Houston Tourney Raided

by , Apr 13, 2008 | 9:21 pm

Harris County sheriff’s deputies raided a poker room on the northwest outskirts of Houston this afternoon. There were about 8 tables of action — a $300 tournament had just gotten underway — and 11 were arrested. Police say the raid came after two months of investigation.

Hmm, sounds kinda like the Aces bust in terms of numbers. However some key differences are that nine of the busted were charged with organized crime. Yeow! No no no … Class C misdemeanor … maybe a Class A that can be pled down! Leave it to Houston to try to outdo/be tougher than Dallas.

From the local ABC news team:

they weren’t playing ordinary poker matches. Thousands of dollars were at stake in the sophisticated operation.

“You gotta know somebody to get in. They have two doors to gain entry. It’s operated by a button to gain entry, as well as they have cameras to monitor who’s at the front door,” said an officer.

Indeed, a button to gain entry. Case closed, obviously.

One of the other players arrested got cuffed for “unlawfully carrying a weapon” and the other guy ha an outstanding warrant.

This room had reportedly been around since late last summer. We’ll see if we can’t find out more about how this all shook down, where the room went wrong, and what’s really gonna come out of these organized crime allegations.

Thanks, Jim in Houston, for the tip.

24 Comments to “Houston Tourney Raided”

  1. Nate

    Its a real shame too. I was a regular customer there and it was nice,clean,fun enviroment. The place used to be a restaurant so it had full kitchen setup. There was always great food and good people. I feel bad for the people, that got in trouble. At least 1 of them used to deal at the Palms when it got busted so this would be his 2nd offense. What really sucks is I felt safer there than I did where I could gamble legally
    (Louisiana). If anyone that played there reads this and knows of another place around here email me at nate618@gmail.com. I do not understand why Texas will not just put up casinos. Everytime I drive to Louisiana more than half the people there are from Texas. Everyone knows we could use the revenue to help pay for all the construction around town.

  2. Observer

    A dealer? Really??? Cuz I have it on Very Good Authority that the reason the Palms folks were all true-billed for felonies was that one of the dealers flipped.

    Lessons learned:
    1) KEEP YOUR NEIGHBORS HAPPY! Do not have multi-table tournaments on weeknights. Have a location where parking is simply not an issue. Give no cause for complaint to your fellow tenants. (It helps to have your game in a warehouse/office complex; many after-hours clubs do this for this precise reason.)
    2) DON’T ADVERTISE ON THE INTERNET! This, in and of itself, may be enough to earn a true-bill fron the Grands, especially if you advertise your low low rake as a feature. (Note to runners: did you know that not only your emails but also your text messages to players are not only recoverable, but subject to subpoena? Especially the ones where you brag about your low low rake…)
    3) SCREEN YOUR PLAYERS _AND_ YOUR EMPLOYEES! It is medium-common knowledge who the rat(s) was at Palms. But vice changes their MO often enough anyway. Safest bet: never hire anyone you don’t know, don’t let in strange players without solid references.

  3. another observer

    They had been watching the room and playin there for two months.(The vices assigned to the case) There had been a camera hidden in an ATM machine in the room by HPD for over 6 months. They were waiting for a high stake tourney like this to make the bust. Its a high profile case, to “lead by example”. My sibling was a dealer, who was arrested. Its a class c felony. The case was reset until the end of the month. The game runner recieved a warning on Friday from Harris Co, that ” If you dont shut down this card game. We will”. With no warning to her players or dealers: she was money hungry and let the game go on, now she will have to deal with the consequences. There are still games going on a a sister room in the area formly known as the green room. As far as the people who got arrested that worked there, they have know figured out who the runner is and the two game runners paid everyones bond as well as hired a lawyer. Two of the dealers were arrested at the palms previously.

  4. DanM

    Does anyone know how the Palms cases are progressing? Still too early to say?

    Houston seems to be handling this with MUCH more severity than Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Cristi, etc.

    Strong means weak?

  5. Bundas

    I played last night is a room very close to the one busted and everyone there was talking and all had a different take on it. But with everyone talking about the room down the road I was able to turn my buy-in to just under 1K in a 1-3 NL game so for me Houston Rocks! Was a nice room good people and I felt welcome. Maybe not so much when I cashed out but overall a nice place! Ok time to bring winnings back to Vegas so I can donate them to Dan. Dan do you ever just feel dirty being a pimp?

  6. DanM

    Bundas, pimps are so 1990s. You should know that the hookers in Vegas now work on an affiliate system. As to dirty, I do when I go more than two days without a shower.

    So you dig the Houston poker scene, huh? It sounds similar to Dallas in 2005-06. But man, what’s with the felony charges? Can’t decide if I love it or hate it. Obviously no poker operator in Texas deserves felony charges, but in the long-run could be a good thing when it comes to beating them.

    Higher risk, higher reward?

  7. Bundas

    Dan, I only like the sene when I win. And yes pimps are out of date so it might time for you to buy the new wardrobe soon. See you in Vegas.

