Wednesday, January 30, 2008

End Times are Nigh! Brimstone Rains from the Sky! He's Posting on Consecutive Days!

As ghey as it sounds, I've kind of missed blogging lately. I can't say that I ever contributed much of import to the world from these pages, but I do sort of miss the halcyon days of yore when poker and blogging were both much fresher and exciting.

I'd have had much to say in the past about the Absolute/UB debacle that has slowly been unfolding of late, how it impacted the poker world as a whole, what players should be doing, what sites should be doing, etc. These days, well, I just can't help but largely shrug.

Part of that response is related to what Ftrain discusses here, as he's pretty much directly channeling me there, right down to being a Cheaty McCheaterpants in high school card games, at first for vengeful, funny reasons but later for personal gain. Where I diverge a bit is the present day; while I agree I'd never even consider cheating in any sort of regular home game, even if I knew there was 0% of being caught, I can't say the same for happy-fun scenarios I might concoct.

Would I rig the game if Donald Trump sat down and I knew, with 100% likelihood, that I could clean him out for, oh, say $5 million large, with 0% risk whatsoever? Well, umm, of course I would. You wouldn't? Really? What if you were sitting with Osama Bin Laden instead? Tom Cruise? Michael Vick?

You likely get my drift. It's pretty easy to argue that a lot of our evolutionary success over time is due to flexible moral compasses, as it's not at all hard to adjust your viewpoint so that grabbing what's not yours isn't a stretch whatsoever, and just what any reasonable monkey in your shoes would do.

Is that babbling meant as an excuse and a free pass for the alleged shenigans at Absolute and UB? Not at all. What's apparently been going on there is pretty terrible and the last thing the online poker world needs right now. But I can't really feel shocked or outraged. I think it'd be more shocked if such a story had NEVER emerged from the world of online poker, as far as super-user accounts, visible hole cards, management cover-ups, the whole nine yards.

I think we'd all like to believe that we're slightly in love with the romantic notion of honorable gamblers, of taking part in a long tradition of behaviors, notions, and ideals, but with an edge. Sure, you're trying to take someone's last penny but within the observed boundaries and rules. You're still hustling them, but it's a legal hustle, honed by many hours of study, thought, and practice.

But really, seriously, how often is that the case? When is the game of poker really that these days, either live or online? Do you really turn off PokerTracker and any HUDs when you play online? Have you really never mined data from observed tables? Discussed a big hand in a tournament in a chat client with friends?

In the end, I just can't help but think it's all a big exercise in splitting hairs, as far as discussing what the response should be to multi-accounting, buying accounts late in tournaments, etc. If the Absolute/UB tale is true, that's some pretty bad shit, but I can't help but think that it's just part of the general climate of online poker these days. It's just impossible to ever replicate the security you have as a player when you sit in a cash game at the Bellagio (and even that isn't 100% guaranteed to be safe from collusion), and it seems somewhat inevitable that a mentality of grab-whatever-you-can-anyway-you-can will continue to be perpetuated in the online world.

If you can grab an edge, grab it. Then justify it later, if it needs justifying. If that fails, fall back on the excuse of "But it's the site's fault for allowing loopholes like that to exist in the first place."

I can't say I personally agree with the grab-it mentality, but I think it's too depply embedded in this thing we know of as poker to really root out at this point.

But then, what the hell do I know, as a semi-retired poker blogger hack and cash game donkey.

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