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Dutch News

by Anthon-Pieter Wink |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

Television, Internet, and Vegas
Poker just keeps popping up on television. The growth in popularity continues, far beyond earlier estimation and far beyond the wildest dreams of poker enthusiasts such as yours truly. And wouldn't you know it, the government is finally picking up on it. So now, in addition to the various national and international poker shows on television and live Internet broadcasts of tournaments and high-stakes cash games, we get to watch political discussions regarding our favorite pastime - on TV.

Poker has recently gained so much public awareness and interest that a well-known and respected current affairs program devoted an entire show to gambling. It was a good idea in itself, although for some reason they thought it necessary to drag the - obviously - rigged television phone-in games into the discussion. Luckily, the talk on the TV games was over as soon as it started, as everyone quickly realized that this is a form of gambling with very low expected value, and that the people who organize them to try to cheat old ladies out of their pensions should be shot and fed to the dogs. Then, the discussion moved on to poker.

The anti-poker politician of the day was Jan De Wit of the Socialist Party. He is strongly against gambling in general. But luckily - and understandably - De Wit was not very convincing when he tried to argue that poker is a game of chance. Especially the poker players in the audience - represented mainly by well-known pro Noah Boeken - could not repress a few snickers when Boeken suggested that he play De Wit heads up, which was quickly rejected by the latter. De Wit did not have a response ready when he was asked why he did not dare to play a game that was pure luck, according to him. It turned out that the Socialist Party had sent someone who had no idea of the rules of poker, let alone the finesse needed to play a decent game. It was just the kind of thing to try in front of an audience of people who make a living out of seeing through other people's bluffs. Now that's television! De Wit was booed away, and freedom of choice prevailed: 1-0 for the good guys!

In short news, Holland Casino and CryptoLogic plan to open the new Holland Casino online room in June. This room will be available only to Dutch players, and the reason that Holland Casino is moving online is its usual excuse to open another branch - to prevent gambling addiction. I think most poker players won't be convinced to change their current poker room for HC's online room, and the government is still not able to prevent Dutch players from playing on foreign sites. The online HC room, therefore, is probably not going to be making much profit, unless it offers some good bonus deals or other incentives. So, the final question is: How will they try to convince us that these incentives are meant to stop us from gambling?

Anyway, we don't need to be stopped from gambling, since we are pretty talented at it. This was proven by a team of young players, selected by, who roamed the streets of Vegas for a week in search of poker fame and money. They were sent with a limited budget as part of PokerInfo's plan to make the Everest Poker Team, their sponsor, from a group of relative beginners into seasoned pros within a year. The first test - the week in Las Vegas with a bit of cash to start with - was easily passed; the team came back a big overall winner, and it seems that Everest Poker has found some new players to represent it in upcoming major tournaments.

And on that subject, there's a bit of a sad story: It's been a while since a player from the Netherlands was able to lock up a victory in a large tournament. Dutch poker players and enthusiasts are in dire need of an international win for the homeland. Just how much, was shown when Eric van den Burg made it far into the main event of the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo. The live coverage by PokerStars was followed closely for the whole weekend by almost the entire Dutch poker community. The forum had a thread dedicated solely to the Dutchies. And when Eric made the "preliminary" final table late on Sunday night, cheers went up from many a dimly lit living room in the Netherlands. Ten minutes later, the computers were turned off again in disappointment; Eric had busted out in ninth place, just one place short of the televised final table. And if this seems like a long story for a ninth-place finish, you're right. But in a country where poker is becoming so big, so fast, the shared disappointment was exemplary of how badly we need a victory. I hope I will be reporting the first World Series of Poker bracelet for the Netherlands shortly.

Anthon-Pieter Wink is a freelance poker writer and journalist who writes for