There has been a lot of confusion as to what the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” outlaws, and what it allows, under U.S. law. There hasn’t been another new law passed that has been this controversial, and surrounded by so many myths and misconceptions from individuals who should know better, than this particular piece of legislation, which many predicted would end online Internet gambling. This bill has done no such thing, but it has undeniably affected (most likely permanently) the landscape of American online poker.
While there used to be literally dozens of poker web sites that would take U.S. customers, this number has shrunk to a handful. Among the best sites still accepting players from the United States include: Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet, Absolute Poker, and Bodog Poker. Previously popular sites such as Pacific Poker and Party Poker have stopped accepting American players.
Is online poker illegal? No. This new law did not outlaw online poker playing or other gambling, but was aimed at enforcing outdated laws that were already on the books by going after banks and other financial institutions that allowed players to fund their gambling. You can not get into trouble by playing poker online.
It was up to the companies to find various ways around this, and what was hit hardest were online wire transfer services such as NetTeller, which used to make it easy for players to win money and then put it back in their accounts, but which can no longer fund poker playing. This means many of the sites left have to use a regular wire transfer service such as Western Union, which is legal, but takes much longer and can cause a lot of problems between the sending and receiving of money. Many web sites chose not to deal with the hassle, hence the ban on American poker players.
How has this rule changed the online landscape? Well look what happens when over half the poker sites online decide not to accept U.S. players anymore. One of the first things that takes place is that a flood of players, both good and bad, flood all the other web sites that still allow American players. This changes the dynamics of the games, and not everyone is happy with the change. With the flood of good and bad aggressive players, luck becomes more of an effect in games and players catch more bad breaks. Likewise, players with overly conservative pre-flop hand selection get re-raised so many times that they are at a severe disadvantage to players who know how to play aggressively.
This doesn’t mean good players won’t come out on top. They still will, but tilt and leaks in your game becomes even more costly, a few bad breaks can make a huge dent in the payroll, and players do have to be better than they did a year or two ago to consistently place. Being middle of the road good just isn’t good enough any more. Even conservative players now need to learn a more aggressive style of hold â€˜em, and can not hesitate to raise like crazy those rare times they come up on a weak conservative table.