Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing Online Poker Vs Playing at a Poker Table

The differences between online poker and more traditional poker table games are sometimes not quite as obvious as they may seem.

Unlike sitting down at a poker table with friends, or even strangers, online poker has an added dimension these days. There is a lot of pressure from many quarters to make online poker illegal, particularly in the United States. You will almost always know if the table game you are playing is in an area where poker is legal, but it is getting harder to know if this is true about poker played online.

In spite of these gray areas, millions in the U. S. and around the world regularly enjoy participating in online poker games from the comfort of their own homes. Just to give this some perspective, in 2005, the revenue from online poker was reported to be in the vicinity of $200 million.

Not only is online poker generating huge amounts of revenue and creating new millionaires, among players, site owners, and affiliates of poker sites, but, due to its pervasive influence, the appeal of poker in general is growing. The public is not only gaining knowledge about poker, but is showing an interest in all things poker. From the tables to the chips at the table, to the people who play at the tables, poker is huge.

Poker players such as Chris Ferguson (Jesus), Annie Duke, and her brother Howard Lederer (The Professor), and Hoyt Corkins (The Alabama Cowboy), to name a few, had never been heard of by the public a few months ago. Now they are celebrities in their own right. Even people who have been celebrities, such as Jennifer Tilly, Ben Affleck, and Mimi Rogers have traded in the bright lights of Hollywood for the green felt of the poker table – at least on occasion.

While many of these famous people play in tournaments sitting at the table with the celebrities of poker, most mortals enter the poker arena via online poker websites such as partypoker.com, pokerstars.com, ultimatebet.com or fulltiltpoker.com.

Sitting at a poker table can be intimidating, particularly for the new player and just is not that inviting for the beginner. They are apt to feel out of their league, and, if others at the table have more experience or are strangers, they are apt to feel intimidated.

The online poker experience is quite different. There is an anonymity which protects the psyche of the “newbie”. They can watch games as long as they want before actually taking part. Additionally, most online venues will have tutorials and practice games for beginners that help ease the learning process. Sometimes the main site will actually have a completely separate site set up strictly for the beginner. Another helper for the beginner is that online games tend to have buttons labeled for the various actions and often include on-screen prompts for the appropriate action.

Internet poker sites also offer a range of limits so that the beginning player can actually start betting pennies. Not only is the betting easy, but so is the access. Unlike a table game, an online game can be found 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world that there is a computer and an Internet connection.

There are, however, two drawbacks to playing online, particularly if one’s goal is to eventually participate in the highly televised poker tournaments occupying more prime time slots on TV. First, there is the hurdle of actually sitting and playing at the table itself. No amount of online preparation can duplicate or offset the first few times you find yourself in a chair across from a Doyle Brunson, Chris Moneymaker, or Daniel Negreanu.

Second, although it IS possible, it is exceedingly difficult to bluff at an online poker game and even harder to learn how to read your opponents.

Look on the bright side, however. It IS easy to learn basic poker skills and improve your technique online, and you won’t have to worry about your poker face!

Sandwich Nation

Every day, half of America eats one or more sandwiches, mostly for lunch. That computes into 300 million a day. They’re easy, they’re filling, no muss, no fuss. And you don’t even have to know how to cook. The varieties are endless, so where do we start? The short list includes the BLT, Grilled Cheese, Club, Dagwood, French Dip, Monte Cristo, Muffuletta, Pastrami or Corned Beef on rye, PB&J, Cheesesteak, Po’ boy, Reuben, Sloppy Joe, Submarine, Fried Egg. It’s endless.

The British first referred to “bits of cold meat” as a “sandwich,” named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was an eighteenth-century aristocrat. Legend has it that he instructed his servant to bring him some meat between two pieces of bread while he was playing cards with his cronies. Apparently he could play uninterrupted, as the bread acted as a napkin (rather than his sleeve) and kept the card table tidy. His cronies caught on and followed his lead. What was in them we’ll never know, but what a beginning (the Earl will never know).

Let’s check out these favorites:

1) Elvis immortalized the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, although there’s not a big call for the.

2) Dagwood, named after comic strip Blondie’s husband, stacks up fillings and bread, impossible to eat except in sections, but somehow Dagwood Bumstead managed.

3) The French originated this sinful sandwich in a Parisian cafe in 1910; there is no one named Monte Cristo but simply a French term (Croque Monsieur) to describe a fried sandwich of ham and cheese, not on any weight loss program to be sure.

