Category Archives: Online Poker

Online Poker

Continuation Bet

What is a continuation bet?

What is a continuation bet?

Also known as the “cbet,” the continuation bet is bet is gaining popularity at the no-limit Texas Hold’em  tables. It’s easy to pull off and it often works well, and players, from recreational and free poker players, to the most seasoned pros like it because they can learn how to use it quickly.

So what is it exactly a Continuation Bet?

A continuation bet is a bet that you make on the flop if you raised pre-flop, even if the flop didn’t help your hand at all. So if you raised before the flop holding K-Q and you saw the flop bring you 3-8-J, even though you still lack even a pair, you can still up your chances of winning the pot by placing a bet.

Why? Because ⅔ of the time, your opponent won’t make a pair or better either. So if you make a continuation bet, and your opponent folds because they didn’t make a pair or better at the flop, you’ll win more pots on the flop than you would by just checking. This is the basic rationale for the success of the continuation bet.

How do you make a good continuation bet?

First, make your bet the right size. Between ⅔ and ¾ of the existing pot is a good place to start. Is the pot at $20? Then put in $15. If you don’t bet enough, your opponents might call, because their pot odds are good if they are at a draw or if their hand is good at all. You want to make it look like your hand is solid, such as a top pair or even better, scaring the rest out of the pot. If you go over 75%, though, your returns diminish and you’re risking more than you really need to.

Second, take a look at your opponent reads. This will tell you whether a continuation bet is a good idea. If your opponent is an absolute novice, he’s likely to call bets no matter what kind of hand he has. This means that a continuation bet might not make sense, because your competition is too new to realize that he shouldn’t bet every hand. Also, if you’re playing against experts, they also know about continuation bets and may realize what you’re doing, and then they may call or raise you figuring that you just have an iffy hand. If you’re playing against an average group, though, then you can make some money.

How does the flop determine whether or not you should bet?

Let’s say you’re playing a few hand at your favorite poker site and you’re holding A-K and the flop shows up 3-Q-6. Your opponent isn’t likely to call a continuation bet unless they have a pair of kings at least, with the flop. Your opponent does have a 2 in 3 chance of having a pair show up on the flop, but even if they get a pair with the 3 or 6, they still might fold because the size of your bet makes it look like you could beat a pair of 3s or 6s.

If the flop has two of the same suit, though, or if it comes through something like J-K-2, a straight draw becomes more likely, so a call could happen. The continuation bet is most likely to work if they have a strong hand made for them without the draw.

Is it safe for trying at the online poker tables?

The answer is yes. You can start practicing at the play for free poker tables and then move on to real money poker whenever you feel ready. Although, you should always take a look at the flop and consider the likelihood of your opponent making a hand that will allow them to feel comfortable calling a bet. The wetter (more helpful) the flop, the less likely you should be to run a continuation bet with a weak hand.

Put poker skills on the line. You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Poker Freerolls

How to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls

How to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls

Optimal Multi Table Strategy

Want to know to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls? Before the arrival of online poker, you had to work to find a game. You had to go out of your house and head to a table or bring people over for a night of cards. It was also a lot slower, as you had to play one table at a time. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can play as many games at once as you want, so long as you don’t overload your own stamina (and your ability to pay attention). People who were playing 10-cent and 25-cent games didn’t have a chance of making serious money, but now if you can play 20 tables at once, you can bring in some bank (as long as you can pay attention). A lot of people think that multi-tabling is a waste of time and money, arguing that you can’t make smart decisions because your reaction time is cut down. While there is some validity to this argument, the other side is that since you’re playing so much poker at once, having a decent game running at such a high quantity means that you’re going to make more money than if you have your superior game going on one table. Let’s look at some tips to help you make money off multi-table play.

Learning How to Multi-table the Right away.

This is NOT for amateurs or novices. First try to build some confidence playing at the free online poker tables, start with one game at a time, and start increasing the number of tables until it feels easy and almost natural. Then, feel free to expand the number of games you are playing. When you have more hands per hour, you have more decisions — and a lot of decisions in a short amount of time. If you’re looking at aces on one table, but they time out because you’re considering making a huge river raise on another table, you’re burning money.

Prioritize your decisions.

When you have multiple tables going, your decisions are going to pile up. You have to sift through the easy ones, leaving the ones that require a lot of thought for more priority. If you’re playing ten tables, it’s unlikely that you’ll have more than one really tough decision to think about at once. However, you’re likely to have one tough decision and nine easy ones. It’s hard to block out the nine easy choices and focus on the hard one, but that can often be what separates those who make money from those who do not. Once you’ve focused on the tough choice, then you go back and make those other easy ones. Once you get good at this, you’ll be able to make those easy choices on autopilot while you’re still pondering the tough one, but don’t do that until you’re ready.

