Poker Wars

A jury in Colorado has acquitted a man who organized poker tournaments at a local bar on charges of illegal gambling, apparently agreeing with his defense that poker is primarily a game of skill, not chance.  Last month, a judge in Pennsylvania came to the same conclusion, exonerating a man of gambling charges for running $1-$2 Texas Hold 'Em games out of his garage.

I'd rather see states do away with gambling prohibitions altogether (or, more accurately, to lift the states' monopoly on gambling), but the outcomes in these cases are exactly right. The fact that professional poker players even exist (as opposed to, say, professional slots or roulette players) is proof that the game is driven more by strategy and skill than by luck.

This month, another state judge in South Carolina will rule on the same question. In that case, Police sent a wired informant with marked bills to break up the $20 buy-in game run by Mount Pleasant resident Bob Chimento and his college buddies. Generally speaking, such games are legal so long as the host doesn't take a cut of the prize money. Police and prosecutors determined that Chimento's collection for pizza and beer qualified as a "rake," making the game illegal.

"The typical police raid of these games ... is to literally burst into a home in SWAT gear with guns drawn and treat poker players like a bunch of high-level drug dealers," says Jeff Phillips, a Greenville attorney representing Chimento's group. "Using the taxpayers' resources for such useless Gestapo-like tactics is more of a crime than is playing of the game."

Chimento and his friends aren't alone. The Washington-based Poker Players Alliance says it has received so many calls about poker-related arrests that it's created a national network of attorneys - many of them poker players themselves - to serve as a legal brain trust for its membership.

Reason.tv and Drew Carey highlighted one of those cases last year, in which a paramilitary vice squad in Dallas raided a Texas Hold 'Em tournament held at local VFW post.

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  • short, fat bastard||

    Revoke Sufferage Now!

  • ||

    now the poker players know the feeling of the peacful MJ smokers. it was fine when it was them, and then them, but now its me and i am scared. Well that mentality is what pervades. maybe enough will be swatted to finally know this is not the way of free Americans

  • ||

    This month, another state judge in South Carolina will rule on the same question. In that case, Police sent a wired informant with marked bills to break up the $20 buy-in game run by Mount Pleasant resident Bob Chimento and his college buddies. [italics added]



    I thought Barney Fife lived in North Carolina.

    How fuckin' embarassing this must be to LEOs everywhere.

  • Robert||

    "The typical police raid of these games ... is to literally burst into a home in SWAT gear with guns drawn and treat poker players like a bunch of high-level drug dealers,"

    And if they keep treating them like that, after a while they will need to, because they will be like that.

  • ||

    I run a $20 buy in game at my house, and we smoke pot while we play.

    It's just a matter of time before the SWAT team shows up and kills my dog.

    Am I paranoid?

  • Mike M.||

    Boy, it's nice to actually get some good news here in the U.S.S.A, no matter how small.

    For the life of me I don't know why our stupid bankrupt government won't approve, license, and take a cut of internet poker. They would make plenty of money off it and could regulate it to alleviate safety concerns.

  • Mad Max||

    'a paramilitary vice squad in Dallas raided a Texas Hold 'Em tournament held at local VFW post.'

    You just don't understand the dangers of police work. You see, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is itself a paramilitary organization. Its members are probably armed to the teeth; they have received weapons training, and they have probably killed people in battle. You can't just send Officer Friendly to politely knock on the door with a warrant, and those scum will riddle Officer Friendly with bullets.

    No, the only way to deal with a paramilitary organization like the VFW is to have a specialized paramilitary police unit to take them down, before they start terrorizing the neighborhood. Today it's poker, tomorrow it could be jaywalking, and before you know it they'll be removing the 'Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law' tags on mattresses.

    That's the kind of outlaws we're dealing with here. And you think that kid glove tactics will suffice? You dumb liberal pansies.

  • ||

    Generally speaking, such games are legal so long as the host doesn't take a cut of the prize money. Police and prosecutors determined that Chimento's collection for pizza and beer qualified as a "rake," making the game illegal.

    I don't get it. Usually, collection for pizza and beer is in addition to the buy in, and therefore isn't a piece of the prize money. By what tortured reasoning do the police and DA conclude that pizza money is a rake?

