March 29, 2011

Odd Origami at the Meadows ATM

Saturday evening I made my first sojourn to the Meadows ATM since returning from IMOP-VI in Vegas. I've been on an extended "rungood" streak this year, and I was hoping that my statistical variance box abilities would translate into winning the record $147,000+ bad beat jackpot (Aces full of Yaks or better beaten by quads or better qualifies). Although my dreams of a quick hit fortune were ultimately dashed, I did get to witness a couple of truly curious hands.

A couple of hours into my session, College Kid to my left limped UTG. A loose EP player raised to $17, a bit high for the table, but not particularly extraordinary, either. Predictably, there were four callers back to College Kid. He thought, then mucked. The flop came out A-5-5 with two spades. There was a bet, two all-ins, and a call by original bettor for a monster three-way pot of over $700. Turns out it was AQ vs. AK vs. a flush draw, and the AK held for a monsterpotten. College Kid was visibly upset, and I immediately knew what he had done. "Folded pocket 5s, eh?" College Kid nodded morosely. Now it takes roughly 7:1 odds to set mine, and College Kid was getting 4:1 express odds with plenty of implied odds (look at all the money that went in the pot with just top pair or a draw). Factor in the remote but not negligible shot at a monster bad beat jackpot, and the preflop fold of a pocket pair for a mere $15 seems a bit ... irrational.

An hour or so later, an even more curious case of poker origami occurred. A tight player to my right, UFC Dude, limp-3-bet preflop to $45, and got a mere four callers. Yup, the table was that awesome. Anyway, the flop came out coordinated like Derek Jeter: KdJd9d. UFC Dude bet out $50, rather weak given the preflop action, unless of course he had AdQd for the stone cold nuts. Next guy to act folds. Next guy pushes all-in for about $250. Next guy pushes all-in for about $250 (no, that is not an error or double post). Next guy pushes all-in for over $400. UFC Dude has about $200 behind. UFC Dude thinks about 10 seconds and mucks face up:

Pocket Kings.

Yes, UFC dude folded Cowboys, laying down top set. He laid down a monster*.

Alrighty then. Let's assume worst case scenarios. Kings are dead only to a straight flush (QdTd), but still have one out to ~$73K for the bad beat jackpot. Kings are ahead of a set or two pair, and are drawing very live against a flush and/or straight. Kings are getting roughly 4:1 odds with two cards to come. Even against a spread of flush, straight, and set, Kings are just over 25% to boat up for the win, meaning a call is +EV. Against the actual hands of QsTs (straight), AdXx (nut flush draw), and 7d6d (flopped flush), Kings improve to have over 32% equity, again plenty good to call. In other words, even if the other hands are turned face up, Kings have to call based on math alone. But even stranger, even if one opponent rolls over the dreaded QdTd, with two cards to come Kings have ~4% odds of hitting quads for the bad beat jackpot (assuming there is no sign the fourth King has been folded). This gives UFC Guy an additional equity in the pot of ~$2,920 (4% x the $73,000 losing hand share). In other words, UFC Guy can only correctly fold here if he knows both that he is up against a straight flush and that the fourth King is not in play.

Yes, even today, there are still idiots donating money to poker games. Praise be the poker gods!

Raise or raise not. There is no fold.

(Origami and photo by "antzpantz" on Flickr).

POSTSCRIPT (29 March 2011):  JT88Keys raises a good point in the comments. Although the ultimate outcome of the hand is irrelevant to analyzing the proper play, there is a certain narrative closure provided by knowing what happened.

Mouths gaped and players gasped. I think I actually said, "You're kidding me." The dealer peeled off the turn: Yak, pairing the board (and boating up anyone holding, say, a set). UFC Guy looked like someone kicked his puppy. Dealer peeled off the river: 9, double pairing the board, leaving Kings as the best full house possible. UFC Guy looked like he was throwing up in his mouth as the monsterpotten was pushed to a player holding—in a three way hand on a double-paired board—a non-nut flush.

Crazy game, eh?

* I just noticed for the first time that Teddy KGB flopped the nut straight with the mighty Deuce-Four, a/k/a "Das Grump". Figures that Hollywood would shoot a scene with such an improbably strong hand. Friggin' dramatic license.