Know your limits.

Are you winning money playing four tables, but when you jump to six tables, you’re losing money? Stay at four. You might think that you need to push yourself to play six, but you’ll be able to do that when you’re ready. If you push yourself beyond what you can do, you’re going to hemorrhage cash.

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach

William Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach

William Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach

William Shakespeare, the unexpected poker coach. One of the many cultural gems in my new home of Asheville is North Carolina’s longest-running Shakespeare festival, with five free outdoor plays every summer. I recently saw the troupe put on Measure for Measure. I knew nothing about the play going in, but ended up loving it, in spite of its reputation as one of William Shakespeare‘s least liked works. It’s an extended meditation on justice, mercy, and hypocrisy.

Five Lessons from William Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach

I liked it so much that I followed up the performance by studying an annotated edition of the play, trying to understand all the bits of difficult language that went over my head when seeing it live. As is my tendency, I ended up noticing a bunch of things that seemed to speak to the poker player in me.

1. Our doubts are traitors

I’ll start with what is probably the most famous line in the play:

Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.

The applicability to poker is self-evident. Every time I play, I end up kicking myself for not pulling the trigger with a bet or raise in a difficult situation where I would have made more money if I had been braver. Whether on a bluff or a value bet, the reason for chickening out is always the same — the fear that my opponent will call with something better.

Later in the play, another character admits that she is torn — she’s “At war ‘twixt will and will not.” Again, that’s exactly the inner struggle I feel in such situations.

It’s possible that the single most profitable change I could make to my game would be to bet or raise in the situations where it feels right, without letting my “what if” fears second guess that impulse. How about you?

2. Straight feel the spur

In Measure for Measure, Duke Vincentio, the ruler of Vienna, temporarily delegates his authority to his deputy Angelo. Whereas Duke Vincentio had been lax in enforcing the laws, Angelo, when newly put in power, is ruthless — much to the consternation of the citizenry. One of them laments,

the body public be
A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
He can command, lets it straight feel the spur.

There is something to be said for this as a poker tactic, particularly in tournaments. That is, when you are moved to a new table, especially with a big stack, start pushing the other players around immediately, regardless of what cards you’re dealt. Announce your presence forcefully. Let them know that there’s a new sheriff in town, so to speak.

Of course, there’s a limit to how long you can get away with such bullying before the populace will rise up in rebellion. But you can pick up a lot of chips with less resistance than usual when they don’t know quite what to make of you. Furthermore, it serves the metagame function of establishing your image as a dominant player to be feared, even long after your short burst of pure tyranny.

If you’re on the receiving end of this tactic, it’s important to recognize it for what it is. You can be the one most to profit if you’re the first to stand up to the would-be table captain. A big-stacked player new to the table who is immediately betting and raising is much more likely to be trying to establish control than to be accurately representing the strength of his hands. So push back early and often.

3. The jewel that we find

Elsewhere comes this bit of wisdom:

The jewel that we find, we stoop and take’t
Because we see it; but what we do not see
We tread upon, and never think of it.

In poker, pots are our jewels. Of course we treasure those we win. But there are many that we wrongly let go without a second thought.

One of the easiest ways to increase your poker profits is to become bolder at picking up “orphan” pots. These are the pots that nobody seems to want. They’re not hard to identify — everybody’s checking rather than betting.

If you’re in position when the flop and turn have been checked around, you should be firing at these pots a very high percentage of the time. Your goal, in Shakespearean terms, is to see and take the jewels that everybody else is simply treading upon, not recognizing their worth.

Five Lessons from William Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach 101
From “Shakespeare on Poker” (1906) by Martha C. Ballard

4. Be absolute for death

In the play, Angelo has sentenced to death a man named Claudio. Claudio’s sister, Isabella, is trying to persuade Angelo to rescind the sentence, but we don’t know yet if she will succeed. The condemned man is visited in prison by a friar, who gives this advice:

Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter.

Learned commentators tell us that “absolute for death” here means “certain that you must die.” With that understanding, the advice seems sound. It is torment not knowing if you will live or die. But if you have accepted the certainty of death, you lose the fear of it, and dying will be easier. Should you miraculously live, your joy in that outcome will be even greater.

