Game changing plays

Microsoft is going to ship a Texas Hold ’em game as part of the Vista Ultimate extras later this month. 

It’s a shame it isn’t just included in Vista, and even as a download for XP.  Microsoft did a nice job with the implementation (from what I’ve seen so far).  It’s a shame the distribution will be somewhat limited (at least initially).  I love Texas Hold ’em – and now that our Government has made online gambling illegal here, I might as well be able to play for fun.

Microsoft introduced millions of people to solitaire years ago – a silly one-person only game.  Imagine if they released Texas Hold ’em to everyone – even in Linux and Mac OSX versions – and built a social network around it.  That would be kind of cool.  Tie it to my XBOX Live account, and my MS Live account.  Use one of the most popular “add ons” in Windows to create a completely new little market.

Yes, it would be fun to play Texas Hold em against my friends in Australia, or Arkansas.  It would also be cool to monitor my stats verse my friends, etc…

But Microsoft probably won’t do this.  They probably don’t see the value in capturing this user base and converting it to a Social Network.

Imagine if the original Solitaire was social.  How many users would that network have?


  1. Stay away from South Carolina for a while….

  2. Yes, I read about one of those people getting arrested when he entered the US. How insane is that? For having done something IN HIS country .. something that IS LEGAL in that country.
    That’s like being arrested in a ‘dry’ county for having had a beer in a pub in your own ‘wet’ county.
    Anyway, what surprises me most about all this is the relative ease with which the American public has swalloped all this. Sure, people were angry and called their representatives, but that’s all. Nobody challenged this nonsense. I would have expected that certainly the poker sites themselves would have waged a war, and, at least, would have started some test trials .. they DO have VERY deep pockets, and they’re being screwed out out BILLIONS here. I bet they probably could even take this to the International Court… (Not that the US recognizes that court when it comes to cases against the US, but okay…)

  3. Yeah – one dating back almost forever, I think

  4. Bruce Hughes says:

    “It appears that since our government couldn’t win in court with the existing rules, they simply tried changing the rules.”

    Could this be part of a pattern?

  5. Another interesting thing – the Wire Act specifically relates to Sport Betting. Poker has been upheld in US Courts as a “game of skill”, and twice the US courts upheld that the Wire Act did not apply to Poker. After the last defeat the US Government dropped it’s appeal of the lower ourt ruling – leaving it the de facto law…

    It appears that since our government couldn’t win in court with the existing rules, they simply tried changing the rules.

  6. Here’s an interesting list of gambling laws by state:

  7. Some information on the Antigua stuff at:

    Basically, the US lost the initial complaint and was directed to make their laws into compliance with the ruling (Wire Act, Travel Act, Illegal Gambling Business Act). The US was given 10 months and when the time expired we basically said that they misinterpreted our laws and that we were already in compliance… problem is that this was our initial defence that was rejected by the WTO.

    A new ruling is anticipated early this year. The US is in an awkward situation as we push the WTO on other countries and now we are not abiding by its rulings…

  8. I understand what you are saying Paul but the fact is that it isn’t illegal for me to play online poker in Texas (yet). Although, if you are in Washington state then it is illegal for you to play online poker since they apparently made a law against it (and other things related to poker).

    The reason the sites moved offshore was because of the vague references to the 1961 Wire Act having some jursdiction in this area. Even the executives of these companies now avoid traveling to/through the US since some of them have been held and charged when they entered the US.

    Also, Antigua WTO case is still in process against the US since they host some of these companies and the US actions are hurting their “trade”. It is unclear if the US will even abide by the rulings since they (we) apparently ignored the previous rulling in their favor. There has been some speculation that the rulling will allow Antigua to start making counterfeit CD & DVD since they have no other real trade…

    Also, England is moving towards regulating online gambling (which the sites support) which will put more pressure on the US.

    In the end, it is a short-sighted effort by some in Congress/Senate to attempt to ban online gambling. Please note that this passed with both Republican and Democratic support (although I will conceed that there were more Republicans supporting it… and I did call both my Senators to express my displeasure… I also called both of them before this action to express my support for online poker).

