Posts Tagged ‘underground-games’

Front Page Poker

by , Jan 25, 2009 | 9:43 am

First, my apologies to any loyal Pokeratizens who may or may not be run out of business in a fully legal poker environ. You know I respect (most of) your game(s) … the Morning News called asking for my informed opinion, and I shared it with the reporter. It seemed like she was unbiased and getting our points — raids+robberies+I-35=bad — but you never know with real journos … there’s always a few quotes that can be taken out of context and/or used against you if they have an agenda. But I decided to take the risk … and I think I’m happy with the results.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about … click here to read the story about efforts to legalize poker in Texas that appeared on the front page of today’s (Sunday) DMN.

Be sure to read the comments, too … 35 of them so far. They are overall very encouraging, particularly because much of the support seems to come from people who care more about proper Texas governance than they do poker. (It certainly doesn’t appear that any representatives will lose any votes over supporting this issue.)

And, of course, if you haven’t sent your email to Joe Straus et al. yet … well you suck here’s the link:

Support legal poker in Texas.

Poker, Law are Both Skill Games

PA attorney convinces court that Texas Hold’em is not “unlawful gambling”

by , Jan 21, 2009 | 8:21 am

Pete Campana, esq.

We clearly have our first finalist for Best Poker Lawyers ’09: Pete Campana of Williamsport, PA, successfully defended two clients caught up in an undercover police investigation into a $1/$2 NL game held in a garage (a dealer and a garage operator) on the grounds that they couldn’t have been engaged in any sort of gambling under Pennsylvania law — because poker is a game of skill.

Click here to read the complete ruling. (via PPA-premium.)

But in a nutshell, what Campana convinced successfully convinced the courts:

Commonwealth and Defendant both agree the controlling issue is whether Texas Hold’em poker is “unlawful gambling” under the Crimes Code.

… the controlling sub-issue is whether Texas Hold’em is a game of skill or chance, or, if both, does skill trump chance or vice-versa. Simply, if chance predominates, Texas Hold’em is gambling. If skill predominated, it is not gambling.

… Pennsylvania courts have not specifically addressed the issue … Our courts have found that poker is gambling within the context of the Liquor Code.

… With the advent of internet poker and tournament poker has come a spate of very intrusive law review analyses of gambling law and poker.

… Using the predominance test, in conjunction with analyzing skill versus chance using the four prong dominant factor test, it is apparent that skill predominates over chance in Texas Hold’em poker.

… Skill comes with varying degrees of competence, but that is the case with any competition involving skill.

The academic studies and experts generally agree that a player must be skillful to be successful at poker. At the outset, chance is equally distributed among the players. But the outcome is eventually determined by skill. Successful players must possess intellectual and psychological skills. They must know the rules and the mathematical odds. The must know how to read their opponents “tells” and styles. They must know when to hold and fold and raise. They must know how to manage their money.

This court finds that Texas Hold’em poker is a game where skill predominates over chance. Thus, it is not “unlawful gambling” under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

Cereus Launches Today

by , Nov 25, 2008 | 6:23 am

Reminded via a Tiffany Michelle MySpace status update — “Excited about the Cereus launch this week!”:

The player pools, tables, tourneys, etc. from Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet magically merge today.

Trying to keep an open mind … because theoretically it is possible that the combination of two sites caught in the biggest cheating scandals in the nascent history of the online poker industry — having learned painful lessons firsthand — could become a paragon of integrity and security, a model for fully legal American online poker in the future.

But I just can’t help to think back to the Dallas underground … when a saturated market had rooms and games beginning to merge, two shady operators joining forces seldom led to anything good (save for some pretty juicy opening-weekend tourneys).

That’s my bias, I suppose … but with that in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think of how one of these sites seemed rotten at the core (with the exception of Mark Seif, I’ve yet to hear any former employee say anything good about Absolute), and the other … well, sure, they’ve changed management and have plenty of good peeps working for them (Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Mean Gene, et al.) … but the top of the pyramid hasn’t really changed as far as we can tell. And with all due respect to those who are just trying to throw good poker times … the mysterious, closely-guarded nature of Tokwiro+Kahnawake+UB+Chief Joe operating on the protected lands of the Mohawk Nation (with offices in Costa Rica) … that’s the definition of shady! Sorry, it just is.

Still, with $22 million in refunds, the action’s gotta be good.