March 25, 2011

'Nuff Said (v. 1.1)—Cash Plays

“Most of us young kids who play at nosebleed stakes don’t really have any clear idea about the actual value of the money we win or lose. Most of us see the money more as a points system. And because we’re all competitive, we want to have the highest score. But really, we don’t know what making $400,000 or losing $800,000 means, because we don’t have families or whatever. This blind spot gives us the freedom to always make the right move, regardless of the amount at stake, because our judgment isn’t clouded by any possible ramifications.”

—Daniel "jungleman12" Cates (quoted by Jay Kang in "Online Poker's Big Winner", New York Times Magazine (March 25, 2011).

One of the major adjustments I have to make anytime I play poker in Vegas is to take into account that $100 bills play, something unheard of in Midwestern poker rooms. Chips are easy for most people to put into the pot, since chips aren't regarded as money in as direct a manner as cash (part of the psychological bag of tricks employed by all casinos). But when $100 bills get thrown into the mix, particularly against inexperienced players, it's easy to notice the players who stop thinking, "I'm getting great odds for this call," but instead start thinking, "Wow! That's my car payment!"

Those folks ought to just slide me their chips and head for the clubs. Bottle service will be a cheaper and more productive use of their time.

March 21, 2011

The Cuckoo Gambit

Note:  The Ironman of Poker wrapped up last Sunday, and the official trip report is being compiled by cruise director Santa Claus. In the meantime, I'll share a few random posts that I'm certain won't make the final report.

"The hours of folly are measured by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure."

—William Blake

After a tasty lunch at Holsteins in the swanky new Cosmopolitan resort, I headed off to Planet Hollywood for some casual afternoon poker. Over the past year or so, Planet Hollywood has become my new "go to" poker fishing hole, with a fairly reliable offering of drunks and bad players. I've had several big scores in the room, and there is a seemingly infinite supply of strange and entertaining characters to add some fun to the profit.

I was buying chips when a commotion erupted at the game in progress right by the podium. It appeared this middle-aged guy with a decent stack—let's call him "Chunk"—had called the clock on a young player in full internet poker uniform—hoodie, sunglasses, and vodka-Red Bull. From the heated discussion, it sounded as if the clock call had come a bit quickly in the youngster's view, a sentiment shared by several other players at the table. Nonetheless, the countdown began, and after a little more chatter, the youngster made the call. Chunk rolled over AK for a rivered top pair top kicker, and the youngster mucked his pocket Queens face up.

I initially didn't think a lot of the clock-calling folderol. I quickly made a couple hundred during the first orbit, flopping a wheel with 53 sooooted against one of the two college kids who had girlfriends sweating them, then bluffed the other college kid off a nice pot by floating the flop and representing the flopped Ace with a stiff bet when the kid checked the turn. All pretty basic ABC stuff.

Then I ran into Chunk. Chunk loved to call any preflop raise, then float the flop and bet or raise any turn. He was stealing a lot of pots by doing this, and it was clear most of his bets were on the light side. But, nobody would play back at him or even call him down with anything less than a monster, so Chunk was working up a decent stack. But Chunk's favorite move was to make a big raise, then call a quick clock. Based on the cards he showed after the maneuver, he was making the move when he wanted a call, apparently thinking that calling the clock would induce a call by his opponent. In our first big encounter, I laid down KQ on a Queen-high board when Chunk pulled the clock move with a $200 raise on the turn; he tabled QJ for top two pair as he raked the pot.

Now, I'm generally not much of a believer in most supposed physical tells. In my experience, there is too much variance in player personalities and reactions to get a reliable read on a player, particularly a stranger whom you have only observed for a short duration. Sure, there are some helpful rules of thumb—notably a major change in demeanor during a hand, strong means weak, shaking hands, and the quick chipstack glance followed by a check—but for the most part, I find betting patterns to be the best indicator of an opponent's holdings.

In Chunk's case, however, I was fairly certain that the clock-calling maneuver was his pet play, and I figured Chunk, like any mediocre player, would go to his signature pitch once too often. I just had to sit tight, wait for that pitch, and smoke it for a home run.

Sure enough, opportunity knocked in short order. I picked up Yaks in the big blind. There were several limpers, and I popped it to $25 total. Chunk called in middle position, and we saw the flop heads up.

A-J-5. Yahtzee!