  8. Bundas

    I only like the scene when I win. And I agree that pimpen had been out for some time so time to get a new wardrobe.

  9. Jouer

    Higher risk, higher reward?

    Who knows – maybe – high risk, more chances to loose everything )

  10. pkrporcupine

    hey dan, Im worried about the ppl that were busted. email me and let me know if it was someone I know cause I would like to help em out if I can

  11. Sabwarfare

    I was one of the dealers arrested in the raid at 4:30pm Sunday April 13 2008. all the dealers were taken to a nearby courthouse for a few hours so we could be processed and such then we were transported to county jail downtown. We stayed there doing more processing and moving between holding tanks until Monday, around 11am-noon, and some later that day.

    During our stay in jail our bonds(bails ranged from $2000-$5000) were payed around 1:30am and posted in the system around 8am. We were scheduled for court the next morning, which was basically a reschedule appearence. we met our lawyer that day as well. All of which is being payed for so the dealers don’t come out of pocket for this.

    Currently we are charged with Organized Crime, Felony. Charges should be reduced to Misdemeanor C, or dismissed for some (hopefully).

  12. Sabwarfare

    We went to court and rescheduled again

  13. DanM

    Thanks for keeping us updated Sabwa. Now it’s starting to feel a little more like Dallas. If this keeps happening, it means the prosecutors are going, “Fuck, it’s hard to make a case.”

    The scary thing in Houston, of course, are the felony organized crime charges. While we all know that underground poker is the definition of DISorganized crime, RICO statutes tend to be very liberally applied. But if I’m not mistaken … those are federal laws, and these poker cases are state issues.

  14. Yet Another Observer

    In regards to #3 “Observer” commentary … 1) The hidden camera thing in the ATM is flat out not true 2) There is no such thing as a Class C Felony … they are all charged with State Jail Felonies (as opposed to a First, Second or Third Degree Felony) of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity and 3) It is ludicrous to think that the proprietor kept the room open out of greed knowing that they would face a felony charge.

  15. Yet Another Observer

    Dan, No need to post this, but for your edification ….. In regards to the disposition of the Palms cases …. They have all been settled … 4 deferred State Jail Felonies (Engaging), 4 Class A Misdemeanors (Gambling) and the remaining (about 8 ) with Class C Misdemeanors (Gambling).

  16. DanM

    That’s cool, Yao, it’s good info … a lot of people want to know. WE appreciate you keeping us up to date.

    Can you tell us more about the deferred state jail felonies?

    If they are required to not run poker rooms for a certain period of time … how long do they have to stay clean. (This could be an issue for at least a few poker-room people I know.)

    And does the charge drop down after x number of months to a misdemeanor, or does it go away completely?


  17. Yet Another Observer

    Dan …. The State Jail Felony defendants received deferred adjudications for 2 years (in addition to a $2000 fine). The felony charges are dropped after 2 years but the “charge” of a felony cannot be taken off the defendant’s record for 7 years after the completion of the deferment. At that, it can be removed, but will always be available to any law enforcement agency (State or Federal). Obviously, none of those folks can either run or play at a room during the period of deferment. Well, not that they CAN’T, but if caught, then their deferred sentence would become a conviction and they would have to serve the 2 year term (sounds a bit risky) as well as face the new charges.

  18. DanM

    Yikes, that’s a lot harsher than anything that went down in Dallas County (or Travis, Collin, El Paso, Nueces, et elsewhere).

    So can these people vote during the deferment?

    You realize, of course, the thing that really matters to the police is the money they confiscate. They can now use that to throw a ragin’ party put toward other poker room busts.

    Did anyone think about fighting these charges (the stiffest I’ve seen in Texas yet).

  19. Yet Another Observer

    Yes … My understanding is that fighting the felony charges was considered, but in addition to the testimony of the dealers, players and undercover officers, they had testimony of a dealer (Joey Pow…) that was at the bust, not working, but had worked there as well as both of the other large clubs in town. He specifically gave them information about who was who and what was what. He was evidently very forthcoming with the information and was considered the star witness for the prosecution after his testimony. All things considered, the attorneys felt the case was a slam-dunk for the prosecution. And no … they can’t vote.

  20. Alli

    Is there a way to find out who the “consumers” were that were arrested? We have an acquaintence in Houston that we have been unable to get in touch with and we know that he frequented the poker rooms there. I hate that this has happened and we are very concerned.

  21. Yet Another Observer

    Alli … There were no players arrested (only alleged employees of the etablishment). You could however check with Houston PD Vice as I would suspect that information is public record.

  22. a passer by

    yet another room busted just a week ago, today. In Spring, a dealer friend told me around 35 players were there but only I think 5 dealers and a game runner were arrested. The situation at Our place resulted in all being charged with gambling paying fines between $100 and $500 some were dismissed altogether. In the meantime sister rooms mentioned above are still going strong, new rooms have sprung up in the area.

  23. Nichole

    Can someone email or text me where i can play in SW Houston please.

  24. crazy dave