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Belgian Raid

by Anthon-Pieter Wink |  Published: Aug 01, 2006


The main subject on the poker sites of the Netherlands these days was not a Dutch matter; armed policemen and federal investigators raided a poker tournament in Belgium. At about a 10-minute drive from the Dutch border, there were poker chips, cards, and a laptop confiscated for research. The most amazing part was – it was a €5 Euro buy-in tourney; not 500, not 50, but €5.

A group of students and their friends had organized a tournament for about 45 people, located at the house of one of the initiators. After the tournament had been running for about one hour, the police entered the house, blocked the exits, took the names of the players, and brought some of the players they thought were most influential in the Belgian poker scene back to headquarters.

It will not come as a surprise that the general reaction on the Belgian and Dutch forums was disbelief and indignation. As ridiculous as it sounds to bust a group of students for playing poker, for an amount barely enough to buy a pint of beer, eventually these actions can change the Belgian poker scene for the better. At least now the matter is out in the open. A court case against a few young poker enthusiasts, who claimed they did not want to make any money out of their endeavour, will bring about more discussion about the legality of poker than the Netherlands has ever seen.

In Holland, one can play a home poker tournament every day of the week, and 10 times on Sunday. These poker tournaments are often allowed, or "gedoogd," as we say, by the local authorities. Some authorities apply limitations, though, such as a limit to the first prize or on the total prize pool. Some will allow it only if nobody makes a profit out of it. And then, some have no idea what you are talking about when you tell them you want to organize a poker tournament. I say it is about time a general discussion took place on the legal status of poker in the Netherlands, and I do not want the police to raid my local tournament for that to become necessary!

So far, we poker players usually reside in the grey area between legality and petty crime. And when we want to escape the constant fear of being attacked by the police, there is only one place to go: Holland Casino. If you have read my previous columns, you might know I'm not a big fan of this organization, per se, but right now it's all the legal poker we have. Its recent Twentse Series of Poker (TSOP) and North Sea Classic Tournament (NSC) both still drew quite a crowd at a time when most of the Dutch pros were already making their way to Barcelona for the World Heads-Up Poker Championship. I dare say, the TSOP and NSC can give great thanks to the attention they got on poker forums such as All the free marketing was rewarded, though, as most of the prize winners in Twente were either fanatic visitors of our site or even administrators.

Not that the men behind needed such a confirmation of poker skill, but it cannot do any harm, either – especially since a new poker book by their hands will be released on the Dutch market in September, just in time for the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam, where I will expect to see many new and formerly beginning Dutch players, PokerInfo book in hand, making their ways to the final tables. With the huge edge of the combined experience and skill of our crew, what could possibly go wrong?

Anthon-Pieter Wink is a writer for