Save for one lucky player, everybody entered into a poker tournament will “die” at some point. If you accept this reality from the get-go, you can play better. If you are controlled by the fear of being knocked out, you will play too timidly to win.

Of course, you can take this too far. The idea is to learn to play fearlessly, not recklessly. Those are very different things.

5. You might pardon him

Isabella, the heroine of Measure for Measure, is given some of the play’s most poignant lines, as she pleads with Angelo for her brother’s life:

Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy….

No ceremony that to great ones [be]longs,
Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.

Mercy is not a concept usually associated with poker, a game of ruthless self-interest. In fact, to the extent that mercy refers to deliberately not taking full advantage of another player, it can actually be unethical “soft playing.”

But even in poker there are circumstances in which showing mercy is commendable.

In June of this year, Lee Jones wrote an essay for the PokerStars Blog titled “Letting One Off the Hook.” There he describes an unusual situation in which he had the nuts in a cash game. His opponent moved all in, and Jones, of course, called. But the other player, upon seeing Jones’s winner, claimed that he had not said “all in,” despite both Jones and the dealer saying that that’s what they heard.

The floor was called, but the other player refused to surrender his or her remaining chips, and they had a stalemate situation. Jones describes what happens next:

“‘You know,’ I piped up. ‘It’s all just chips. Push me what’s there now and let’s get on with the game.’ I thought both floorman and dealer were going to hug me…. Look, I’m no saint, but when I added it all up, this wasn’t the time or place to bring things to a crashing halt over $300.”

In a recent issue of Card Player magazine, their anonymous columnist, “The Rules Guy,” reviewed the story and cogently discussed what went wrong and what might have been done differently to prevent the mess.

Five Lessons from William Shakespeare, the Unexpected Poker Coach 102
David “Chip” Reese at the 2007 WSOP

But the article concludes, appropriately, praising Jones for his mercy: “When you get a chance to be human, take it. The never-ending fight for EV doesn’t have to be a pact with the devil.”

I remember when David “Chip” Reese died, one of his high-stakes peers told the story of a time Reese played a private, heads-up cash game against an unknown player. Reese won all the money. The loser complained that something about the set-up had been unfair. It wasn’t true, but Reese gave him back his chips anyway, and let the game start over again.

Of course, Reese knew that he held a huge edge in skill and would likely win again, but the gesture also showed Reese’s capacity to put mercy ahead of pure profit.

I think Shakespeare would have approved.

Robert Woolley lives in Asheville, NC. He spent several years in Las Vegas and chronicled his life in poker on the “Poker Grump” blog.


Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Big poker weekend winners

August Week 1 – Big Weekend Winners

Congrats to our big weekend winners!!

We had a great weekend at Cafrino. Were you a part of it? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more chances to win a Level 10 invite!

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And special shout out to rick777, who wins our Level 10 Bubble Boy award (a free ticket to the next Level 10 game). Join us all week long for cash tournaments daily!

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

xo Petra

Matt Damon Rounders 2

Matt Damon Says Rounders 2 Would Be About Online Poker

Matt Damon Says Rounders 2 Would Be About Online Poker

Just days after he gave the BBC a Teddy KGB impersonation and talked about how much fun was had filming Rounders nearly 20 years ago, Matt Damon’s appearance on The Rich Eisen Show aired this week, and he revealed what a potential follow-up film would be about.

Eisen: What about Rounders? What’s going on?

Damon: That we have talked about. [Brian] Koppelman and [David] Levien, who wrote it, they have a really good idea for a Rounders story, and that would be an interesting thing because of what’s happened in poker. Now, with the online [game], these guys and gals who are playing, this young generation, they start playing when they’re in their adolescence. They’re looking at 10 hands at a time, playing for real money online. By the time they’re 21, they’ve seen millions and millions and millions of hands…It’s now gone into deep game theory. It’s at a whole other level. It’s just a very, very different game.”

Interestingly, Koppelman and Levien already wrote a film about online poker. The movie Runner Runner, which starred Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, came out in 2013.

As everyone knows, Black Friday largely shut down online poker in America in 2011.

Damon added that it would be “interesting to see” Mike McDermott and Teddy KGB “come into that new world.” Over the past several years worth of Rounders 2 rumors, the possibility of John Malkovich returning hasn’t been mentioned before.

Edward Norton, who played “Worm” in the original film, is also interested in a sequel. Norton told David Letterman in 2014 that he couldn’t go to Las Vegas for awhile after the movie became so popular because people were stopping him all the time and yelling “Worm!”

