Thursday, August 11, 2005

5th Austin Home Game Robbery since Nov 2004



I learned Tuesday night that Austin’s 5th poker game was robbed Monday night, August 8, 2005. The robbery took place at an apartment in south Austin. My sources who were present at the time of the robbery say there were two black suspects who simply kicked in their dead bolted door, brandished a weapon and robbed the game. It is not known exactly how much cash they absconded, but it was at least several hundred dollars, including the buy-ins and various wallets. Apparently one player was not in the main room and fled out a window, called police, and tried to give chase to the suspects. The police arrived quickly, but the bandits had already made their get away. The police did pull over a suspect, but the description of his clothes did not match those given by the players and they were forced to release him without searching his vehicle because they did not have probable cause to do so.

Here is the interesting thing about this robbery. This game had been robbed previously this year when the game was at a different location in central Austin and it was known as “The Blue Room”. It had been running at this south location “temporarily” for about 6 weeks or so. But that isn’t the most interesting thing. No, even more interestingly, is the fact the game runner announced he is getting out of the business and moving back to Dallas. I am not saying this is the case, but what if I play the devil’s advocate and suggest that it’s possible the host had his own game robbed? Is it possible?

With so many games running, you can expect that more robberies will happen since most poker games are easy targets. The reason these games are easy targets is quite simple. Most game runners are “former players” who needed a way to increase their bank roll because they couldn’t do it by playing poker. They love poker so much, how can they consistently stay close to the game if they are not consistently winning? After all, eventually your bank roll will disappear with out winning. Solution: Start your own game. The game hosts only have dollar signs in their minds and security is the least of their priorities. In deed, so many games have popped up, because the game runners know that they can make money by simply having a table, some chairs, chips, cards, and dealer in the cheapest apartment possible to reduce the overhead. (The problem with this is that the apartments tend to be in areas that have a higher crime rate…that’s why they are so inexpensive!)

I feel if you are going to host a regularly run game, you ought to be worried about how to make the game safe for your patrons. A notion that is easily overlooked in this “get rich quick” attitude many game runners seem to have.

Well, if you want my advice, find a game where the operators have taken security very seriously. The problem is security means different things to different people. In some games, the game hosts have decided to have an armed security person at their games. This seems to be the prevalent solution in the many games I have been to lately. Why? The reason is simple. It is the least expensive solution for the game runner. He can have his buddy hang out all night with his gun and throw him a couple of Franklins and voila…security. Besides, many of the younger players think it is “cool” to have a guy walking around with a 9mm strapped to his hip and have whole heartedly embraced this solution. I personally think it gives players a false sense of security and will likely end up being a tragic ending if something does go down at a game where someone is packing heat.

I certainly hope that no such tragedy happens, but if it does, it will mean the end of live poker in Austin as we know it. Why? Because you can bet that the incident will get unparalleled press coverage. When that happens, there will be an outcry from the religious zealots that these games shouldn’t be running in the first place. Law enforcement will be forced to start cracking down on the multiple “Dens of Iniquity”, not because they in and of themselves are illegal, but rather to prevent them from being robbed by criminals looking for an easy score which will prevent such tragedies from happening again.

In the mean time, games that are still running will have a hard time making a table because the patrons will disappear in fear of either being robbed, or being busted by law enforcement. The game runners will find themselves in a precarious situation as the games that do make won’t make the kind of money that they currently do. How then can they pay rent, keep playing, and all the other things that they currently do with the kind of money they are used to? You know that they aren’t about to go get a job. Hell that would mean they would have to actually work for a living. “Oh, I know…let’s raise the rake. The players won’t know the difference.“ The sad truth is that most players won’t notice the difference. They will just start wondering why it is so hard to win anymore.

So how can you help prevent all of this from happening? Well you could just play on the internet or travel to a real casino in another state. OR, you could force your regular home game to start taking security seriously. How you ask? Tell the game runner you aren’t playing anymore until they do something or tell them you are playing somewhere else that provides better security. There are places in town that have some fairly stout security measures for their games, and I’m not talking about a guy with a gun.

18 comments:

Flynn said...

You are absolutely right about what is going to happen to poker in Austin if there is a tragedy of some sort involving guns. It is only a matter of time before some incident sets your scenario in motion. At the same time, I feel that the poker community will lose out to the authorities eventually with or without tragic circumstances. Someone somewhere will bring pressure to bear to crack down, or someone somewhere will campaign for office on the issue of cracking down on this sinful practice. In the meantime, I'm enjoying what I can.

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