Monthly Archive for October, 2007

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HLS To Go ‘All In’ Versus Yale

Published On Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:19 AM
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On the eve of Nov. 17, while much of the Harvard community is gearing up for “The Game” against Yale, a handful of law school students will be prepping to play a very different sort of game against the same rival.

That night, members of the Harvard Law School (HLS) chapter of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society (GPSTS) will challenge the society’s Yale chapter in a poker tournament.

Founded by Weld Professor of Law Charles R. Nesson ’60, GPSTS aims to “create an open online curriculum centered on poker that will draw the brightest minds together,” according to the group’s online statement. The GPSTS currently has chapters organized at Stanford, UCLA, and Brown, in addition to Harvard and Yale.

Nesson and third-year law student Andrew M. Woods, the interim president of the HLS chapter, said that the group hoped to change the reputation of poker from one of illegal gambling to that of a valuable educational tool.

“Poker teaches cognitive ability in a way we just don’t have in education now,” Woods said yesterday afternoon.

While the group is not allowed to gamble during meetings, they spent their first meeting on Tuesday night discussing some of the finer points of the card game.

“Anybody that somehow thinks interest in poker is a bad thing would be convinced just by seeing and listening to these kids talk,” said Nesson.

Woods said that the GPSTS would host several events open to the Harvard community over the semester. A panel discussion with poker champions Howard Lederer and Crandell Addington is expected to be held on Oct. 15. The group plans to hold a discussion on the dispute over online poker and a day-long conference on the educational value of poker in November.

The GPSTS also plans to launch a National Collegiate Poker Tournament in March.

“It will hope to capture the same spirit of the March Madness basketball tournament,” Woods said.

The debate over the legality of poker focuses on whether it is a game of chance or a game of skill.

To study the dispute, GPSTS organizers said they plan to use duplicate poker decks, setting a deck up in the same way at ten different tables. This means that players are not only competing among the others at their table but also with their counterparts with the same hands at other tables.

“It’s a good way of really demonstrating and determining who has the most skill in a game,” Woods said.

While a Harvard undergraduate chapter of GPSTS does not yet exist, two students—Brian M. Wan ’08 and Jason A. Caloras ’08—are in the process of creating one.

“What we’re going to be doing is trying to help legitimize poker,” said Wan.

first meeting

exciting there last night, going around the room, listening to players we’ve got, sitting at round tables, just the right size for kids to meet and talk.
this is my evidence. this is why harvard law school is a good place to be. chet’s video of the event now to go to rochelle, meet me at berkman at ten and we’ll go to the editing deck, andrew a star among stars, we are producing, then to elizabeth and her team dean and paul irish, and bang, we are up on the net. i showed them our chip set, cc on the back of our global strategic thinking society.
dinner after with anne peretz and fern.

catching up with time

Focus on trade journals in both general disciplines e.g., American Lawyer; WIRED. Rather than issue press release, send private letter to the editors inviting them to send someone to sit in. Also write to legal project in the think tank world, such as at Manhattan Institute, Center for Constituional Rights etc. Invite them to send fellows/associates to the class. They’ll write about in their own publications and blogs.

haven’t quite gotten to all of that yet, but close, and here i have opportunity to reach out through the net through degrees of separation, so here, a private letter to the editors inviting them to come sit in.

Overall Theme: A series of lectures seeks to tell the story of online poker’s fight for legitimacy in law and beyond. Professor Charles Nesson, representing online poker, seeks to map out the contours of the legal battle for the return of online poker by engaging with all sides in the debate: lawyers, the American gaming industry, the WTO, Antigua and the press.

The lectures will also form part of a larger experiment in opening up debates in the legal classroom to a worldwide audience. Each lecture will be produced in successively more complex ways in order to engage with a cyber audience, culminating in a live webcast into second life with second life participants. We hope to show how broadening the participants in traditional debates to include the brightest minds from beyond the classroom opens up new vistas of opportunities for univeristy education.

1st Lecture: The Principle of Law and Prosecutorial Abuse of IT

There is a dangerous game of poker being played between prosecutors and corporate defendants – the stakes are the lives of individual citizens. Join Harvey Silverglate, Matt Feinberg and Alex Whiting as they debate the abuse of prosecutorial power in eliciting guilty pleas from defendants.

2nd Lecture: Poker – a Game of Truth in Life and Law

Crandell Addington and Howard Lederer, two of poker’s leading lights debate with Charles Nesson and Andrew Woods as expert witnesses for the next days debate which seeks a resolution from all parties.

