The WSOP and RAWA are back, one acronym celebrating poker’s most visible and distinguished tournament, the other a piece of legislation that’s trying to outlaw the game online.
Both have significant moments of exposure that are coming up that will put them square in the spotlight even though they find themselves at opposite ends of the poker spectrum.
The Good News
In its 46th year, the World Series of Poker returns this Sunday semi-live at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN as the Main Event’s November Nine puts cards in the air and battles for their share of $24.8 million with $7.68 million to the winner.
The broadcast will be aired on a 30-minute delay to protect the integrity of the hands during the three nights of coverage. On Monday, the table reconvenes at 8 pm and plays until only three finalists remain.
The culmination of the Niner kicks off at 9:30 pm on Tuesday with play enduring until the World Champion is found.
Pennsylvania native Joe McKeehen enters as the heavy favorite. With 63.1 million chips and nearly 158 big blinds, McKeehen has more than double the bankroll of his nearest challenger.
Dubbed the Broad Street Bully, a major artery in downtown Philadelphia near his hometown, McKeehen told PokerNews, “It’s just one little nine-man tournament at this point. Everything’s going to go through me.”
McKeehen’s lead certainly gives him an upper hand, but as history proves, this thing is far from over. The last person to enter the November Nine as the big stack and go on to win was Jonathan Duhamel back in 2010.
The Bad News
While the poker community will be partying it up in Las Vegas this weekend at the Rio for the crowning of the 46th WSOP champ, back east in Washington, DC, lawmakers will be moving forward with a potential ban on Internet poker.
Fresh off his unsuccessful bid to become House Speaker, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is allegedly bringing his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation to the committee in which he chairs. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is reporting that a hearing has been scheduled in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for December 9.
RAWA seeks to restore the Wire Act to its pre-2011 understanding before the Department of Justice opined that the Act only applies to sports betting and not general gambling.
Chaffetz would not include daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the proposal as he believes that developing market isn’t in violation of current law as it pertains to the Wire Act.
“My position has been that you just don’t unilaterally change a law,” Chaffetz told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month. “I’m trying to hold tight to just restore it exactly as it was previously.”
Opponents to RAWA challenge Chaffetz’s reading of the Wire Act.
“The Wire Act was understood from its enactment to be a narrowly focused law that prohibited only sports gambling via telephone and telegraph,” UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research concluded in 2014.
“Recognizing the growing threat of organized crime … the Federal Wire Act in 1961 … sought to target the mob’s most profitable racket, bookkeeping on horseracing and sports gambling by prohibiting such gambling on the nation’s communication system at the time (telephone and telegraph).