get over it. Good luck on your bill.

  3. DanM

    Amy, you fold so easily! This is not the flame war I was hoping to start! Oh well … I’m sure we will find issues to spar on in the future. :/

    P.S. I thought of another reason … protecting novice (or even experienced) players from shady games!

  4. Ken

    I don’t know, maybe its just me but why are people having such a hard time with this Bill…?? Do they not understand that in its current state, it has the possibility to raise MILLIONS for the state.. In this troubling economic time, how could ANYONE possibly turn down that kind of money….???

    The State of Texas needs to get over their “left wing” mentality and possibly try to grasp being open-minded to the idea that poker is a good thing for them.

  5. Poker Shrink

    The scorpio did not sting you and yet you poked it again. Dan you argue like you date: dangerously and with your eyes averted.

  6. Card Chucker

    Well all of yesterday’s floor time was taken on cockfighting… That’s right, they are debating on making it illegal to attend cockfights or not.

  7. Mojo

    Amy’s comments on the other thread were off-base. I made a lengthy response to the “dens will kill racetrack rooms” argument in the Comments of that thread. Short version: no Houston underground room could compete with a 50 table room.

    But I’m still worried. Unless the racetracks and the Indians can make peace, both bills will die without a hearing. And since the state is not in a serious budget crisis (ha!), it is unlikely that Perry will call a special session.

    Now if Tilman Fertitta had a piece of the racetracks, we’d probably see some movement…. lolz

  8. DanM

    Well, we’re definitely a little slow on some things …

    Texas would condemn poll taxes, which it and 10 other Southern states once used to deny blacks the vote, under a measure passed by the House on Monday.

    The resolution would symbolically put Texas on record as belatedly approving the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bars forbidding any citizen to vote for failure to pay a poll tax. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states more than 45 years ago.

    Texas is one of nine states not to have “post-ratified” the 24th Amendment. The measure now goes to the Senate, where an identical resolution died last session.

  9. Steve L

    I posted a dissenting comment on Amy’s blog, but it mysteriously dissappeared.
    Anyway, poker may be legal in Texas, but having a dealer isn’t. Everyone chipping in for rent isn’t. (even if everyone chips in equally) Everyone chipping in for food isn’t.
    If you want to play legal poker in Texas, you have to do it in someone’s house (or somewhere else entirely rent free). You have to bring your own food. You have to take turns actually dealing the cards. (taking turns dealing suck ass… I refuse to do it).
    If you want a nice, clean, safe, professional enviroment with plasma TVs and the sounds of chips clicking echoing throught the room you can’t do it in Texas. You have to go to Winstar or beyond. And that’s a shame.
    An yes, the law will also help out some big fish… that’s what many laws do.

  10. RobD

    To put a final nail into the coffin of Amy’s argument against HB222, I was at a Austin poker game last night and we got robbed at gun point (5/7/09, early morning). It was in a nice neighborhood and is known to regulars as FPC. At least two people got beat up. We’re all lucky to be alive. The Travis county sherrif was called and filed a report.