3rd Lecture: LAW as Rhetorical Poker: Antigua v. USA in the WTO

The online poker arguments will be played out in the lecture with the various participants playing from their own viewpoints. We hope to reach a resolution to the online poker problem through a game of rhetorical poker itself.


Monday 8th October, 5pm – 6.30pm EST

Monday 15th October, 5pm – 6.30pm EST

Tuesday 16th October, 5pm – 6.30pm EST


Room 102 Hauser Hall,

Harvard Law School,

1563 Massachusetts Avenue,

Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Google Map Link: Link

My Mobile Number: 6177105703

My Email:  dmcmahon at

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Douglas McMahon
Date: Oct 5, 2007 12:57 PM
Subject: Online Poker Lecture Series
To: Jonathan Cohen
Cc: Charles Nesson

Hi Jonathan,

I’ve attached the information that we discussed. I have separated it out into the various sections that we discussed and have drafted the descriptions of the lecture series in prose as this seemed the easiest way – obviously all changes will be welcome, however drastic! If you need any further information, such as short bios for the individual speakers I’m sure I could come up with them as well, though I may have to check with Charles that each participant wouldn’t mind if I drafted it, or if they’d want to see it first.

If there’s anything else I can do to help I’ll be near my email most of the day.

Thanks for your help,

Just to help Ben here is an extract from the Wiki written by Charles which he might like to read to get some background:

The Principle of Law and Prosecutorial Abuse of IT

Position cyberone as a unique method of teaching law that: 1.Takes advantage of new tech to consider timeless questions about truth and justice in fresh ways that are exciting to students. 2. Extends the law school classroom beyond the university to reach the brightest minds within and outside of the conventional U setting. 3. Develops valuable and important new use of virtual tech beyond action games and frivolous chat rooms. Pitch this story to 2 media: Legal press and Tech press. More..

Focus on trade journals in both general disciplines e.g., American Lawyer; WIRED. Rather than issue press release, send private letter to the editors inviting them to send someone to sit in. Also write to legal project in the think tank world, such as at Manhattan Institute, Center for Constituional Rights etc. Invite them to send fellows/associates to the class. They’ll write about in their own publications and blogs.

Post a comprehensive video (not just 10 minute clips, etc) on the web via itunes Unviversity or in conjunction with MIT.


when appropriate (in my judgment) to an open project and not sensitive (in my judgment) in terms of privacy, i may post email to my blog. all privacy requests respected.

hls poker strategic thinking society formed

we exist
now we move
As a quick update on the GPSTS Activities coming up:

Oct. 1 – HLS PSTS officially approved by student government as official Harvard Law organization. Initial launch with 62 members.

Oct. 15 – GPSTS, in association with the HLS PSTS and Professor Charles Nesson hosts Howard Lederer and Crandall Addington to discuss life lessons taught by poker in a session called Poker: A Game of Truth in Life and Law at Harvard Law School. First of discussion series of poker talks.

Oct. 16 – Harvard Law School hosts Steven Donziger, Simon Lester, and Jonathon Cohen to discuss asymmetrical litigation and the effect of communication on the relationship between legal process and public opinion, primarily focusing on the current dispute between the WTO and the United States surrounding the American stance on internet gambling.

Nov. 10 – GPSTS hosts “Educational Utility of Poker”, an academic conference at Harvard Law school focused on investigating the utility of poker as a tool for engaging students and continuing education. Jim McManus and Mike Sexton are confirmed keynotes. McManus will present his new book “The History of Poker”, analyzing past American luminaries, from senators to presidents to generals, for whom poker has been a significant aspect of their education. Sexton will discuss the explosion of the popularity of poker, the lessons that poker teaches, and the manner in which the intense popularity of poker makes it possible to reach students. The conference will be open, and anyone interested in the study of poker and in investigating the utility of poker is encouraged to attend. *I would be happy to have input on an attractive theme/name for the conference*

Nov. 16 – Introduction of GPSTS match play. Inaugural Harvard-Yale poker match, featuring team poker play the night before the Harvard-Yale football game. *potential Michigan-Ohio State inaugural match (unconfirmed)*

Nov. 30 – Inaugural UCLA-USC poker match, featuring team poker play the night before the UCLA-USC football game. *potential Cal-Stanford inaugural match (unconfirmed)*

February 1 – Poker as education workshop at Smith Leadership Academy in Dorchester, MA. Introductory workshop at SLA, a charter school aimed at underprivileged kids in MA to be followed by 6-8 hour-long poker sessions, introducing various elements of poker.

Regarding local chapters: we have been in contact with, and are developing, chapters at various universities (Harvard, Penn State, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Brown, Tufts, and Boston University are farthest along).