Friday, October 14, 2011

MORE BAD POKER NEWS: NATIONAL HEADS-UP POKER CHAMPIONSHIP SCRAPPED BY NBC

It's fair to say this has been a terrible year for all poker fans. First came Black Friday, which shut down online poker and shuttered a lot of your favorite poker TV shows, and then came the ongoing problems at Full Tilt Poker -- so many, in fact, that it's getting a bit too comical. That leads us to the latest bit of poker TV news surrounding NBC.

To make a long story short, NBC is now out of the poker TV business. A few weeks ago they cancelled Poker After Dark, their excellent late-night poker TV show that aired every night after Last Call with Carson Daly. It was done in mainly by the fact the whole show was underwritten by Full Tilt Poker, which was being called a Ponzi scheme by the Department of Justice. Needless to say, NBC doesn't want to be associated in any way with any crooks, so they put an end to the show and took down the NBC poker website.

Now comes word that NBC has cancelled the annual NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship held at Caesar's Palace every year. This was the tournament where 64 big name players would be invited to do heads-up battle, and it would air over a few weekends on NBC. Again, sponsorship woes the issue, what with the online poker advertisers all out of business and so on. As well, the hosts including Leeann Tweeden and Ali Nejad were all also on Poker After Dark.  

This tournament got its start way back when the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 hockey season. No doubt, it would probably have been welcome spring TV viewing next year, especially if the NBA lockout takes down their entire season. Maybe this is an opportunity for ESPN-ABC to take the thing over, since ESPN is still in the poker business. Barely.

Anyway, the whole online poker situation in the United States continues to boggle my mind. It beats me why the US government doesn't simply get on with ushering in regulation right away. Really, this is millions of dollars in economic activity down the drain and a lot of American jobs lost. I notice a lot of professional poker players have now moved to online-friendly countries to be able to continue to play online poker. A lot of folks have moved to Canada, and a good many number of them have set up in Vancouver as this PokerNews article notes. According to the article, they say the poker players now living in Vancouver include "Brian Hastings, Phil Galfond, Randy “nanonoko” Lew, Maria Ho, Christina Lindley, Tom Marchese, David “Doc” Sands, Erika Moutinho, Shane Schegler, and William Reynolds."

As well, a lot of poker players have set up in Toronto (including Daniel Negreanu, who has returned there from Las Vegas) and a few other places in Canada. A few are opting for warmer climes, though. There's a company set up called Poker Refugees who are helping American poker players move not only to Canada, but to Costa Rica and Panama. The UK also seems to be a popular spot for poker exiles.

All in all, I am just shaking my head. This self-imposed US poker crackdown is forcing a lot of talented players with a lot of money to permanently leave the United States, the supposed "land of the free". I know the US justice department needs to throw the book at some of these crooks who ran these online operations into the ground and refused to pay players back, but really, couldn't they come up with a way to let the players play?! This continuing refusal to let talented Americans play in a regulated online environment in their home country is just overkill. 

Is it any wonder the United States is in trouble? The USA seems absolutely determined to do everything possible to hurl itself off the financial cliff.

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