The pot was about $65, so I bet out for $50, hoping to look weak with my "overbet". Chunk immediately raised to $100 straight. At this point, I was pretty sure Chunk had an Ace, so I decided to see if Chunk would help me sell him the idea I held a pocket pair under the Ace. Sure enough, as I "pondered" my play, Chunk started chattering, telling me I was beat. I responded, "Queen-Jack again? I can beat Queen-Jack." Chunk immediately called for the clock, less than a minute after his raise. I let the floor start the count, and asked Chunk if he had a flush draw, while I tried to suppress my inner Snoopy dance. Once the floor announced ten seconds, I made the oh-so-reluctant call. The trap snapped close on Chunk, though he could not yet see it. The turn was a blank. I thought, then checked. Chunk insta-pushed while puffing himself up and glaring at me, and I snap-called looking like the Cheshire cat. I rolled over my Yaks, and Chunk looked like someone had stolen his dessert. Chunk showed A9 offsuit, drawing deader than Elvis, netting me a nice double up.

Sometimes, poker is easy.

(Image source).

March 20, 2011

Cosmopolitan Burgers

Note:  The Ironman of Poker wrapped up last Sunday, and the official trip report is being compiled by cruise director Santa Claus. In the meantime, I'll share a few random posts that I'm certain won't make the final report.

I arrived in Vegas for IMOP VI at 9:30 a.m.Vegas time, the better to maximize my profits and enjoyment. After checking into my hotel (TI for the first two nights), I wandered up the Strip in search of lunch and a sports book. Ironman Bonnie had a "stone cold lock" with the Mizzou over, and half the Ironmen were texting me from the Meadows ATM, desperate to get in on the action (surprisingly, on the side Bonnie picked). So, I ducked into the Bellagio sports book to put down some cash. Of course, I was just walking out of Bellagio when Ironman Barbie texted me, desperate to get in on the action. The swanky new Cosmopolitan resort was dead ahead, and despite its lack of a poker room, I wanted to check it out. So I wandered in and was suitably impressed by the decor, including the massive multi-level chandelier / bar dominating the center of the casino floor. At some point, I will drink my way from bottom to top and back down, stopping for a specialty martini at each level of the bar.

I found the sports book on the second floor, got Barbie's action down (for a favorable half point, even), and then decided on a whim to lunch at Holsteins, the upscale burger joint across from the sports book. I've been to a number of Vegas burger joints both good and overrated, and Holsteins would fit in comfortably with my favorites. The layout is open, with upscale bar / classy casual restaurant decor. I ate at the bar which had three or four large screen TVs set into the wall above the bar, perfect for watching early conference playoff games. The hostess and the two bartenders were friendly, and service was fairly quick.

I started with a house special Bloody Mary while I waited for my food. The drink was tasty, and I appreciated the hint of cilantro in the mix. The one disappointment was the large prawn garnish, which looked tasty at a distance, but up close looked a little dried out, maybe from sitting on top of the garnish platter overnight. When my food arrived, I switched over to Rogue Dead Guy Ale; Holsteins gets bonus points for carrying this tasty brew.

The Holsteins menu is fairly comparable to the other upscale burger joints on the Strip, with a variety of meats for the burger (beef, lamb, turkey, pork, veggies), and a cornucopia of "gourmet" (a/k/a nontraditional) cheeses and toppings to complete the burger. Like its counterparts, Holsteins offers up a number of "specialty" burgers with a range of interesting flavor profiles. I was intrigued by the "Duck, Duck, Goose" burger with duck confit and foie gras stuffed into the burger, topped with pickled Anjou pear and mustard plum sauce; will definitely order this one next trip out. But I was craving some tanginess, and opted for the "Longhorn" burger (despite my aversion for all things Texas during football season).

It turns out I chose wisely. The Longhorn burger had a juicy beef patty sitting on tender smoked brisket, covered with a whiskey BBQ sauce, and topped with slaw. If you like BBQ, you will love this burger. The meat was perfectly cooked (easy to get either the burger or the brisket too dry), the BBQ sauce was tangy but not hot, and the slaw was nicely done to provide a cool, crunchy component. I don't know if the wheat bun was housemade, but it was certainly fresh and added to the flavors. Although I liked the crispy sweet potato fries, I was a little jealous of the duck fat fries ordered by a lady who sat down next to me. So, next trip, I'm going to give those a whirl.

