Decentralized Autonomous Poker

Poker as a subset of our economic system could have the same implications when it comes to the decentralization of our financial system.  Because of this it might be useful to explore some of the literature surrounding the bitcoin movement and view it in relation to the economy of poker.

The function of the Constitution in the Separation of Governing Powers

In his paper the Origins of the Non-Delegation Doctrine Nick Szabo outlines an important aspect of the American constitution:

Examination of the non-delegation problem sheds light on the separation of powers, on the potential for abuses of the power delegated, on the limitations of statutory and regulatory law on a national scale, and the other problems related to delegation that we have surveyed…
Looking for these factors may also alert us to situations where neither branch is competent to make rules and where delegation is the most prone to abuse.

The separation of power into 3 systems (Legislature, Executive, Judiciary) of checks and balances was created order curb this abuse. This principle of dividing a needed system into parts in order to combat abuse is outlined by Szabo in Patterns of Integrity — Separation of Duties:

1) Start with a function that (a) is too valuable to dispense with, and (b) to be performed, requires power that can be abused.
2) Divide the function into separate steps, each necessary for the function to work or for the power that enables that function to be abused.
3) Assign each step to a different person or organization.

By separating the function into parts we are able to acquire a type of security for abuse we would not otherwise have. Bitnplay is one example of a separation of the financial aspect of a poker site from the facilitation of the dealing and gameplay procedure.

The Ideal Governing System

Szabo goes on to explain in another blog the ideal form of government a society might have called Juristopia the general idea being:

(1) There are N Rings, where N is odd, say 9. Any Ring in the possession of an individual who possesses another Ring has no power (that includes the first Ring possessed — the second renders the first impotent — so that there is a strong disincentive to accumulate Rings).
(2) To operate the ring, a quorum of holders of the Rings, called the Court of Extraordinary Justices, touch their Rings together and prouounce the unique name of an individual to be punished for Contempt of Court, and pronounce a punishment.
(3) The quorum of joined Rings can administer the following magical punishments to the named person at any range:
(a) imprisonment in a magical jail for any specified number of time, requiring the aid of no human jailers
(b) instant and painless death
(4) The Rings confer on their wearers complete invulnerability to any kind of violence.

Juristopia is form of Microkernel Government as Szabo explains further:

A microkernel in a computer is a small program that contains only the most essential functions needed to manage a large number of other programs called “servers” that are conceptually independent of each other. Similarly, our governmental microkernel provides only the minimum procedural functionality needed to handle franchises, a wide variety of which in turn handle the substantive law.
The overall goal of Juristopia is to improve the most important functions of government (especially defense and the abatement of public nuisances) while preventing the corruption, oppression, war, genocide, and other abuses that have so often come with police powers and taxation.
Although it discards totalitarian political structure and legal procedure, our proposed form of government is based on historically proven legal mechanisms.

This kind of government is highly adaptive and modular and so naturally fits perfectly with the current and changing economic environment of present day poker. Already there are multiple movements and projects attempting to provide a decentralized solution to online gaming.

Poker as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization

Nxt Poker is a project that most people might have difficultly wrapping their heads around.  Here is the Nxt Business plan:

Once the tokens have been distributed to donors, the organization as a whole belongs to Nxt community token holders, and token holders in the broader crypto-community. Not only is NxtPoker DAO owned by the community of token holders, they actually influence and direct improvements to NxtPoker initiatives by supporting ideas and plans that match the Nxtpoker bylaws or rules. Board members execute the outcomes of votes on issues or initiatives voted on by token holders, which had previously been distilled down to a few options, through a discussion process with the community or between all board members. Board members also serve the community by reviewing performance, token payouts, compensations to workers and devs, discussions and revolving issues, and other responsibilities in the rules (bylaws).

It’s not too far of a stretch to see that  this token system can be applied to Nick Szabo’s Juristopia and that it is naturally related to the concept of microkernal governing. Here is a is a diagram of how the Decentralized Autonomous Organization plans on functioning:

This is interesting if we relate it to a recent explanation of ramification of the injection of crypto-currency into the poker economy from the blog post The “Achilles’ heel” of the Centralized Poker Industry

(If) rakeback points (could) be paid out as a digital currency (or assets), so that they may be freely traded on a digital asset exchange…
… then the players (could) PROPERLY valuate the effective rake on a given site.  This too will lead to pressure for sites to print “chips” of stable or high value in relation to the effective rake.
Enacting this simple change will set in place the foundation and infrastructure for decentralized poker through:
Creating Assets as Single Unique Identifiers
Establishing a Poker Forum Coin


There may be then a way in which to setup up the economy of poker in a “semi” decentralized form that facilitates the security needs of the entire system. In this way the problem of “mental poker” becomes not one of n players trying to shuffle/deal a deck of cards in a decentralized fashion, but rather the re-arrangement of the overall systems on which the game is played.  By arranging the major players of this system (players community, sites, financial, governments) in an ideal perspective, we are able to construct a solution that facilitates the most optimal sustainability for the economy of the game: An environment where sites evolve the most secure and profitable games possible.

Note: In the near future the author plans on extending the idea further to define and explore the details of Poker as a DAO and its combination with the ideas Szabo expresses about Juristopia.


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