Is the Austin Poker Scene Moving from Raids to Robberies?

by , Nov 19, 2008 | 12:44 pm

I’m outta touch, but I’m hearing stuff. Supposedly there was a robbery in Austin in late October where someone got shot? Anyone know more about this?

From what I do understand, most of the games in Austin are small — two or three tables max — and the dudes who run them are friendly. Semi-shady on occasion, but overall good guys running games in true Austin, communal style. However, I also hear that as the games get weak, they’re a little more lax on who gets in — anything to keep that rake moving — so corners are being cut when it comes to security.

Am I out in left field on this one? Any info on the robbery with gunfire would be greatly appreciated.

November Nine in the Non-Poker Media

by , Nov 2, 2008 | 9:37 pm

photo: Flipchip / LasVegasVegas
Ylon Schwartz, en route to the final table.

For all those negatively noting that the delayed final table isn’t bringing the hype it promised … patience, patience … it’s coming: The New York Times just took note of their hometown favorite, Ylon Schwartz. He’s an interesting character — basically quasi-degenerate meets chess wizard with a soft spot in his heart for kids. His dad left when he was age 2, and his mom died five years ago. He got his start in the New York underground, going 2-for-2 in his first tournaments to win $12,000, giving him the bankroll with which, perhaps unknowingly, he would embark on a new career.

Since Schwartz’s making the WSOP final table, his father has been in touch to be his best friend, and he has basically told him to fuck off.

These are the kind of compelling stories that will come out, regardless of what we in the poker media do or do not have to say about it. And this is why, prediction here: the Live-ish broadcast of the WSOP main event final table on ESPN will be a huge ratings hit.

Remember, the Olympics spends four years and billions of dollars generating, at best, a few months of hype around a few weeks of activity. By scale, it’s only realistic to expect a few months of work (and a few million dollars?) to generate just a few days of hype around an event that takes place over a day-and-a-half.

Dallas Poker Bandits/Killers Still a Danger?

Reports of Armed Robbery in Cedar Hill

by , Oct 19, 2008 | 10:29 pm

I was just doing a little research earlier today on the status of the unsolved Arlington, TX, poker homicide. While I hadn’t come across anything new yet regarding pursuit of the killer(s), I had been hearing that all was calm and comfortable in the D-town underground. I was supposing this only made sense — as surely the poker bandits had learned the guy they shot died (sorry, I’m still working on getting the victim’s actual name) … and the one silver lining if you could find one in death is that it probably meant an end to their reign of poker havoc.

It had to just be too risky, robbing poker games in Dallas now … with a potential murder charge should they get caught. After all, the DPD has a pretty good idea who the gun-toting, ski-mask donning poker thugs are … rooms have been getting hit in similar fashions for about a year-and-a-half … or at least a short-list of primary suspects. And while that’s no guarantee that the string of robberies in Dallas is connected to the homicide at an Arlington apartment game … shit, even Pokerati knows of more similarities than just “two black guys” that would at least merit a look by law enforcement.

Or so I thought … From a Patrick the Pokerati commenter:


you hear about the same robbery bandits strike again. This time in an asian home game in Cedar Hill. Gated $500K homes community. Very bold. Same MO tall black and short black… guns.. police arrived just 2 mins too late…

Sigh … I had not heard about this, but now I have.

Not sure what to make of this — reliable sources, please feel free to share any info …


Murder in the Dallas Underground?

Attempted robbery in Arlington went awry; shots fired, one killed

by , Sep 9, 2008 | 6:46 pm

Two masked men showed up at a poker game in a South Arlington apartment complex a week or so ago … they knocked on the door, one player got up to answer, and upon realizing that the game was about to be robbed, he struggled to shut the door. Commotion ensued as it became an inverse tug-of-war to see whether the robbers would be getting in or the poker players would be able to keep them out. After a few seconds of scuffle, shots rang out — eight, maybe 10 — at which point players and the dealer fled in the other direction, out a back door, jumping off the balcony. (Not sure if it was from the second or third floor — but three of them suffered minor injuries as a result.)

The player who originally got up from the table to answer the knock (“John” is all I know of his name right now) got hit by at least three bullets … one in the shoulder, one in the leg, and one somewhere else … and he died last night from blood-related complications to his wounds.


AP and UB Merge to Form Criminally Questionable Supersite

Bodog loses position as industry badboy

by , Jul 24, 2008 | 5:45 pm

Ah, it reminds me of the good-ole-days of the Dallas underground … when a bunch of rooms got ruffled every so often you’d see the merger of a few “bad guys'” games and would be kinda surprised but not really.

