Nate Silver on Online Poker
by Erik Fast, Card Player.com
Before Nate Silver’s political prediction prowess landed him a gig at the New York Times and guest spots on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, there was once a time when he largely relied on his abilities as a poker player to make ends meet.
After quitting a job as an economic consultant in 2004, the founder of the incredibly popular FiveThirtyEight political blog primarily played online poker to make money while also working on a system for forecasting the performance of Major League Baseball players for Baseball Prospectus.
After leaving Baseball, Silver founded his political blog in 2008 and correctly predicted the winner in 49 of 50 states in the 2008 Presidential Election. By the next year, Time Magazine had named him one of its 100 Most Influential People of 2009. That year, he played in the World Series of Poker main event. In 2011, he wrote about Black Friday on his blog on the New York Times website.
Now, in the wake of correctly predicting the winner in 50 of 50 states in the 2012 Presidential Election, Silver is riding a wave of popularity and using it to promote his political blogging and his new nonfiction book, The Signal and The Noise. On Wednesday, November 14th he did a Q&A session at popular sports blog Deadspin and the topic of Federal online poker regulation and its viability was brought up.
“My hunch is that the poker community probably underrates how difficult it is to get ANYTHING done at the federal level, especially in the near term,” said Silver. “But the intersection of the need for more tax revenues, poker having become increasingly mainstream, better lobbying efforts on behalf of the poker community, etc., bodes reasonably well in the medium-to-long term.”
“From a public policy standpoint, it’s ridiculous that so many states allow the lottery but not online poker,” Silver continued. “The demographics of poker tend much more toward people who can ‘afford’ to gamble.”
Silver went on to mention that his new book features some interviews with professional sports bettor and poker player Haralabos Voulgaris, who has three World Poker Tour final table finishes and years of high-stakes cash game experience.
“In the book, I talk to Bob Voulgaris, who is maybe the best sports bettor in the world. Super sharp. Works his butt off. He gets 57% of his NBA bets right, not more than that.”
With two years until the next midterm elections, Silver is looking to keep his blog, “…no more than about 50% politics in the off-years.” With more free time, and the upcoming launch of legalized poker in Nevada and a possible push at the Federal level by Senator Harry Reid and Senator Jon Kyl, Silver could be talking more poker in the near future.