Longhorn Burger (iPhone without flash makes
for crappy indoor photos; the burger looked 
much tastier than it appears in this photo)

Looking over the menu, Holsteins distinguishes itself from the crowd with a variety of homemade sausages. I would definitely want to try the bratwurst and Italian sausage sandwiches. On the appetizer side, I will need to bring a friend to try the Maine lobster mini-burgers, or maybe watch a game with orders of the "Bull's Balls" (deep-fried veal risotto balls) and "Philly Cheez Spring Rolls". Holsteins also offers the now-ubiquitous cornucopia of funky shakes and malts; I love my malts, but can't afford the calories. But, the ones I saw created looked divinely tempting.

Holsteins offers a good meal with a fun, friendly vibe, and I will definitely return to sample more of the menu. It more than holds its own against my other favorite burger places on the Strip—The Burger Bar (Mandalay Bay), Le Burger Brasserie (Paris/Bally's), and BLT Burger (Mirage). Each place offers tasty food, with its own trademark twist. So, if you like a tasty, quality burger, Holsteins is definitely worth a visit.

Of course, the farm kid in me has one small quibble—the name of the joint. Holstein cattle are known predominately for being dairy cattle, not beef cattle. When sold for meat, they generally wind up as run-of-the-mill ground beef, not the choice or prime beef associated with fine-dining. So, Holsteins don't evoke the same expectations of premium meat quality associated with, say, Angus or Kobe / Wagyu cattle. Still, "Holsteins" could be associated with the restaurant's premium shakes and malts, and let's face it, the name and color scheme of the breed are pretty cool. But, as long as the burgers remain so darn lip-smacking good, I will let the name issue slide.

A Holstein cow (image source).

March 07, 2011

The Ironman Prop Betteth

As you may recall, Ironman of Poker VI ("IMOP") is less than 50 hours away from its official kickoff. Cruise director Santa Claus has released the official prop betting sheet, which is seriously streamlined, the better to speed his last minute hungover scorekeeping chores. Still, part of me misses the good ol' days of Byzantine scoring sheets that required more recounts than a Florida election, where one Ironman could be declared victor during the final breakfast at the Grand Lux in Venetian, another take the title at the Allegiant Air gate, and yet another be named ultimate champion on the ground in Iowa.

Taking a look at the official prop bets, there are a few obvious sucker bets:
  • Sahara at 162/1 for last to go to sleep is akin to a preseason wager that the Lions will win the Super Bowl. Sahara is notorious for his vampiric persona, and has never been awake in five IMOPs to see the first sunrise.
  • Any high hand winner or best losing hand "winner" at 2/1 odds is a bad bet. High hands / big hands are essentially random events with little connection to style of play (other than that maniacs who play more hands have slightly better odds of being involved in a big hand). Might as well take 4/1 on any random schmo if you play this prop.
As for value bets, here's my analysis:
  • Sahara making a final table is almost guaranteed money, given his online poker skillz (assuming he avoids me, natch). But there's more value in betting on an Ironman winning a high hand jackpot, or being called a donkey, which are both nearly guaranteed.
  • Barbie getting felted playing the signature hand ("the Grump" this year) is nearly guaranteed. But there's more value in the nearly guaranteed wager on Bonnie losing something valued over $5 (frankly, this should've been set at over $50 to be sporting).
  • Although it's been a few years since the Beatdown at Bally's, given our crew is composed of 12 snarky, drunken idiots with a penchant for taunting Euros and trust fund babies, there would seem to be good value at 20/1 in betting on an Ironman being in a physical confrontation.
In true Ironman fashion, the taunting and prop betting is in full preseason form. Today, Fat Jesus sent out an important reminder to the Ironmen to avoid being arrested prior to arriving in Vegas:
T-Minus 3,346 until wheels up out of Des Moines for IMOP 6...

We pause this countdown for the following public service announcement:

Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 121.575 — Alcoholic beverages.

(a) No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him.

(b) No certificate holder may serve any alcoholic beverage to any person aboard any of its aircraft who—

(1) Appears to be intoxicated;
(2) Is escorting a person or being escorted in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.221; or
(3) Has a deadly or dangerous weapon accessible to him while aboard the aircraft in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.219, 1544.221, or 1544.223.

(c) No certificate holder may allow any person to board any of its aircraft if that person appears to be intoxicated.

(d) Each certificate holder shall, within five days after the incident, report to the Administrator the refusal of any person to comply with paragraph (a) of this section, or of any disturbance caused by a person who appears to be intoxicated aboard any of its aircraft.