With an investigatory explanation due out in a few days, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet are merging to form a new site — now the third largest in the world — called “Cereus” — the name for a desert cactus that stands strong and stays prickly in even the harshest environments. A related species is the Cereus uruguayanus, which may or may not lend credence to Oliver’s prediction that very soon the WSOP will move to Montevideo we could see the WSOP in Punta del Este.

The name could also have been inspired by the night-blooming variety:

One of the strangest plants of the desert, the Night-bloomiing Cereus is a member of the Cactus Family that resembles nothing more than a dead bush most of the year. It is rarely seen in the wild because of its inconspicuousness. But for one midsummer’s night each year, its exquisitely scented flower opens as night falls, then closes forever with the first rays of the morning sun.

Aww, so sad, and yet so precious and sweet …

Another operation with a claim to the Cereus name is Bacillus Cereus:

an endemic, soil-dwelling, Gram-positive, rod-shaped, beta hemolytic bacteria that … is known to create heavy nausea, vomiting, and abdominal periods.

Supposedly, according to the first link in this post, this site is gonna be great — it’s the result of all sorts of innovative technology and customer service. The announcement says nothing about it being all cleaned up with the best security out there — and from a PR perspective can you blame them? — even though theoretically this company should have more knowledge than anyone else about how a site’s integrity can be compromised.

Programmer reveals his secrets …

Rise of the (Real) Poker Bots

Artificial opponents emerge from Dallas underground, collude online

by , Jun 10, 2008 | 3:14 pm

A declared working poker bot operation in Dallas, TX, and on PokerStars.

A fascinating (if not challenging) story that you can only presume would be of great interest to anyone in the online poker-room security biz, or anyone who wants to philosophize on the meaning of “good for poker”:

How I Built a Working Online Poker Bot, Part 3: The Million Dollar Pet Project

The programmer in question draws inspiration from Big Blue, the IBM supercomputer that challenged chess champ Gary Kasparov. And thus, at any given time online, here’s what you’re potentially up against:

click to enlarge

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

OK, I’m Interested in the Ladies Event Again

And Jean-Robert Bellande’s Video Blog?

by , Jun 8, 2008 | 8:13 pm

Teddy “The Iceman” Munroe: Watch out for this guy. Tough to play against.

Tom is was the chip leader in the $2k Omaha Hi-Lo. That’s pretty cool.

UPDATE: Tom is out. Not cool.

And that limit event he busted out of yesterday … Erick Lindgren just missed the final table, which is now set with some interesting players, including Teddy Munroe, Ali Eslami, and Vinny Vinh. (Teddy and I go way back — last year I’d be typing outside and “The Iceman” would fill me in on the $100-$200 cash action while taking a piss on the tournament tent air conditioners. “Makin’ money, baby!” he’d say before shaking himself dry and heading back to the table.)

Even the $10k 7-Stud World Championship is getting interesting … with Doyle still alive and both Bob and Maureen Feduniak with the potential to become the first ever husband-wife presumably non-collusive team at the final table. Never mind. Since typing this, all the above-mentioned have been eliminated.

I learned about this 7-Stud shape-up from the a WSOP-TV vid. And though I tend to detest any lack of imbeddability, I gotta say I like a lot of what this ESPN/WSOP/Bluff (?) crew has got going here. For example, Harmonie Krieger does a basic feature video interview set on the different jobs people come to the WSOP from. Nice enough, right? — but very real when one of the guys she talks with is Jay Columbo, who ran the legendary Mayfair and Playstation poker clubs in New York City, legally questionable status notwithstanding.

And then, perhaps most shocking to me, I enjoyed Jean-Robert Bellande’s “Surviving the WSOP” — where the young, aspiring Eskimo Clark chronicles his ups and downs at the World Series while his video-podcast editors comment Pop-up Video-style — follow along as he hustles high-rollers for buy-ins.

Even learned something from Phil Ivey’s less exciting V-log … and that is that he’s playing so many big-field, low-buy-in donkfests because he has a lot of side action pending on whether or not he’ll win a bracelet this year. We’ll see if we can’t find out more about this.

Speaking of donkfests, the Ladies Event has already lost 2/3 of its starting field, and of those still remaining, at least three of them are Pokerati MySpace friends: Lacey Jones, Kathy Liebert, and Mandy Baker are looking strong and pretty much representing the spectrum of all that is good about women. Go girls! I mean chicks … er babes .. uh bitches?