  • just me||

    Ameteurs. You're supposed to have some street thug break into the house three days before and get evidence that poker is going on there FIRST. THEN, you come in with guns blazing.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Don't forget that the informant should steal all the evidence first.

  • ||

    Am I paranoid?

    Yeah, but that doesn't mean you're wrong.

    -jcr

  • Elemenope||

    I don't get it. Usually, collection for pizza and beer is in addition to the buy in, and therefore isn't a piece of the prize money. By what tortured reasoning do the police and DA conclude that pizza money is a rake?

    Silly rabbit! Logic is for little people.

  • Paul||

    Why does this continue to bother me the way Medical Marijuana bothers me?

    Gambling shouldn't be illegal.

    But it seems we're afraid to confront that, and therefore define one type of gambling (please, playing poker is fucking gambling, it's just a gambling game of skill) as something slightly other than gambling therefore it shouldn't be illegal. Horse betting could be considered a game of skill for god's sake. Why is it that we have to create these nuanced defenses of the rights and freedoms we hold dear, which in effect legitimizes the state's desire to make something illegal which shouldn't be so in the first place?

    It's like instead of saying that sending the Jews to the gaschamber is wrong, we just try to convince everyone else we're not Jewish.

  • ||

    Have you ever been hit by a card that has been flung like a ninja weapon?!? Thank all that is Holy for Kevlar!! Those things smart!

  • Paul||

    The typical police raid of these games ... is to literally burst into a home in SWAT gear with guns drawn and treat poker players like a bunch of high-level drug dealers," says Jeff Phillips

    With respect, I disagree. It's to literally burst into a home in SWAT gear with guns drawn and treat poker players like low-level pot smokers.

  • Ska||

    Police sent a wired informant with marked bills to break up the $20 buy-in game [bold added]

    WTF? Did he bring a ten and 2 fives, or was it a ten and 10 ones....

    And that huge rake, I mean, pizza and beer money. Who really signs off on this shit? Did this guy fuck a cop's wife? That's the only thing that would make sense.

  • Ska||

    My post is a just follow up to J sub D's post.

  • ||

    Paul-

    Or, instead of emphasizing that only a fucking moron would not condemn hate speech as the very essence of totalitarianism, we just keep living the charade by parroting that we live in a free society while we condemn they who speak freely of the "chosen".

  • Fluffy||

    This story looks like it's up Radley's alley:

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090211/D969KKDG0.html

    Judges were taking bribes to sentence teenagers to privately run juvenile detention camps.

    These judges are pleading guilty and getting 7 years, but they deserve death. Today is one of my days where I believe in the death penalty, and these judges are the reason why.

    The company officers responsible for paying the bribes deserve death, too. If I had been one of the people sentenced by these judges, I would have a printout of the Articles of Incorporation on these companies from the secretary of state's office and they'd all be dead.

    And read this fucking article: one kid was sent to jail by one of these judges for insulting her high school principal on her MySpace page.

  • ||

    You know this is a victory for the lawyers.
    Courts require judges, who are lawyers, prosecuters, who are lawyers, and defense attorneys, who are lawyers.
    The more laws the more lawyers are in demand.
    Freedom means to purse your life the way you see fit, it doesn't mean free to supena your fellow man, free to give testimoney or not, free to be arrested and tried by your peers for non-violent crimes.
    Sometimes the best response, the only response to violence is violence.
    Time to call out the Libertarian militia.

  • Paul||

    These judges are pleading guilty and getting 7 years, but they deserve death. Today is one of my days where I believe in the death penalty, and these judges are the reason why.

    I always believe in the death penalty. It saves me that constant "Ok, now I believe in the death penalty" when something comes across my monitor which really, really pisses me off.

  • Nate||

    Please, keep those suggestions about legalizing poker, at least online poker, to yourselves. Otherwise, Full Tilt and PokerStars might start reporting my earnings on their sites to the IRS.

    It's funny, actually, I prefer live poker to online, and tournament poker to cash games, yet I never play tournaments in casinos, as the latter report your winnings to the IRS immediately. That's a hell of a rake!

