Wednesday, June 08, 2005
  Holy schmoke !!!
[ppl's names might have been changed slightly to protect
their identity, except chad's , chad refers to chad]

Stop the press vicki vale. Imagine your brain cluttered
with a 1000 thoughts running through your mind at the
speed of light, key words - shit , holy shit, poker,
chips , police , fines, law, jail, hahaha, flee the country,
marbles, bull ?!

Alright that doesnt make much sense, so lets take a step back.
I was born in 1979 in Singapore, i enjoyed playing marbles
as a kid, hang on this sounds like the chad introduction. Lets
skip forward a little.

Ok, last night was the beginning of the SA Poker championships
run by the Australian Poker Association (APA). This was suppose
to be an event run from Wednesday through till Monday, with
a series of tournaments run each day, with various buy-ins.
The final event, being the Main Event on the Monday , with an
$1100 buy in. APA home page

Now this tournament wasnt some secret underground event, known
by only a few mafiosa and other underground types, spread by
word of mouth, run at a secret location. This was targeted
to be the biggest event ever in South Australia, and outside
of Melbourne, one of the biggest events in Australia. Advertising
through the internet, and at casinos was readily available. In
fact apart from Adelaide casino handing out flyers about the event,
Melbourne and Sydney casinos, ran events for ppl to qualify for
the SA poker championships ! Clearly this was perceived to be
an above board event. Casinos dont run qualifiers to illegal events,
that bad business.

Anyway, im eating dinner at Amalfi, theres about 10 minutes to go
b4 the event. Bartofski rang me up saying there were a lot of ppl there.
There being the Italian club in the city, in fact the event got
moved due to being too popular. I have to scull the rest of the
beer at the end of the meal as per usual, walk down there with
doyle. We're walking in and im telling her, i think we're at the
wrong place, this looks all so formal. May be they didnt
change venue. They have security, some door bitch, and a lot of
smartly dressed ppl, it feels like we've walked
into a conference. Tho as i walk a little further i see poker
tables, and know that ive rocked up at the right place.

Just a quick step back, the only reason I was so overwhelmed by the place,
was typically the APA runs out of a dodgy place that resembles a pizza bar.
In fact it is next to a pizza bar, and looks a lot like the neighbouring pizza
bar except with some of the equipment removed.

So we walk in, and register for the event, seems all very formal
and organised. Give your name, get a name tag, seat allocation
etc. They have 15 tables set up, with a capacity of 150ppl, and
for this event 120 ppl turned up. The tournament was a fre-roll,
meaning it was free to get a 1000 chips, $20 in the first hour
to rebuy 1000 chips, and at the end of the hour if you still had
chips you could pay $60 to rebuy 3000 in chips. So it was one
of these tournaments that you could pay a lot to buy in or absolutely
nothing, it depended how u felt and how lucky u were.

So the tournament gets under way, ive been drawn to table 12 seat
5. Ok this is largely irrelevant to the story, but early on i
pick up pocket Qs on the button. In free-roll tournaments , ppl
want to see the flop, so it pays to make big raises to make it
expensive coz u know ppl will call. I raise to 300, blinds are
25-50 , so thats 6x the BB, usually i wouldnt do that, but anyway
i get 2 callers. Flop comes K-5-3. Two spades. I have the queen
of spades. One guy checks, one guy bets a 100, i call. I put him
on a K, but i have the spade draw as well, and theres a lot
in the pot. THe other guy folds. Now the turn comes another
spade he checks i check. The river comes another spade, ive hit
my flush, he checks, i bet out 300, he calls, shows k-j, no
spades, i take down the pot. Quick example of showing how to
play against ppl who r likely to call. Keep the betting to
a minimum when u have the worst hand and raise it up when
u have the best hand. Coz i bet 300 pre-flop and on the river
when i had the best hand and called only a 100 when he was ahead.
Now that seems obvious, but trying re-raising plays say on
the flop, when i was behind or a big bet on the turn when
i perhaps sensed weakness would have just been a waste of money.

