Make me an offer for 500 poker chips

The story ...

Last summer, I won sixty cents in a free poker tournament at I planned on playing until I lost it all, but decided not to take U.S. players for real-money games when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. I cashed out and asked my readers what I should do with my sixty-cent check. One suggested I try to trade it for something better. So here I am, trying turn my sixty-cent check into a World Series of Poker Main Event entry through a series of trades. And while my plan may seem ridiculous, it's no more ridiculous than the UIGEA.

Currently available

Limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football signed by former New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri. Trade includes certificate of authenticity, and also includes autographed picture of Patriots' safety Rodney Harrison. Want more information? Go to the trade post. Want to make an offer? Shoot me an e-mail at . Want to know how I got this far? Go to the trading history.

T.J. Cloutier is my hero

So I’ve been out at the World Series of Poker for almost a week now, covering the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. And if I’ve learned anything in the last week, it’s this: T.J. Cloutier is bad ass.

Not because he’s tough and intimidating. In fact, he’s quite friendly (though he can be a little gruff). And it’s not because he’s big, strong and tough, even though he is about 6-4 and played in the Canadian Football League in his younger days.

T.J. is badass because he can handle a bad beat – and one that keeps him from breaking a WSOP record – with class and style.

The $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament was down to three tables when I arrived on Saturday, and T.J. was in the mix, looking to move back ahead of Phil Hellmuth for the record for most career final tables. T.J. had held the record for several years, but Hellmuth tied him with two final tables in this Series.

With three tables remaining, T.J. had a player all in on the turn. Both had Ace high, but T.J.’s kicker beat his opponent’s four. He needed to fade three fours and a wheel draw, but his opponent hit a runner-runner flush to double up and cripple T.J.

T.J. swallowed hard, counted his chips and went back to business. He built himself back up and was in position to make his 40th career final table. There were two tables left and they were playing shorthanded, looking to knock out just two more players to get to a final table.

He finally ended up all in with A-8 and made two pair on the turn to move ahead of Yuval Bronshtein’s pocket 10s. Then Bronshtein’s miracle river card arrived, a 10 for a two-outer, and T.J.’s pursuit of history ended just like that.

He grimaced for about two seconds, then got up, shook the young man’s hand, and walked away from the table. He didn’t move any faster than he normally walks. He didn’t complain about his bad luck. He just called it a day.

The poker world is changing fast, and I fear that we sometimes celebrate young, brash aggressive players (e.g., Bronshtein) rather than the old guard who made the game what it is today.

One amateur player, who busted out a few spots before Cloutier, gave him the greatest compliment: “It was an absolute pleasure to play with T.J.”

And it was an absolute pleasure to watch him play, too.

Got the ball ... now let's get to trading!

It took a few days to work out the logistics, but I finally got together with Josh DiPietro to make my latest trade: Two pieces of Jimi Hendrix’s childhood home for a limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football signed by the hero of the game, former New England Patriots field goal kicker Adam Vinatieri.

I met Josh at his office, the Herb Chambers Dodge dealership in Danvers, Mass. We tried to connect for at least three or four days unsuccessfully. My in laws were in town on Saturday. And Josh was in Rhode Island with his family on Sunday, celebrating Father’s Day by visiting his father’s grave.

If you haven’t read my previous post about this trade, Josh’s father was a huge Jimi Hendrix fan. Unfortunately he died five years ago in a boating accident. Josh’s father wasn’t able to meet Josh’s children, including his son, who is on the way.

Josh made the trade because he wants to give the memento to his son.

So now I have a limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI Adam Vinatieri signed football available for trade. You will get a certificate of authenticity with the football, and Josh was even nice enough to throw in an autographed picture of Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.

The WSOP is less than three weeks away, so let’s hear those trade offers. You can send them to me at .

Trade number four!

Thanks to some recent local publicity, word is getting out about my quest to trade my way from a sixty-cent check from an Internet poker room to a seat in the World Series of Poker. In fact, I've just finalized the details of my fourth trade.

I'm trading two pieces of Jimi Hendrix’s childhood home for a limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football signed by former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Josh DiPietro made the trade offer after reading about Sixty Cent Main Event in The Boston Globe.

Josh is a sales manager for Herb Chambers, a giant chain of car dealerships here in the Boston area. He has collected a lot of sports memorabilia, but tells me that he is hoping to make room in his house as his family is growing. Josh is the father of an 18-month old daughter and has a son on the way.

He wanted the pieces of the Hendrix House because he’d like to give them to his son someday. Josh’s father was a very big Jimi Hendrix fan. Sadly, he died in a boating accident five years ago and never met his grandchildren.