  9. On the other hand .. compared to the prohibition… just about ANYTHING about alcohol was illegal (sale, purchase, transportation and even possesion) EXCEPT (technically) drinking it.

    But then, this whole poker thing is extremely stupid to begin with.

  10. It IS kinda interesting. As for David’s position that only the ‘server’ side, so to say, is illegal, but not the actual ‘gambling’ .. I don’t think that’s the case.
    The US cannot make laws that are applicable to other countries. If I operate an online gambling site in Costa Rica, where such a thing is LEGAL, then the US has no business calling it illegal .. they have no say over it. It’s outside their jurisdiction. So, then, when they refer to ‘unlawful internet gambling’ and ‘enforcing the law’ by preventing you to PAY these out-of-the-country sites, then they can ONLY be referring to the unlawfulness of the actual act of gambling itself.

  11. @Paul – interesting theory – I wonder if anyone will use this to test the unlawful (my opinion) law? David – you up for it? 🙂

  12. @David: Well, the law IS called: “Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act”
    When you state that you don’t break any laws by playing online poker, then that’s the same as saying that playing online poker is NOT unlawful: That, then, begs the question: why can’t you fund your poker site account? Since H.R. 4411 ONLY prohibits funding of UNLAWFUL Internet gambling. If your playing online poker isn’t unlawful, you should be able to -legally- fund your account.

  13. No. The act refers to illegal online gambling but only to forms of online gambling that are already illegal due to other lawas. For example, at the federal level the 1961 Wire Act makes it illegal to operate an online sports-betting business (but not to be a customer). Some states (Washington is one that comes to mind) make it illegal to be a customer.

    The interesting question then is whether online poker is already illegal due to other existing laws. At the federal level, the executive branch says it is illegal but has never brought a suit; the judicial branch case law says it is not, most clearly in the “In Re Mastercard International” case which held that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting and not other forms of gambling. A few states do have laws prohibiting online gambling of any type except those specifically authorized (like the state lottery).

    This new law should really be called the “Internet Gambling Funding Ban”. I also believe it was the final tipping point that cost the Republicans their leadership (I know I will not support Frist if he makes a presidential run).

    So no, I’m not breaking any laws when I play poker online.

  14. Thanks Paul. Not that you made me feel any better about this or anything 🙁

  15. Bottom line: Both David and Rob are criminals and openly admitting it! 😉

    (Correction: Rob only plays with play-money … so he’s off the hook .. for now)

  16. Minor correction to a minor correction… Yes, the government DID make online gambling illegal. Just not with the infamous H.R. 4411[109]. Online gambling has been illegal for quite some time: that’s why most of the online poker folks moved to Costa Rica, and that’s why one of Rob’s neighbors got hauled off to the poky recently (for running an online gambling site from his home).
    The ‘problem’ with ‘unlawful internet gambling’ was that it was almost impossible to enforce once all the gambling sites moved out of the country (actually, most never even were here to begin with). That’s where H.R. 4411[109] came in .. An act “To prevent the use of certain payment instruments, credit cards, and fund transfers for unlawful Internet gambling, and for other purposes.”. Notice the word ‘unlawful’ there!
    So yes, Internet gambling is (and has been for a while) ‘unlawful’ ..
    Btw, note this sneaky ‘and other purposes’ which is totally undefined. Just like this ‘act’ was attached to another bill (Port security) as an ‘and for other purposes’, THIS ‘act’ can easily be used tomorrow for .. you name it: buying porn online, buying ANYTHING outside the US… anything goes… I can’t believe lawmakers, time and again, can get away with vague laws like this .. “This law forbids a and b, and anything else we can come up with later…”.
    Boggles the mind.
    Anyway, see:

  17. I thought online gambling itself was illegal? No? I still play online as well – but I haven’t tried hard to find a way to play with real money since the law changed because I assumed it was a dead-end.


  18. minor correction, the government made financial transactions to online gambling illegal… not the online gambling itself. I still play poker online and I’m still able to move funds in and out of my account (fund moving is a little more difficult but still works).