Poker appeared on the verge of revival this past year but so far all this momentum has mostly been for naught.



From the Weird Stuff That Occasionally Crosses My Desk Department recently came the following press release:



Botox-like treatment from SmoothMed prevents poker players from giving away their hands
NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2012-SmoothMed today announced PokerTox, a new treatment designed to reduce the “tells” for serious poker players. SmoothMed now brings the reality of a true poker face that is custom designed for your expressive strengths and weaknesses. Whether you are entering a tournament or just part of a serious weekly game, this is your opportunity to win! All serious players know that the luck of the cards is only half the game and the rest resides in your poker face. Through appropriately placed use of Botox, and in some cases filler, Dr. Berdy works with your desires to hide or accentuate your “tells” or micro-expressions. This is your chance to game the game.

Dr. Jack Berdy specializing in Aesthetic Medicine and the Medical Director of Smoothmed Medi Spa in Manhattan has developed a new focus for Botox treatments that can create a true poker face hiding your true thoughts behind a mask of relaxation. “With an adjusted concentration, our experience, and practical skills of facial sculpting, we can give you a rested affect or accentuate expressions as you may desire. After a few days, you will begin to notice a relaxed, rested appearance in a very natural way that without effort can be maintained at the pinnacle of excitement or the trough of disappointment as the cards may dictate.”




Where to begin with this? To start, I don’t know if I want anyone to use “filler” on my body, it sounds a little too much like auto repair work to me. Also, do you really want someone with the last name of “Berdy” sculpting your face, especially if you’re female?

But who knows, maybe it’s the beginning of a trend-using medical procedures to gain an advantage over the house. I can envision a future where players graft on an extra finger or two so they can push the slot buttons a little quicker. Or how about an extra set of eyes to better keep track of cards during a hand of blackjack or an extra supple wrist that makes rolling seven a cinch at craps? The opportunities are truly endless…

Seriously though, the medical industry might as well cash-in on poker since the domestic gaming industry has had a hard time doing so, at least recently. A poker craze swept across casinos a decade ago, fueled by the popularity the World Series of Poker and other televised Texas Hold’em tournaments and the ability to play the game online for money. Poker rooms in casinos large and small were expanded to meet the new demand. However, the trend stalled when the U.S. government enacted the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, essentially criminalizing wagering at online poker sites. Without the Internet component, poker interest in the U.S. started slowly to wane.

But poker appeared on the verge of revival this past year thanks in large part to a revised ruling by the Justice Department that the Wire Act-the law making Internet wagering illegal-only applied to sports betting, essentially clearing the way for states or the federal government to regulate i-gaming. A number of cash-starved states immediately launched legalization efforts, many centered around poker, which is viewed as the type of web-based wagering most likely to garner widespread legislative support. Even the American Gaming Association got in on the excitement, supporting efforts to create a federal bill to regulate online poker.

So far, unfortunately, all this momentum has mostly been for naught. The federal effort to regulate online poker did not get far past the talking stage, and has been shelved until sometime later this year as Congress grapples with the fiscal cliff. Many of the state initiatives have also stalled, waiting for further impetus.

It’s starting to look like more than a facelift will be needed to make online poker legal throughout the land.