POLICE STATE: Poker Plea Deal After SWAT Raids Virginia Home Game

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from Card Player News, via Prison Planet.com:

Last week, lawyers for a group of poker players were gearing up to challenge the law in the state of Virginia after a militarized police force stormed the players’ home poker game with semi-automatic weapons drawn this past November, the Washington Post reported.

But the state decided to offer them a deal.

The Great Falls home game featuring a $20,000 buy-in with hired dealers and masseuses was raided and $150,000 in cash was seized from the game’s host. Players in the game were charged with crimes for engaging in illegal gambling, though the defense was prepared to fight the allegations due to poker irrefutably being a game based on skill, not chance. The state argued that since a small cut of the buy-ins was taken to pay for the game’s amenities it then constitutes illegal gambling.

The poker game in question, located not far from Washington, D.C., had been running for several years and several well-known poker pros had played in it in the past, the report said.

The criminal case will not go to trial, but it doesn’t mean the unnamed poker players won.

[T]he Fairfax prosecutors, with what the lawyers said was the police detectives’ blessing, cut them a deal: stay clean for six months and the gambling charge would be dismissed, and eligible to be expunged from their record. And for those who had cash seized from them—one player had more than $20,000, the regular player said—the police agreed to return 60 percent of the money, and keep 40 percent.

It is not hyperbolic to say that the poker players were lucky no one was killed in the November raid. A 2006 police raid of a similar home poker game in Virginia resulted in a police officer killing a player, in what was called an accident. Two million dollars was awarded to the victim’s family.

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