Poker clubs operating in Texas despite state’s stance against gambling

Poker clubs operating in Texas despite state's stance against gambling
Game operator in Houston says he lives within the letter of state law

Poker players have a message for the Texas Legislature: Let the people play.

Houston poker player Michael Eakman is one of several Texas entrepreneurs who believe they have found a way to conduct legal gambling on poker at restricted private clubs.

A Houston native, Eakman, 51, has loved the game of poker since a young age and hosted poker tournaments across the country. Three months ago, Eakman brought the controversial game to his home town by opening Mint Poker in Southeast Houston.

The establishment is a private, membership-based, poker club where people can gamble real money in friendly poker games and competitive tournaments.

Eakman said his club escapes being governed by Texas gambling laws because he does not take a share of any gambled money, also known as raking the pot. Instead, the club charges membership fees for players seeking to play in the club.

“In our conversations with the city attorney here in our jurisdiction, we made everyone aware of what we were doing before we even signed the lease,” Eakman said. “I certainly don’t want to challenge anyone to bring a court case, but I think at the end of the day we’re handling this by being proactive instead of reactive is the way to do this … There are no regulations and guidelines other than the narrow scope of a very vague law.”

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