Wednesday, March 07, 2007

D'Amato Finally in as PPA Chairman

A couple of days late with this one, but there's still plenty of meat on the bone. On Monday, it was finally announced that former Senator Alfonse D'Amato is taking over the chairmanship of the Poker Players Alliance, and will therefore immediately cure all ills currently afflicting the online poker world.

No, no, I made up the last part.

D'Amato is indeed onboard, however, a savvy, colorful pol with strong business and Congressional connections who will likely help poker more than he will hurt it. For its part, the PPA has been more forthright in recent weeks in stating that creating an exemption or carve-out for the online version of the game is one of its most important goals. Still, annointing D'Amato as poker's savior is a case of unwarranted optimism --- not only is online poker unlikely to get the carve-out it so desires, at least in the near future, but D'Amato himself is hardly a saint. As a politician he makes a good lobbyist.

D'Amato long ago acquired the reputation of a not-quite-clean pol, not that's there anything un-American about that. More specifically, though, was the not-often reported tale of the inquiry launched when it turned out that D'Amato frequently hosted high-stakes cash poker games featuring himself and several lobbyists pursuing his favor, the games held in his Congressional office. One can only surmise that D'Amato ran an inordinately high number of successful big-pot bluffs and boasted an ROI (Return On Investment) percentage the likes of which the rest of us can only dream. D'Amato's gone on to host a semi-celebrity home game featuring pal Howard Stern (the shock jock, not the Anna Nicole shyster), and a rotating lineup of maybe-famous types such as Dominic Barbera, the Lon-Guyland lawyer whose 15-minutes-of-fame clients have included Jessica Hahn and Joey Buttafuoco.

That said, D'Amato still can't help but give the PPA a heightened sense of professionalism and respectability, something that the PPA itself surely needs, given the organization's other recent missteps.

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