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houstondan
03-06-2004, 08:34 PM
anyone know the legal case(s?) that determined texas hold-em was skill and not a game of chance?? specific citations.

dan

March 6, 2004, 3:07PM



Lubbock DA calls poker tournaments illegal
Associated Press
LUBBOCK -- Do bar and restaurant card tournaments requiring entry fees and promising prize money violate state gambling laws?

District Attorney Bill Sowder says they do.

Spurred by recent attempts to hold card tournaments at Lubbock businesses, Sowder held a news conference Friday to inform owners of his stance before pursuing criminal charges.

"The law is not designed to punish the Friday night poker game at a guy's house," he said in today's editions of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "The law is not designed to throw out the football pool at the shop.

"Some people legitimately thought they were doing the right thing and didn't know they were violating the law, and we didn't want to arrest those people, even though we could," he said.

Jake's Sports Cafe recently canceled a Texas Hold'em poker tournament when law officers questioned the event's legality.

Owner Scott Stephenson said his event does not amount to gambling.

"It's no different than a golf tournament or a dart tournament," he said. "The way we're running the game, there is no bet. We don't let people bet money in the game."

The Jake's tournament would charge players entry fees and offer prizes to the winners. Instead of money, players would wager points on each hand.

But Assistant District Attorney John Grace said that when it comes to gambling, the Texas Supreme Court says points are the same as money. And because each player's odds of winning differ with each deal of the cards, poker is gambling, he said.

"It's gambling when their ability to get that prize depends on a game of chance," Grace said. "It's gambling if it involves any measure of chance."

Golf, billiards and tennis are games of skill, and therefore such tournaments are not illegal, he said.

JPB
03-06-2004, 08:48 PM
Well it may not matter given Texas law. I don't know what the Texas law is, but if the law defines games of chance as the prosecutor indicated, as anything where luck plays a part, holdem is definitely a game of chance. All poker games have an element of chance even though they are clearly games of skill.

I think you may be thinking of how California legalized stud and holdem in the '80's. Previously only draw games were legal. There may have been some bad language in old laws that had made "stud horse poker" illegal or something too. I think it was pointed out that stud and holdem require more skill than draw. Which is correct, even though draw is a game of skill. So I think you may be thinking of california. Which won't matter in Texas. And I don't know the specific case, or if it was a statutory thing as opposed to a court decision.

Troy
03-06-2004, 08:58 PM
Different state jurisdictions have different definitions of "chance" vs "skill". One ADA here (San Jose, CA) explained two people "gambling" at pool as a "Two person tournament with $xx as the entry fee and Winner-Take-All" to avoid any possibility of being charged with "gambling". If any third parties are involved, the situation changes.

Troy

Ken
03-06-2004, 09:49 PM
I'll look it up the next time I'm at the law library (probably Thursday)). If it is a California case it will still have some relevance to Texas if Texas permits gambling on games of skill. It may be that there is just too much chance involved.

The person with the least mental skills can win a poker hand is he gets the right cards and he might look highly skilled in the process. You're not going to see that happen in golf, tennis or even in pool where wagering is often exempted from the gambling laws.
KenCT

SpiderMan
03-08-2004, 12:48 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote houstondan:</font><hr>
March 6, 2004, 3:07PM
Lubbock DA calls poker tournaments illegal
Associated Press
LUBBOCK -- Do bar and restaurant card tournaments requiring entry fees and promising prize money violate state gambling laws?
&lt;snip&gt;
District Attorney Bill Sowder says they do.

But Assistant District Attorney John Grace said that when it comes to gambling, the Texas Supreme Court says points are the same as money. And because each player's odds of winning differ with each deal of the cards, poker is gambling, he said.

"It's gambling when their ability to get that prize depends on a game of chance," Grace said. "It's gambling if it involves any measure of chance."

Golf, billiards and tennis are games of skill, and therefore such tournaments are not illegal, he said.

<hr /></blockquote>

In my weekly pool tournaments, the odds of winning also vary with each break of the balls, toss of the coin, or draw for opponents. This is hair-splitting for someone's personal vendetta.

SpiderMan

Ken
03-12-2004, 09:36 AM
In CA only those games mentioned in Penal Code Section 330 are prohibited. There was an attempt to claim that Texas Hold'em was similar to Stud-Horse poker (a prohibited game) and that was determined not to be the case in TIBBETTS v. VAN DE KAMP, 222 Cal.App.3d 389 (1990)271 Cal.Rptr. 792.

There is a good discussion of the element of skill versus cahnce in poker games in BELL GARDENS BICYCLE CLUB v. DEPT. OF JUSTICE, 36 Cal.App.4th 717 (1995) 42 Cal.Rptr.2d 730. In this case it was determined that a jackpot appended to poker games is an illegal lottery even when the poker game itself is legal.

There is an Attorney General's opinion that "the 'jackpot' element of jackpot poker was illegal and that poker, itself, may be legally played at plaintiffs' cardrooms in its many forms, including lowball and draw poker games without the jackpot".

In footnote 11 of Bell Gardens v. DOJ another case is mentioned: In In re Allen, 59 Cal.2d 5, 6 the California Supreme Court articulated the test for determining whether a game is one of chance or skill, as follows: "It is the character of the game rather than a particular player's skill or lack of it that determines whether the game is one of chance or skill. The test is not whether the game contains an element of chance or an element of skill but which of them is the dominating factor in determining the result of the game."

Sorry, I didn't notice that I should have looked in Texas and not California. I did find that "Negro Pool" is considered a game of skill in North Carolina and you may bet on it. That's good to know. I have the text of the first two cases and can get any others if anyone is interested. I didn't have time to get the rules of the pool game.
KenCT

houstondan
03-13-2004, 08:16 AM
ken,

that helps. thanks for the trouble.

dan