Weekly Poker Roundup: February 5, 2017
Odd Online Gambling Bill in New Hampshire House
About a month ago, an online gambling decriminalization bill was introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives with little fanfare. That bill is now in the House Ways and Means committee and even had a public hearing at the end of January. It has been a fairly big deal when other states had online poker regulation bills introduced, so why did few notice this one?
Well, for one, it’s New Hampshire, not New York or Pennsylvania. But interestingly, the bill, HB562 does not actually regulate online gambling. All it does is exempt it from the classification of illegal gambling. That’s it. It quite literally adds one line to the laws pertaining to illegal gambling, saying the online version of it all isn’t illegal.
No regulations are set forth, no tax system is laid out, nothing. The bill just says that people in New Hampshire can go ahead and gamble online. It probably won’t become law, but weird, right?
Pennsylvania House Members Announce Online Gambling Bill Plans
Speaking of Pennsylvania online gambling bills, just as a state Senator filed a Senate Co-Sponsorship Memorandum a month ago to announce that he was going to introduce gambling legislation that would include the legalization and regulation of online poker, so have two members of the Pennsylvania House, Representative George Dunbar and Representative Rosita C. Youngblood.
Their bill will handle many different gambling topics, though online gambling is a major part of it all, particularly because the Pennsylvania legislature has seemed to be counting on internet gaming to fill a $100 million budget gap.
The Representatives did not provide any details as to what the online gambling portion will include, only that the bill will be introduced “in the near future.” It is unknown if it will mirror Senator Jay Costa’s upcoming bill, or if it will diverge in certain areas.
PokerStars Acquires First 2017 Czech Online Gaming License
On January 31st, PokerStars announced that it has been issued the first Czech online gaming license under the country’s new laws and plans to have PokerStars.cz up and running soon. In more good news for Czech players, it looks like they will be pooled with players from other PokerStars sites around the world.
“We are very proud to be the first online casino and poker operator to be awarded a license and support the newly regulated Czech market,” said Guy Templer, Chief Operating Officer, in a statement issued to the media. “This underscores our commitment to supporting local regulations and obtaining local licenses wherever possible.”
New gambling laws took effect in the Czech Republic on January 1st, 2017. Whereas previously, online poker was in a bit of a grey legal area, it is now legal provided an operator has been granted a license by the state. Additionally, online gambling taxes on the operators are sky-high, which might result in many choosing not to serve the Czech market. Operators are taxed 35 percent on gross gaming revenue on all games that use random number generators (like poker) plus a 19 percent corporate income tax.
Computer Beats Human Pros to a Pulp in No-Limit Hold’em
I, for one, will welcome my new robot overlords. On January 30th, a heads-up No-Limit Hold’em competition between a team of four poker pros and the “Libratus” Poker AI concluded and it did not go well for the humans. Not at all. Libratus blew them out of the water so severely that statistically it was determined to almost certainly not be due to chance.
The four players were Jimmy Chou, Dong Kim, Jason Les, and Daniel McAulay. They each played 30,000 over the course of two weeks against Libratus, designed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown. Players – meat sack or silicon – were given 20,000 at the start of each hand with 50/100 blinds in order to avoid situations where anyone had to play a short or big stack, which would alter the ability to measure pure skill. In the end, Libratus won $1,766,250, or $14.72 per hand. Dong Kim was the most successful of the humans, only losing $85,649.
In addition to resetting the chip stacks every hand, a few other tweaks were made to the game to try to flatten out the influence of luck. Hands were mirrored between pairs of human players, meaning that if one player was dealt Queens in a hand and Libratus was dealt Jacks, the opposite hand would be dealt to one of the other players. This serves to make sure one side didn’t just benefit from a hot run of cards. Also, if there was an all-in and a call before the river, the hand ended and pot was divided according to equity.
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