4) Sloppy Joe: kids grew up on these tangy and messy sandwiches. Its origin dates back to the 1930s and was created by a short order cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa. Originally called a “loose meat sandwich” it seems Joe added tomato sauce which cranked it up a notch; as its popularity grew, Joe wanted to get credit and renamed it after himself. Folks in Key West Florida insist it was dreamed up at a local bar called Sloppy Joe’s. Some historians want to give Cuba the credit, but let’s just give it to Iowa, okay?

5) Submarine: sub sandwich shops seem to multiply daily with no end in sight; also known as hoagies, heroes or grinders in the U.S. with a multitude of fillings, they come in foot long and smaller sizes, perfect for Sunday afternoon TV sports or a quick lunch.

6) Club: undeniably the grande dame of sandwiches. Historians track its creation to the Saratoga Club House, an exclusive gambling joint in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since its inception in 1894, the standard ingredients haven’t changed: toasted bread, lettuce, tomato, sliced turkey or chicken, bacon,and mayonnaise, and don’t forget the toothpicks. The BLT is a first cousin to its predecessor, without the turkey/chicken or third slice of toast. The Club has stood the test of time. Its only controversy is the turkey/chicken debate. (World-class chef James Beard insists on chicken.)

7) If you’re a New Orleans resident, the sandwich of choice is the Muffuletta, whose popularity is claimed by the Central Grocery where it got its start. A large round loaf of Sicilian sesame bread is loaded with Italian sliced meats and a spicy Creole olive salad. (If you don’t live in New Orleans, you’re on your own.)

8) Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese, both beloved no-brainers. ‘Nuff said.

9) Reubens and pastrami or corned beef on rye take top billing at any self-respecting deli, especially Jewish. Slather on some mustard, add a few Kosher dill pickles and you’re in business. For a Reuben, throw in some sauerkraut and thousand island

dressing.

10) Those Louisiana folk sure love their originals. The Po’ Boy is basically a sub filled with meat or fried seafood, similar to the Northeast’s lobster roll.

11) Oh boy, don’t ask anyone from Philadelphia about Philly cheesesteaks, because they are fanatical about them. Be prepared for a long-winded answer. The same goes for Chicago’s most popular sandwich, the Italian Beef: Italian bread loaded with thinly sliced beef, topped with peppers and dripping with jus, hold the cheese; all-American French dip (in spite of its name) is a take-off, but rather bland by comparison.

12) Can’t leave out those wonderful “bound” fillings: egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad and tuna salad; we corner the market on those, whether they’re daintily served at teas and parties or just a big old scoop on whole wheat.

12) Pita sandwiches crammed full of turkey, cheese, avocado, hummus or falafel; a trendy ethnic take on the basics.

13) Hamburgers and chicken fast food sandwiches are a whole other subject.

Sandwich sales in the U.S. topped $27.7 billion and that’s not counting the sandwiches made at home. Wow, that’s a lotta bread, literally. Apparently, the U.S. is not the only country that likes their sandwiches. In 2017, the pre-made sandwich industry in the UK made and sold 11 billion in U.S. dollars, and that’s not counting freshly made.

We’re not even going to get started on sandwich cookies (Oreos) and ice cream sandwiches. It’s too exhausting. So many sandwiches, so little time.

The "Amish Mafia", Underage Drinking and Host Liability

The new television show, “Amish Mafia,” is creating quite a stir in both the Plain and English communities. Reports indicate that this is the most successful show ever launched by the Discovery Channel and that there are now in excess of 3 million viewers per episode.

A small group of Amish and Mennonite men and women are portrayed as an organized crime family, with “Lebanon Levi” heading the operation and directing its activities. Levi Stoltzfus, the son of an actual Amish Deacon (David Peachey), has a number of henchmen, including Alvin, John and Jolin. In an initial episode, Alan Beiler, (the adopted son of a Lancaster Mennonite family and described by his colleagues on the show as “Schwarz Amish”) was indicated to have been a key associate of Levi’s, but criminal charges landed him in hot water with both the gang and the Pennsylvania State Police. He disappeared from subsequent episodes but just reappeared at the end of the season, being shown leaving prison. Levi also has a love interest, Esther Schmucker, a woman portrayed in what is described as Amish garb, who is the sister of John Schmucker, both in the show and in real life. Alvin Lantz, described and portrayed as Amish, acts as Levi’s right hand man. He is second in command and takes over when Levi travels to a Florida beach for a get away with Esther.

