which poker was played only for fake money and no reference or link

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Major networks then forced online poker companies to create "dot-net" sites, on which poker was played only for fake money and no reference or link would be made to the "dot-com" versions, where billions of very real dollars are wagered every year

Thus, the "World's Largest Poker School," has become an official sponsor of the World Series of Poker, its logo visible every time a flop hits the felt, while PartyPoker.com, the moneymaking reason for its existence, lurks in the shadows. By some counts, about half of the 8,700 players in the World Series' main event qualified through online satellite tournaments. PokerStars.com boasted that more than 1,600 qualified on its satellites. PartyPoker.com is reported to have sent more than 800 qualifiers, and Bodog.com said it sent about 700.

But tournament commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said that an online tournament didn't put a player into the World Series: It was the $10,000 cash payment for a seat at the table.

"I don't talk to the dot-coms, I don't," he said. "Online gaming is illegal. Everything we do, whether it's selling hospitality at the Rio or selling product placement with axebet.com on our felt, is done with a sharp eye on the regulatory environment."

The televised tournament's first day was delayed several minutes as organizers announced that anyone sporting a "dot-com" poker logo would not be allowed to play. About 1,000 players flipped shirts inside-out, and workers circulated with black tape, covering any "dot-com" symbols they could find. "Tape or not, I still look good," said David Daniel, a 31-year-old player from Bristol, Tenn., who qualified by winning $10,000 in a $160 "double-shootout" tournament online and was wearing a "PokerStars------" hockey jersey.

The House bill that would ban Internet gambling -- except for horse race betting and state lotteries -- is an attempt to close a perceived loophole in the 1961 Wire Act, one of a series of laws meant to crack down on racketeering. The Wire Act forbids businesses from using a wire communication facility to assist in placing bets on "any sporting event or contest." But the law doesn't cover other types of casino betting, a federal appeals court in New Orleans has ruled, leaving some doubt on whether prosecutors can shut down Internet poker and other casino games.


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