Anyway, things are all running pretty smoothly. The crazy thing
about tonite as well was that we were supposed to play indoor
soccer ! We had a 9.30 game, but made an executive decision,
to abandon the game, we were sitting on top of the ladder, and
figured throwing a game wouldnt be too bad. Anyway it meant
mun, jimmy , bartofski were all playing poker at this event
rather than running around the soccer field ! Oh well i didnt
tell the lady we coulnt play coz of poker commitments, but at
least that would have been a different excuse. Anyway
back to the fre-roll, im crusing along nicely. When i get
moved tables. I play this hand against a calling station, and
i tried to bluff with the best hand, but i get called, he hits
runner runner flush, to knock me out. Very ghey. I decide
to rebuy. On tilt , i decide to call an all in with 7-8, i was
getting pot odds. Win that pot, and i end the hour not
doing grayte but not out of it. I definately think that sometimes
ppl annoy me, and i just want to beat them in a pot. Hmmmm.

So the hour is ended, jimmy had to borrow $20 off me to rebuy,
doyle got unlucky again, everytime i watch she gets unlucky.
Last time at matchroom, bad beat, then time b4 Qs lost to Js,
online another bad beat, today another bad beat, oh well.
Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, cause j picked her
up in the interval.

Sitting down at the table, i start to be a little aggressive,
raising with 6s a few times, and then re-raising with A-10.
Im getting some momentum. On my left is the part owner of
ballroom, two to my right is one of Australia's most famous
poker players, like the godfather of poker. I met the latter
overseas, anyway we're having a relaxed time as well. When
the ballroom guy says "police" in a very casual tone. Now im
thinking initially he was talking about the band the police.
So im like haha, yeh, "police". They were playing music at
the time, all be it nothing that resembled the band the police,
but anyway. Then i look over and i see a police officer. And
then i look around, and oh my god. Wat the hell is going on here,
there are 30+ police officers just walking through the door.
Now when u see one police officer u think , ah, prolly just checking
it out, but when u see 30, u know theres some shit going down.

Usually when u see a whole heap of police your on the outside
looking in, going i wonder wats happening there. All i can say, is
its a completely different feeling when your on the inside, looking
out. Coz while i was sitting down shuffling my chips, it dawned
and me and everyone else that the police werent here to sit down
on spare tables 13-15, they were hear to bust this operation up.
They were here for the poker, they were here for us. Most ppl genuinely
belived this was just a misunderstanding, and that we would keep
sitting down, the 30 officers would come and walk around see wat was happening,
let us continue with our game , and then we would all laugh it off and
say well that was a waste of time. But I couldnt shake the nagging thought
that the k-5os i had just folded was the last hand i was going to
see for the night. Coz you just dont bring 30 police officers around
to have a look see and then on your bike. They're here for a purpose,
and this party was over.

But why ??? Well im presuming the senior constable in charge was the
one talking in the microphone, but he said to everyone "we have
reason to believe there is unlawful gaming occurring here, we
will be questioning everyone and you will then be free to go"
Meanwhile the police officers, kept swarming in, some were carrying
video cameras, recording everything for evidence. Im sure ms, was
prolly still doing chip tricks to try and gain some air time.
Chad said the hot female officer was there to carry out strip searches,
but perhaps he made that up.

So we're all just sitting on our tables for a while wondering wats
going on. All the senior officers were questioning the ppl in charge,
and they(juniors) then began to question ppl on each table. Interestingly
bartofski, was one of the first to be questioned. They seemed to
really ask him a lot of questions. I was sitting near him, but i couldnt
hear wat they were. Some of them he mentioned, related to height, weight,
age etc. but they were asking him specific questions about the game.
Im pretty sure he got to say K-3 of clubs was his favourite hand as
well. Perhaps he can comment and fill in the blanks, but it seemed
like they were trying to find out whether it was a game of skill or
chance. When i saw that he had to put his chips in a plastic bag, i knew
the game was definately over. In fact bartofski , had to state the chip
value he had, and the number of chips, and they even bagged his two hole
cards. Apparently its an offence to play k-9 under the gun !
Anyway apart from being cavity searched, they seemed to be
pretty thorough with him, actually when he got escorted out, i was
wondering where they were taking him, but he left ok.