John and Esther express dissatisfaction with John’s limited role in Levi’s operation. Their father had headed this organized crime operation prior to his death. For some reason, John was unable or unprepared to step up and take over. Levi stepped in to fill the void. John is also frustrated by the limited income he receives for his efforts. He is the only gang member who has yet to have enough money to buy a car. This is a source of significant conflict between John and the others. As a result, John becomes an easy recruit for Merlin, an Amish-man from Holmes County, Ohio who is looking to extend his criminal enterprise to Lancaster County. He has plans to force Levi out and take over his operation in Lancaster.

Merlin, who explains that he became tough while serving a sentence after a criminal conviction as the only Amish inmate in an Ohio prison, comes to Lancaster to compete in what Levi describes as a “Pimp Your Buggy” competition. This event takes place in conjunction with a small car show and includes a number of buggies. Merlin arrives in his very fancy buggy and, based on a prior understanding with John, expects to win the money that goes along with first prize. That plan goes awry when a ringer, a friend of Levi, shows up in a hot rod t-bucket type buggy. At that point Merlin realizes he has been outmaneuvered. He becomes very angry and describes how he will get even.

The final episodes of the first season depict Merlin’s efforts to make this happen. He recruits John to arrange and stage buggy races. The show indicates that such races are very popular in Ohio and a source of revenue for Merlin’s operation. Levi does not allow such races in Lancaster. John is successful in putting a race together. There is much betting on the several entries. Alvin and Jolin find out about the race, show up, and proceed to destroy John’s buggy at the conclusion of the race. Merlin, unhappy with this show of strength by Levi’s guys, follows Levi and Alvin to a bar in Lancaster. While Levi and Alvin are inside drinking, one of Merlin’s strongmen smashes out the front window of Levi’s Cadillac with an ax. To be sure that Levi understands who was behind this act, a business card with the name “Merlin” is left under the driver’s side windshield wiper. Subsequently, Merlin’s associates destroy Levi’s office and then torch the temporary trailer he was using as an office.

Levi and Alvin then drive to Ohio to meet with Merlin’s Bishop. When Merlin goes to collect protection money from one of his “customers”, the client will not deal with him. It is said that Merlin is being shunned at the Bishop’s direction and that it can take up to six months to be reinstated into the community. Merlin is angry and he vows to get even. About the same time, Alan Beiler is being released from prison. He borrows a cell phone to call Levi. He tells Levi that he is mad because he spent four months in prison after Levi called the cops on him. He warns Levi to “watch his back.”

The stage is set for the drama to continue in the second season.

A key question being raised among viewers (evidenced by numerous message board posts in response to newspaper articles about the show), bloggers and the media is whether or not this show is portraying actual events or if the show is a total fabrication.

The promotional material on Discovery’s website states that for many years the Amish, “due to a distrust of outside law enforcement,” have turned to this gang in order to maintain peace and order within the Lancaster County Amish community. The site provides the following description.

“This is a side of Amish society that exists under the radar, and the Amish church denies the group’s existence. Amish Mafia provides eyewitness accounts of the incidents, misdeeds and wrongdoings within the Amish community, as well as a rare look at Levi and his team members who work together to maintain harmony. To protect participants and their family members, some identifying information and property has been changed. Some scenes have been reenacted.”

There are many scenes in which members of the gang are shown engaging in violence, using profanity and acting in ways many may think do not show the Amish community in a positive light. In a scene in one episode, the gang responds to the report of an Amish Bishop in a motel room with a prostitute. In another, Esther, now infatuated with Jolin, accompanies him to a gun range and is shown shooting Jolin’s AR-15 rifle. Esther is shown attending a fair with a girlfriend and riding a mechanical bull. She comments that both of these activities are not permitted for Amish women.

The show suggests that these gangs collect money for “fixing” problems, from business owners paying protection money, from gambling, by holding barn fights and hut parties and other illegal activities. Regrettably, the promoters of the show even use the tragedy of the Nickel Mines School incident to promote the show, writing on their website:

“The 2006 School shootings in Lancaster County during which five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver brought to the nation’s attention the vulnerabilities of the Amish community, and their need for continued protection.”

Archangel Investigations is currently conducting an in-depth investigation into the show, its actors and the events shown to determine if there is any truth at all to either the existence of this organized crime operation or the incidents portrayed. The results of that investigation will be shared with readers in a subsequent issue.

