McCain caught playing poker on his smartphone

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Did you hear the news?

Senator John McCain of Arizona, a strong advocate for forceful military intervention in Syria, was caught playing poker on his smartphone while top administration officials were testifying at one of the most important congressional hearings of the year – possible U.S. military action against the Syrian regime, which has allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people, causing the death of many, including 426 children.

My comments: I won’t discuss the pros and cons of the U.S. taking punitive military action against the regime of Syrian President, Bashar Assad. But, in my chosen (unelected) role as a poker player and advocate of the game (especially for senior citizens) two things struck me.

First, when millions of U.S. citizens see a top U.S. senator, overwhelmingly re-elected by the people of Arizona to represent them, in Congress playing poker, the message is loud and clear – poker is legal!

Under these circumstances, there is no way anyone can convince me poker should be judged as unlawful. If so, I challenge the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to go after Senator McCain for violating any law related to playing the game of poker.

If the DOJ won’t charge McCain, how can our government justify going after anyone else in the U.S. who enjoys playing poker – whenever, wherever, and in what format he chooses!

By the way, did you know many of our presidents enjoyed the game of poker? These include Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, both Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and others – even our current president, Barack Obama!

Second, it so happens, McCain lost while playing poker during the time he should have been focusing on the testimonies.

I don’t know how skilled a poker player he is, but I can offer one good reason for his losing. His attention was not fully focused on the game.

The Senate committee hearings were bound to have been a serious distraction from the good senator’s participation in that poker game.

When I see an opponent playing poker in my local casino while distracted by the football game being shown on the large TV screen mounted on the wall facing our table, or eating his dinner while playing a big hand, I consider him a PokerPigeon – bound to lose.

McCain admitted, “I lost thousands of dollars in this game.” But it was “fake money,” he explained. I’ll wager he is a better senator than he is a poker player.

Personally, I have high regard for Senator McCain. He was a war hero and prisoner of war in Viet Nam, and has been a strong voice in Congress, seeking the best interests of our citizens.

But, as a poker player, well…what do you think?

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

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About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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