Where Exactly is Online Poker Headed?

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That answer to that is a simple one at first glance: it is headed into an era of regulation and accountability, one in which a Full Tilt Poker-like squandering of player funds will be just as impossible as the Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet insider cheating. An era in which the perpetrators of such schemes won’t have to be held accountable, because it will be impossible for anyone to do anything as vile and despicable as conning people out of their hard-earned money. At first glance, the future does seem bright, and the game may yet get there indeed, but those who know a thing or two about the inner workings of the online poker industry understand that the legalized/regulated sort of online poker utopia depicted above – if it exists at all – is really far down the road, so far down in fact, that the industry may never get there in its current shape and form.

Online poker regulation has been underway in Europe for a while now, and what has been made clear by the process thus far is that small operators, be they honest or crooked, do not have a seat at the table. This fact has been reflected in the dwindling poker room review sections of major online poker portals like pokerstop.com, which saw many of their listed operators evaporate, the sites fallen victim to this current period of transition. Online poker giants like PokerStar and a handful of others have managed to secure licenses in most of Europe’s regulated markets, but whereas before there was one major online poker compact where players from all over the continent and even the world could play at the same table, the post-regulation market has become a mosaic of smaller parts, a fragmented shadow of its former self, where raising proper player liquidity has become a major challenge.

Although the EU has generally been opposed to this market-fragmentation which – at the end of the day – is about favoritism towards local interests, but only if the outside operator looking to break into the market isn’t a PokerStars-like 500 lb gorilla, many of the member states have gone ahead implementing protectionist measures thus essentially denying smaller operators any semblance of a chance to ever peddle their games and promotions to their citizens.

In the US, the outlook isn’t any brighter for the small guys either. As the legalized area of the US online poker market is slowly but surely expanding, having started out in Nevada and having later secured a foothold in New Jersey too, it is increasingly obvious that the new playing ground is by no means level. Local big dogs are muscling in, but since they possess neither the technological prowess nor the required experience in the vert, they strike up deals and partnerships with the major online poker operators to put together a viable business. The two legal online poker operators (Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com) currently pushing the frontlines in Nevada have thus far only managed to shed a light on the incondite nature of the intra-state market, which – in its current state – is basically screaming for inter-state compacts.

Starting up an online poker business under these conditions is no longer a matter of joining an established network and putting up a website, although that may indeed turn out to be a good thing in the long run.

  

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Picture of the Day: Kelly Karloff in a sexy dress

Here’s sultry brunette Kelly Karloff striking a sexy pose as she starts to slip off her black dress.

Kelly Karloff in a sexy dress

  

Breaking Bad 5.16 – “Felina”

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“My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 87104. To all law enforcement entities, this is not an admission of guilt. I am speaking to the AMC viewers now. There are… there are going to be some things, things that you’ll come to learn about me in the next five seasons. I just want you to know that, no matter how it may look, I only had you in my heart. Goodbye.”

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what Walt said in the opening moments of the first episode of “Breaking Bad,” but as I sat down to write this, my review of the last episode of “Breaking Bad,” the paraphrasing seemed like as apropos a way to kick things off as any.

I’ll be honest: as much as I wanted to just let the events of the series finale wash over me and accept whatever Vince Gilligan wanted to give me, it was impossible to walk into the proceedings without feeling like a kid at Christmas, giggling and wondering, “What am I gonna get?” We knew the big-ass gun in Walt’s trunk and the ricin he’d retrieved from his house were both going to come into play, but we didn’t know how. Well, not really, anyway. The two big theories I kept hearing about the ricin were that he was going to slip it into Lydia’s tea or drink it himself, but I’d also heard convincing dismissals of both theories, so I really didn’t have any clue how things would play out. Besides, I’ve said more times than I can count that this is a series that never fails to zig when you think it’s going to zag, so there’s just no point in trying to guess. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get really, really excited about the prospect of finding out.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to October

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October has never been a particularly strong month for movies in the past, but that could all be about to change with the exciting crop of titles scheduled for release this year. Though there’s still the usual cluster of genre films (“Machete Kills,” “Carrie”), this month also features an extraordinate amount of quality, boasting no fewer than five movies with genuine Oscar potential. It seems award season is beginning a little early this year, and compared to what October typically brings, it’s hard to complain.

“GRAVITY”

Who: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
What: A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space
When: October 4th
Why: Alfonso Cuaron hasn’t made a feature-length film since 2006’s underrated tour de force “Children of Men,” but if the early buzz surrounding “Gravity” is to be believed, then it was well worth the wait. The sci-fi drama has been in development for what seems like years, and Warner Bros. deserves a lot of credit for taking the chance on such a daring project. It definitely helps when you have actors like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney attached, but with audiences constantly lamenting the lack of originality in the Hollywood system, it’s refreshing to see that studios haven’t completely abandoned this type of filmmaking. “Gravity” probably won’t make a ton of money at the box office, but it should be at the top of everyone’s must-see lists.

“RUNNER RUNNER”

Who: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie
What: When a poor college student who cracks an online poker game goes bust, he arranges a face-to-face with the man he thinks cheated him.
When: October 4th
Why: If “Runner Runner” sounds like the unofficial sequel to “Rounders,” that’s because it was written by the same duo, Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Obviously, gambling is just the gateway into the world of their latest film, but fans of the 1998 poker thriller should be encouraged by their involvement, because they clearly know their way around the subject. Whether or not they strike gold twice remains to be seen, but “Runner Runner” has a good enough cast to pull it off. Justin Timberlake is a natural entertainer who’s only gotten better with experience, and though Ben Affleck appears to be hamming it up a bit as the villain, he’s proven that he can deliver great work with the right material and director.

“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS”

Who: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener and Max Martini
What: The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama.
When: October 11th
Why: There’s an inordinate amount of films based on true stories being released this year (even more so than usual), and Tom Hanks stars in two of them. But while moviegoers may be excited at the prospect of seeing the veteran actor play Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks,” the Paul Greengrass-directed “Captain Phillips” is the more intriguing of the pair. Many people don’t know much about the real-life events that inspired the movie, and that’s only going to work in its favor. Add to that Greengrass’ knack for dramatizing true stories (as evidenced in “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93”) and what looks like yet another Oscar-worthy performance by Hanks, and there’s no reason why “Captain Phillips” won’t be part of the conversation come awards time.

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Picture of the Day: Elaine Alden in orange bikini

Here’s a great show of sexy blonde Elaine Alden as she flashes her beautiful smile and shows off her incredible booty in her pretty orange bikini.

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