In this issue, we want to address a very delicate and somewhat controversial topic – that being the tradition of drinking by youth. This underage drinking raises a number of concerns, including the risk of criminal charges for the children and their hosts, the severe financial consequences the hosts of the party will face if one of the attendees at party where alcohol is being served is involved in an accident with non-Plain community members and the potential for starting the alcohol abuse ball rolling for our children. And many believe that alcohol is a gateway substance, that can lead to the use and abuse of more serious illegal drugs. The purpose of this article is not to address the social, religious or community issues surrounding this issue. Rather, as business people who on a regular basis evaluate the risks involved in business transactions, it is important to also evaluate the risks you may be unwittingly exposing your business assets to by way of actions in your personal life.

Several times in the first season episodes of the show, scenes are shown of Amish, Mennonite and English young men and women attending “hut” parties. The suggestion given by the show is that these parties occur regularly and are an important source of revenue for the gang member promoters. While we are not, at this point, confirming the existence of parties hosted by Lancaster’s supposed Amish Mafia, it has been a long tradition for Plain community youth to attend parties at which alcohol is served. As businessmen and property owners, it is important for you to have an understanding of the risk to both your liberty and assets that you assume by hosting, or allowing these parties to be hosted, on your property.

Some parents may feel that underage drinking is something akin to a “rite of passage” and that it is better to let their minor children and their friends indulge in the consumption of alcohol on their own property, under adult supervision, rather than for the kids to be out drinking somewhere else. This is a completely understandable sentiment, but unfortunately it is also completely wrong, legally speaking, and may result in very severe criminal and costly financial consequences for you. The fact is that furnishing alcohol to minors is against the law in nearly every circumstance and the police will arrest you if they discover that it has occurred (by the way, in case you were wondering, there is a limited exception that is intended to exclude traditional religious communion service. The aforementioned criminal statute does not apply to any religious service or ceremony which may be conducted in a private home or a place of worship where the amount of wine served does not exceed the amount reasonably, customarily and traditionally required for the ceremony.

While a Plain community parent is very unlikely to report underage drinking parties to the police, it appears that these parties are also frequently attended by non-Plain young men and women. If one of these kids arrive home drunk and the parents find out, it is very likely that the police will be called. If that happens, the police will come calling and it won’t be for a social visit. You may find yourself under arrest even though you were acting with the best of intentions.

Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a crime. The definition of furnishing alcohol to minors can be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. Section 6310.1. The Statute is entitled “Selling or Furnishing Liquor or Malt or Brewed Beverages to Minors.” In order to be convicted of furnishing alcohol to minors, the Commonwealth must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) you intentionally or knowingly;

(2) sold, furnished or purchased with the intent to furnish;

(3) any liquor or malt or brewed beverage (i.e. any alcoholic beverage;

(4) to a person who is less than 21 years of age.

If the Commonwealth meets its burden of proof as to all of the elements of this crime, a misdemeanor of the third degree will be on your record and you will be required to pay a mandatory fine of not less than $1000 for a first offense and $2500 for each subsequent offense. A misdemeanor of the third degree carries a maximum sentence of 1 year incarceration. This means the maximum probationary term for a conviction of furnishing alcohol to minors is 1 year. One year probation and a mandatory $1000 fine would be a typical sentence for the first offense of this crime.

The criminal sanctions set forth above, as unpleasant as they are, can almost be considered mild compared to the financial consequences that may result if one of the minors you “hosted” and furnished with alcohol should become intoxicated and cause serious injury to himself or others. Pennsylvania courts hold all persons liable under social host liability laws if they knowingly serve a minor alcohol.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court case of Congini vs. Porterville Value Company, 504 PA. 157, 470 A.2d 515 (1983) held that social hosts may be liable for supplying minors with alcohol. In this case, the Court determined that social hosts serving alcohol to minors to the point of intoxication are negligent per se and can be held liable for injuries resulting from the minor’s intoxication. The Court explained the reason for having a different rule for minors as opposed to adults served alcohol by a social host is that “… our legislature has made a legislative judgment that persons under twenty-one years of age are incompetent to handle alcohol.” Later cases have expanded the ruling to hold that the service of intoxicating liquors to a minor by a social host is negligence” per se”, even if the liquors are not served to the point of intoxication.

Naturally, certain elements must be proven to hold a social host liable for damages caused by the minor drinker. The key factors are knowledge and intent. The Pennsylvania Courts have established the following three part test to determine whether a social host would be subject to liability for injuries arising out of a minor’s intoxication.

