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Thursday, July 14 12:00 AM ET

Poker Site wins Pentagon War Gaming Contract

By Robin Berger

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a profitable war gaming contract to PokerPhreaks.net, a popular gambling website. "War gaming is a vital function for our military," said a Pentagon representative. "This is a logical extension of the gamble every person takes when they go into combat. We built large computer networks in Iraq so our troops can play 'Delta Force' and 'SOCOM' when they're not dealing with insurgent attacks."

The contract will be overseen by the War Gaming Division of the Marine Corps War Fighting Lab in Quantico, Virginia. Troops stationed at hot spots around the globe will be able to use their government issued Visa cards at PokerPhreaks.net "for legitimate war gaming expenses," said the Pentagon representative.

Military personnel will roam small war gaming battlefields, called "tables," and engage enemy forces in a quest to take their resources, known as "chips." Soldiers may fight individually, or in small groups, or even as large "Red" and "Blue" teams in regularly scheduled "tournament" wars.

PokerPhreaks.net won the war gaming contract after agreeing to incorporate the Geneva Conventions into their poker rules. "We even award digital POW ribbons to soldiers who get 'trapped' by an opposing force during a poker match," said the site's webmaster.

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Critics of the contract believe the military is spending money for fun rather than to improve national security. "This is not the first time the Marines have played computer games," said one expert. "They purchased 'Doom II' in 1996 to train four-member fire teams." This contract was overseen by the Marine Corps Modeling and Simulation Management office in Quantico. The Pentagon defended its decision to use Doom II, Delta Force, SOCOM, poker, and other games as "network centric warfare" training aids.

Critics also cited the fact a non-American company owns PokerPhreaks.net. "The entire site is hosted from the Isle of Man, which is not U.S. territory," said one critic. The Pentagon representative disagreed. "American currency is accepted everywhere on the island, which makes it a territory of the United States just like Nevada." Besides, she said, "the Isle is a strong coalition ally in the Global War on Terror."

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