  • ||

    Why give the state any more power? Death penalty advocates are real pussies when the rubber meets the road.

  • ||

    Fluffy-

    I certainly share your outrage. Gun to my head, would I accept the sentence of death JUST for public sector culprits and their rent seeking scum cohorts? I'm tempted-but, I just do not want to give the state that power.

  • ||

    Generally speaking, IMO, the biggest pussies tend to be:

    1. LEOs

    2. Soldiers

    3. Former LEOs and soldiers

    4. Death penalty supporters

    5. Gun owners in general

    6. Juicers

    7. Bounty hunters

    8. union boys in the trades

    9. blue collar types in general

    10. gang bangers, hoods-but less so than all of the above

  • Jim Smith||

    "libertymike | February 11, 2009, 7:23pm | #

    Paul-

    Or, instead of emphasizing that only a fucking moron would not condemn hate speech as the very essence of totalitarianism, we just keep living the charade by parroting that we live in a free society while we condemn they who speak freely of the "chosen".


    Careful Mike - your naziism is showing again.

  • ||

    Radley,

    I agree with everything you wrote except this:

    "The fact that professional poker players even exist (as opposed to, say, professional slots or roulette players) is proof that the game is driven more by strategy and skill than by luck."

    At best, the existence of (successful) professional poker players is some evidence that poker is a skill game. It does not prove it.

  • ||

    JiM Smith-

    Are you ingnorant? Can you read? I am an anarcho-free enterprise-individualist. What part of that is kosher with national socialism?

    Careful, if you say stupid, illogical things, you will be exposed.

  • ||

    Fluffy, Radley (or another reason blogger) did in fact put up a post about that; last week, I think.

  • dfd||

    Fluffy, Radley (or another reason blogger) did in fact put up a post about that; last week, I think.

    Yeah, it was Jacob Sullum who blogged it last week.

  • Jim Smith||

    Your posts make your political views quite clear. You pretend to care about freedom, but your posts are really just thinly veiled appeals to hate joos.

    And you nazis were great for freedom the last time.

  • dfd||

    Careful, if you say stupid, illogical things, you will be exposed.

    You mean stuff like:

    we just keep living the charade by parroting that we live in a free society while we condemn they who speak freely of the "chosen".

    What the hell? Of all the things that you could come up with as detracting from being a "free society" that is what you choose to single out? On a thread that about busting poker games no less? And what does it even mean? Why don't you try giving us an example. What a load of crap.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Jim Smith,

    Underdog? Is that you?

  • Jim Smith||

    Naga -

    No. Do you read Libertymike's posts?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Tommy_Grand makes an excellent point. I actually work in a casino. Poker players always brag about how successful they are, yet they are the cheapest mofos in the joint. I've actually had some complain that they don't get comped despite the fact that they bring in ZERO revenue to the casino other than them eating there. Primadonnas, every last one of em. My conclusion is that it is a game of chance governed by skill rather than a game of skill governed by luck.

  • ||

    No, Jim. You dodged the point. An anarcho-free enterpise-individualist does not glorify the state, uber alles, as national socialists did and were commanded to do so.

    You either just don't get it or you are one of those types that sees "hate" in things you do not like. That is typical of many organizations and their supporters who insist upon prosecuting and incarcerating people who say unkind things about their religion, ethnicity, national origin, race, sexual identity or favorite socialist cause.

  • Fluffy||

    Thanks, dfd

  • Naga Sadow||

    I did. What are you getting at?

  • ||

    Hey, Jim Smith, deal with the facts. Just because one is critical of Israel's propensity to commit war crimes and the confiscation of bread from the mouth of those who produce it in order to give it to a nation that practices apartheid in favor of jews, does not mean that my posts are thinly veiled appeals to hate jews. LOGIC FAIL.


    Your tactic is the typcial Dershowitzian default: CALL HIM A JEW HATER.

  • Naga Sadow||

    libertymike,

    Did we just take down a troll?

  • Jim Smith||

    Yes Mike, your posts like:
    "Or, instead of emphasizing that only a fucking moron would not condemn hate speech as the very essence of totalitarianism, we just keep living the charade by parroting that we live in a free society while we condemn they who speak freely of the "chosen".