1 the defendant must have intended to act in such a way as to furnish, agree to furnish or promote the furnishing of alcohol to a minor;

2 the defendant must have acted in a way which did furnish, or promote the furnishing of alcohol to a minor; and

3 the defendants act must have been a substantial factor in furnishing, agreement to furnish, or promotion of furnishing alcohol to the minor.

What this all means, in layman’s terms, is that if you furnish alcohol to minors you run a great risk of suffering arrest and criminal punishment, including a possible jail sentence and a heavy fine and/or perhaps more significantly, civil liability for the damages caused by the minor to whom you have furnished alcohol. Certainly, if the intoxicated youth causes a mere fender bender with little property damage and no injuries or minor injuries, the financial consequences may not be earthshaking and perhaps little more than a nuisance. Consider, however, the situation where the accident is not so insignificant and where a third party received permanent injuries such as paralysis, requiring long term, life time care of the injured party. Under America’s tort system the injured party and his family are going to seek compensation from every conceivable person and the “social host” will be a prime target. Your financial assets, including personal and real property, along with your business holdings, could very well be targeted by the plaintiff in a lawsuit.

The consequences of a well intentioned desire to allow minors to enjoy a rite of passage on your property, where they will be safe and supervised while imbibing alcoholic beverages, could be cataclysmic. The decision to allow such an event could cost you dearly. Fortunately, this is a rather easy problem to avoid. No matter what the traditions, simply do not furnish alcohol to minors and do not allow them to drink alcohol on your property.

Fabulous! Carnival in Venice

In about 1985, I saw a photo of Venice during Carnival (Carnevale), which included the masked and costumed revelers, it has been on my “Top 10” visit list ever since.

What is not to like about this event:

  • The beautiful city of Venice
  • A really big 10 day party through the streets
  • Fantastic costumes
  • Italian food

Carnival (Carnevale) is the annual event in Venice for the ten days leading up to Lent, the last night is Shrove Tuesday on which there are several big balls. Of course this is not just a Venetian tradition; think Mardi Gras in Rio or Trinidad during the same time of year, but my interest in fancy masked balls and beautiful costumes is much greater than watching dancers in dental floss bikinis. The origin of the word carnevale is Latin (carnem levare or carnelevarium) and suggests a “farewell to meat”, which was traditionally given up in the weeks of self-denial, during the period of Lent.

The history of the masks and the masquerade dates back to Roman times, there are records of the festival as far back as 1162. The Romans celebrated the early part of the year with a fertility festival where masks were used by all levels of society including slaves. The Carnevale di Venezia enjoyed a long period of infamy and notoriety through the 1600s, up until the time of Napoleon’s conquer in 1797. At the peak of this event, the party started on December 26th and ended sometime in the spring. This period of gambling and partying coincided with the loss of prominence and wealth in the region, as the power centers of Holland and Britain expanded their trading reaches. The celebration continued to decline and was actually banned in 1930 by Mussolini. A group of Venetians, and Venice lovers restarted the tradition in 1979.

Today the Carnevale is limited to the ten-day period before Lent and it is an enormous tourist draw. The city is really crowded, hotels are expensive, restaurants full and the streets are at times simply bottlenecked. There are websites and tour groups fully dedicated to the event. The range of party events caters to the rich and sophisticated (balls and music), to the families with kids (chocolate and puppets) and to the college crowd (pub crawls).

You can choose to participate in the carnival celebrations in several ways depending on your tastes, energy level and budget. You can simply walk around the streets or sit in a cafe and watch the incredible costumed characters that are wondering the streets. Spend some time in Piazzo San Marco, there are all sorts of special performances throughout the day and night. Choose to get your face painted and have some fun. Or you can buy tickets to any number events, that range from very affordable to very expensive.

We booked two nights in a great hotel right near Piazza San Marco. Arrival in Venice was actually easier than anticipated; there is lots of signage, big car parks and a central arrival point for the aqua-transit system. The vaporetti (water buses) are very efficient, there are multiple routes and destinations available, at a very minimum every visitor will end up on the #1 or #2 at some point, running in the Grande Canal and Canale delle Giudecca (respectively). Buy a multi-day unlimited ticket; you will end up using the system.

Venice at any time of the year is beautiful; there are endless museums, galleries and historical buildings to engage all types of interests. Two things that I would highly recommend;

  1. A visit to the island of Murano where the glass factories are located. You can take the “scenic” boat tour that we did in error and really see all the islands or go direct. In either case, Murano is filled with glass and restaurants and is a nice break from the crowds in Venice.
  2. The Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge’s Palace. This tour as something beyond the normal tour and it is really fun!