We interrupt this poker sitcom to bring you a special report... because how I did in a tournament last night is so getting bumped off the front page and into the "Lifestyles" section.
I didn't sleep much last night. I'm sure the same goes for a lot of you.
This actually isn't the first time I've worked for a corporation that has seen its stock lose over 50% of its value. A long time ago, back in the late 20th century, I was a tiny cog in the wheel of a giant media conglomerate that did just that. I saw young executives who had finally graduated to that company stock portfolio lose thousands overnight and Senior VPs and Division Presidents put their houses on the market. Directors and VPs burned up the phone lines to rival studios, reaching out for whatever potential employment scraps were available. It wasn't mass hysteria, but it was close.
The stock never reached its high again, but it did rebound. A lot of people lost their jobs, but the vast majority were unaffected. Mostly, everyone just freaked out until the dust settled and we got a clearer picture of the future.
I don't have a lot of faith in my government anymore. We go to war with a country that never attacked us while 9/11's mastermind still drinks tea and eats llama with his cronies in a cave somewhere. 50 million Americans don't have health insurance. 37 million live below the poverty line. There is a hole in the sky that is slowly giving us all cancer and Republicans with their hands in the oil industry's deep pockets are still telling us that global warming doesn't exist. People can still get weapons and explosives on airplanes. A bodybuilder-turned-action star governs the state I live in. And our elected representatives are jerking off to IM conversations with 13-year old boys.
Still, with all those problems, our Congressional leadership finds it more important to sneak online gaming legislation through the back door of the Capitol like a $200 hooker. Just so Bill Frist can curry favor with Iowa politicians right before he prepares to barnstorm that state for the 2008 Republican primary. Personally, I hope he runs. Democrats couldn't ask for a better opponent.
Ladies and gentelmen, we are IN the Twilight Zone.
As I watched the London markets open and the initial reports roll in on CNN in the middle of the night, even the broadcasters themselves were completely taken aback by the news. Online gaming is a $12 billion industry, and Bill Frist just hacked it to pieces overnight.
I'll admit, I'm scared. After all, I currently make a living in the poker industry. But I'm not going to panic. I'm not going to cash out my accounts yet. Here's why.
While Party and Stars feel like they have to legally cover their asses at this point in time in terms of suspending U.S. accounts, I can't believe for one minute that they will walk away from this fight, leaving literally billions of dollars on the table. American poker players are these companies' life blood. They love us the way Chevron loves SUVs. If SUVs were sneakily banned overnight, do you think Chevron would just say "oh well" and move on? Despite their falling stock prices, the gaming giants have a lot of money. If I were one of their execs, I'd be finding ways to stuff that money into the pockets of whatever politicos in Washington I needed to in order to get a poker exemption or work-around put in place.
There are ways to get around stupid laws. I'm smoking this joint right now, aren't I?
Let's all take a deep breath and ask what we can do. There has never been a better time for activism. And I'm not just talking about poker.