Back on our table we're all hypothosising wat the problem might be? I mean
is it really illegal, the godfather of poker didnt seem to think
so, he had been in all sorts of places, and as far as he knew this was all
legit. The ballroom guy thought it was a conspiracy by the casino to
shut down competition. No one had any idea. On another table, some guy
said he had to go home to take his heart medicine, another guy called
his lawyer, and was told he didnt have to answer any questions other
than your name and address, unless you were being charged. In fact
i remembered that from law school, but the rest didnt really come
rushing back, damn.

Apparently they were asking ppl about the game itself. Like "how
do you play the game". And someone said "well, it usually depends
what position im in, id prolly play strong cards from earlyish
position, then average to strong hands in medium position, possibly suited
connectors in late position. Then it depends on whether the pot has
been raised, and how many ppl are in the pot. I then look at the
level of chips i have to commit in respect to the blinds and to
the percetnage of my stack and my opponents stacks. I also like to factor
in the ratio of strong to passive players involved in the pot whilst
keeping in mind the pot odds, the number of outs i have to hit and what
the chances of succesfully bluffing the pot is against my oppponents.
Are you getting all of this down? " hahhahaa

Anyway the place had pretty much cleared out, no guns had been
drawn, and it was my turn to get questioned. Ok this is where
it got interesting. U see a lot of the officers were obviously
juniors who had been told that they were going on a bust to raid
this illegal poker operation. In fact im pretty sure a few of them
would have thought it would have been in a seedy den, with a lot
of smoke and pacino dudes chewing on fat cigars. But no, it
was in a smoke free, clean hall, with a large projector which
had the blind structres, and time left on levels. Ha.

Anyway luckily i got questioned by a friendly police officer who seemed
to know a bit more than the average. He asked me my name and
address. Then he asked me what to do i do? Now this is kinda
funny, becuase when i usually get asked that, I say ive quit
my job, and im a poker player. However i didnt think that would
be the best response. So i had said "ive quit my job" and then
i paused, and he said wat do you do? And i said well actually
i work as a market analyst for the ACCC. Then i tried to back
pedal and say i quit in a month. And then he said so wat
will u put on your tax return. I said "market analyst". Mental
note think before talking. Then he went on to ask me about
whether i was aware this was illegal. And i said i dont
believe this is illegal and still dont believe it is. And he
said it is illegal, and i said i dont think it is. And i asked
him to explain why it was illegal? I said hows this different
from a chess tournament, where ppl pay an entry fee, and
the prize pool gets redistributed ? And he said it was
different, coz this was a game of chance.
me: "i believe its a game of skill"
officer: "chance"
me: "skill"
officer: "chance"
me: "skill"
officer: "chance"
me: "skill"
officer: "chance"
me: "skill"
officer: "chance chance chance chance"
me: "skill skill skill skill skill"
officer: "chance x infinity"
me: "skill x infinity + 1 "

Ok that last exchange didnt occur, but i obviously felt
i couldnt convice him it was a game of skill, so i asked
him where did it say that it was chance ? And apparently he said
there were both local and international precedents that stated it
was a game of chance. And here is where my legal knowledge
failed me, coz i had nothing to state otherwise. I was
drawing dead. So i said "really". Thats all i had, 4
years of legal school, and i had "really".

Then he said that i was possibly going to get a court
summons, but he was cool about it and said, look there
are 100+ ppl here most likely the worst that will hapen
is a $50 fine, or perhaps nothing, depending on wat
they decide. So flashes of having a large steel ball chained
to my leg walking through alcatraz, playing poker for cigarettes,
even tho i didnt smoke, faded from my mind. I did say
(whilst pointing to chad), that he may have illegal gaming
equipment hidden on him, and u should search him, well
it crossed my mind anwyay.

