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Underdog Hand

Federal crackdowns on online poker leave some pro players short stacked

Photo: Jason Greene, License: N/A

Jason Greene

Photo: Jason Greene, License: N/A

Jason Greene

“Unlike building a casino, which will be considered this next legislative session, brick-and-mortar casinos, which could take years to open up, we could have our intrastate network set up in a matter of months and start generating this revenue legally,” Abruzzo says. “More than that, it’s a consumer protection bill. It gives the players safeguards and a place to play, legal recourse if needed, so the consumers are better off, the state is going to be far better off, and our education dollars should grow tremendously just from this one piece of legislation.”

Nichols says he thinks that’s probably what the future of online gaming will be, and he thinks the federal government shut down online poker with a plan in mind.

“The idea of seizing the sites and doing stuff without an ending point in sight seems crazy,” he says. “So my assumption is that they knew they were going to get into the whole poker thing, and in a year and a half from now, we’ll see Harrah’s ESPN.com or something, and that will be amazing.”

Until that happens – if that happens – you’ll find Nichols making the rounds at the green-felt tournament tables wherever he can find them, such as last month’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship in Las Vegas. Despite his high hopes for that particular event, he left the tournament penniless.

By playing other World Series games, though, he won $15,915. That may not seem too bad for about a week’s worth of work, but compared to what he could have won in a week playing online – about $150,000, he estimates – it’s not much. The thing about online playing, Nichols is learning, is that you’re generally rewarded for making all the right calls; live games, though, are not as predictable. So now he has to work his way back up to the top of the heap.

“The first thing you’re always going to do when you bust out of a tournament is question all the things you did, especially in the final hand,” Nichols says. “But for the most part, after a little bit of reflection, I’d pretty much always be like, ‘All right, I’m pretty happy with what I did.’ When you’re losing, it feels like you’re never going to win again, and when you’re winning, it feels like you can never lose. It’s crazy, I can’t even describe it, but that’s really how it is.”

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