The DiChristina Ruling: Surveying Reactions

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There’s been no small amount of words written this week regarding Judge Jack Weinstein’s ruling in US vs DiChristina, a ruling which opined that – at least within the narrow context of one particular federal law – poker is predominantly a game of skill and not one of chance.

As might be expected, the ruling has evoked strong responses on both sides of the issue, along with substantial confusion among those with a more casual interest in poker, the law, or both. To save you some time and clicks, I’ve collected some of the more  important &  interesting reactions to the ruling below.

“United States v. Dicristina—A Win for Poker Players (with an Asterisk)”

This entry from the crAAKKer blog leads the list because it’s probably the best breakdown and analysis of not only what the decision means in a technical sense, but also in the larger legal and political sense. If you only read one article about the DiChristina decision, make it this one.

Cliffs:  The title sums it up. Mike thinks the decision is a win for poker players, and could hold up on appeal, but also believes the limited scope of the decision ultimately limits its impact.  Read the article here.

“Attorney Maurice VerStandig on Significance of Ruling That Poker is a Game of Skill”

Another piece that focuses primarily on the legal aspects and implications of the decision, this article from provides a good recap of Weinstein’s ruling along with a healthy dose of analysis regarding the legal implications for poker players.

Cliffs:   VerStandig concludes that the ruling’s impact will be far-reaching, but subtle.  As he tells it, the primary usefulness of the ruling for poker advocates will be to provide ammunition for fighting legal battles in climates where poker is assumed to be, but not specifically defined as, gambling.  Read the whole thing here.

“Skill Kills Lady Luck”

Great article from the Game Theory blog over at the that quickly breaks down the decision and provides a clean, laypersons explanation of the arguments in favor of poker as a game of skill.

Cliffs:  Not really a ton of analysis here, but still worth a read for how well it crystallizes the key points of the case, the decision and the likely impacts for poker.  Click to visit.

“Does it matter that a judge thinks there’s skill in poker?”

Good Q&A from Vin over at CasinoCityTimes that provides a summary of the decision and walks through some of the more common questions interested readers have about US vs DiChristina.  If you’re unclear on the immediate implications of the decision, you should feel pretty up to speed after this quick read.

Cliffs: Vin’s basic position is that the ruling isn’t going to change the rules of the game overnight, but it could have a significant (and positive) influence in the long-term.  Give it a read here.

“No More Bluffing”

Unabashedly pro-poker opinion piece run by the New York Times from the always-articulate James McManus.   While McManus spends a bit of time on the decision, his aim is more to employ it as part of the “Poker as American Game” narrative than to dissect or analyze Weinstein’s ruling in a technical sense.

Cliffs:   McManus is clearly a fan of the game, and he offers a nice primer for those looking for a compact argument as to why poker should be considered apart from other forms of gambling.  Those looking for in-depth legal analysis should prefer one of the above articles, but those looking for a piece to forward to their friends and family should definitely give the McManus piece a read.

“Knowing When To Fold ‘Em: The Science of Poker”

For those interested in the “skill vs chance” aspect of the DiChristina decision, Jennifer Ouellette has a nice rundown of some of the relevant issues in her post on the Scientific American blog.  While not a direct analysis of the evidence  in the DiChristina case per se’, there are still plenty of interesting, relevant tidbits to be found.

Cliffs:   Ouellette believes poker is more of a skill game than not.  Experienced poker players may find some of the material a bit redundant, but it’s an excellent post to share with the uneducated or undecided.  Whole post is here.

“Misdeal on Internet poker gambling”

An anti-poker editorial of shockingly low quality considering the general reputation of the source (the Christian Science Monitor).  I put it on the list only because it’s instructive as to the general mindset and thought process of groups that oppose online poker regulation.

Cliffs:   The CSM apparently believes continuing to classify poker as a game of chance is the only thing standing between us and the end of the world.  Or something like that.  Read and comment (constructively) here.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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