The Scarier Side of Poker

Last weekend the San Mateo County Sheriff raided a home poker game:

San Mateo County Sheriffs Dept raids our home game (it was the season ending freeroll tourney). 10+ armed (and some heavily protected) officers stormed into the home where we play a majority of our home games. 20 of us were there for the freeroll tourney.

(For those unfamiliar, San Mateo is the county south of San Francisco.)

This also got a write-up on BoingBoing, and there are some additional accounts linked from there. There’s also a write up in the San Mateo Daily Journal:

Two people were arrested and a 13-year-old was referred to Child Protective Services after undercover officers determined a San Mateo house was holding illegal Saturday night poker games.

I can’t figure out from these reports exactly what happened, or in what way the game was illegal. It sounds like either charging a fee for food and drinks was considered illegal, or that there was a more general suspicion that one participant was scamming the others out of money.

The blogger in the first link above says that the poker group is “a tight group with over 100 friends”, but how tight can 100 people really be? That large a group, with people coming and going, seems like a risky proposition when gambling is involved. Heck, it could be as simple as someone showing up for several sessions, losing consistently, figuring he couldn’t possibly have lost because he’s a bad player, and called the cops.

So I don’t know what happened. But it does seem too bad that the police couldn’t find a way to avoid ruining the afternoon of a whole bunch of innocent people.

The frightening thing is this: What’s to stop this from happening to any home poker game? Poker is legal in California, although regulated. Where’s the line this group crossed? Or was it just one bad egg that the cops were targeting?

I wonder if we’ll ever find out?