“We couldn’t have had more fun making that movie,” said Norton, who recently agreed to play poker to help the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “That was one of the best gangs of people ever.”


Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

percentage of poker hands

What Percentage of Poker Hands Should I Play?

What Percentage of Poker Hands Should I Play?

Many beginners at the real or online poker tables wonder how loose or how tight they should approach the game, more particularly the percentage of poker hands they should play before the flop comes? There is no simple answer, simply because poker is a game that is always in flux. When you are playing, you will hit opponents who have different tendencies, which means that you will often need to vary your strategies to compensate. However, there are some rules that you can take into just about any situation. So let’s review the strategy you must apply whenever you’re ready to make the transition from free poker to the real cash poker tables.

Did you call? Then raise.

Has the action folded to you, but you want to play your hand? Then it’s time to go for some aggressive poker strategy and raise. If you’re not holding a raise-worthy hand, then you just fold too. That means your opponents won’t know that you had a weak hand (and won’t get the satisfaction of knowing how things look when you limp, and the players also have to add more chips into the pot before the flop if you have a strong hand.

Starting your poker hands in early position.

Are you in a 9-handed cash game? If you’re one of the first three to act, you are in early position (EP). Here you will be going with at least six more players to act after you, so you will need a solid hand if you want to play. Generally, solid players raise triple the big blind when they have something like 77+ or AK+. This might seem like a tight strategy, but you are putting three big blinds at risk with the reward of just 1.5 big blinds coming back if all six of your opponents decide to fold. Also, you might find yourself out of position after the flop if someone calls you. Because of all of these potential problems, if you’re going to play, you need a strong hand pre flop.

Starting your poker hands in middle position

If you are in the second and third positions to the button’s right, then you are in middle position. There are fewer people behind you waiting to act, so if a call comes, you find yourself still playing in position more of the time, so you can play a bit looser. The key players now are the ones between you and the button, because you will have to face them out of position after the flop, if they decide to call. If they are playing tight, though, you can play more poker hands. If the people on your left are loose, though, you need to stay tight.

This might seem like a drawback, but you will end up making more money with the poker hands that you decide to play. As you develop confidence in your post flop strategy, you can add poker hands such as QJ/A9/KT/J9/QT/K9 to your range of poker hands that you will play. Remember that when the players to your left are quite loose, you will need to tighten up a little more. However, if someone has position on you but only folds rarely, you don’t want to add to the pot with something marginal, as you are likely to lose.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Poker Tournament Strategy

Optimal Poker Tournament Playing Strategy

Optimal Poker Tournament Playing Strategy & Short-handed considerations

It’s true that most poker tournament formats are still using 9- or 10-player format, but 6-max is definitely on the rise. Regardless if you play online poker or a the live tables, there are some strategies that work much better at these short-handed tables than at the traditional tables, so if you’re interested in taking on some of the short-handed tables, this article will help you take on the challenge and win real cash.

The key factor with strategy in 6-max poker tournaments is blind pressure — both direct and indirect. In the direct sense, the blinds are coming at you more quickly, which means you have to go about gathering chips more aggressively so that your stack can stay constant. You’ll have to play more hands, and you’ll have to take a more aggressive stance when you play them. You have more time to wait for the right hand to come along in a larger tournament, but the later you get in a 6-handed tournament, the poorer a strategy waiting becomes.

In an indirect sense, you also have to watch out for the effects of the rest of the field playing more hands — and doing so aggressively as well. This means that your opponents are likely to bet and/or raise with a weaker hand, so you can adjust your poker tournament strategy by doing such things as pushing raises higher when you really do have a strong hand, and then you can play back at a lighter level when your hand is on the lower end of the spectrum.

What’s the benefit of raising “light”? If you never do it, you will blind away, and opponents who are savvy will figure out that you only raise when you have stronger hands. However, if you raise too often, you are vulnerable to the re-steal, particularly when the chip stacks get smaller later in the game.

Another consideration is that you get more “BVB” play in a 6-max game. This stands for “Button against Blind” and can bring several different factors into play. When you are looking for the right hand to use for blind defense often varies with which player is on the button — and that player’s habits when it comes to raising, and whether they will fold or call for re-raises. A 6-max game requires you to defend more — and to steal more. The button is always a strong place to be, going last in all of the betting rounds post-flop. A full-ring game allows you to do more stealing and less defending, but in a 6-handed situation you have to be able to do both.

