Last month about 30 Dallas police officers raided what the local CBS affiliate described as "an illegal high stakes poker game," arresting 10 people and citing 72 others for gambling. Radley Balko highlights a detail the TV report omitted: The raid was carried out by a heavily armed SWAT team, accompanied by a camera crew filming the operation for the A&E series Dallas SWAT. "This was no Sopranos-style game where everybody's packing," Balko notes. "It was a well-known, advertised, gray-area gathering of poker fans."
According to the police, that gray area was solid black, despite the open promotion. "Playing the game [Texas Hold 'Em] is legal unless the dealer or house gets a share of the betting," explained CBS 11 News. "That's what police say was going on at the city's largest underground poker game." When I hosted poker games in Virginia, the other players would usually give me a few bucks of their winnings to help pay for beer and snacks. Does that constitute an illegal "share of the betting" in Texas? The question is more than rhetorical, since I live in Dallas now and I was thinking of getting a game together.
It sounds like the Dallas SWAT team is planning more poker raids. Citing a "reliable firsthand source," Pokerati reports that "the police had a computer-generated form, specifically designed for poker room raids. It was a chart of a poker table, with seats 1-10 numbered correctly…and as they went around ID'ing each player, they noted the individual's position at the table and possibly the size of his or her chipstack."