In August of last year, Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that poker is a game of skill and is not illegal under the Illegal Gambling Business Act. The ruling came in a case against defendant Lawrence Dicristina, a New York resident who had previously been convicted of running an illegal gambling business for operating a live no-limit hold'em game. That ruling overturned his conviction.
In Judge Weinstein's 120-page opinion he said: "Contrary to the government's argument, chance (as compared to skill) has traditionally been thought to be a defining element of gambling and is included in dictionary, common law, and other federal statutory definitions of it. The influence of skill on the outcome of poker games is far greater than that on the outcomes of the games enumerated in the IGBA's illustrations of gambling. While a gambler with an encyclopedic knowledge of sports may perform better than others when wagering on the outcome of sporting events, unlike in poker, his skill does not influence game play. A sports bettor is better able to pick a winning team, but cannot make them win."
"In poker, by contrast, increased proficiency boosts a player's chance of winning and affects the outcome of individual hands as well as a series of hands. Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception. Players can use these skills to win even if chance has not dealt them the better hand. And as the defendant's evidence demonstrates, these abilities permit the best poker players to prevail over the less-skilled players over a series of hands."
As PokerNews' Matthew Kredell explained: "The entire poker community will reap the benefits. The ruling will serve as justification for why online poker should be separated from other forms of Internet gambling to be licensed and regulated."
We mention this whole scenario because the man whose case inspired the ordeal, Lawrence Dicristina, is in today's Main Event. Apparently winning the Main Event isn't the only way to change the course of poker history.