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Oct 30 2012

Florida Keeps World Safe From Poker Players

Here’s yet another story about a police raid on a poker game, but it’s even worse than most such stories. This game didn’t even have a buy-in. It was a free tournament at a restaurant, where the winners get prizes and the restaurant gets the extra business. Clearly a threat to public safety, so they had to send in heavily armed cops to break it up and arrest people.

The Nutz Poker League, which was running a free game open to the public at Louie’s Grill and Sports Bar at the time of the crackdown, said on its Facebook page that some of the police were in “full riot gear” and had their “weapons drawn.”

The tournament’s 140 players reportedly were told to stop what they were doing, and when the dust settled, six were arrested and accused of being involved with a “gambling house.”

One woman present described the event in a blog post: “Today, while out playing poker with this poker league, we were raided by the [Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco], all with men and women officers wearing black masks so we couldn’t see their faces. We were forced (by a threat of going to jail) to place our hands on the table where they could see them and to stay there until we were told.”

Felony charges have been filed, according to the league. Under Florida law, the felonies would be in the third degree and could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

And then they violated the First Amendment too:

Luke Lirot, an attorney involved with the matter, told Card Player that players took cell phone photos and video of the raid, and that they were “ordered by officers to delete” the material.

I feel so much safer now that the scourge of free poker games has been eliminated, don’t you?

16 comments

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  1. 1
    Bronze Dog

    Complete madness, as always. It really disgusts me that so many law enforcement bodies keep finding excuses to show off their toys.

  2. 2
    Die Anyway

    The article that Ed links to mentions the location as Largo (which is correct), but I had found another article that kept saying it took place in Tampa. We’re on the other side of Tampa Bay from Tampa. In any case, Loiue’s is just up the road a piece from my house. I don’t play poker so it won’t affect me but it sounds as if it operates much like the Trivia Nights at many bars. I wonder if they will raid those too?

  3. 3
    alwayscurious

    Leads one to ask, is this the best possible use of time & money for the “Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco”, breaking up a free poker game?

  4. 4
    Doug Little

    Somebody’s contribution to the policeman’s ball must have got lost in the mail.

  5. 5
    eric

    How is a free tournament legally different from a raffle or other legal giveaway?

    How about a free tournament where the prize is a certain number of raffle tickes (e.g. 1st = 100, 2nd = 50, 3rd = 10) and then you raffle off prizes?

  6. 6
    tomh

    As Barney Frank said about the online poker crackdown last year, it amounts to, “protecting the public from the scourge of inside straights.”

  7. 7
    baal

    I have to wonder what’s the back story. Does this raid team not brief ahead of time? Do they just suit up a jump in any time the local chief says jump? SWAT is para-military with big guns and stuff. I’d feel better if they are fairly constrained and not as distractalbe as a cat is with a laser pointer.

  8. 8
    robb

    now if they could only do something about those bingo games in retirement homes.

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    Worst episode of Miami Vice ever.

    “I feel so much safer now that the scourge of free poker games has been eliminated, don’t you?”

    Everybody knows that poker is a gateway game. First, they’re going “all in”, and the next you know they’re in some rat infested back alley playing baccarat!

  10. 10
    Moggie

    Luke Lirot, an attorney involved with the matter, told Card Player that players took cell phone photos and video of the raid, and that they were “ordered by officers to delete” the material.

    Need an app which uploads the video in real time. Sorry, officer, it’s already on the net. Good luck deleting it!

  11. 11
    Dr X

    Jeez. Don’t pick up the dinner tab when you’re out with your wife in Largo. She might be charged with prostitution after twenty paramilitary cops mace, tackle and cuff her.

  12. 12
    had3

    Got to protect the casinos! If people are sufficiently entertained for free, how will they lose their money to the casinos?

  13. 13
    tacitus

    I have to wonder what’s the back story. Does this raid team not brief ahead of time? Do they just suit up a jump in any time the local chief says jump? SWAT is para-military with big guns and stuff.

    The Largo police chief says that he had nothing to do with the operation, and had no power to prevent the Florida ABT from carrying our the raid. He said that they were on the scene only because the ABT asked them to be there to help maintain order.

    The tragic and idiotic thing in all this is that if they were so intent on enforcing this statute, a single 10 cent phone call would have likely been enough to shut down the entire poker league. Instead, if the prosecutions continue, it will cost the Florida tax payers millions of dollars before it’s all over and done with.

  14. 14
    eric

    Need an app which uploads the video in real time. Sorry, officer, it’s already on the net. Good luck deleting it!

    This is a partial cure to a lot of ills. When it becomes absolutely standard for phones to send data to a remote server, and therefore the police absolutely know there’s no way to get rid of the evidence, I have to think that its going to change some behavior. But maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe instead police departments start contracting with defense companies to produce EMPs.

  15. 15
    ebotebo

    Wow! Yet I can say this, I will never venture anywhere close to Florida! It seems the south is more than full of the cretinously stupid, the densely bigoted, unknowledgable and cornfed, hayseeded rubes!!!

  16. 16
    dmcw

    So long as they eliminate the scourge that is chess, I will be happy.

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