But i was still curious as to y, they had done things as they
had. I mean this was advertised for a long time, y did
they chose to bust this operation one hour in, instead
of shutting it down b4. It obviously wasnt a spur of the moment
idea. 30 cops sitting around, one of them saying, hey i think
theres a poker game down the road lets bust that up ?
He said that was a good question. Unfortunately i didnt get
a good answer. I also tried to press him on the motivation
of this bust. I mean its been running for a few years now,
why now ? Was this pushed by the casino ? He said absolutely
not. This was when he told me he was part of AVTAR, or some
similar named organisation. This organisation was designed to
target bikie gangs and bikie related crime. Now this seemed
bizzare to me. Here you have an association which is non-profit.
He said thats rubbish they're siphoning money out to bikies,
and that its run by organised crime. Seriously, the APA take
out some money, but i dont think they could be making much
money out of it at all. It seemed ridiculous, but this officer
was convinced that it was bikie related. He said the ppl in
charge were crooks with convicted charges, and most ppl here had
no idea. I had nothing to say in response, but i was stunned. I
mean ok, may be they thought it was a game of chance, therefore
illegal, but , organised crime behind this as well? A sinister
evil plot, get out of here! Anyway with my chips in a plastic
bag, i was free to go.

He said i should prolly leave, but said Id wait around for Chad,
so he got interviewed as well, no doubt to get rid of him quickly,
as he managed to annoy a group of police officers earlier. Rewind
30mins. Chad is sitting around, hasnt been interviewed, and needs
to go to the toilet. However the toilet is just outside the entrance
to the main room, and the police officers arent letting u leave till
they have all ur details. So Chad goes up to an officer, expect he
has gone up to the senior constable. And says i need to go to the toilet?
The officer says if his name hasnt been taken then he will have to wait,
till it is. So he waits 30 seconds, then he asks again, how long will
i have to wait? The officer is getting annoyed at this point, so he
says he will find someone. Waits a little bit longer, and then he looks
at probably the second in command , and asks the senior guy whether
he can take me to the toilet. Now this pisses this guy off as well, and he
steps forward and says does it look like ill take you to the toilet,
being tuff and all. Then a little bit later, chad is asking them
whether its a breach of civil libities for him not to be allowed to
go to the toilet, and its a civil right for him to. Anyway imagine
telling these senior officers that its a breach of his civil libities
not for him to be able to go the toilet. Well i think thats the final
straw for the officer, and they find someone. The officer then escorts
chad all of 3m to the toilet, and he enters. Chad powders his face,
i dont think he even needed to go, ha! Actually he did go to the toilet
but still ridicilous. It would have been gold after all of that, if
he said "the damdest thing happened, it went away".

So we are both walking out, and we get halted , by the video
camera guy. Chad puts his arm around me and says we're together,
ha, idiot. Im sure i say quite clearly that we're not, but anyway
i guess thats on some tape as evidence somewhere. We then have
to state our name to the camera and we 'can go.

Outside the organisers are talking amongst themselves. I cant help
think r these guys bikie guys, really ? Wat bikes do they ride?
Wat percentage of APA profits go to servicing harleys? I cant believe
it! They're still adamant that they can somehow continue, i dont
know how, considering all their chips and laptops have been confiscated.
Apparently the casino offered to be a venue, tho it was very expensive,
i guess that puts an end to that rumour, the casino were behind this.
And at this stage thats they're only option of continuing on. As
we walked off, we saw the street had been blocked off, yelled something
to the police officer. "you may be able to our chips, but you will
never take our FREEEEDOM".

We went back to CHS yelled at elfargen a lot, which seemed to unsettle
him, but we were still buzzing. But the night was still going, Chad
decided to ring Bob Francis. Chad is waiting on the line, when he comes
back into the room. And we're asking him when he will be on ? And
he says soon. And then we hear on the radio:
Bob : "ok next on the line is chad? hello chad are you there?
(meanwhile chad is running back to his room to pick up the phone)
Well chad is probably one of those assholes that rings up and then
decides to hang up. Frankly we're sick of them here at radio adelaide,
ok next !"

