Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Georgia the Latest Hotspot for Poker-Game Busts

[Author's note: Read the comment from 'PokerATL' for the real story of what went on in the Roswell raid; the mainstream reports have increasingly been shown to be wrong in several ways. --- hh]

It's been quite the week for S.W.A.T. teams looking for a break from the tougher routing of busting into armed and dangerous criminals, drug dealers and the like. Two recent Georgia busts now return this area to the lead, once again passing by Indianapolis, which had threatened to become the nation's leader in poker raids by taking down a couple of illicit clubs in recent weeks.

The big news was Monday night's raid at a private home in Roswell, which saw 27 arrests. This was an unusual game, to say the least. First of all, it was a 'safe' game, meaning that the cash was paid to the tournament's organizer in advance, and reservations were made over the Internet. Authorities still learned of the game, however, hence the arrests.

Second, it was a quite the high-stakes affair, purportedly. Players ponied up $10,000* each to participate in the tourney, according to initial televised and print reports. The authorities noted that they had confiscated roughly $40,000 from the players present.The raid also nabbed one semi-celeb type, professional wrestler Glen Gilberti, better known as Disco Inferno of WCW and ECW fame.

* Late edit: The $10,000 figure has now been disputed; it now looks as that may have been the value in tourney chips as opposed to the amount in real money, but no one has said exactly -what- the buy-in actually was. Here's an updated report from one of the local television stations on the story:

"'All the more serious stuff they're talking about, that's circling around $10,000 buy-ins, it's a bunch of garbage,' said Troy Gibson, one of those arrested." (--- source, 11Alive.com)

Authorities also made note of the fact that two handguns and 200 tabs of what was probably ecstasy were seized, but the stuff didn't actually come from the poker game or the host home, an affluent Roswell house. Rather, authorities impounded all the vehicles at the scene, and the drugs and weapons were found in the cars. Most of the players were Georgia residents, but North Carolina and Mississippi were also represented.

Most of the players received misdemeanor arrests, but Gilberti and Dan Tyre, the home's owner, received more serious charges as the alleged operators of the illicit event. Two woman hired to serve drinks were also arrested, though the nature of the charges against them was not immediately made public.

One would think that illegal games might lay low for a bit, but no, that's not the way things work. The very next night --- last night --- another raid went down at the Poker Palace, a probably-not-legal operation in Jonesboro. This raid saw 53 people arrested and included another person you'd think probably should have known better, Clayton County Magistrate Court judge Dorian Murry.

A local TV station reported that Sheriff Victor Hill conducted the raid after a month's surveillance, and that Hill had also been offered a bribe to allow the operation to remain open.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should really check the fact before regurgitating the trash that local news networks are spewing.

This most recent bust was just a local, weekly card game and was nowhere near the stakes that are being claimed!

Haley said...

Actually, there's just some posts in today's BARGE mailing about this being a game with a modest entry fee and something like $10,000 in chips... but again, no one seems to want to offer the information about exactly -what- the stakes were.

In a case where several sources publish one set of numbers (unusally high though they seem) and naysayers disagree but don't offer any concrete information, there's naught left to do but publish the original information.

Of course, if other numbers do come out, I'll append them.

pokerATL said...

As someone who is an ambassador to the Atlanta poker scene, please be vigilant about reporting this as was it was...a collosal over-reaction by the Roswell PD. As far as why the correct "buy-in amount" is not being discussed - all of the accused all lawyered up and the last thing they should do is comment about a pending investigation. As my below blog chronicles from another web posting this is a really good group of guys who have a passion for playing poker...can you relate?

I have been a regular at the “Monday” game in question for 3 years..9 out of 10 sessions I was there. I was extremely lucky to have plans and missed the raid by a mere 15 minutes.

Because of my intimate knowledge of the game, I was able to see first-hand how the police can spoon-feed the media embellished information to over-zealous reporters more concerned with making the six-o-clock livecast than doing any fact finding whatsoever. As many have said the $10,000 buy-in was grossly exaggerated and completely misinterpreted – the facts are the police began sifting through Tyre’s trash (see warrant) and found of all things, a Bluff magazine (poker literature), an inordinate amount of food and beverage containers, and (hold your breath) a flyer promoting an online tournament that one of the regulars was passing out to garner interest in a World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event seat that was being given away by an online poker site. Unbelievably, the Roswell police interpreted this WSOP flyer and the seat valued at $10,000 being given away as a promotional prize as a buy-in to the live game being hosted by Tyre. This mistake in reporting to the media is reprehensible. When the police were pressed on this fuzzy math (i.e. $45,000 seized by RPD, 10K buy in per player should equal 270K) issue by a reporter, the Roswell Sergeant commented that, ummmmm, the investigation was still ongoing…as if some money would suddenly re-appear that they didn’t find after destroying Tyre’s house for 5 hours.

There have also been numerous comments made that in essence a home poker game amongst friends is OK, but when it begins to spill over to a “parking lot” than that’s crossing the line. These parking complaints came from primarily isolated incidents and one vocal neighbor who had it out for Tyre – if you don’t believe me listen to the comments from Mary Hager his elderly next door neighbor and the high praise she uses to describe Tyre and his wife. By ALL of his neighbors own admission, there were never any noise complaints predicated around the poker game, and Tyre was extremely respectful and consciousness of his neighbors (oftentimes moving cars if they became too close to a neighbor's driveway). I knew 26 of the 27 players arrested on a first name basis. We watch sports together, travel, hang out, and yes play cards. I wish all of you knew this group of guys like I do…in 3+ years there has not been as much as a shouting match between us.

I talked to Tyre’s wife today. She said that what disturbed her the most was holding her 11 month old and watching her front door be bashed in and told to “get on her knees” by a shouting SWAT officer who was wearing a dark hood, goggles, and heavily armed…was this show of force necessary because of knowledge of a card game going on in the basement? Give me a break. After this display of man/fire power not one weapon of any kind was found inside the house (yes, two legally owned guns were found in the impounded cars outside). Instead, they found a highly cooperative group of harmless people who had poker chips in front of them. This investigation was based on bad intelligence and a desperate police force who was willing to pick thru trash (the same tactic used to seize warrants for drug dealers and pedophiles) to shut down Tyre."

Haley said...

Thanks for posting all that, PokerATL. After a day or so a lot of the real facts in the case began to filter out, and the mainstream sources were indeed increasingly shown to be false on a number of minor details.

That said, I did check around to try to determine what did happen in the raid, since I know we do get a lot of Atlanta-area readers. However, I'm nowhere near being an ambassador to the Atlanta poker scene; I write this blog from another, distant location.

pokerATL said...

Haley,
Thanks for the clarification on your location, and trying to provide balanced coverage.
My point is really this - the KAP community is obviously poker enthusiasts (like me) and I hope they let their voice be heard on this new found attention law enforcement is taking to crackdown poker in our state (another 50+ person raid took place in Clayton County this week). I would argue the vast majority of tax paying, Georgia citizens do not want 6 month investigations to games that yeilded basically a ton of first time offenders with no criminal record who are contributing members to society. Can you imagine sitting in the basement of your residence with friends playing poker and being surrounded by a SWAT team - they come in and yell "FREEZE"...drop your cards or I'll shoot. OF course, I'm being sarcastic, buy you get the point.

Haley, I would encourage you to follow the details of this story and please report back with regular updates when misinformation that was originally reported is discovered. Keep up the great work...first time poster - very informative website!

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