Gambling / Gaming

Long before Rounders and internet gambling and ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage came along to ruin it all, poker was the game where if you could play (and had a sufficient bankroll) you could sit at a table with important people and make them know your name. You know, back in the day before poker became all about velvet ropes and posturing.

Luckily, despite the poker explosion, so few people play it well that snagging an invite to a quality Thursday night game is still a huge deal. In your career, you’re only going to have a few opportunities where a partner or client invites you over to his home — you cannot blow them. Being able to play a quality game of poker is a useful skill to have in your set. You need to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, and know when to walk away when your partner or client gives you that “fold boy, this is my table and you’re not allowed to win money here” look.

So we’ve got an interesting way to help you out….

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Some people thought Contra was too violent.

The Supreme Court is on record as being a grand protector of the people’s right to free speech — so long as by “speech” we mean money and by “people” we mean corporations. But when it comes to the right of artists (in this case, video game producers) to do their thing, the Court wants to take a closer look.

And so tomorrow (Tuesday) the Court will hear oral argument in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. If you’ve been too busy riding roughshod over zombie ranchers to follow along, the key issue is the constitutionality of a California law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. The Ninth Circuit already threw the law out, and other Circuits have dispensed with similar state laws on free speech grounds. But SCOTUS apparently wants to take a look at the restrictions…

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We’ve written previously about Vanessa Selbst, a Yale Law Student and professional poker star. She outlasted 716 competitors at the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour event at the Mohegan Sun. Top Prize = $750K. Now that she’s won more than enough to cover her high-priced legal education, she’s taking a break from law school to concentrate on poker.

You can check out Vanessa’s victory tonight on ESPN2 at 11:00 pm. Or you can catch it online at www.pokerstars.tv. More importantly, you can vote for Vanessa to be one of 27 inaugural “poker all-stars” in a June tournament with a million dollar prize pool. Winning your education funding at the tables seems a lot more noble than asking people to pay you. Click here to vote.

As many of you know, I love poker. I know many of you do too. Vanessa also coaches poker at Deuces Cracked, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to pick Vanessa’s brain about poker and law school. Luckily for Yale Law students, she has a kind heart and won’t be rolling around campus looking to take all of your money. But she could…

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NCAA Bracket 2010 Allen Overy.jpgHere on Above the Law, we’re running our own NCAA Tournament style bracket about the best cities for practicing law. Please don’t forget to vote — your ATL editors have printed out the brackets and somebody is going to make a killing.
But most of you will be filling out brackets for the real NCAA tournament (you can play against the ATL community here: group name: Atlblog, password: abovethelaw). I’ve got some experience running an NCAA bracket. My firm didn’t participate in an office pool, because that would be gambling. And gambling is wrong. Very wrong.
But if my firm had run an NCAA office pool, my officemate and I would have run the thing every year. We would have negotiated the scoring rules and buy-ins with busy partners and chased down money from paralegals and secretaries for weeks. Yes, my officemate and I would have owned the office pool … if it had existed.
At Allen & Overy, one American has taken it upon himself to run the bracket for a firm full of Brits. In my professional opinion, this guy is doing all the right things. For all the people out there participating in an office pool this month, make sure to steal this guy’s outline:

ITS BACK!!!!! Every year it seems we need a distraction right about now and that beloved tradition known as the NCAA basketball tournament somehow seems to fit the bill. Want to earn an abrasive street name? Want to indoctrinate Kevin and Robert by robbing them of a few quid? Here is your chance to win some adoration and transcend the “pyramid model” for a few weeks. Participating in the pool will give you all this and more. …
Traditional legal disclaimers, adjusted slightly, below.

That’s right, there’s an entire “mini prospectus” that should bring Brits and the non-sporting up to speed. It’s info every office should know …

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CAC_STOCKINGS_BONDS_FINAL_4x3_300x225-260x195.jpgThanks again to the people at Caesar’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s, and the people at Stockings and Bonds for inviting me to their poker tournament over the weekend. I didn’t win, mainly because God hates me. But I didn’t embarrass myself either. I finished 20th out of 91 players.
And I learned some important lessons about playing poker with bankers that I’d like to share with the lawyers out there, if you’re interested.