    In a thread about poker is nothing but criticism of Israel.

    Not to mention your constant holocaust denials and numerous other whines about "zionists" in threads having nothing whatsoever to do with Israel.

    But go ahead and hide behind that old "you can't even criticize Israel without being called an anti-semite" argument.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Guess not. He was just reaching deep to find ammunition.

  • Jim Smith||

    Naga -

    Libertymike posts:
    Or, instead of emphasizing that only a fucking moron would not condemn hate speech as the very essence of totalitarianism, we just keep living the charade by parroting that we live in a free society while we condemn they who speak freely of the "chosen".

    And i'm the troll?

  • Travis||

    Naga,

    I don't know if Jim Smith is a troll or not, but libertymike has made numerous anti-semitic comments in the past.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Travis,

    Really? I wasn't aware . . . I'll start a search and verify this.

    Jim Smith,

    I took his remarks to mean that free speech is only relevant to speech that obviously is . . . impassioning. Otherwise, it has no meaning. What good is free speech if only speech that doesn't offend is protected?

  • ||

    Naga-

    Ah, maybe. Perhaps, I just can't help it.

    Much to TAOs displeasure, I like to engage with almost anybody. Last month, he did not like that I was responding to LURKERBOLD.

  • Kolohe||

    6. Juicers

    Oh, I'm sure Billy Mays and the Shamwow guy are likely far bigger pussies than Jack Lalanne.

  • Kolohe||

    Poker players always brag about how successful they are, yet they are the cheapest mofos in the joint.

    How do you think they're so sucessful? :)

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Call it luck if you wish, but I make some pretty nice pin money in my spare time from idiots who don't understand the mathematics of probability.

    At one time, my objectivist tendencies caused me to feel "dirty" for participating in what is essentially a zero-sum game.

    Then I realized that playing poker is like operating a small business: The vagaries of random chance play a role in outcome, but the person who best understands projecting into the future, and consistently applies reason, will make the best decisions regarding risk/reward.

  • ||

    Travis-

    What is an anti-semetic remark? Criticizing Israel? Criticizing Israel's apartheid practices? Criticizing AIPAC? Defending those who are incarcerated because they do not buy the propaganda that 6 million jews died in world war 2.

    Hate speech laws are an abomination. Those that support the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of people who write and say things that may offend some group are the nazis. Those that support the continued fleecing of the american taxpayer so that the racist, socialist state of Israel can continue to bolster its war machine and kill semitic peoples are anti-semetic.

  • Jim Smith||

    Naga -

    No problem. I wasn't arguing in favor of hate speech codes. I was just taking issue with Libertymike's blaming the jews for them. (then again, their is nothing for which Mike doesn't blame the jews)

  • ||

    Kolohe-

    Do you think he juiced? Oh, I get it.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    In plain English, go ahead and try to push me around when you are a 12:1 underdog. You will get lucky and hurt me once in awhile, but over the long-haul....I will think fondly of you when I am spending your money on frivolous purchases I would normally not make. :)

    Bonus: My poker winnings are "off-budget" as far as my wife is concerned.

  • ||

    Jim Smith-

    Just gotta see a Jew Hater in one who criticizes Israel and recognizes it for the racist, socialist parasite that it is.

    Tell us, Jim, what organization, more than any ohter, has spearheaded the effort to puch governments to enact hate speech legislation? This organization has also written most of the western world's hate speech legislation. Why, it is none other than the ADL. In your muddled mind, the fact that I point this out means I am a Jew hater.

    We have far too much to do to carry the day for liberty than to be worried about some groups being offended by mean things that some folks might say about them.

    If you read these here boards, you would know that I am an individualist-I abhor group think. People who get offended because another person said something they think is disparaging to their race, national origin, religion, ethnicity, are, by defintion, losers, who have a lot of grwoing to do spiritually.

  • ||

    And here I thought the biggest pussies were list-makers . . . who knew

  • Naga Sadow||

    Travis,

    It would appear you are correct.

