Friday, April 27, 2007

Making a Million -- the Hard Way

Many of us dream of being millionaires. And although we are in an age in the United States where a million isn't "what it used to be", we still find ourselves dreaming of the possibilities that our lives would hold if we somehow came into that kind of money. And is the opportunity going to be made even easier by new legislation to allow online gambling?

Now when I said "The Hard Way" here in the title, I don't mean working, at least not in the typical sense of being a CEO or marketing exec who grinds out 12-14 hour days, or being a salesperson who is a perpetual road warrior. Instead, I am talking about taking big risks.

Since it is Friday, I figured that I would take a moment to highlight one of poker's newly recognized players: Joe Pelton. He is an avid amateur player who has made just shy of 2 million dollars in the past six months, mostly on two tournaments played in 2006 where he had breakout performances.

Amateurs or Professionals?

Pelton played a fearless game and even at times when he was down and out, played an amazingly agressive and fearless game, especially in his second tournament where he finished in third place. Although many people when it comes to aspects of their life play not to lose, Pelton took huge risks and played to win. Clearly in this second tournament he didn't win, but in the first tournament, he did so he was hardly shooting from the hip.

Thousands of people are professional gamblers. That is, they are literally putting thousands down on tables either at casinos or at home via gambling websites in order to make money to pay their bills and expenses. For a select few who are talented and lucky, they make a million or more as a result of their efforts. Most, however, have to be content with making a more modest living. An entire cottage industry has sprung up around online gambling, with a significant focus on Texas Hold'em and other types of poker in particular. Its not just online casinos themselves, but also a vast array of online blogs, databases, and software developers all devoted to serving the players of these games at all levels.

Online Gambling's Risky Future

But where does it end? This is exactly the question that was asked recently when President Bush signed a law into effect that bans these types of financial transactions, leaving many in this industry feeling chuffed. In the end, there is a push back now, however. A recent movement by Barney Frank to allow online gambling brings the issue back to the fore.

It is still unclear to me as to whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs when it comes to legalization of gambling in terms of social and political policy. And since all politics is local, it is always going to be a local discussion. But it seems certain that there are strong voices on both sides of this issue. And with people like Joe Pelton making millions after playing as an amateur, its not hard to see why.

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