Victory in Pennsylvania Poker Prosecution

Victory in Pennsylvania Poker Prosecution January 25, 2009

A judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed charges against two people who were arrested for running an illegal gambling operation – a simple home game of $1/$2 hold em.

“The Court finds that Texas Hold’em poker is a game where skill predominates over chance. Thus, it is not ‘unlawful gambling’ under the Pennsylvania Code.” That was the order of Columbia County, Pennsylvania Judge Thomas James.

The case included two defendants, Walter Watkins and Diane Dent, who were involved in running a $1/$2 no-limit Hold’em game at Watkins’ house. The only game played was Texas Hold’em and no rake was charged. However, the players were encouraged to tip dealers from pots won.

Sounds just like my home game. Here’s the crazy part:

Undercover Pennsylvania State Troopers attended the game multiple times while building a case against the defendants. Most of those who were charged plead out in order to put the event behind them. However, Watkins and Dent, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, fought the charges on the grounds that Texas Hold’em is a game of skill, not chance, and therefore not considered “gambling” under Pennsylvania law. PA law specifically defines gambling as games that rely predominately on chance.

They sent in undercover agents to infiltrate a $1/$2 home poker game where no rake was being taken. Seriously, do they not have real crimes to investigate? This wasn’t even a case where the house was profiting from the game, for crying out loud. Absolutely absurd.

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