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The New Gambling
During these first years of Internet gambling, the most relevant federal law was the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. (It was this law that World Sports Exchange president Jay Cohen was convicted of violating in February 2000. His offshore sports website took US bets, and poor Cohen was arrested during a visit back to the States.) The Interstate Wire Act restricts betting between states, but respects the right to allow telephone betting within states, should their legislatures allow it. The Interstate Wire Act forbids the accepting of telephone bets from states where gambling is illegal. This includes calls overseas, as Cohen discovered when he set foot on US soil. The law has not been applied to bettors themselves; its wording refers to people "in the business of betting or wagering." Courts have interpreted this to mean the bet takers, not the bet makers. The Justice Department once claimed that the Interstate Wire Act could be applied to Internet players, but it has never tried.2 Interestingly, the Justice Department criticized a proposed law because it did prohibit casual betting, which it said was unenforceable.
Important changes in federal law are contained in 1085, The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, introduced by Senator John Kyl (R-Arizona). Kyl respects states' latitude to make their own Internet gambling laws, but gives federal backing to those that want to keep it out. Kyl holds that Internet gambling is a threat to families: "click a mouse to lose the house." To keep opposition to a minimum, the bill exempts certain well-established interests, such as off-track horse betting, fantasy sports and linked slot machines like Megabucks.
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The effective pot odds you get over the course of an entire hand ultimately depend on the number of opponents you face. As opponents fold and leave their money behind in the pot, your pot odds for particular decisions can increase dramatically. But the "floor" for your pot odds is the number of opponents. For that reason, your pot odds increase with the number of opponents in the hand. In fact, in fixed-limit poker, many of the decisions you make can be based on the number of opponents you face rather than precise pot odds.
All of these dynamics will become critically important when we move on to shaping the hand, but for now, just make sure you understand the mechanics of how pot odds are affected by checking, betting, calling, and raising.
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