Poker Expansion in Detroit

This time, charity helps the game, horsetracks

by , Feb 4, 2009 | 12:37 am

Interesting story out of Detroit, about a struggling horse track (and thriving bowling alleys) suddenly offering No-Limit Texas Hold’em … thanks to a little legally creative finagling that allows third-party fundraisers to run poker games to benefit properly accredited tax-exempt endeavors.

You follow? Basically they’re taking something akin to the old Red Men’s model … run a game, make sure some charity really does get a cut … and making it fit within Michigan law. Presumably inspired by the recent success in Florida with poker rooms in race tracks.

They’re limited to running games four days at a stretch, so each week is technically a different event, with a different charitable recipient. The first beneficiary was a high school theater club. Should be interesting to see who lines up to get in on the action.

UPDATE: Though the above news article is only a couple hours old, according to the Northville Downs website, they’ll be running games 7 days a week starting, um, tomorrow.

Here’re more specifics about the charity hold’em set-up in Northville, and for folks in Texas and other states fighting to play the game above-ground … a glimpse of what even barely legal poker could look like. You’ll NOTE: It’s not just NLH … they’ve got a $1/$2 Hold’em/Omaha round-of-each game, and $3/$6 Omaha Hi-Lo.

NEATO: Northville is an outer Detroit suburb, and the new poker room is located right off 8 Mile road — Eminem’s hood! (Or at least his street.)

UPDATE UPDATE: OK, really, I had no idea how much charity poker action there was in Michigan. Check it out. So I guess what’s new is just that the horse tracks are finally getting on board, realizing the slot machines and/or “video lottery terminals” they’ve been fighting for just may never come. Lesson for Texas horse tracks?


5 Comments to “Poker Expansion in Detroit ”


  1. Poker Shrink
    says:

    As a former resident, I can attest that “illegal” poker rooms have been flourishing in Michigan for several years. For some reason poker is not a target of the cops there.


  2. DanM
    says:

    Wait, I don’t get it. So these charity games have been considered to be illegal for a long while?

    In retrospect, I really shoulda ran with a “Barely Legal Poker” hed.


  3. Kevin Mathers
    says:

    Great Lakes Downs, a former thoroughbred racetrack, also ran poker tournaments before they the track shut down late 2007.


  4. David Alexander
    says:

    I played poker in michigan a couple years back…. Don’t remember where… but, do remember it was a sizable casino…

    One of the dealers even told me, that they had heard we were trying to get poker in Texas and said…. don’t worry… it’ll eventually pass…..

    Also, their rake was by the down and every player had to pay… Like $6 per person per down if I remember right.


  5. on_thg
    says:

    Charity poker is LEGAL in Michigan, has been for several years now, and at each of the places I’ve played it’s run in most respects just like a casino. Rake is usually 10%/$5 max. No time charges, nothing charged per down.

    Kevin Mathers is right that Great Lakes Downs hosted a charity room for a couple years before the track shut down. Tournaments and usually several tables of cash. That game has moved to Rafferty’s in Muskegon.

    The Umich site linked in the update above has quite a few of the rooms on the east side of the state, but there are rooms in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland and I think Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Jackson at least.

    Pretty much all of these rooms operate on the rotating charity basis – fixed location, same operator at all times, different charities. The state limits the number of nights a charity can be “in charge” and also limits the number of chips that can be sold.