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Nine Arrested after Police Raid Two Houston Poker Clubs

Tags: Houston, poker club, police, Post Oak Poker Club, Prime Social Poker Club, raid.
Posted on 13 May 2019 by "T".

Local police raided a pair of Houston poker clubs, arresting their owners and operators last Wednesday, May 1, after a two-year investigation confirmed they were money laundering and engaging in organized crime.

A total of nine people were arrested on Wednesday afternoon as local law enforcement raided two poker rooms located in Houston during a money laundering investigation.

The two poker clubs were: the Prime Social Poker Club at 7801 Westheimer Road and the Post Oak Poker Club at 1001 West Loop South.

As part of the investigation at the Prime Social Poker Club, the people arrested were Dean Maddox (owner), Brent Pollack (general manager), Mary Switzer (comptroller) and Steven Farshid (assistant GM). Also as part of the investigation at the Post Oak Poker Club, the people arrested were co-owners Alan Chodrow, Daniel Kebort, Kevin Chodrow, Sergio Cabrera and William Heuer III.

Prime Social Poker Club
Poker players were clueless when they arrived at the Prime Social and found the parking lot teeming with undercover police officers carrying out computers and hard drives.

The day of the raid was unfortunate for the Prime Social patrons because there was a tournament scheduled that time. Their buy-ins and also their chips in play, became instantaneously worthless when police barged in and froze all assets.

According to the District Attorney's office, prosecutors said the defendants made a profit from illegal gambling activities.

A consultant for Prime Social, Wayne Dolcefino, said, "They don't take a penny out of that money." He emphasized the poker club is not operating in the dark and had even done lots of charity drives in the community, "I just don't believe the guys that I know have done anything wrong. And I believe they've been very, very meticulous about the way they keep records."

Post Oak Poker Club
The Post Oak Poker Club opened its doors in 2017 and was one of the first poker clubs in Houston. Its owners said the business was entirely legal because the club did not take any money from all of its games.

The two-year investigation involved state undercover officers posing as players. They were "asked to pay a membership fee, a door fee, and a fee to play at a poker table."

Poker rooms in Texas have operated under a gray area, employing a business structure similar to that of a country club on a membership scheme. Players just pay a fee to play. The club does not take any rake in the games, but instead they get their revenue through hourly fees and memberships.

Gambling is Illegal - Texas Penal Code
As stated in Chapter 47 of the Texas Penal Code, gambling is against the law, unless the following conditions are met:

1.    The player is in a private place.

2.    No one profits from hosting the game.

3.    The risk of losing and chances of winning are the same for all participants.

Last year, the Texas attorney general was asked what he thought about the legality of such businesses, but he said he will leave the courts to decide on this issue.
Poker Lab Radio host and professional poker player Derrick Cavaco said, "The law is very vague. The action here, the players here, the oil money, the deep pockets, it's a sick poker scene. And that's not going away. All they'll do, unfortunately, is force it all back underground."

The HPD Vice Division and the DA's Money Laundering Division joined forces on this investigation.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg stated the nine people who were the owners and operators of these two poker establishments that claimed to be legal under state law were arrested.

Ogg said in a statement, "Poker rooms are illegal in the state of Texas. We are changing the paradigm regarding illegal gambling by moving up the criminal chain and pursuing felony money laundering and engaging in organized crime charges against owners and operators. Players are not being targeted."

Operating since 2017, police claim the two clubs have made $10 million in bank deposits. Those bank accounts are now frozen and will be seized.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, "We cannot allow illegal gambling to go on. It drives organized crime and fuels other criminal activity. We're not going to tolerate it. We got two of the bigger ones today and this is just the beginning. We need to shut them down. If you want to have these kinds of establishments, the legislature needs to authorize it, otherwise we're going to do our job and shut them down."

Charges levied against the nine people arrested in the raid include money laundering, gambling promotion, and engaging in organized criminal activity.



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9 comments on "Nine Arrested after Police Raid Two Houston Poker Clubs"

 Mober13/05/2019 11:23:39 GMT
Two years investigation to finally get them. Imagine being a regular in these
two places and not having a clue what is going on, like the ones
that went to play when the raid was on.
Illegal places after all. But even if they were authorized, how hard would
have been, being used for laundering again Smile
 CALICUL13/05/2019 16:44:02 GMT
If state police would control more than local police would have a lot of surprises. Money laundering is everywhere even in the online area. This can be detected if it is thoroughly researched. Now the defendants will have to fight with the long arm of the law.
 bowie198415/05/2019 18:40:49 GMT
How come I am thinking about first that somebody probably either could not get a membership in this 'social club' and became angry about it or did not put down enough money to grease the palms at the police station. Some serious oversight lacking with the case Big Smile
 pajalnick16/05/2019 10:55:59 GMT
Of course For those players who played in these poker clubs without knowing about their criminal activities will be a shock .... You have been playing in a poker club for several years ... you like everything ... and suddenly it turns out that it was a criminal money laundering organization. .. it is shocking to any person .... But of course such crimes are very sad and discredit poker
 CALICUL16/05/2019 17:21:13 GMT
This may also be a complaint made by rivals and in this way some people have escaped to the competition. We can not know for sure, but the world is bad and this thing can be considered. It is not the first time that certain illegal people tell the police to others but in a different manner...
 bowie198416/05/2019 21:17:55 GMT
Posted by CALICUL:
This may also be a complaint made by rivals and in this way some people have escaped to the competition. We can not know for sure, but the world is bad and this thing can be considered.

I mean these kinda off the table games are present everywhere, the police just don't bust them anymore because it's a waste of time/resource for all involved.
 pajalnick17/05/2019 10:52:11 GMT
for example, in Russia there are only a few places where you can legally play poker ... all other tournaments in other places are completely illegal ... and therefore at any time you can get a criminal prosecution for playing poker ... It is rather sad but such We are ridiculous laws .... I hope that this will change someday ... I would like to have no restrictions for the game
 CALICUL17/05/2019 16:49:50 GMT
When the competition bribes the police to arrest other illegal people they will have to earn customers and money. It is not excluded that this has happened in the same way. I do not think here it was needed oversight, that cost a lot of money. It was something premeditated by the ,,siphons''.
 victor09621/05/2019 12:39:45 GMT
It is not uncommon to find these people who spend money playing poker and because they are bets the police is closer but in every big business you can find money launderers I would like that as well as these cyan investigations will investigate others over the internet which I personally I think they are a round business.

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