Set mining has less value when you are in a short-handed situation. Because your opponents will not have as big of a chance to have a strong hand, this can payoff. In a full-ring game, someone else is more likely to have a premium hand against you in a raised pot, but in 6-max you are more likely to have the stronger hand, but your raises are also not likely to go as high.

If you like to get aggressive in a poker tournament game, use moves to get back at your opponents and play post-flop, 6-max play might be right down your alley. However, just as in any tournament, understand the skill levels of your opponents as quickly as possible, and adjust accordingly.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Poker Strategy: Hand Strength vs Bluffing

Poker Hand Strength vs Bluffing

Poker Strategy: Poker Hand Strength vs Bluffing

Your poker hand strength and the bluff… why is it important? There are some poker players who never, ever bluff. There aren’t a lot of players like that, because bluffing is necessary to keep other players on their guard. But once you figure out that one of those players is at your table, they are easy to beat. If they put down money once the cards are all out, you should fold — unless you have a hand that you think is ironclad. In that case, you should raise, because if they just have an average hand, they will then hold.

Other people like to bluff all the time. Once you identify this sort of player, you must keep calling if you have a decent hand at all. It’s true that habitual bluffers are going to find good hands now and then, but they still bluff far too often, and you can still take advantage of that tendency. Calling against this type of player will help you win real cash over time as opposed to folding because you will catch them in their bluffs.

So how do you find the right mix in your own game?

There are different situations and variables, especially when playing online poker. The key is to keep others guessing. If you bluff some of the time, then you’re a better player than those who never bluff and those who bluff pretty much all the time. Better players are able to keep their opponents from guessing whether a bluff is at hand or not. If you have to guess, of course you’re going to be wrong sometimes. That’s why it’s called gambling, remember?

The key comes with the “tell.” This is a gesture that a player has that reveals when he either has something good or doesn’t have anything at all. All but the most elite players have a tell of some sort; it just comes as a visceral response when you see your hand. If you can identify (and then eliminate or even reduce) your own tell, you will have a lot more success at the table, because people won’t be able to tell what you are doing.

A lot of people bluff way too often when they are in a low-limit games or when they play at the free poker tables. Why? Because when you have nothing on the line or when are playing with fixed limits, you just have to make one more bet to see a player’s hand. The pots are usually sizable enough, at least in comparison to the size of a wager, to make the call the right choice.

However, in other situations, just the threat of a bluff can be crucial. Good players — those who bluff just the right amount of the time and in the right circumstances — also have the threat working for them. You don’t know whether this opponent has a solid hand or is simply acting like he does. You want to become that type of opponent. There is no set of hard and fast rules that will help you figure out what that balance is. The only good strategy is to play, read your opponents and their tells. Once you have found it, though, you will feel it — and you’ll see the results when your wins pile up.


Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Poker Bots - Online Poker

How to Identify Poker Bots

How to Identify Poker Bots

Online poker players sometimes ask about How to Identify Poker Bots. If you’ve been hitting the online poker tables then you’ve probably heard the term “Poker Bot”. But what exactly is a “poker bot”? It is a program designed to make automatic decisions when playing poker. It does not have emotion as a factor, which makes it a tough adversary for people. Bots are programmed to know the odds they have and the odds they need, which means that they have the winning tactics programmed inside them. They can also sit a lot of tables at the same time since they make instant decisions. Of course, some bots have flawed strategy inside them, meaning that they will not often play well, particularly against bets that are unusually small or large. They are good at exploiting novices, though, by taking advantage of their propensity to call bets too frequently.

So how do legal online poker rooms identify bots? The sites do have automatic systems in place to check for them, but sometimes they do slip through. This means that you need to be on the lookout for some of the tells that you are playing against one of these applications.

Many online poker sites test for bots by putting a bright message in the chatbox, asking players to type in some characters into the chat to verify their humanity. Bots don’t notice this, and they keep playing as usual, but the vast majority of people will notice this message. Another way that rooms identify bots is to pick out accounts that are playing on large numbers of tables for a really long time. People can’t play around the clock, day after day, but some poker bots have been left in place playing continuously until the poker rooms notice them. The bots do win real cash for the sites (because they still lose too), so some sites don’t put as much effort as they could into detecting them.

So what should you look for? Bots tend to play the same way, hand after hand. If a player makes the same sets of decisions, and takes the same amount of time to make each decision, that player could be a bot. There are some human players that fall into fairly set routines as well, but the difference with a bot becomes noticeable over time.

Here’s an example of a fairly badly programmed bot: 90 percent of the time it folds to bets on the flop. The other 10 percent, it would instantly go all in for several times the amount of the pot. When the human players sent chat messages, it would never respond. The high fold percentage made this bot very easy to beat, but then it would automatically quit after losing three games in a row.

