Theories abound if president scraps online betting |

Theories abound if president scraps online betting

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Players gather at the Lakeside Inn and Casino poker room for a game.

With a ban of online poker looming, Ron Tipton, poker room manager at Lakeside Inn and Casino, is hoping for a few blizzards this winter.

Tipton believes with the loss of online poker, the serious player will need to get a card fix rather than battle the elements on ski slopes or wait to clear a driveway.

“I’m hoping for a snowy winter,” he said. “If nothing else just to test my theory.”

Theories are one of the few things left in the poker world after Congress attached a bill to its Safe Port Act to outlaw Internet poker sites by banning the movement of funds from banks and other financial institutions by U.S. residents to gambling Web sites.

Such gambling Web sites are located off American soil in places such as Britain. Others that allow players to use phoney money might survive.

With the expectation that President Bush will sign the bill, Tipton believes the casual bettor will lose interest and stop playing all together, possibly limiting the supply of what experienced players call “fish,” which will leave more predatory card handlers at the table.

“The guy who is playing online who is serious about it (and) wants to win, that guy is now going to be playing with a bunch of sharks,” he said.

The online poker community, in Tipton’s eyes, was responsible for poker’s resurgence which prompted casinos, including those at Stateline, to make more room for poker tables to meet growing demand.

Many of the players in the World Series of Poker tournaments climbed the gaming ladder by starting with online poker, which often had sites offering cheap buy ins.

The president of Lakeside, Mike Bradford, also thinks it will be good for business, and beneficial for people.

“At some point gambling is just like anything: Too much of it is a bad thing,” he said.

World Series of Poker player Tony Prestigiacomo thinks the ban has its upsides and downsides.

On one hand, the ban will force people to the tables, he said. Yet it could choke off the supply of players into tournaments such as the WSOP since online sites allow entry into big tournament play.

Prestigiacomo, a Genoa resident, said he prefers live play.

“For folks like myself it really won’t make a change,” he said.

Lakeside offers $40 poker tournaments but Tipton believes some tinkering might be necessary to match the lure of online sites.

“We need to be creative as a market to ensure the casual player wants to play, otherwise it could go to the ’80s when poker rooms were closing down,” he said.

Many agree online poker play breeds confidence in people who then take their game to tables.

It makes one wonder: Will the ban bust the bubble of poker’s popularity?

“I’m not sure if the peak itself will be reduced but I think it might be threatened,” Prestigiacomo said.

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