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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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Top-10 responses to Black Friday

2 May 2011

By Aaron Todd
It's been just over two weeks since the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments accusing the owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker of bank fraud, money laundering and UIGEA violations.

During that time, people in the poker industry have had time to digest what happened. And people have been reacting in several ways. Some have reacted with humor. Others have offered in-depth analysis, and still others have made or facilitated calls to action.

Here are the top-10 reactions to "Black Friday," as decided by the Casino City editorial staff.

10. The Micros "Episode 5"
You've got to give credit to John Wray and Jay Rosenkrantz, the creators of the Xtranormal series of webisodes, "The Micros". Within hours of the news of the indictments breaking, they had their latest "episode" up on YouTube, and it was certainly topical.

If you haven't watched any episodes in this series yet, you may want to see the first one before watching the one below.

9. Nate Silver – NY Times blog
The indictments — and the online poker industry — got plenty of coverage by the mainstream media. And most of the folks in the mainstream media don't know a whole lot about the online poker industry, so they had to resort to interviewing people who do, like our own Vin Narayanan.

But Nate Silver, who writes the political blog FiveThirtyEight for the New York Times, knows a lot about the industry. His post on the indictments is perhaps the most comprehensive account of what has happened to the industry since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003. It's a must read for those who need a brush-up on the industry's history, and a great tool for educating family and friends who don't understand why this is such a big deal to online players.

8. Twitter flood
Twitter was a huge outlet for poker players in the immediate aftermath of the news. But some of the best tweets came a few days later.

My personal favorites?

@NormanChad: A bunch of unabashed, unshaven, unkempt, undateable 22-year-olds who haven’t been outside in 4½ years just showed up at my local poker room.

@Erik_Seidel: Just got back from a camping peaceful. Anyone else having trouble logging in?

7. Steve Wynn
It's certainly no surprise that the casino mogul almost immediately rescinded his agreement with PokerStars to create Perhaps a little more surprising, however, is Wynn's continued stance in favor of regulation of online poker, given his long opposition to the industry.

Over the weekend, he told the GamingWire that online poker is "a business that cries out for regulation," and that "people kept drinking beer during prohibition. Poker is as American as apple pie. They are not going to stop playing online poker."

6. Tom Dwan's message to President Obama
Just a few days after the indictments were unsealed, President Obama held a Facebook Town Hall. Poker players flooded the comments section on the public forum, and a comment/question from Tom "durrrr" Dwan got a great deal of attention.

Dwan describes his experience on a USO Tour, where he played poker with troops and says that he talked to soldiers who play online poker. He then asks the President "Did you know about the DOJ's action on Friday? Is there anything you plan to do about it?"

While his question was not addressed in the town hall, kudos to Dwan for asking it.

5. Party at the DOJ
From political action and back to comedy. If you haven't subscribed to MrSrslySirius's YouTube channel yet, do it. His most famous prior effort, Black and Yellow, lampooned Prahlad Friedman for his endorsement of "Party at the DOJ" became an instant classic thanks to brilliant lyrics, and the impeccable timing of President Obama's dancing to the tune. (Word of warning, while there aren't any actual curse words in the song, some people may find what MrSrslySirius says President Obama plans on doing with online poker players' net worth a tad inappropriate.)

(And if you want to see some original material by MrSrslySirius and the folks from The Micros, be sure to check out Seiborg, featuring Erik Seidel.)

4. I. Nelson Rose's legal analysis
We, at Casino City, are fortunate to have permission to republish I. Nelson Rose's material. The attorney behind Gambling and the Law, Rose wrote two great pieces about the indictments. The first analyzes the timing behind the indictments, noting that it seems a little strange that they were unsealed just a few weeks after the industry appeared to be gaining traction with folks like Steve Wynn, and in some state legislatures. The second makes the case that the DOJ went too far when it seized the dot-com domains of international businesses, and takes a look at the winners and the losers in the aftermath.

3. Dusty Schmidt – time to clean up poker
Instead of focusing merely on what happened, Card Player blogger Dusty "leatherass" Schmidt instead looks at what needs to happen in the industry going forward, assuming that the U.S. does see a licensing and regulatory structure emerge in the future. Schmidt's main argument is that newcomers to the game are being alienated by Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) and tracking software that let players "in the know" hunt down weaker players and predict their playing style based on previous hand histories. HUDs allow players to see this information right on the table.

"While the recreational player isn't literally being cheated, I believe that theoretically he is," Schmidt writes. "The programs practically scream the answers out loud to you."

While many people who use these types of aids disagree with Schmidt's assertion, I couldn't agree with him more.

2. MS Paint on twoplustwo
More gallows humor, and some of these are pure genius. It all started when a forum poster with the screen name "Dr. Spaceman" made an MS Paint with two examples of how life has changed for online poker players. He left a template for others to follow, and the twoplustwo community took it from there. The thread is now up to 106 pages (as of 2 p.m., May 2), and there are scores of gems, including my personal favorite, shown below.

Online poker before/after April 15

Online poker before/after April 15

1. Everyday Americans
While the responses above are funny, impressive, or otherwise notable, none have been as impressive as the responses from ordinary Americans that love playing online poker. As of April 26, more than 70,000 e-mails to legislative leaders were sent through the Poker Players Alliance website. Countless phone calls have also been made, and while Congressional action still may be a long shot, in the end the actions by the DOJ may have in fact increased the odds that the industry will be regulated down the road because of the ire it raised in so many average Americans.
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