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Poker Zoo 68: Tokens, Tools, and Fools, with Alvin Lau


Poker, crypto, and the Non-Fungible Token craze are all well-met bedfellows: exciting, profitable, and a little grimey. Overnight Monster and Bluff Barbarian creator Alvin Lau took a flyer on a new NFT project this year, Hungry Ghosts, and this is his story. Listen to him on today’s Zoo describe many of the truths of NFT projects and the interesting culture that drives them.

Alvin is a professional poker player and coach, and consistent guest on the Zoo. Here are some links relevant to the conversation:

Twitter back and forths between the Hungry Ghost team and Print My Mint

Alvin’s statement on Medium

Twitter takes up the Trosley Hustler drawings.

Statement from Trosley/Jungle Freaks.

In February 2021, a 10-second video by an artist named Beeple sold online for $6.6 million. Around the same time, Christie’s announced that it would be selling a collage of 5,000 “all-digital” works by the Wisconsin-based artist, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann. It was put on a virtual auction block with a starting price of $100 — and on March 11 it sold for a staggering $69 million.

Beyond the high prices, there was one other fact that observers found fascinating. In exchange for their money, collectors who buy Beeples don’t receive any physical manifestation of the artwork. Not even a framed print. What they do get is an increasingly popular kind of cryptoasset called an NFT — short for non-fungible token.

— from Coinbase

Not everyone is as enthusiastic:

No matter their original intent, it’s abundantly clear that in 2021 NFTs are not about supporting art or artists. NFT minting sites charge massive fees that often outstrip returns on the sale. No governing body exists to enforce resale commissions when an NFT changes hands. Little to no protections exist for buyers. Purchased NFTs still “live” in the purchaser’s “wallet” on the company’s server, and many have already disappeared without any recourse for the owners.

Even if NFTs were somehow benefitting artists or museums, there is no justifying the massive environmental impacts of minting a single NFT (or a blockchain itself) on an already urgent climate crisis. And before you think it, here’s the article to send to people when they ask if the environmental issues with cryptoart might soon be solved (spoiler: it won’t, with offsets or otherwise).

imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved Sudokus that could verify you paid $1,000 for a PNG file — Senior Data Masseuse (@ryxcommar) March 16, 2021

— Eric Longo from the MCN Blog

Let’s conclude with a balanced conversation on NFTs led by cultural commentator Sonny Bunch.

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