2016-2017 Update: Please help this go viral. Social Media has taken off.
I’d appreciate you commenting at the end of this article and sharing on Twitter and Facebook. Your voice counts. Thank you in advance!
Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is a terrific resource for all poker players.
At the end of this article is an example of what you can do with what PPA gives you. You’ll find the letter I sent in 2012 to President Obama, my 2 US Senators and my US Representative to Congress.
Please use the same concept when you contact your people in politics. Begin your letter by saying something personal that makes it yours, rather than simply sending a form letter. Politicians will listen when you speak from your heart rather than looking like a carbon copy.
But first, let me share my experience with Poker Players Alliance. My intention working with PPA is to help pass positive, sensible Internet poker legislation.
How Donna Blevins is Involved with Poker Players Alliance
As the Florida State Director of Poker Players Alliance (PPA), my primary contact is Dave McGoldrick. Dave joined the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) directly following Black Friday in April 2011 as a Member Relations Specialist. With a strong focus on serving our members’ daily needs, Dave is the direct interface with the PPA’s million plus members and plays an important role in building the PPA’s grassroots network.
Anyone who is a PPA member gets weekly emails from Rich Muny, VP of Player Relations, who makes sure we are up to date. The process helps us with social media, which is fast becoming a part of communicating with politicians.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rich Muny in person during the PPA Town Hall in Tampa and Ft Lauderdale in 2012. Rich’s training as an engineer gives him the patience to sort thru what’s going on. He is a valuable asset. Thank you, Rich.
When I traveled to Washington as a poker lobbyist in May, 2011, I met our Executive Director, John Pappas. Later in 2012, John jumped in and helped their public affairs rep brief me for a FOX television news interview. There are so many layers to understand when it comes to legislation, and I was profoundly grateful for his insights and coaching.
Each week when PPA sends out an update and a reminder to contact lawmakers, they give you a link to click so that you can easily send a letter by email or physical. PPA actually posts the letter or sends the letter by email for you. That is so cool!
Yes, I’m asking you to take action at least on a weekly basis to help iPoker reenter the United States. I’m working in Florida with Martin Shapiro, who puts together tweets and Facebook posts for Florida representatives and senators on a Campaign to Authorize Internet Poker. Follow on Twitter @iPokerFlorida.
Emails are Better for Washington Lawmakers than Physical Letters
At one time, physical letters were the best way to contact Washington lawmakers, however, today emails are the best way to send your letters to Washington. Not just because they are fast, but it takes several weeks for a physical letter to clear the safety scans that have been put in place.
When you go to the PPA site, just select your state and the system takes you to a page with a pre-filled letter that you can edit. I love the way PPA keeps the letters updated based on what is going on.
If you prefer physical letters, send them to the state office for your Washington lawmakers.
Either way, customize the beginning. Yours can be only a sentence of two. I promise, being YOU makes a difference.
Social Media Buzz for Politicians
In 2009 I launched BigGirlPoker.com because my Tweeps kept asking where they could read my journal. I never expected social media to take off like it has. Politicians have moved fast to the social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook. By 2015, Twitter became one of the best ways to reach out to politicians. When you follow me on Twitter or tag me on Facebook, I’ll pass on the message. Please do the same.
Connect with Donna Blevins on Social Media
- Tweeter @BigGirlPoker
- Donna’s personal Facebook page
- Like and share Donna’s Facebook Poker Mindset Coach page
How to Easily Personalize Your Letters to Lawmakers About Poker Legislation
At the very beginning of your letter, just add a few sentences that tell your story. I promise you have a story. Everyone has a story. There is something about poker that has positively affected your life or someone you know. There is something about how taking away PokerStars and FullTilt has negatively affected you.
Above all, don’t whine.
The first half of the following letter is my story that I added to the letter template. Yours can simply be a sentence or two.
The last half of the following letter was created by PPA and was in the letter template when I landed on the page. For clarification, I put a headline in between what I wrote and what PPA put together. The headline is in bold and starts “On a national front…” is where the form letter starts.
Donna Blevins’ Open Letter to President Obama & National Lawmakers
Dear President Obama,
I bet you never considered the therapeutic aspects of the game of poker. Let me share some real stories with you about United States military Veterans, disabled non-veterans, and retired citizens. Because of privacy issues, I can share only a few specifics, however, I will share the experience in broad terms.
Today, traumatic brain injury veterans and those with poly-trauma at the Tampa VA medical center are benefiting from my poker therapy program that I do monthly. Because of the linear aspects of the game, it helps them re-learn skills so that they can once again become independent.
To name a few of the benefits of the game of poker for traumatic brain injury, it helps with memory, math, logic and with the ability to follow direction and rules. The latter is vital for traumatic brain injury Veterans in order to conform to society and ‘play well with others’ in everyday life.