UPDATE: Lacey is nursing a short stack. Poker Roadie Amanda Leatherman has come on strong, however, and picked up the aggressive pace. Michele Lewis, Tiffany Michele, and PokerNews editrix Haley Hintze are all out.

In the meantime, primarily because it is awesomely embeddable, check out the debut episode of The Degenerate Report, from Neverwin Poker:

Re: Dallas (Underground) Poker on Film

by , May 15, 2008 | 12:51 pm

Danielle in New York writes in with a little more info about the film project they’ve got working:

Another thing you can add if people are being hesitant to being interviewed or showing us their room, we have filmed in underground poker rooms in NYC. I don’t know how familiar you are with the scene in NY but a couple years ago a big bust broke up a lot of the more well known poker rooms in the city. About 6 months before these busts we were able to film in one of the clubs and interview the owner. Unfortunately since the big bust, its been hard to come by more games in the NYC Area.

One angle I’d love to take while in Dallas, it to interview someone who could talk about all the raids either as someone who was at one of the raids or someone who ran a room that got raided. Of course, if there is an issue of not given out the name of a room or the name of the person we are interviewing, we will abide in any way possible to make everyone comfortable.

I’m not sure how much I got into the extensiveness of our project but our goal is to make the most definitive and comprehensive film about poker in America. We’ve gone everywhere from Vegas to New Orleans to Saratoga Springs to Oklahoma. We’ve interviewed people within the poker community including Annie Duke, Jeffrey Pollack (Commissioner of the WSOP), Phil Hellmuth, Steve Lipscomb (CEO of WPT), Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker, amateur poker players, tournament directors, and poker room mangers from casinos across the US.

So there you have it … I wonder if the poker-room people they end up talking to will be “good” or “bad” gamerunners representing the Dallas scene.

Dallas (Underground) Poker on Film?

by , May 14, 2008 | 5:00 pm

There’s a legitimate New York film-making outfit working on a documentary about the history of poker … and next week they’ll be in Dallas. Naturally, because it has such a relevant role, they want to talk about the Dallas underground — and they’re asking me for contact info for people to talk to, games to see, etc.

I’ve talked with a lot of you before about doing something similar with local news crews — but perhaps not shockingly, ever since the first newscaster to sneak a hidden camera into the Dallas underground ended up getting engaged to the (already married) Chief of Dallas police around the same time her station got a sweeps-week exclusive showing SWAT teams busting up three games simultaneously, most of the “good guys” in the Dallas poker scene have been a little shy about opening their doors to the media … even with assurances that no one would give up any identifying info.

(Ahh, remember the good-ole-days when Stagecoach used to openly run its ballin’ website and pay little-ole poker websites for ads the Observer couldn’t run?)

Anyhow, so this outfit, 4th Row Films, is offering the same guarantees that they will protect identities and locations. Personally I think it would be a shame for this part of poker not to be seen. But I respect the fact people who run these games generally do so to support their gambling addictions families … so I’m not giving out any phone numbers or email addresses without any special OKs. I have, however, suggested they simply drive around to area strip malls looking for the telltale white, wireless doorbells — but that doesn’t seem to be giving them confidence as they fly their people and equipment to town. So if you happen to run a game in Dallas and would like your room to live on long after you die/get arrested and have to plea bargain down your misdemeanor … send me an email and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the right people.

Aloha Poker

by , Jan 7, 2008 | 9:43 am

Certain serendipities seem to guide so many of us …

I just got a call from a myspace friend who is ready to ditch the Dallas poker scene and relocate to Hawaii. So she wanted to know if I knew of any games there. While flattered by the inference that I would be connected to a criminal enterprise in the middle of the Pacific ocean, I did not … however, just two days ago I played with a guy in a $200 Binion’s tournament who was from Hawaii — think Fubu with a really good tan and semi-Asian eyes — and he talked for at least an orbit about the underground games on Oahu and Molokai. So I know they exist, but that’s about it. Considering that he busted out early in level two — dude, do you really wanna get it all-in with top-pair-top-kicker, even if you are ahead? — I gotta think the games in the 50th United State might be decent. Does anyone know firsthand?

NOTE: Apparently when you suck out on someone to send them home, you should be saying “Aloha,” not “Mahalo.” Who knew!?!

UPDATE: Here’s probably a good place for non-police howlies to begin finding their way into the Hawaiian underground. For some reason I think they might know someone who knows someone …