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CAC_STOCKINGS_BONDS_FINAL_4x3_300x225-260x195.jpgLast week, I asked Above the Law readers to give me their best poker advice. I’ll be in a tournament this weekend at Caesars Palace – Atlantic City, sponsored by Stockings and Bonds. Click here for the details.*
As I said, my main motivation — aside from the $30,000 prize pool — is to stick it to the investment bankers and hedge fund types who put their chips on the table. But it would be nice to have another legal type down there to chill with. Harrah’s is raffling off a seat at the table. The winner will get: the buy-in, a room, and access to the Stockings & Bonds After Party at Dusk. Sign up here.
If you do win, you’ll want to check out the best poker strategies from the ATL community…

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Call of Duty modern warfare 2 judge.JPGIn most entertainment industries, the distributors of content reap a much larger share of the profit than the creators of said content. There are some very good reasons for this (see generally the galactically stupid writers strike) and some bad reasons for this (as evidenced by Geoffrey Fletcher’s clear inability to afford the public speaking coach he desperately needs).
In the video game industry, distributors get bank, while creators … well, they get to play with video games all day. Do they even need money?
But a lawsuit pits the creators of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise against Activision, and the results could well have serious fallout across the entire gaming industry. The Guardian puts the issue plainly:

[W]hen studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella filed that astoundingly vitriolic 16-page lawsuit against their former publisher, they slammed a question mark down over the nature of IP ownership in the modern videogame era. If, as West and Zampella allege, Activision granted them ‘contractual rights’ over the Modern Warfare brand, could they really defect and take a Modern Warfare-like title to another publisher, as news sources are indicating? And step back a little; would a multinational corporation really sign off a massively profitable franchise extension merely to appease its workers?

West and Zampella truly went nuclear on Activision. Let’s check their mission parameters …

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CAC_STOCKINGS_BONDS_FINAL_4x3_300x225-260x195.jpgI previously mentioned that I would be participating in a poker tournament hosted by Caesars Palace Atlantic City and Stockings and Bonds. Breaking Media will stake one lucky reader in the tournament as well.
But enough about you. Top prize is $30,000 and I want to win — I at least want to make it to the final table. Now, I’ve got some skill. I’ve got a good feel for the game, especially live, when you can see the people you are playing against. And, as we all know, legal training offers an advantage in the game of poker.
But I’ll be playing against i-bankers and other true experts in risk management. So I’ll need to raise my game. For that, I want to get a sense of the best poker practices developed by all of you lawyers out there.
Let’s start with the most essential question: What should I wear?

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Dungeons Dragons dice.JPGPredictably, I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in high school. Just as predictably, I didn’t lose my virginity until I stopped. It’s an established fact that Dungeons & Dragons is a bigger threat to human reproduction than all the gay marriages in the world.

But I did not know until this day that D&D could also pose a security risk. A Wisconsin prisoner, Kevin T. Singer, sued Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution after the guards confiscated his D&D materials.

Why did the prison guards take away this guy’s D&D paraphernalia? I’ll let Judge John Tinder of the Seventh Circuit explain:

Waupun’s long-serving Disruptive Group Coordinator, Captain Bruce Muraski, received an anonymous letter from an inmate. The letter expressed concern that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game. Muraski, Waupun’s expert on gang activity, decided to heed the letter’s advice and “check into this gang before it gets out of hand.”

A gang? A gang that needs to be checked? I’ve never been to prison, but I have watched Oz. I’m forced to believe one of two things: (a) any D&D “gang” member would find themselves tossing salads faster than you can say “saving throw against horrific prison justice … fails,” or (b) if you could beat up the D&D kids in your high school, then you can go to Wisconsin, commit violent crimes with impunity, get sent to prison and live like a God.

Singer sued the prison for violating his First Amendment rights. The district court ruled for the correctional facility on summary judgment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Does that mean we get to hear the Seventh Circuit argue that D&D is gang-like? Yes it does. Will that be hilarious? More fun than hacking through an encampment of goblins with a dwarven ax of immolation….

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Terrance Watanabe Terrance K Watanabe Terry Watanabe Harrahs.jpgWe just returned from a very fun weekend in Las Vegas, where we watched a friend compete in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Our friend was one of many lawyers in competition. He’s a prosecutor, but we also saw a public defender — her T-shirt said so — and possibly some lawyers from Morrison & Foerster (in “Run Like a MoFo” apparel). As discussed before in these pages, there’s something about marathon running that attracts attorneys.
Sadly, while in Sin City, we suffered some ill fortune at the craps tables. But things could have been worse — much worse. From an article in the Wall Street Journal:

During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.

The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe’s personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family’s party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos’ parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.

In a civil suit filed in Clark County District Court last month, Mr. Watanabe, 52 years old, says casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systematic plan to keep him gambling.

More about the lawsuit, plus a fun fact about the article’s authorship, after the jump.

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