Having turned gambling, which once was treated as a sin, into a social policy, government looks unusually silly criminalizing online forms of it. Granted, some people gamble excessively (although not nearly as many people as eat excessively). Granted, gambling becomes addictive to a small minority (although it is not nearly as addictive as smoking and drinking). Granted, gambling is morally dubious when it is only the unproductive pursuit of wealth without work (although gambling is productive of pleasure for tens of millions of Americans for whom it is a frequent pastime). But never mind whether government should try to tightly circumscribe a ubiquitous human activity that generally harms nobody.

That is beside the point that Lederer and the Poker Players Alliance are toiling to make, which is that by sweeping online poker into its proscription of online gambling, Congress committed a category mistake. Congress, Lederer thinks, should revisit the work of John von Neumann (1903-57), the Hungarian-born mathematician who, after working for the Manhattan Project on implosion design for the atomic bomb, became a defense intellectual specializing in the relevance of game theory to strategic thinking. Chess involves logic; roulette involves probability theory. Poker involves logic, probability and something pertinent to military and diplomatic strategy — bluffing.