“I just thought it would be something he’d love to have,” Josh wrote to me in an e-mail. “Thinking of some of his songs brings me back to some of the good days and good memories.”

I’ve already had one piece of sports memorabilia, and when Josh initially proposed this trade, I hesitated because I didn’t want to repeat myself. But I don’t think there is a more appropriate person to trade with than Josh. I’m very happy that the pieces of the home will end up with someone who will treasure them.

Josh and I will be meeting up tomorrow to make the trade. I'll post pictures of the ball as soon as I can.

So now I have a limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football signed by Adam Vinatieri available for trade.

Vinatieri was the hero in that game, the first of three Super Bowl wins for the New England Patriots. He hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. It was the first time that a Super Bowl had been decided by a scoring play as time expired. Vinatieri, who was signed by the Indianapolis Colts last year, won his fourth Super Bowl ring last season.

So what do you have to trade? I’ll consider every offer, the only criteria is that the trade get me closer to my goal of a seat in the World Series of Poker. Remember, this is a limited edition Super Bowl XXXVI football, autographed by the man that decided the outcome of the game. There's only three weeks until the start of the Main Event, so let's start hearing those offers!

Building momentum ... SSME is in the Boston Globe!

Bella English from the Boston Globe wrote up the Sixty Cent Main Event story and it's in today's (Saturday, June 9) edition.

Read the story.

Stuff like this can only help. The offers are coming in fast and furious! I hope to make my next trade sometime this week ... I've already got some tempting offers, so if you want the two pieces of Jimi's house, make your trade offer a good one!

Big week for Internet gambling legislation

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is holding a hearing on the feasibility of regulating the Internet gambling industry in the United States on Friday. And Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) is introducing a bill that would provide an exemption from the UIGEA for poker and other skill games today.

Add to the list of legislators lining up to amend the UIGEA Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), whose approach would commission a study to determine the effects of regulating the Internet gambling market in the U.S.

While I applaud Wexler and Berkley’s bills, I believe that Frank’s is the most prudent, and I look forward to watching the hearing tomorrow morning.

I’ve been reading some industry news sites to gauge the reaction to the hearing, and one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen is that the list of witnesses is problematic. I couldn’t disagree more.

Howard Lederer, a professional poker player and a member of the Board of Directors of the Poker Players Alliance, is the only person set to testify that many in the industry can identify. Lederer, who has always been one of the most eloquent defenders of Internet gambling, will give some Congressmen reason to rethink the issue (if they take the time to listen).

Radley Balko, who may not be known to industry insiders, is actually one of the most active people in Washington in trying to overturn the UIGEA. Balko, the senior editor of Reason Magazine, is a staunch defender of libertarian ideals. Balko has been in this fight from the start, and his voice can be influential.

Gerald Kitchen, CEO of SecureTrading, and Jon Prideaux, chief executive of Asterion Payments, may not be well known in the gambling industry, but given the current stance on Internet gambling, that’s likely a good thing. The Department of Justice has always stated that any business that accepts or facilitates Internet wagers by people in the United States is breaking the law.

Surely NETeller founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre are better versed in the true nature of funding practices in the Internet gambling industry. But does it help or hurt the cause to have them testify, given their indictments and the pending legal action against them? Is it helpful to the Internet gambling industry to have Congressmen accuse people in the industry of breaking the law? At the very least Howard Lederer is sure to hear some questions about his business relationship with Full Tilt Poker, an Internet poker room that is still accepting U.S. players. Why bring more scrutiny on the current industry instead of exploring what it could become?’s Chris Costigan estimated that 70 percent of those who work in the Internet gambling industry have prior arrest records which would preclude them from gaining licenses under Frank’s plan. This doesn’t seem to be a badge of honor to me.

The Las Vegas casino boom was born thanks to organized crime, but today’s strip casinos are corporate owned facilities. A Nevada gaming license isn’t an easy thing to get, and a large part of the process involves a criminal background check. I think I’m OK with the same process being a part of regulating cyber casinos.

Last, but not least, Rev. Greg Hogan will testify. He will most likely tell the story of how his son, the sophomore class president at Lehigh University, robbed a bank to pay off debts he’d incurred after losing money at Internet poker sites.

Hogan’s story is sad, and I can’t imagine how awful it feels to watch your son spiral out of control. But perhaps, given the right controls and regulations, it could have been avoided. The UIGEA did nothing to stop the next Greg Hogan Jr. from logging on and playing in dozens of Internet poker rooms. I believe that Frank’s bill provides a solution for those that believe Internet gambling preys on minors and people with gambling problems. And it also gives those enjoy Internet gambling for entertainment some hope.


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