Chad in his room, hello hello hello ? They've cut me off. Gold!

Anyway he rings up again later, and he gets onto the next guy's
show. This is where the pain begins. Someone said it was like
the office but on radio and not funny either.

Chad (talking to the radio guy): "did you play marbles when
you were a kid? - ya - "did you play for 20c or just the marbles?"
(meanwhile we are wondering where is he going with this ??) Anyway
about 3 mins later after explaining, all sorts of things about poker,
he starts to get to the crux of the story. Then hes trying to convince
the radio guy why it shouldnt be illegal. But the guy is having
none of it, hes saying its either illegal or not? And then chad
says lets hypothesise about whether it should be legal? Then the radio
guy dumped him. hhahaha Oh well it was good to put it out there, and
a subsequent guy who was there also called. And who was a little less
painful to listen :) Nah good on chad on for calling, would have been
good to get bob francis, coz this guy was frustrating.

Got home, still buzzing talked to mun about it, mun could be in
the biggest trouble, he told his dad, oh well i guess no poker
at restaurant tonite. Also told pcock, he couldnt believe it

So this morning i woke up earlier, wondering wat to think of it. LN
(one of australia/world's best poker players, and semi mentor while i
was overseas) i believed was going to leave today, for me that was
the biggest disapointment. I was looking forward to perhaps playing
against him in the main event. Oh well.

Whilst i was doing some reasearch online, here are some key points:
(SA - lottery and gaming act)
"unlawful gaming" means--

(a) the playing at or engaging in any game with cards or other instruments, or with money, in or as the result of which game any person or persons derives or is intended to derive (other than in his capacity as a player) any part or percentage of any money or thing played for, staked, or wagered; and

(b) any contravention of or failure to observe any provision of this Act, whether that provision relates to unlawful gaming as hereinbefore defined or not.

And earlier it talks about games of chance and games of skill.

Apparently there is a legal precedent stating that in SA poker is a
game of skill according to a post on the pokernetwork, but I didnt
find that case, and would appreciate it if someone told me which case
it was if they did find it. If that was the case cops are stupid
heads. Internationally there are legal precedents to suggest that
poker is a game of skill, and is analagous to bridge, another card
game widely acknowledged as being a game of skill. The complication
comes with the wagering aspect as well, but I still have much
to find out.

Unlawful gaming and playing of unlawful games
61. (1) No person shall be guilty of unlawful gaming.
Maximum penalty: $2 500.
(2) No person shall play at any unlawful game.
Maximum penalty: $2 500.
(3) No person shall--
(a) be present at any unlawful gaming or at the playing of any unlawful game; or
(b) be in any place in which any unlawful gaming is taking place, without lawful excuse (the proof of which excuse shall be upon him).
Maximum penalty: $750.

If I cop all those fines, its going to an expensive night! May be
they'll mail everyon their chip stacks back to them :)

End of the night tallies b4 the bust.
Barts - 16000 - doing well
Chad - 12000 - survived a tripple call all in
Me - 10000 - fighting back
Lap - 18000 !!! - no rebuys either , cost to him zero dollars.
Unbeliveable !!!

Is this the end of the APA, i hope not ? May be we can help
out the APA in some way, coz it was such a fantastically organised
tournament, except for the obvious question of legality? Time will tell
wat happens to all of us and poker in SA. As for someone who is
in their first week of a new profession, i guess i should be a little
bit concerned. Also my dad just came back from a month of holidays,
and he is prolly reading news.com.au and wondering wat im
i getting up to ? Also it seems that stage 3 of Jon's law and order
prediction (chess - gambling - crime) has come a little quicker
than anticipated!
There is a resounding desire for meaningfull freeroll tournaments in which online casinos players at all levels have the opportunity to compete in tournament play when the prize money is huge... but the buyin is somewhat prohibitive for most.
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