Posts Tagged ‘Texas-Poker-PAC’

How a Bill May or May Not Become a Law, Part 4
Fishing for co-sponsors

by , Sep 27, 2007 | 5:43 pm

Poker and Pete Sessions now go hand-in-hand as the six-term Republican signs on to champion poker-player interests.

Congress is bucking up for a new legislative season — in a presidential election year, no less — and our representatives have to make calculated principled educated decisions about which bills to stand behind. On Monday, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) signed on to cosponsor HR 2610, aka the Wexler bill or Skill Game Protection Act, which would effectively remove poker (along with bridge, chess, backgammon, and mah jongg) from the aegis of the UIGEA.

Sessions is the second Republican to align himself with this bill, and he promises to lend more than just his signature to the poker cause. “If we decide to get in this thing, it’s not because we’re [just] gonna use my name,” Sessions explained, “we’re doin’ it to get it done. Otherwise it’s like a warm bucket of spit — it’s no good.”

* * * * * * *

Before saying yea or nay, he wanted to hear more about the issues behind the legislation from the people it affects. So with the help of Lavigne in Austin, a small group of concerned constituents — including pros Clonie Gowen and Robert Williamson — joined lobbyists from the Poker Players Alliance in Sessions’ Dallas office last month for a roundtable discussion about this bill and online poker in general.

Congressman Pete Sessions (far left, pictorially, not politically) listens to PPA executive director John Pappas, addiction specialist Dr. John Talmadge, DC lobbyist Chris Giblin, and poker pro Clonie Gowen as they try to explain the bipartisan concept of fish.

This was a real opportunity to inform an influential congressman in greater detail about the horrors impact of the UIGEA and plea for emergency humanitarian aid a federal bailout sensible government intervention. It also provided a privileged glimpse into how our system really works and a chance to see the new leadership of the PPA in action … But yeesh, 9 am is a little early, no?!?


Federal Legislation Comes to Town

by , Aug 28, 2007 | 8:25 pm

It has been a while since I posted, but the Texas Poker PAC is still working towards our legislative goals. The next Texas Legislative Session begins in 2009, so we are working behind the scenes to get ready for our next push.

In the meantime, I have been appointed as the Texas State Director for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). The PPA is beginning to work individual states and I believe that what we are doing in Texas will serve as a model for other states.

Currently we are working on individual U.S. congressional districts. So, today I ask if any Pokerati readers live in Texas Congressional District 32. You can see the district boundaries by looking here — it’s mostly parts of Dallas, Richardson, Irving, Addison, and the Park Cities. If so, please send an email here.

More news to come I’m sure. As always, thanks for all of your help.

You Gotta Fight…

by , Jun 4, 2007 | 5:00 pm

AUSTIN–Sorry it took so long to get this Legislative Wrap-Up out, but I needed a little break.

The poker bill (HB 3186) indeed died this session. We most likely will not have legal poker in Texas before 2009. That’s the bad news.

There is much more good news though. Before this session, legal poker was little more than an intangible wish. It is a lot closer to a reality now. Our bill explicitly outlined a workable system for legal poker. Because of this, we gained a lot of legislative support as the session wore on and legislators could study our proposal. This gives us a huge leg up next session. Rather than explaining how the bill works, we will be able to be considered alongside a number of other revenue generating proposals.

We got a lot farther than most predicted. We did win a vote in committee and in the Calendars committee. We were even set on the house calendar. This is great considering the fact that the state didn’t need the extra revenue this year. Unfortunately the clock ran out on us despite having enough votes lined up in the State House to pass it. We even had a Senate sponsor ready to pick it up.

We had a great media day on the day of our committee hearing. The story was picked up by press all over the state and even CNN and some foreign outlets.

Because of all the work we did this session, we have something that the idea of legal poker never had in Texas: Credibility. With this new asset, we can continue the fight.


