Learn the poker issues, then vote

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Ante Up is not a partisan publication, but it is a patriotic one. And come Nov. 4, voters across the country will go to the polls to make important decisions. We encourage you to be among those casting your vote.

But for whom should you vote? That is, of course, a personal decision, made after weighing a multitude of issues. And for poker players, no doubt a candidate’s stance, or a party’s stance, on poker legislation will come into play in making that choice.
But here comes the tough part. The candidates aren’t helping us much.

The Poker Players Alliance is a grassroots organization leading the fight for sensible poker legislation. Rich Muny, who writes the “TheEngineer” blog for the PPA, has graded the presidential candidates and the tickets on their commitment to gaming legislation.

Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden score a B-, while Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin score a D-. We applaud Muny for tackling this no-win subject, but a more honest grade for all might be “I” for incomplete. It’s just not politcally feasible for major party candidates to address gaming concerns, so we’re really left to guess what any of these four truly believe. (A side note, though. The Libertarian Party ticket of Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root scores an A+ for its public stance in favor of poker freedom).
So just how confusing is this election for poker players?

While McCain has avoided taking a direct stance on online gambling, his party’s platform condemned it. Then, at the urging of the PPA, the stance was removed from the document. And then, it was returned to the final one. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

The legend Doyle Brunson, a lifelong Republican, previously told Ante Up that “Republicans cut their own throats” when they led the successful charge to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and he’s voting Democrat. Who was one of the key Republicans championing the UIGEA? Rep. Jim Leach, who later lost re-election. Who has Leach endorsed? That’s right. Obama. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

But Ante Up encourages its readers to think locally, not just globally, this Nov. 4. It wasn’t too long ago that we were playing poker for quarters in Florida. But slowly, poker laws have changed in the Sunshine State. We’re not Las Vegas, but at least the game we find in our local poker rooms is a playable one these days. It can get better. And it should get better. That starts with the men and women we send to Tallahassee.

Take the time you have left before the election to review your legislative candidates’ views on poker. And after the election, take the time to remind them of your views on poker.
We’ll see you at the polls.

Let’s move on to some less serious topics. The November Nine is only days away from determining our World Series of Poker Main Event champion. Our cover story is on David “Chino” Rheem, who lived in the Miami area for years and cut his poker teeth in Florida poker rooms with his friends, the Mizrachi Brothers (perhaps you’ve heard of them). He’s the most experienced player remaining at the final table, though he is short-stacked. We talked to him about his Florida ties, the Sunshine State poker scene, his relationship with PokerStars and the controversy surrounding him and that outstanding warrant with Hollywood police.

Also this month we introduce a new columnist to Ante Up. Dr. Frank Toscano will pen A Healthy Bet, which takes a look at how poker can affect your health and ways to combat problems such as “deep venous thrombosis.” Don’t know what that is? Better read his column on page 38. Also, be on the lookout for our thorough tournament coverage this month, including the Emerald Coast Championship at Ebro Greyhound Park and the Pros vs. Joes H.O.R.S.E. tournament from One-Eyed Jacks in Sarasota. Plus, our Road Trip took us to West Palm Beach.

We’ll see you at the tables.

­— Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long