Forum Files: How to Put a Forum on Tilt

Alex Weldon : September 28th, 2015

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The nature of internet forums in general is that they inevitably lead to bickering and sometimes outright flame wars, but the battles are usually personal, between individual users, or between two different camps of thought. Much rarer – and more hilarious, as an outside observer – is for a single post or news story to cause an entirely community to freak out collectively.

On TwoPlusTwo, most subjects of potential outrage cause the community to split into two groups, one which flies into a rage and the other which ridicules the former for being a bunch of babies. To get everyone angry tends to require something like a rake hike, or anything involving Brian Hastings. This week on the Forum Files, we take a look at a few other things which can do the trick, including taxation, overt discrimination and brilliantly satirical trolling.

Electronic poker now counts as a slot machine?
Thread: W2 on pot over $1200 (Indiana Grand recently implemented)

If there’s one thing U.S. poker players hate, it’s government interference, and for good reason. Although the U.S. is the birthplace of modern poker, and still the epicenter of the live game, the number of legal barriers to being a professional player there is quite astounding.

It’s no wonder, then, that everyone is so angry about the latest story of legal nitty-gritty getting in the way of poker playing, as posted by user “RiverMeGently.” He plays at the Indiana Grand, a casino which operates electronic poker tables.

According to RiverMeGently, the casino now has to pause the game whenever a pot of $1200 or more occurs, force the winning player(s) to sit out and pay taxes on the pot immediately. Worse, if the player doesn’t have additional money in pocket to pay the taxes and must do so using money from the table, they’re in violation of the prohibition on rat-holing and therefore can’t even go back to their seat once the paperwork is complete. The reason for this is apparently that Indiana has decided that electronic poker falls under the same legal category as slot machines and other electronic house games, rather than those for regular poker.

Electronic poker was introduced in the early post-boom years as a way for casinos to lower their overhead for poker by eliminating dealers, and thereby make it more viable to offer low-stakes poker games, which are notorious for being less profitable to the casino than pit games. They’ve never been particularly popular, however, and if this is now the way it works in Indiana, they may not have much of a future in that state.

Let’s just ban any country that annoys us
Thread: Poker ecology without Eastern European countries?

One thing anyone playing poker online has likely noticed in recent years is the increasing prevalence of players from Russia and other Eastern European countries. This includes both recreational players and grinders and, yes, cheaters as well. As online poker gets tougher, the amount of money that it’s realistically possible for most players to earn keeps dropping, which naturally pushes out players from countries with stronger economies, and brings in ones from countries where low-stakes online grinding is more competitive with what can be made in a regular job.

Unfortunately, Russia is also currently a hotbed for cybercrime, so even as many legitimate grinders from the region are filling the tables, so to have many of the recent scandals had their origins there, including the PLO bot ring which was recently exposed by TwoPlusTwo, and the Odlanor trojan which had everyone in a panic last week, even though it seems to be mostly the Eastern European players themselves who have to worry about it so far.

In any case, the combination of scandals plus sheer number of grinders was enough to cause forums user “Amateur25″ to lament that Eastern Europe in general is hurting the online poker economy, and suggest that sites should pull out of that region for the good of everyone else. Now, online poker players as a whole are generally not the most social justice-conscious group on the internet today, but the combination of blatant discrimination and the suggestion of reducing access to online poker was enough to cause dozens of users to pounce on Amateur25 and call him a racist.

Possibly the greatest post in TwoPlusTwo history
Thread: Has poker made you a more aggressive person?

This thread got me good. The subject line is extremely typical of the News, Views and Gossip subforum – low-quality threads come up on a regular basis, in which a player bemoans the emotional troubles that poker has caused them. I almost ignored it, but it’s been a slow week, so I clicked on it in the idle hope that it would have produced some interesting discussion. Boy, am I glad I did.

User “God Is a Level” is a masterful troll, and this thread’s original post is a brilliant skewering of the persona of the average online microstakes grinder. It’s full of gems like “This dude is the human equivalent of an undercard gutshot jam on a flush turn,” and “These sheeple are level 1, cbetting life’s A83r with shaky hands, and I’m Russ Hamilton 24-tabling UB as NoelHayes.”

As with any great troll post, however, what’s really great is how few of the people responding recognize it as such. Some do, of course, and among other things the thread has produced an equally hilarious response in the form of a few verses of rap. All told, it’s one of the funniest bits of poker-related humor I’ve seen to date.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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