PokerStars, one of the web’s most prominent competitive gaming destinations, sought to deal an unusual hand to California politicians, press, and staffers last week: knowledge.
Held across the street from the State Capitol building, the gatherings were organized to coincide with a bill currently before the State Assembly to legalize online gambling in California.
Demo served educational, promotional purposes
PokerStars held the event in concert with a crash course on California gambling history, offered by lawmakers a day earlier. But Thursday’s PokerStars event served as an opportunity for the poker site to demonstrate its software platform and allay a number of misconceptions regarding online gaming.
PokerStars tournament director Lee Jones kicked off Thursday’s festivities with a presentation in which he outlined an argument for online poker’s superiority to live play. On the virtual tables of PokerStars, Jones said buy-in costs were, on average, far lower than their live counterparts.
Where the average tournament buy-in at a live table was $200, he said half of online buy-ins cost less than $2.50, and almost ninety percent were below $20.
Jones also noted PokerStars’ thorough security measures – a whopping 340 of the company’s 1700 employees work specifically toward maintaining the game’s integrity, he said. Thorough records are kept of player actions, Jones added, and PokerStars maintains sophisticated algorithms to sniff out cheaters.
Regulation is a necessary step, Jones says
Jones also spoke in support of regulating the online poker industry. One unregulated poker site, he noted, vanished with over $10 million in player funds, most of which came from the United States.
But with more stringent regulation, the theft would not have been possible. Further benefits of oversight, he said, included the promotion of responsible gaming, a sharper focus on corporate transparency, and a stronger capacity to disallow underage players.
Following Jones’ presentation, the PokerStars team hopped online to play a few hands against audience members, who were provided laptops. Led by pros Negreanu and Somerville, the group offered tips and strategies for aspiring players, walking the crowd through both fundamentals and more advanced tactics.
While the event marked PokerStars’ first major push to ramp up attention for the online poker bill, dubbed AB 431, it remains to be seen whether the company will go all in on its campaign for hearts and minds.
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