In this issue, we will talk about one interesting and controversial topic – the poker. The industry, which stands at the intersection of business, sports, entertainment; the industry, which brings billions of dollars in the budgets of developed countries and is fully mothballed, cornered in “shadows” and backstreets in Ukraine… The legalization of the poker has been a pressing issue in our country since 2009, when the Verkhovna Rada approved the law, banning the gambling activities. Consequently, the whole gambling business went underground and stopped paying taxes to the state budget. According to the National Police report, only in 2017, over 1.3 ths illegal underground gambling establishments were detected. Of course, it is impossible to estimate how much in aggregate the budget did not receive from the gambling business. However, in any case, it involves the hundreds of millions, or even the billions of hryvnias.
Today, the online poker operates beyond legislation. The offline poker is also in the so-called “grey zone” in Ukraine: not so many foreign players arrive to us, fewer large series than desired are held. If even the poker offline tournaments are held, then it all happens “on the verge of permissible”. Moreover, over the past few years, most “sport poker clubs” had to close due to frequent problems with law enforcement. However, at the same time our professional poker players, representing Ukraine in the international tournaments, annually win prize money, amounting to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For example, Eugene Katchalov is one of the most successful players in the history of Ukrainian poker and the 2011 BLUFF Magazine Player of the Year, the winner of WSOP 2011, PCA 2011 and WPT 2007 bracelets. Plus a very pleasant interlocutor, after the interview with whom my understanding of poker fully changed. So, several interesting facts about this game.
On the one side, the professional poker is a hard work, requiring permanent practice and continuing development. On the other side, it is a psychological game in its pure form.
The poker does not tolerate alcohol, overexcitement; it severely “punishes” too self-confident and teaches to always remember: there is something more powerful in the world than you.
And it is almost the only sport, where all are equal. In the poker, it does not matter whether you are young or old, man or woman, poor or billionaire, Afro-American or European, topnotch athlete or physically handicapped. Here, there are no limits. In 2013, Jonathan Bredin, the guy from Melbourne, suffering from the cerebral palsy, won the main tournament of the Australian-New Zealand poker tournament (ANZPT Queenstown) and received 93 ths New Zealand dollars. And this summer, on the eve of his 85th birthday, the legendary poker player Doyle Brunson got the sixth place in the tournament №23 at WSOP 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship. And it only proves that at the poker table, the age is only a digit.
Of course, it cannot be argued that the game is devoid of prejudice and it has no room for sexism, ageism and other forms of discrimination. However, in all of these cases, not the rules of the game, but the people, playing it, discriminate people.