Why Jerry Yang is the Right Guy at the Right Time for Poker

by Lou on July 23, 2007

A site called Poker-king.com ran an article entitled “Why Jerry Yang’s World Series of Poker Win is a Disaster for Online Poker Rooms.” They gave Yang props for being “…a really good person” and “…a devoted family man.” They went on to say, “He doesn’t live the degenerate lifestyle, and has said that he will devote 10 percent of his winnings to charity. So what’s wrong with Jerry Yang winning the World Series of Poker?”
That’s the key question, and everyone I’ve spoken with has a take on this issue.

Their answer is probably true as far as it goes, but it didn’t go far enough. According to Poker-King.com, “Online poker rooms target the young male demographic, as these are usually the people who sign up for a real money online poker account. A God-fearing older man with a large family is not someone who younger men really want to emulate.”

If you look at this answer in terms of immediacy, in terms of liquidity gained in the next few days or weeks by online rooms, that’s probably true. But it’s patently wrong in the long run.

We all know poker is a long run game, and the greatest gain in online poker’s viability in the United States will come from poker’s greening in terms of acceptability by mainstream America and Congress. Only that will allow poker to take its rightful place among leisure time activities, untainted by those who consider it immoral, unethical, or just somehow wrong.

The United States, or at least major portions of its citizens and elected officials, needs an attitudinal sea-change in their perspective. We are a nation that has been shedding its sumptuary laws for decades, but we still have a long way to go. It used to be illegal in some states to purchase things on Sundays, and to marry someone of a different race or the same sex. The list goes on and on.

All of these sumptuary laws, crimes with no victims, are falling by the wayside. The vices these laws sought to prevent are as old as humanity. Gambling has been with humankind since the dawn of time. So has prostitution. So have mind-altering substances.

While I’d love to live in a land with a constitutional amendment forbidding any sumptuary law, I’m personally unconcerned with drug use and prostitution. But I do love to play poker, and so, I’m sure, does everyone else reading this blog.

To get a few new converts to online poker is one thing. To do so while pulling the collective morality of the United States along with us is a grander and more glorious vision. That’s what I’m hoping for. And a guy like Jerry Yang can be the poster boy for that effort. In my opinion, the online rooms rooting against Wang were very shortsighted. In the long run, it’s a guy like Jerry who will help us get where we need to go.

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