Hold'em or Fold'em?

By: Adam Kramer
By: Adam Kramer

No limit, Texas hold'em is the hottest card game in the country thanks to its endless television coverage, but here in Florida the state has enacted emergency legislation which is forcing pari-mutuel facilities to fold'em on all hold'em tournaments.

The battle over poker in Florida has been one of raises and folds. Two weeks ago a state court ruled in favor of no limit poker tournaments.

Last week the Department of Business and Professional Regulation trumped that ruling, banning tournament poker as an immediate danger to public welfare, so now some of the state's pari-mutuel facilities are calling the state's bluff.

They're appealing the ruling in court this week. They say it's necessary to protect their business before it goes elsewhere.

"I'm either going to Biloxi or I'm going to go to one of the many home games there is in south Alabama," said poker player James Winberry.

People can still play live poker at places such as Ebro Greyhound Park, but Ebro officials say players don't want to play low stakes cash games; they want tournaments.

"Well, last night, which is Tuesday night, we usually have our big tournaments, and it's affected us by 40 percent, and I expect it to go up next week," said Ebro card room manager Bonnie Strause.

And with players leaving their chips behind, people who work in the card rooms are worried about being dealt out.

"It's kind of depressing to go to into the Christmas season and not know whether your going to have a job come January," said card dealer Shirley Hobbs.

The pari-mutuel's case is due to be heard in a Tallahassee appeals court Thursday.

Poker players say if card rooms don't win in court, they're going to leave the table. The state gets a 10 percent cut of all the money the card rooms make, so Thursday’s ruling could also effect the state's bottom line.


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