WSOP 2013: In legal limbo, Lawrence DiCristina goes for gold

It's the first break of the World Series of Poker's Day 1C, and Lawrence DiCristina is grateful for a few extra minutes to get away from the table. His family is waiting in a pool cabana, eager to see him for a few minutes and share some lunch. He's beaming. There's something about having his family close by that turns a man in limbo into a man who is happy to be there.

If you don't know the name, you can be forgiven. DiCristina is no Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey, but since 2012, he's been in a high-stakes battle that has wide-ranging implications for poker in the United States.


DiCristina once ran a New York poker room, and it eventually landed him in court. The legal case would take several thousand words to explain, but the upshot was what happened when the case eventually landed in front of federal judge Jack Weinstein.

Weinstein put out a 120-page ruling that, in essence, declared the prosecution's case against DiCristina invalid. Why? Because, Weinstein wrote, poker isn't gambling. It's a skill game.

That ruling came out last summer, but it didn't spell the end of DiCristina's battle. Prosecutors appealed, and just a few weeks ago the case went before a three-judge appeals panel.

And now DiCristina waits again. He waits for a ruling that may not come for months. He waits to see what will become of his life. He waits.

He's waiting today in the Amazon Room.

"Hopefully something good will happen," he said eying his starting stack.

That's sort of an unwritten motto DiCristina has been forced to adopt over the past two years. It's one he's taken with him to the PCA, to London, and now to Las Vegas.

If that something good should happen here, it would be one for the storybooks. And if not, he's headed to Peru for the Latin American Poker Tour at the end of the month.

"My wife's from Peru," he said. And he beamed again.

In the end--whenever that may be--DiCristina may be an unsung poker hero, but he's ultimately just a family man. Limbo isn't so bad when the company is so good.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photos courtesy Poker Photo Archive.