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Euro Poker News: The State of Poker in Holland

Are the Dutch Poker Players Criminals?


The situation in the Netherlands seems to be getting grimmer by the week. Where, on one side, we had huge successes with the Master Classics of Poker only a few months ago, on the other side, law enforcers thought it necessary yet again to raid a small home tournament. This was already the second time in a month - see last month's issue of Card Player Europe - and it seems the Dutch Justice Department wants to scare the recreational poker player thoroughly. Even though the police arrived at first with only a few agents, the situation at the tournament escalated quickly and reinforcements were called. Sadly, some of the players and the police resorted to using violence. I think this is a very bad example of how we should act as poker players. Even though we obviously feel attacked in our ways - especially in small tournaments in which we play mostly amongst friends - there is no use for physical violence, and this sort of behaviour will only put us in the same corner as crooks and criminals. And that is something we definitely do not need right now. It seems the Dutch Justice Department is keen on scaring the poker community. The organizers of both raided tournaments spent days in jail and have yet to hear of exactly what they are accused.

These days, many organizations are busy trying to create more legal poker games than currently offered by Holland Casino. From the poker players' side, there is the Pokerbond, still in dialogue with the casino. From the competitors' side, there are - mostly foreign - casinos trying to obtain a share of the Dutch gambling market. Where the Pokerbond is trying only to create a diverse and safe offer of poker games throughout the Netherlands, new competitors are attracted by an unsatisfied market and argue that Holland Casino is still not doing much to prevent gambling addiction. The task of preventing gambling addiction is the reason for Holland Casino's current monopoly, but recently the European administrative court overruled a judgment by the civilian court, and concluded that Holland Casino is not putting enough effort into preventing addiction to justify a monopoly. The Dutch state appealed to the Council of State, and judgment is expected soon. If the verdict stands, it seems rival casinos can appeal for a license in the Netherlands like any other company. This obviously will result in a much broader offer of legal poker in our country.

Until that time, the legal offer of poker games is small and for larger bankrolls only, yet very spectacular. As you will have read in last month's Card Player Europe, this year's Master Classics of Poker was a blast, and once again broke all records. Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, one of the finalists in the main event, named it as one of the two best tournaments in the world in his column on the Hendon Mob forum. Maybe slightly biased due to his good result, the man had a point, as Holland Casino Amsterdam gave away a sack of added money. It's a tradition and a good habit that hopefully will be followed by the directors of the other two major poker tournaments in the Netherlands: the Twentse Series of Poker in May, which will this year have its third edition, and the inaugural Dom Classics in Utrecht.

The Dom Classics starts with a truly unique tournament in the Netherlands: a live heads-up tournament with 128 starting players, which will be spread out over several days. The tournament will run simultaneously with the other events, and will be a nice diversion from the other - mainly no-limit hold'em - tournaments.

If the games offered by Holland Casino are a little too expensive for your taste and you're afraid of ending up in jail for playing in a friendly neighbourhood tournament, you can always, and I mean always, watch poker on the telly. Poker on TV is exploding right now: There is Monday Night Poker, Tuesday Night Poker, the regular Eurosport coverage of many tournaments, including the European Poker Masters, and recently, the Poker With the Stars show. The competitors on the show, where famous Dutch people learn the tricks from Marcel Lüske and Noah Boeken, are now known, and it seems we will be in for some good entertainment. Among them are a former football player known for his toughness on and off the field, and a Dutch rapper who will always be followed by an incident in which one of his shows ended up in him giving a beating to one of the spectators. The player mix is topped off with two show business women with good looks and, more important, personalities to match. While the TV will be making us hungry for more poker, the state is making sure that not many of us are able to play it live. The various shows air this winter and spring, and around the end of those series, the Council of State will likely have reached a verdict on the aforementioned case. I can hardly wait!

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