PokerStars to go public; RIP Puggy Pearson; Poker’s Growth Continues; Paris Hilton’s Latest Obsession

by Lou on April 16, 2006

PokerStars to go Public in the UK:
According to Matthew Goodman, writing in UK’s Sunday Times, “PokerStars, the world’s second-largest internet poker company, is preparing to float on the London stock market before the end of this year with a value likely to exceed $2 billion (£1.1 billion).”

While I wish PokerStars all the best in their public offering, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if online gaming were legal in the Untied States, just as it is in the UK. Under those circumstances, I’m sure that Stars and Party Poker before it would have chosen to go public in the USA. The markets are bigger, most of the customer base is American, and there’s no reason to headquarter businesses on the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands except for the fact that American law makes it impossible for online gaming firms to go public in the USA.

When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see how American public policy is sending capital, jobs, and investors overseas when that money and those jobs could have been retained at home.

The United States’ policy on online gaming makes no sense whatsoever, but we live in an economic universe and to some degree it’s unconstrained by national borders. If our elected leaders make it difficult to launch or maintain a business here, that business will simply relocate to another nation ¾ one where it is valued and wanted ¾ while we miss out on all the growth, economic diversification, investment, and jobs that go along with it.

The number of online poker players in the USA is staggering. When the public desire for a product or service is overwhelming, a policy of prohibition is doomed to fail, and the lessons of history are clear: Our national social experiment that attempted to outlaw liquor only drove it underground, gave rise to massive criminal organizations to meet the public’s demand for alcohol, and instituted a culture of corruption in state and local government.

RIP Puggy Pearson

Poker legend Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson died last week at age 77. Pearson, the man credited with creating no-limit freeze out poker, the format in which all the players start with the same amount of chips and play until one player wins all the chips in the game. That’s the format Benny Binion turned into the World Series of Poker in 1970,

Pearson, however, was a lightning rod in the poker community. He could be charming, witty, boorish, abusive to dealers and other players, and, according to some, a cheat.

I played against Puggy about ten times, and all of those were fixed-limit games, not the no-limit games he preferred. I never saw him even the slightest hint of cheating, but I did see all of the personal characteristics I listed above come to the fore. Nevertheless, I liked him at the table. His stories were terrific, and listening to them was like seeing a movie about poker’s bygone days. My condolences to his family and friends.

Poker’s Popularity Continues to Rise

Poker Pages Industry Index reports that poker’s popularity continues to rise, with a 30 percent growth in the first quarter 2006 over a similar period last year.The PPII for the first quarter of 2006 stands at 130 ¾ a growth of 30 percent over the same period last year.

While poker on television may have reached the saturation point, the game itself is still growing, and that’s the really meaningful news.

Paris Hilton is Obsessed With Poker

Actress Paris Hilton has revealed that she is “obsessed” with poker after recently learning to play the card game, and has started playing in poker tournaments in Las Vegas.

“I’m obsessed with poker. It’s my favorite game now. We love it. We play at tournaments in Vegas,” Hilton was quoted as saying.

And she’s been on a winning streak too. “I’m really lucky in Vegas – I always win!”

We can all rest easy now. Poker is here to stay. The fact that the hold’em bug has bitten Paris Hilton, is a measure of just how deeply ingrained in the culture poker has become. Paris, you’re welcome in my game anytime.

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