Thank you, we now continue with the countdown...3,343 minutes.

Fat Jesus

Perhaps the Ironman most in need of this reminder, Colt, replied:
Here is what I read:

Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 121.575 — Alcoholic beverages.

(a) Don’t show the stewardess your mini bottles of alcohol.

(b) If you do – you’re dumb……in accordance with Man-Law CFR 5554.221.

Here's hoping all the Ironmen avoid any hit to their bankrolls from the bail bond leak.

Finally, today Ironman Barbie and I engaged in a best of seven prop bet matchup in Words With Friends, the iPhone version of Scrabble. The stakes were high—steak dinner at STK, the trendy steakhouse in the swanky new Vegas Cosmopolitan resort. We each won one blowout, but the remaining five games went to the last few tiles. After Barbie and his alligator blood pulled off a miracle finish with a triple score "QI" in Game 6, it all came down to Game 7, as any good rivalry should. With all the tiles out, Barbie played "WANE" to take a slim but seemingly insurmountable 19 point lead. Yet, I had one last trick up my sleeve. Channeling my inner Tarvis Williams, I found a stunning 70 point play for the improbable victory:

I'm thinking a medium rare porterhouse with black truffles and chimichurri sauce, with sides of creamed spinach and mac & cheese. Oh, and break out the wine list, baby! Grange needs a good Shiraz!

I can't wait for Wednesday!

March 06, 2011

Making Laws and Sausages

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

John Godfrey Saxe (often mistakenly attributed to Otto von Bismarck as "Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made." or "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.")

One of the best perks of growing up on a farm was that meat was never lacking on the dinner table. We had two huge chest freezers in the basement, one for pork and one for beef (meat only filled half of each freezer, with the rest of the space reserved for bread and farm-grown vegetables; to this day, I despise canned veggies). When meat ran low, another steer or pig would be hauled off to the local butcher shop. Steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburger, bacon, ham ... you name the cut of meat, we enjoyed it on a regular basis (often with tasty homemade gravy; farm food is truly tough to beat!).

One problem with butchering whole animals is that you wind up with packages of some less than tasty cuts of meat—jowls, tongues, hearts, livers, shanks, and yes, whole heads. So, every fall, Grandpa would come over and we would go back to our German roots and make sausage.

The process took most of a day. First, the meat had to be cooked. Next, it had to be cranked through Grandpa's family heirloom hand meat grinder (see pictures below). Then, the meat had to be seasoned and mixed together. Finally, the meat had to be run through a sausage stuffer to be made into links (for the sausage that was made in link form). Once finished, it was off to the freezer, waiting for a cold winter morning or evening to be brought out for a hearty meal.

We usually made three types of sausage. My favorite was a breakfast sausage which was made by adding oatmeal to the sausage while it cooked; when fried with lard (what did you expect, canola oil?), the oatmeal on the outside would make a crunchy crust, while the meat and oatmeal inside remained a creamy texture. Another tasty sausage was brain sausage, made from lighter colored cuts of meat, along with head meat and, yes, cooked brains; the sausage was seasoned with diced raw onions and garlic, then stuffed into casings. While we're at it, "casings" is a fancy word for "intestines"; yes, traditional sausages are stuffed into intestines which have been cleaned and stretched, and are entirely edible when the sausage is cooked. The final regular sausage was a dark sausage, made with liver and darker meat cuts, and more heavily seasoned with black pepper and paprika, again stuffed into casings.

The great thing about our homemade sausages was that—much like your standard hot dogs, bratwurts, andouilles, chorizos, salamis, and other commercial sausages—they took scraps of meat that were otherwise shunned as "gross" and transformed them into something absolutely delicious. The sum was unquestionably greater than the parts. Yes, I knew full well what went into the sausage I ate, but I frankly didn't care. The end product was all that mattered.

A classic poster advertising the Universal Food Chopper.

A closer look at the parts of the meat grinder, which is remarkably
well-designed to be easy to assemble, clean, and store.
(Apparently you can buy one on for only $29.99!)

This is a pretty good look at how the meat looks going in and coming out.
(Heavy duty model from

A good picture of the style of sausage stuffer used by my grandpa.
The casing attaches to the hole at the bottom. The top is unscrewed on the right
side near the crank, then pivots up to allow the sausage to be put into the device.
When the top is screwed back down, the crank operates the screw mechanism
to twist down a heavy metal plate lying on top of the sausage, which in turn
presses the ground sausage down and into the casing.

