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Poker Players Alliance Party: A Perfect Economic Stimulus

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Feb/03/2009

Imagine if you will only 5 percent of the Poker Player Alliance million plus members descending upon Washington, D.C. this summer - some time during the break between the World Series of Poker and its November final table - for a fun-filled three to four day excursion where every day players, pros, celebrities and politicians can all meet.

It's the Poker Players Alliance Summer Bash in Washington, D.C.  Before everyone gets too excited, there is no indication that the PPA plans to throw any such party.  In fact, Gambling911.com is quite surprised to learn that, since its existence over the past few years, the PPA has NEVER thrown a party open to all its poker playing members.  The closest they came was last year when some hand picked "big name pros" were selected to meet with various politicians.  A cocktail party reception was held, but the PPA was very restrictive as to who could attend.

Gambling911.com has covered the excitement surrounding such events as the International Gaming Expo (ICE) and CAP Euro held in London, both held last week.  Organizers tell G911 some 1600 people were in attendance.  CAP and the Casino Affiliate Convention held in Amsterdam next month are slated to put on future events throughout the year.  The party atmospheres will continue to draw throngs of online gambling execs, players and affiliates.

"The model has proven a huge success," expressed Gambling911.com Senior Editor, Payton O'Brien.  "It strikes us as amazing that the PPA with its over one million members has not appeared to grasp the concept and what impact such an event can have."

And that brings us back to that 5 percent of one million Poker Player Alliance members.  It is a relatively "safe" assumption that a minimum of 5 percent of the PPA members (and even some nonmember poker players) will show up to be part of a networking event for the poker community.  That - my friends - is 50,000 people.  Of course these 50,000 people will be spending money, an instant means of stimulating the economy.  The World Series of Poker, held during July in Las Vegas, generates millions of dollars for the local economy.  Poker fans meet and mingle (not to mention party) at the WSOP but the emphasis is more on tournament play - not networking and promotion of the game on a legal front.

"Certainly we can look at the WSOP and get an idea of what a PPA organized networking event would be like," said O'Brien.  "Held in a place like Washington, DC, the politicians and media would be forced to take notice."

Gambling911.com spoke to three poker players in Miami Beach and asked if they would attend such an event, even if the PPA were to charge say $100.

Bones (whose real name is John) - an online poker player who has written for the Gambling911.com website in the past - said "Hell yeah!"

"The idea of meeting with other poker players, seeing some pros, networking.  That would definitely be a fun time."

Bones admits he's tight for cash but would find a way to attend if given a few month's notice.

"I think the online poker rooms can fly some of their better customers for free or offer the party with paid expenses as part of an online tournament package," he said.

Frank,  who just recently started playing on the Cake Poker Network via Sportsbook.com where he bets on football games, said he would consider going on such a trip as well.

"That sounds like fun.  I don't feel I can commit this early especially with the economy the way it is but I like the idea.  (It's) something to think about."

Frank, like many online poker players, was shut out of his favorite room, Paradise Poker, following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

"They left the U.S. market and I tried to join using a friend's address in Europe but it was just too much of a pain and I had trouble joining other rooms," he said.  Only recently has he begun to dabble in online poker playing once again. "It just wasn't worth it but I'm having some success depositing money."

A third poker player we spoke to - also named John - said a poker party would appeal to him and was surprised as to why the PPA had never thought up the concept.

Bones and Frank were both familiar with the Poker Players Alliance but not as updated on their efforts to help get the game legalized.  John, on the other hand, monitors the PPA's progress.   He feels they can be doing so much more.

"I think they do some things well but with a million members, the PPA needs to capitalize more on these numbers and show they mean business," John said.  "Are you sure they never had a networking party of some type early on?  I don't recall anything in the past two years.  I mean, come on, look at the attention the Winter Music Conference, Art Basel, and even Urban Beach Weekend garner here in Miami Beach."

Winter Music Conference, in its 24th year, is regarded as the singular networking event in the dance music industry, attracting professionals from over 70 different countries.  Over 62,000 individuals attended WMC last year.  60,000 attended Art Basel, which is the largest international art show for Modern and contemporary works and has evolved into a hub for dozens of other art fairs and networking parties.  Urban Beach Weekend is similar to the Casino Affiliate Programs (CAP) model for the online gambling sector, though at a scale that is far larger than anything imaginable.  Some 300,000 to 400,000 people descended upon Miami Beach during Memorial Day last year to celebrate Urban Beach Weekend.

"I can actually see a Poker Players Alliance networking event attracting numbers similar to those of Urban Beach Weekend," said John.  "It's conceivable because I'm not even a member of the PPA and would still go if I knew there were going to be thousands of poker players and pros there."

The PPA tends to be more of a formal outfit.  The hand-picking of a minimum number of "key members" to attend their last Washington, D.C. event (seemingly thrown together in the last minute) was viewed as a calculated strategic move.

"They want to maintain a certain perception," an industry insider told Gambling911.com at the time.  Translation:  The Poker Players Alliance wants to come across as well polished.  They want their members to be the same way as well.

"Any PPA organized party probably won't feature the hotel lobby brawls - albeit a bit dramatized - followed by drunkenness, followed by making up and networking that was widely reported at this past weekend's CAP event," said O'Brien.  "Nor will we see the over a thousand arrests recorded during the 2006 Urban Beach Weekend.  A Poker Players Alliance networking party does need to maintain some semblance of tractability."

And why not reach for the stars?

Poker player John suggests it might not be so difficult to get the President of the United States himself to attend such a party if held in D.C.

"Why not?  He's a poker player I've read.  The sky is the limit with large numbers of people showing up.  We know Barney will be there."

John made reference to Barney Frank, chairman of the House financial services committee, who told the Financial Times Tuesday he would reintroduce a bill in the next few weeks to establish a licensing and regulatory framework for online gambling operators.

The only thing getting in the way of such a party is the Poker Players Alliance itself.

"For whatever reason they've been reluctant to hold this type of gala," said O'Brien.  "I think the players are ready for it and the type of press such an event would generate is stupendous."

You can read more of Jenny Woo's articles here

Jenny Woo, Gambling911.com Senior International Correspondent

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