Better Luck (the year after) Next Year

by , May 30, 2007 | 2:26 am

A little too little a little too late, perhaps … but the Houston Chronicle has a great piece by columnist sports-blogger and ESPN/The Ticket radio talk-show host Jerome Solomon about why poker in Texas shoulda been legalized. Lavigne in Austin certainly has the message down … and others are starting to hear it. Encouraging, actually, to know that next time around what the poker people have to say might actually make sense to those who don’t play, and even those who might be generally against gambling.

Makes me think that maybe some of us have been using the wrong term — “legalized.” As this column points out … poker already is legal in Texas (like golf, and fishing, and bridge) and all we are looking to do is allow people (and the state) to profit off letting certain good folks offer a slightly souped-up version of the game … just updating the current laws that already allow the game to be played. Can you imagine if it were legal to golf, but illegal to run a pro shop? Maybe our use of the term “legalize” makes it sound like drugs.

Party Foundation?

by , May 29, 2007 | 2:13 pm

I’ll be competing in at least one event in the 2007 WSOP — $1,500 NLH on June 16. Exciting! Even more fun is that it’s all being made possible by our new-good-best friends at Milwaukee’s Best Light. Mmm-mmm. When you think about it, it really is an amazing beer. Go MBL! Guinness-shminness! The Euros will love this stuff!

As part of this sponsorship, I’ve agreed to donate half of any winnings in Event 27 to a reputable charity of my choice. Also cool because, you know, you gotta give to live, right? So it’s on me to figure out who gets Pokerati’s highly anticipated largess. (Milwaukee’s Best Light needs this info by Today morning, fyi.)


Down, But Not Out

by , May 12, 2007 | 3:04 pm

Sorry I didn’t post immediately after HB 3186 saw its untimely demise this week, but I went out and drank to bed Thursday night after it became evident that we weren’t gonna get there.

Lets bring the vitriol down a notch and look at the big picture here. I’ll do a proper post-mortem later, but for now lets remember a few things:

1) All good bills take time to pass. I was one of the primary organizers behind the legislation to give Texas teachers paid health insurance. That took us about 4 1/2 years in a time when the state was pretty flush with cash. Not because we did anything wrong, not because the system doesn’t work, but because that is just how long it takes to tell everyone what you want to do and why. We are WAY ahead of the curve on this one.

2) Nobody expected a bill this good to get filed…much less out of committee, through calendars and given a slot on the floor.

3) Our bill didn’t die because legislators don’t like/want poker. Our bill died because there were some major bad bills ahead of it that legislators didn’t want to get to. That is just the way it goes. Frankly, we are probably better off that some of those bills didn’t get voted on.

So, where does that leave us? That leaves us with about 2 1/2 weeks left of session. The possibility does still exist that we could amend our language onto another eligible bill that has already made it through one chamber. I’ll spare y’all the procedural civics lesson for now, but it is a possibility.

If that doesn’t work, we have 1 1/2 years to get ready to do this again. That isn’t very long. We will need to build up a better organization, raise money and stand together until then.

Stay tuned. The fatcats may be singing, but the fat lady isn’t even getting warmed up.

The Stars at Night are Big and (B)Right

by , May 9, 2007 | 6:07 pm

Deep in the heart of Texas tonight HB 3186 will be waiting to hear the news of its existence and position. Lets take a moment to thank Dan and Lavigne of Pokerati for their great efforts in trying to legalize poker in Texas. Not only have they put a tremendous amount of work into getting the bill to the floor but they have done an excellent job informing the public.

No matter what happens tonight – Thank You for getting off the soapbox and taking real action.

How a Bill Really Becomes a Law, Part 3

by , May 8, 2007 | 3:01 am

Tim in Dallas writes in with a late-night update on HB 3186, and a question that I think he was hoping was rhetorical:

From: Tim B
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 2:07 AM
To: dan michalski
Subject: woo WOO! HB 3186 made it through calendars!