  • Travis||

    libertymike,

    I have no problem with your views on Isreal. I agree with you on most things, including hate speech laws. You know that you have posted anti-semitic comments on here. Mike I have no problem with you personally. I just happen to know you are lying about this & you know I can prove it.

  • Travis||

    *Israel*

  • Jim Smith||

    Libertymike-

    Your hardly the only one who criticizes Israel on this site. Your the only one who gets called an anti-semite.

    Maybe its not always about Israel?

  • BakedPenguin||

    What is an anti-semetic remark? ...the propaganda that 6 million [J]ews died in [W]orld [W]ar 2.

    Wow, that was easy.

  • JB||

    Unreal. They are going after a guy for buying pizza and beer? If this was me, I think this would be the final straw. There would be some dead statist officials in South Carolina.

  • Jim Smith||

    Good catch BakedPenguin. Libertymike really is showing his true colors again tonight.

  • ||

    Who has ever played poker and still thinks it's a game of chance? "Woo, I've drawn a Royal Flush! You guys are going down now!"

  • Curious George||

    Loved the comparison between gambling laws and drug useage.

    Sort of like gay rights being the same as civil rights?

    Good to see that last remaining brain cell is working. Nuture and care for it. Its a horror to waste that last brain cell.

  • ed||

    "useless Gestapo-like tactics"

    What, like on Hogan's Heroes? But they were adorable! No one ever got hurt.

  • ||

    George, they are similar. In both cases, the state is trying to stop people from doing something they want to do that harms no one else.

  • ||

    At one time, my objectivist tendencies caused me to feel "dirty" for participating in what is essentially a zero-sum game.

    By reallocating capital from those less capable of managing it to those more capable, poker games actually create a societal good, Kant. So you should feel good about doing good while doing well.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Nick, "Curious George" is drug warrior troll "Thomas Jackson". There is no point in engaging with him. He knows that all damn druggies deserve to be in prison with murderers and rapists because THEY DID DRUGZ AND DRUGZ ARE WRONG!!!! No point in trying to engage with him - it'll lower your IQ by 20 points. Stick him in INCIF and you'll never have to read his crap again.

  • ||

    I know, I know. I also engage with Juanita. I can't help myself.

  • Fluffy||

    Kant -

    In addition, poker is also fun. That means you can consider the losses sustained by losing players an entertainment expense.

    Nothing to feel dirty about at all.

  • ||

    The issue is not whether poker is a game of luck or skill. Any intelligent person knows both play a role. The issue is whether the mere existence of professional poker players PROVES poker is a skill game. As a professional logician, I can tell you that it does not prove the argument. Millions of people play billions of poker hands. Lets assume, argunedo, that poker is 99% luck. Complexity theory predicts that, over a short term, some players will be "lucky" and win consistently. If some of the winners decide to "go pro," it will generate pro players in a 99% luck game.

    Let's say Grammy Smith, who is not a disciplined accountant, believes she usually wins money playing slots. In truth, she consistently loses a small amount - but no one is counting up her quarters.

    One day Mrs. Smith hits a nice jackpot on the Flaming 7s & gets on TV. Being a retired schoolteacher, and having no other career, she decides to call herslef a "pro slot machine player." People think this is cute. Seizing the opportunity, her grandson, who works at Harper Collins, gets a ghostwriter to pen a book called "How Granny Smith beats Vegas" & it becomes a surprise best seller.

    Does this prove slot machines are skill games?

  • Curious George||

    Baked Penguin:

    Do tell us about the merits of drug use. Try to use that single brain cell in that useless, for what of a better term, brain. It can be called a brain only by virtue of its location in the vacant space between your ears.

    Try to stop whinning and bleating so. Maybe the readers won't mistake you for such a pussy.


    You're so vapid that you can't even achieve the level of sophistry. I'll bet you are really Scott Beauchamp.

  • tassawwuf burrfoot||

    Wyatt: Didn't you always say gambling is an honest proffesion?

    Doc: No, Ah sed pokah is an honest pruffesion...



    that is all.


    ...no,

    Ike: ::takes nother long shot off bottle, curses incoherently bout 'the joos' & 'that sumbitch scott bee-chum'::....

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