Yeah, People Still Play Poker--When SWAT Isn't Arresting Them

Friday night was not a good time to get dealt in at an underground poker game. According to Friend of Unfair Park Dan Michalski--and a bunch of eyewitnesses posting their accounts to Dan's Web site, Pokerati.com--Dallas SWAT busted three cardrooms on Friday: Jackie's, JB's and Ace-High (the latter of which, Dan says, is run by the guy who, in January, will have to stand trial for running the previously cracked Aces). All the eyewitnesses say the same thing, more or less: SWAT banged on the doors or kicked in windows, entered with automatic weapons drawn and spent the night identifying and ticketing the players. Yeah, really, automatic weapons. Because if ESPN and the Travel Channel have taught us anything, it's that pale, overweight poker players are notoriously dangerous people--at least when their trips lose to a flush on the river. M-16s. Yup. I can totally see that.

Writes one of Dan's regulars: "Jackies was busted tonight...I was there...Dallas SWAT kicking in wall of glass with jackhammers...mask...automatic weapons...the whole nine yards. News cameras waiting as I left with my ticket asking if I had anything to say for the camera." Writes another witness who was at Ace-High: "SWAT came out the back door and started waving their M-16s around as the've been known to do when bringing poker players to justice. Considering that just moments earlier I thought this might be an armed robbery, I was actually kinda relieved to assume the face-down-on-the-pavement position and receive my zip-cuffs...Not a whole lot of drama after they had us all bound, lined up, searched and ticketed (for 'gambling'). Nothing too unreasonable, once the gun barrels were lowered."

This same thing happened in June: The "cast" of A&E's reality show Dallas SWAT took down the door at Aces on Irving Boulevard. They were better prepared that night, from all accounts, showing up with full diagrams of the joint--down to the number of tables and the seat positions at each, to better keep track of the players popped for playing Texas Hold 'Em. The raid even received mention from the Cato Institute's Web site, which referred to the bust and others like it across the country as examples of "frightening militarism." As I mentioned in a story about underground rooms in September, of so much force being used to bust up a lousy poker game, Bret Maverick would not have approved.

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