nessdershAlan Dershowitz and Charles Nesson have a few things in common. They’re both famed Harvard Law professors. They’re both provocative. And they both love poker.

It’s this last commonality that’s making headlines, at least in the Boston Herald (HT: Conglomerate blog). The somewhat unlikely Crimson couple are fighting for the legalization of online poker. Nesson has teamed up with some Harvard Law students to form the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, while Dershowitz is helping defending an executive facing charges related to an offshore sports-betting Web site.

Gaming law is in vogue. Indeed, there’s a Harvard Law course taught on the subject, by visiting professor Keith Washburn. “This class will address questions like these in dealing with an industry that lies at a shadowy and uncertain gray area where law meets morality, commerce and social problems,” reads the course description. “The evils attributed to gambling are subject to widespread disagreement and the justifications for prohibiting or regulating gaming have varied across time and across particular gaming industries.”

Nesson told the Herald and says here he was “affronted” when Congress banned online poker and other types of Internet gaming last year. Said Nesson: “The idea of Internet freedom is a core notion of modern political freedom.” As for Dershowitz, he argues that because poker is game of skill it should be legal. “It’s certainly not a game of chance,” Dershowitz told the Herald. “It is ridiculous to call either poker or sports betting a game of chance.”

Nesson, who first wowed the Law Blog with his Second Life course, says that playing poker has tremendous benefits to lawyers-in-training. “It’s really the poker way of thinking that is the most deeply intriguing thing to me,” Nesson said. “The essence of poker is this business of seeing from the other person’s point of view.” He tells the Herald advice for his students: “If they want to do something useful in their outside time, they should play poker.”