Long term spinal cord injury Veterans in F-Wing have also benefited at the Tampa VA medical center. They can enter a game of poker as a physical equal, because poker is the universal equalizer. Even quads can participate on an equal footing with the aid of a card-turner assistant.
Imagine, how a quad’s eyes light up when they realize they can participate as an equal, no longer trapped in their body, but able to compete with the aid of a card turner. I’ve seen it and experienced it during my poker therapy program.
A non-veteran quadriplegic in Jacksonville, Donnie, is actually a well-known poker champion. When I met him in August 2011, I was touched by his positive attitude. He travels and competes in tournaments with the aid of a nurse, who turns his cards and moves his chips for him.
The interesting thing is that Donnie did not win his championship in a Para-Poker event like Para-Olympics. He won his title competing as an equal in a real poker tournament against able bodied men and women.
In 2010, Donnie was sponsored by one of the biggest online poker sites to go on a month-long poker trip to the WSOP in Las Vegas and then on to California. He is an ambassador for the game of poker.
However, that sponsorship was taken away from Donnie as a result of the actions taken by the DOJ in closing down the largest online poker sites April 15, 2011.
My husband is a 100% permanently disabled Viet Nam Veteran, who is on oxygen 24/7. Online poker is one of the ways he was able to stimulate his brain and no longer feel so isolated. That freedom has been taken away from him.
One of my poker coaching client’s step dad is legally blind. He is a brilliant business man, who is now withdrawn and insulated from society. One of the few ways he stays connected is by playing online poker in front of a 50-inch TV screen, however, he is doing so at his own risk. He has no assurance that the sites are fair nor that his money is protected.
In 2009, I discovered how much poker benefits seniors and handicapped. At the East Citrus Senior Center in Inverness, Florida, I witnessed some astonishing results with Alma, who gave me permission to use her name.
When Alma entered my poker training, she had had Parkinson’s for 35 years. Several years before, she had a implant in one side of her brain to quieten the shaking in the opposite side of her body. Together we figured how she could use her immobile hand as the anchor for her cards.
In that moment, I saw a dramatic change in her that positively affected the quality of her life. She sat up straight and held her head high. Her husband was astonished and amazed at the instant change in her.
The following week, Alma’s husband rushed up to me with tears in his eyes. He eagerly showed me the homemade business cards saying “Retired couple looking for other retired couples to play cards in our home.”
Alma’s husband told me this was the first time in the last 25 years she had wanted to get out and do anything.
(NOTE: form letter follows)
On a national front, there is much support for sensible poker legislation.
The National Fraternal Order of Police recently sent House and Senate leaders a letter urging Congress to pass legislation to license and regulate online poker. With this action, they joined former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in seeking common-sense action to address this very important issue.
As a taxpaying constituent, voter, and poker enthusiast, I ask that you support my rights by joining these law enforcement groups in support of licensed and regulated online poker.
Licensing and regulation will ensure that age verification measures are implemented, consumer protections are provided, and protections for those with excessive gaming habits are mandated. Current law does not provide any protections for anyone.
Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of his House colleagues introduced H.R. 2366, the Online Poker Act. This bill does not authorize video poker or any other house-banked casino-style game.
Rather, it applies to poker — the electronic version of the game played at kitchen tables across America — and is limited to this person-to-person game of skill. It is a good common-sense bill that I urge you to support.
Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) has introduced a separate bipartisan online gaming bill. H.R. 1174, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, provides for licensing and regulation of online poker and online casino gaming. I ask that you support this legislation as well.
H.R. 2366 and H.R. 1174 would provide billions of dollars in new revenue for the federal deficit. These bills would also create tens of thousands of needed U.S. jobs, all without raising taxes. Both bills mandate strong consumer protection and effective age verification.
WiredSafety, the world’s largest Internet safety group, commissioned an in-depth study of this issue. The study, which was conducted by Harvard University, examined issues like blocking of underage participation, prevention of money laundering, and providing of consumer protections against fraud and abuse. The study concluded that “combining a thoughtful regulatory scheme with education, technology tools, and support appears to be the most effective means of handling the realities and risks” of online poker.
Licensed and regulated U.S.-based horse race wagering sites have proven through years of experience that online betting sites can successfully implement these important protections. The game of poker deserves no less.
If you support generating tax revenue WITHOUT increasing taxes and creating domestic jobs rather than outsourcing them, you will support the licensing and regulation of online poker. I hope that I, along with my over one million fellow Poker Players Alliance members, can count on your support.
Thank you for your consideration.
Donna Blevins, PhD
Poker MindSet & Executive Coach
Author of Forthcoming Book “Mind Shift On Demand”
It’s Your Turn to Voice Your Opinion to Your Lawmakers
In as little as 3 minutes you can have your letter off to President Obama and your lawmakers. Please take action now and click thru to PPA and send your letter.
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Until next time, remember my mindset motto: