After spending much of 2018 in a state of hibernation, the Poker Alliance – the Poker Central-owned entity that used to be the “Poker Players’ Alliance” – seems to have come to life at the start of 2019. The Poker Alliance has named an Advisory Board for the group, three top professionals who are well respected in the game. But the purpose of the naming of this board – and any actions that the Poker Alliance will be taking – are shrouded in mystery.

Daniel Negreanu Leads Poker Alliance Advisory Board…

While it has to be emphasized that he in no way is the “leader” of the Advisory Board, Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu was named as one of the three professional players to the group. Negreanu has long been one of the outspoken members of the poker community and, for the most part, he has been on the side of the correct more often than not. He is well respected for this approach, not to mention his continued exemplary play on the felt more than 20 years after his career began.

Negreanu has two more poker professionals that have joined forces with him on the Advisory Board. Women in Poker Hall of Famer Maria Ho was chosen to be a member of the team, another player who has had a wealth of success in the game and is a respected voice. Jason Koon will be the third professional poker player who is a part of the Advisory Board, a pro with over $22 million in earnings from around the world.

…but For What Purpose?

While the Poker Alliance did an excellent job in bringing three top professionals into the fold to help with their efforts, there are still questions as to what exactly those efforts are.

The Poker Alliance’s predecessor, the PPA, was supposedly a “grassroots” organization that looked to fight against anti-poker efforts, be they on the local, state or federal front. Organized in 2004, the PPA slowly morphed into an organization that would fight for the rights of players to play online poker, something that many have seen as an unwinnable effort. Those efforts were funded by several online poker companies and saw players from the now-defunct Full Tilt Poker ensconced in positions of power on the Board of Directors. The entirety of the PPA budget came from donations from these online players as they never charged for membership in the PPA.

Once the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006, player sentiment began to turn against the PPA. Players viewed that those in charge of the PPA didn’t do enough to prevent that law from being passed, despite the arguments from the group that they were able to help “delay” the law’s passage. When the other shoe dropped in 2011 with “Black Friday” – the federal government’s banhammer of a civil lawsuit against the major players in online poker at the time – things got worse for the PPA as their funding dried up with the departure of the major poker rooms from the U. S.

But since Poker Central bought the rights to the Poker Players’ Alliance (and, perhaps more important, it’s database), they have been extremely quiet on the future direction of the group. They didn’t get involved in Pennsylvania as the state navigated their way to online gaming and poker regulations and they had no impact when Michigan attempted to push through regulations that were eventually vetoed by former Governor Rick Snyder. The “president” of the Poker Alliance, Mark Brenner, hasn’t been as visible (or as vocal) as past leaders of the PPA. So, it is unknown as to just what direction the Poker Alliance is taking in 2019.

Is the Poker Alliance going to be focused more on what the casino industry wants (if so, they already have a lobbying arm in the American Gaming Association)? Are they going to focus on the freedom to play the game? Are they going to attack those who would look to shut down online casino gaming and poker across the country? What involvement is the everyday Joe going to have on the group? And will there be a transparency to the leadership and their ideas, something that the PPA was criticized heavily for (a lack of transparency)? The naming of an Advisory Board looks good but, without action, the Poker Alliance is much ado about nothing.

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