This past week, I had the opportunity to testify in front of a subcommittee of the Iowa legislature in support of one of three bills I drafted at the request of a group of businesses and insurance carriers. It was an interesting experience, advocating for a complicated bill in front of a group of legislators who had little expertise in the area of law this bill addressed, and facing down a half dozen or so opposing lobbyists. After the meeting, the lobbyist who had asked for my assistance gave me a rundown of the chances for the three bills I drafted, as well as the legislative process going forward. The lobbyist gave me a list of concerns raised by opponents, and asked what areas we could compromise on (and language that would be acceptable), and what areas couldn't be touched. Although all three bills passed out of committee as written, we have already hammered out compromise language to propose if needed to secure additional votes, either in the House (where the bills originated), or after the bills (hopefully) move over to the Senate.

As most poker players are aware, the Iowa legislature is also considering a bill to legalize online poker within the state. Officially labeled SSB1165 ("SSB" means "Senate Study Bill", indicating a bill introduced via a committee chair without a designated sponsor, a tactic often used for bills on controversial topics), the bill sets up a regulatory system for intrastate online poker along with addressing issues related to horseracing purses and eliminating periodic county voter approval of casino gaming. These latter two topics are controversial gaming issues that might either help or hinder the cause of online poker; such is the risk of making sausage.

The poker bill itself sets up a mechanism for state gaming commission approval of one or more "hub" websites that would provide online poker subject to requirements for providing adequate security for private information and preventing underage gambling and fraudulent activities. Interestingly, although Caesars Entertainment operates the WSOP online poker website overseas as well as the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs (near Omaha, with perhaps the best poker room in the state), the company has not yet committed itself to the proposal either for or against. Even more interestingly, the bill contains a strong "bad actors" provision which would prohibit current online poker sites from ever qualifying for licensing. So, if this bill passes, the choice for Iowa online poker players will be one of, at most, two or three (and possibly only one) online poker sites—not including Full Tilt, PokerStars, UB, Cake, etc. On the flip side, the poker site would be legal and regulated, providing players with legal protections against fraud and cheating they currently do not have.

To my mind, one important question remains unanswered—is online poker limited to the state of Iowa economically feasible? Proponents of the bill claim that approximately 150,000 Iowans regularly play poker online, and that online poker will generate approximately $30-$40 million per year in tax revenue. Under the bill, online poker will be taxed at the same rate as other gaming, which works out to essentially 22% of gross gaming receipts. Doing the math, the bill's proponents must expect online poker players in Iowa to generate gross gaming revenues (i.e., rake) of approximately $135-$185 million per year (actually somewhat more, as the gaming tax has a graduated structure capped at 22%).* That works out to an average of $900-$1,200 in rake per player, per year; no matter how you slice it, that's a lot of money being siphoned out of the Iowa poker scene solely in rake. Now, hard core recreational players and semi-professional grinders might generate that kind of rake, but the average microstakes player probably will be playing well below that projection. Even assuming new players flock to the legalized version of the game, I can't imagine many of them will be playing often enough or at high enough stakes to support these kinds of expectations. Also, online players who bust out a few times might simply give up the game altogether, killing the golden goose. Forgive my skepticism, but I doubt that Iowa's population base will support online poker profits consistent with these projections, certainly not on a long-term basis.

The moral of all this musing is that passing laws can be like making sausage in two widely divergent ways. Often, the legislative process can bring together a number of unpalatable proposals and churn out a delicious result, a pepperoni or bratwurst of a bill. A federal bill legalizing online poker which balances the concerns of poker players, Indian casinos, land-based casinos, off-shore poker sites, law enforcement agencies, and anti-gaming moralists might prove to be tasty and satisfying. But sometimes, legislation takes some crappy ingredients and spits out a completely inedible concoction. Regrettably, I fear that the Iowa online poker bill is nothing more than a stinky liverwurst.

"Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best."

Otto von Bismarck

* By way of comparison, in 2009, Iowa's seventeen casinos together generated annual total gross gaming revenues of $1.3 billion and net gaming tax receipts of $306 million. In other words, online poker alone is projected to bring in roughly 10%-15% of the amounts generated by all casino gaming in the state. To my mind, this seems to be a rather "pie in the sky" projection.