Of course, if a bot is poorly made, you can win money from it. So don’t necessarily run from all bots. But just be aware that they are out there – and how they behave. If you are worried about a particular player on a site where you have been playing, don’t be afraid to file a report with the support department of that poker room. After all, the poker room is making money off you – so you deserve to have a fair table around you.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

California Online Poker

California Online Poker Bill Passes Committee

California Online Poker: The “most-vetted bill” in California this year passed through the California Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

“If we held every bill to the standards we’ve held this bill, we wouldn’t have any bills,” AB 2863 sponsor Adam Gray said. Gray’s measure regulates and legalizes online poker in California, the largest US state by population, and first heads to the full Assembly for consideration. The California State Senate will act only if the Assembly passes Gray’s bill.

“Believe it or not, this is the furthest internet poker legislation has gotten in California. Now it will move to the full Assembly, and based on testimony today, there is still work to do to ensure its final passage,” Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas said. “We stand ready to work with California lawmakers to produce a product that puts consumers first and removes many of the obstacles that have bogged this bill down for years. We commend Assembly member Adam Gray for his hard work and commitment to do what is right for California consumers.”

Several amendments were tacked onto the bill in the last week following an hour-long debate last Tuesday, including a five-year waiting period or $20 million fine for any company that serviced the California market between 2006 and 2011. Any operators in the market post-2011 would likely be barred from getting a license altogether.

“We’ve spent the past week negotiating with the Committee chairperson and Committee staff,” said Gray. “We have strong suitability language in the bill.”

Much of the hearing focused on “tainted assets” such as the list of PokerStars’ former California players. Also debated was whether a $20 million payment from a company like PokerStars that was in the market between 2006 and 2011 was sufficient or whether that amount should be considerably more or exist altogether. If the $20 million were paid, a company could access the California market without needing to wait five years.

“The bill has a three-year blackout period on those very lists,” Gray said of PokerStars’ former Golden State customer list. “Could we go further to permanently ban the lists? We could have that discussion.”

Gray added that he might be able to get a better list of people who like poker currently from Facebook rather than PokerStars’ old California player list. PokerStars left the US market on Black Friday in April 2011, over five years ago.

California racing lobbyist Barry Broad was one of a handful of witnesses to testify on Wednesday and said, “With regard to these amendments, this bill continues to be an example of how to do things right in terms of moving a complicated issue forward.” He noted that a broad coalition of interests are in support of Gray’s AB 2863.

Leland Kinter of the Yocha Dehe Tribe, which operates a casino resort, said in his testimony, “Our position is not driven by profit motive or business model, but rather principles of heightened gaming rights.” He added that the amendments fail to address tainted assets appropriately and said that bad actors should be disqualified.

Assemblyman Ian Calderon applauded Gray on his endurance during a multi-year effort to pass online poker legislation in California, but said he was concerned about bad actors being allowed to operate. Therefore, he asked Gray where he got the $20 million number from. “They could do a lot more and maybe should do a lot more,” Calderon said. Gray responded by saying he negotiated the number with the Committee’s leadership.

Discussion of tainted assets and bad actors continued en masse, with many committee members with concerns seemingly looking forward to debate in the full Assembly about the issues.

“I want to get there,” Assemblyman Donald Wagner said. “You have someone that everyone says was a bad actor and you give a new date and an opportunity.” Wagner worried that PokerStars would have an unfair advantage given its old e-mail list and years of experience.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia asked about the “grey” period between 2006 and 2011, when sites like PokerStars were servicing the market and reaping millions of dollars.

“The simple fact is that the vetting and regulatory process of these licenses could cost more than $20 million,” he said. Garcia asked for the fee to be “far more” than $20 million and also asked Gray to address the unintended consequences of gaming in future revisions to the bill.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk questioned whether AB 2863 should punish Amaya Gaming, the current owners of PokerStars, since the Canadian company didn’t acquire the site until after it departed the US market altogether. “The biggest tainted asset here is the PokerStars name,” Quirk said. “The founders of PokerStars are long gone… The big question is whether the PokerStars name is a tainted asset.”

Finally, Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez summed up the arguments from the bill’s opposition, calling for a clear distinction of what happens if horse racing isn’t an activity California engages in down the road, clear language that the bill only applies to iPoker and not iGaming in general, and said that bad actor language still needs to be discussed.

In the end, the bill passed via a roll call vote.


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