Placed on General State Calendar 05/09/2007

they havent released the calendar for the 9th yet, so i dont know where in
the agenda it is, but this does mean its going to get a vote on the floor,

Indeed, Tim, this is a really good thing … but it may not be enough! Being on the general calendar is no guarantee that the House will get to it … and if they don’t, then despite all hard work and good sense, it simply dies.

To be sure the bill gets heard on the floor, it needs to be on the Major State Calendar. Rep. Jose Menendez, Lavigne in Austin, and the lobbyists are actively trying to make that happen … but that’s why pressure still matters today and tomorrow. In fact, if you happen to be a big-time Republican donor … now would be a really good time to get in touch voice-to-voice with your highest-ranking peeps and encourage them to make poker a priority.

Fingers crossed, buttons clicking, stomachs turning … it feels like we’ve flopped a set only to be up against open-ended-straight and flush draws with two cards to come.


How a Bill Really Becomes a Law, Part 1

by , Apr 16, 2007 | 6:05 am

Or not … our beloved little HB 3186 still has a ways to go. But we are “this much closer” to legal-better poker in Texas … at a minimum, people in the law business are becoming more and more familiar with our “issues” … and an increasing number of political bidders are looking at dollar signs (and calculating implied pot odds) on an unusual bill that has, let’s say, 75 percent public support …

Here is the testimony presented earlier this month for and against legalized Texas poker to the legislative committee charged with making the first rounds of decisions about this bill. You will find it either totally boring or C-Span fascinating … and if you’re in the latter camp, you’ll probably hear much that you find encouraging. Listen closer, however, and you may get a sense that some hardline politicking has only just begun:

House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee
Austin, TX – 4/3/07



Update and Call to Action

by , Apr 5, 2007 | 2:44 pm

Things have been busy here in A-town as we work to bring Hold’em to Texas. We had a successful day on Tuesday as we bombarded the state with our media outreach and made a strong case for Poker in the committee hearing. I’m sure Dan and Michele have/will post(ed) links to the Pokerpages video and some other resources if you want to follow what went down.

There are way too many people to thank for the success we had yesterday and its a little early to pat ourselves on the back just yet, but please know that the Texas Poker PAC, PPA and Texas Cardplayers Association are in collusion right now and working well as a team.

Our witnesses testified perfectly and were really patient as we were delayed about 6 hours. There are worse things in the world than being holed up in a hotel conference room with Clonie and Michele…not to mention two Poker Hall of Famers (Lyle Berman and Crandall Addington) and Erick Lindgren. I even learned that there is such a thing as “Perfect Chinese” poker, though none of it was on display there.

The bill was left pending in committee which is standard operating procedure for major bills and even most smaller ones.

Michele already recapped much of the action and i’m sure Dan will be doing so as well when he’s done gloating over his half victory in last night’s drinky rules debate…

We have a really good chance at passage of the poker bill this year. Admitedly, I didn’t even think our chances would be this good at this early stage in the fight.


Call and email your State Representative and ask them to support the Texas Poker Act, HB 3186 by Menendez. Click Here to find out who your Representative is and to get their contact info.

We need you to do this right now! We will be polling members next week to see where we stand so please let them know you are out there today. If you get a machine leave a message and call back tomorrow or send an email or do both. We want to make it known that there are a lot of us, we vote and we want poker.

Stay tuned, we are just getting started here…

As always, you should feel free to contribute to the effort monetarily by joining the Texas Poker PAC.

PS. Does Dan play the same “questionable” hands in Dallas or does he just save that crap for when he plays us Austin donkeys?

Reshuffling the Deck

by , | 12:51 pm

AUSTIN–I’m still in the Texas heartland, and I couldn’t have left here without playing some cards. All went well while playing an un-raked game at a bar that gives out awesome cheesy truckers’ hats to its patrons. I had “Brad Beats” sitting to my right — his hat said “If I wanted to hear an asshole, I would fart” — and he and I got into it about a rule that I know all too well.

