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Aaron Todd

Aaron  Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

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Poker Players Alliance Ups the Ante on Membership Goal at WSOP

3 Aug 2006

By Aaron Todd

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) treated new and old members to complimentary food and drinks at Buzio's Restaurant in the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino last week.

The event, held in conjunction with the start of the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, drew several hundred poker enthusiasts, including several well-known professional players who spoke on behalf of the organization.

The organization has ballooned to 75,000 members, nearly four times the number it boasted in April when several well-known professional poker players held a press conference and met with members of Congress as part of a lobbying effort by the group.

While that growth has strengthened the organization, it has largely been in response to the passage of the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act in the House of Representatives, legislation the group is actively opposing.

"We saw an immediate rise when (the bill) went through (the House)," said PPA president Michael Bolcerek. "Full Tilt has gotten behind us and they notified their members and continue to notify their members. We hope that other big (Internet poker) sites do the same thing."

Team Full Tilt members Howard Lederer and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson spoke to the crowd at the event. Both players have been active in promoting the PPA and have tried to dissuade Congress from moving forward with the legislation.

"I can go play poker anytime I want," said Ferguson, who lives near several card rooms in southern California. "There are a lot of people in the United States that don't have that luxury. That's why the attack on Internet poker is an attack on poker, because it's denying millions of Americans the right to play any form of poker."

While the bill passed easily in the House, with a vote of 317-93, recent media reports indicate it may stall in the Senate. Despite the apparent reprieve, the PPA isn't slowing down. In April, the organization was looking to increase its membership to 100,000 by the end of the year. With the membership totals already nearing that mark, Bolcerek has decided to up the ante.

"We think (250,000) is an achievable number by the end of this year," Bolcerek said. "The reality is we're a new organization, and it's going to take time, money and members to have the level of influence that we need to impact the political process."

While the event was a celebration of the jump in membership, it was also a call to action.

"This is a political battle, and that means that it doesn't matter that we're right," said Greg Raymer, the 2004 WSOP Main Event champion who endorses "You have to convince these Congressmen, not just that you're right, or not even that you're right; you have to convince them that it's in their self-interest to be on our side. The only way that we can convince them of that is to show them how we're going to vote and how we're going to influence other voters."

Raymer and the rest of the speakers at the event encouraged the crowd to tell their friends about the PPA and to write to their representatives using the PPA Web site.

PPA membership costs $20. Bolcerek insists that it's important that the PPA generate revenue and membership through individual donations and not large contributions from online sites. Congress, he says, will be more likely to listen to an organization built by grassroots effort than one fortified by large offshore online poker rooms.

For more information on the Poker Players Alliance, including membership information, visit the PPA's Web site at

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