Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Great Texas Poker Debate

DISCLAIMER: The author's opinions are his own, and he is not speaking on behalf of any agency or other person.

Back in the November/December 2004 issue of The Prosecutor, the official periodical of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, Markus Kypreos wrote an article starting on page 41 titled "A hold on Texas Hold'Em" in which he opined that most public Hold'Em tournaments are illegal. Kypreos reiterated his opinions on page 13 of the March/April edition in "Texas Hold ’Em: Three months later, it’s still illegal". At the time of those two articles, I debated them with a few other prosecutors and peace officers. I took the position that Kypreos was wrong about the tournaments being held by the Amateur Poker League because there was no "bet" involved. In short, I believed that the Texas Gambling Statute should be read to mean that unless there is a risk of loss to the player, then no bet occurs, and thus no gambling is occurring.

My main objection to Kypreos' articles was not that he reached a conclusion different from mine. My main objection was that he seemed unwilling to even acknowledge that another interpretation was possible. It is this smug attitude that leads to attorneys in general and prosecutors in general having a bad reputation. If Kypreos had taken a more scholarly approach to his articles and acknowledged that his conclusions were merely his opinions, I don't think he woudl need to be eating any crow right now.

BUT, he does.

Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, who is no fan of gambling, has issued Opinion No. GA-0335, which supports my interpretation.

The Opinion states,

"Pursuant to the test promulgated by the court in Odle, this lack of "tender of a gift of something valuable" means that no "bet" has occurred.

I am happy that the AG's office got this one right, and I hope Kypreos will acknowledge his error in the next issue of The Prosecutor.

1 comment:

oso diablo said...

One of the signees of the AG Opinion is Don R. Willett. Is that the same Donnie Willett that we knew at Baylor, that was from Forney? He was at Duke Law the same time i was at Fuqua.