You see, I made a mistake and dealt the turn prematurely. Right right, I know what you are thinking … But Dan, we have gone over this one time and time again! I know. But apparently Brad Beats hasn’t been reading his Pokerati everyday like he should, and he thought he knew the right way to rectify this dealer misstep.

Cool, I will bet you $100 you are wrong, I retorted.

“Dude, I’ve seen this happen two times in Las Vegas, so I know I am right!”

OK, then how ’bout $1,000? I’ll even give you 5-to-1 odds. (It’s fun to have a potential prop bet where you are virtually certain to be holding the nuts …)


Legal Texas Texas Holdem?

by , Apr 2, 2007 | 9:54 pm

Since Dan is on the road, I just wanted to let you know that us Texan’s stirrin’ the pot are creating quite a…stir. Articles are popping up on the net (including Cardplayer) showing support for tomorrow’s hearing in Austin. I will be on the road in the morning to join Batman and Robin for the exciting adventure. Stay tuned…we’ll be right back.

PPA Joins the Texas Fight

by , Mar 30, 2007 | 3:00 pm

A big thank you to the PPA for sending out this email to their Texas membership today!

Dear Texas Poker Player,

As you know, the Poker Players Alliance is fighting on your behalf in Washington, D.C. and at the state level to defend your right to play poker. The fight for legal, safe and fair poker is taking place here in Texas right now.

The Texas Poker PAC is an ally of the PPA and has worked hard to get great legislation introduced that will regulate and expand legal poker in Texas! House Bill HB 3186 was filed by Representative Jose Menendez of San Antonio. This will have a public hearing on Tuesday, April 3rd in the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures and poker in the great state of Texas needs your support.

This is a unique opportunity to have your voice heard in support of the game you love! Testifying in favor of the bill will be some high profile folks like Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren, Lyle Berman, Dallas DA Craig Watkins and others.

Please join us in Austin on the afternoon of April 3rd to make your voice heard! The hearing will be held in the Capital Extension Building (North side of the Capitol) Room E2.030 (3rd Level Downstairs) at approximately 2 PM. I would love you to join me and other members of the PPA and stand up for Poker in Texas!

If you cannot make it to Austin then, please click here to send an email or call the committee members’ Austin offices. Here is a list of Committee members with their e-mails and phone numbers. We encourage you to call for poker in Texas.


Fwd: Help Make Poker Legal in Texas

by , Mar 22, 2007 | 5:39 am

I sent an email out a few days ago to all my poker friends. If you didn’t get it, here it is, and you can sign up to get on the Texas Poker PAC mailing list here.

Attention Texas Poker Players!

Legislation has been filed in the Texas House of Representatives that would allow real poker in Texas!
The bill is HB 3186 by Jose Menendez of San Antonio.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • 4 live and/or electronic, raked tables allowed in each establishment that meets requirements
  • Lottery Commission decides how many tables are allowed in each racetrack
  • Charitable poker enabled
  • Mandatory dealer training and licensing
  • Licensing for distributors of commercial poker equipment
  • Money raised will be dedicated to necessary state services
  • Criminal penalties for dishonest operators
  • Raises over a billion dollars for state services


Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

by , Nov 22, 2006 | 2:37 pm

My name is Mike Lavigne (AKA “Lavigne in Austin”) and I am the founder and treasurer of the Texas Poker PAC. Dan has invited me to start posting regularly in an effort to keep Pokerati readers up to date on the status of our fight to expand and regulate poker in Texas.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you in Dallas over the last year as we have gotten the Texas Poker PAC off the ground. Statewide legislative efforts like the Poker PAC take time to organize if they are to be done right, and I appreciate all the help and contributions thus far.

I have an extensive background in partisan politics, campaign and legislative strategy and public relations. I am also registering as an independent lobbyist this session. My client list is varied, but i will have a client (other than the PAC) that has an interest in the fight for poker.