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The Truthiness of Online Poker

Nesson made an interesting proposition: invite the Presidential candidates on the show to play poker against the host and each other.

Online poker has many advocates using many venues to decry the absurd policies of the federal government regarding online play; Thursday an eloquent voice was heard in a new setting. Charles Nesson, professor at Harvard's renowned law school, appeared on "The Colbert Report" on the Comedy Central Network.

Political satirist Stephen Colbert had Nesson on to explain his belief that online poker is getting a raw deal from lawmakers. Nesson stated,"...it is my mission to legitimize poker as a teaching tool, a learning tool... Poker is the quintessential American game." He went on to give poker credit as a frontier invention, begun on Mississippi riverboats even as it is played today.

Nesson pointed out that, while playing online is not currently illegal, the transfer of funds by banks or credit card companies to gambling sites is, and further noted that, in his home state of Massachusetts, a bill before the state legislature has a provision to penalize online players with up to two years in jail; not coincidentally, this is Governor Patrick's bill seeking to legalize three land casino licenses in the state.

Nesson also praised poker's value as a device to teach strategy and risk management, and argued poker is unfairly lumped in with games of chance in which house odds make the prospects of long-term winning very dim. Poker, according to the professor, is a game of skill with multi-tiered levels of reasoning. Nesson expressed a desire to teach an open-elective course online featuring poker strategies, from the simplest to the most complex.

When Colbert reacted somewhat skeptically, Nesson made an interesting proposition: invite the Presidential candidates on the show to play poker against the host and each other. Certainly viewers could learn a great deal about the various Democrats and Republicans by how they played their hands. Economics, foreign relations, and political skill could all be demonstrated and seen through the revealing prism of poker. It could be expected that Hillary Clinton would be the one cheating and dealing from the bottom of the deck, given her about-faces over voter issues in Nevada, Michigan, and Florida.

Published on January 26, 2008 by JoshuaMcCarthy

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