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Police In 'Riot Gear' Raid Poker Game With $0 Buy-In

'Nutz Poker League' In Florida Suffers Crackdown, Organizers Arrested


A poker league that runs its tavern-based games without a buy-in was the target of a police crackdown in Florida this past weekend.

On Saturday, state and local authorities raided a monthly poker tournament at a bar in the city of Largo, after an investigation into unlawful gambling, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The Nutz Poker League, which was running a free game open to the public at Louie’s Grill and Sports Bar at the time of the crackdown, said on its Facebook page that some of the police were in “full riot gear” and had their “weapons drawn.”

The tournament’s 140 players reportedly were told to stop what they were doing, and when the dust settled, six were arrested and accused of being involved with a “gambling house.”

One woman present described the event in a blog post: “Today, while out playing poker with this poker league, we were raided by the [Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco], all with men and women officers wearing black masks so we couldn’t see their faces. We were forced (by a threat of going to jail) to place our hands on the table where they could see them and to stay there until we were told.”

Felony charges have been filed, according to the league. Under Florida law, the felonies would be in the third degree and could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

Luke Lirot, an attorney involved with the matter, told Card Player that players took cell phone photos and video of the raid, and that they were “ordered by officers to delete” the material.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the undercover investigation, dubbed “Operation Cracked Aces,” had been ongoing for months prior to the bust.

“The ‘crime’ here is the waste of valuable public resources, and the misguided efforts to enforce an archaic law that was never intended to be used to criminalize events such as the one here, where six individuals were unjustly arrested and terrified, and now face prosecution,” the league said. “If state statutes can be exploited and stretched to criminalize these types of events, legislation needs to be adopted to clear up this unnecessary abuse.”

Nutz Poker added that the raid was an example of “tyrannical [law] enforcement.”

The games typically awarded prizes to players. The league operated by taking a cut of what revenue the bar received from food and drinks during the games. However, players were not required to purchase anything, the league said.

According to its website, league points are accrued based on one’s tournament finish and bar tab. The top point earners at the end of the month play for bigger prizes such as vacations, computers and cameras. A semi-annual “championship” sends a registered league player to the World Series of Poker.

Buy-ins have been used before, although not at bars. In August, Nutz Poker ran a private event with a $50 entry as part of a series at Tampa Bay Downs, which operates legal gaming.

On its website, Nutz Poker lists 10 different venues where it runs games. League-sponsored tournaments have occurred seven days a week. After nearly a week-long break, Nutz resumed action Friday at locations other than Louie’s, where the Oct. 20 raid took place.

Photo via the Nutz Poker League, from event in September at the Lucky Dill Deli.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus



over 9 years ago

140 players, only 6 arrested? why is that, it should be 140 arrested if they are all playing and all breaking the law right? players took cell phone photos and video of the raid, and that they were “ordered by officers to delete” the material. is that even legal? to make them delete images from their private property, without a court order?

busting free poker games/ leagues glad the usa is not 16 trillion in debt and wasting cash.

good job glad i moved after black friday.... usa blows anymore.


over 9 years ago

So you are against the whole thing, but you think all 140 people should have been arrested?

The 6 who were arrested were the ones actually running the game genius.

I'm sure you are really a pro that moved after Black Friday and not totally full of shit, everyone believes you.


over 9 years ago

i'd simply hold my hands to my chest and twiddle my thumbs WITHOUT putting them on the table....i'd defy every unreasonable command those nazis gave.....then i'd sue after they would slam me to the ground and put knees in my neck and back.


over 9 years ago

Spoken like a person whose lived a sheltered life and never had any negative contact with the police in his entire life.

Have you ever had an assault rifle pointed at your head? Thats what happens in situations like this. They come in with assault rifles and point them directly at people, putting your hands up at that point is kind of a natural reaction.

I know that you consider yourself such a badass that an assault rifle pointed at your head wouldn't effect you at all, you are wrong though.


over 9 years ago

Hey, Open your eyes, this has been happening all aroung the country for decades.

And I have had guns pointed in my face like that before. If you dont stand up and take a stand for your rights then you are letting anyone with a hint of Authority control you.

As far as the 6 that were arrested was illegal for the Nazi style raid they did. If it is an open poker game with no money involved, then there is no grounds for that type of abuse.

Your posts only show me that you are closed minded, and a negative person. Stop harrassing poeple that try to show a little back bone, and are willing to talk about it.


over 9 years ago

It's incredible that the moronic and idiotic "law enforcement officials" in Florida think that this is the best use of their resources. Given all the serious crime that goes on, this is what the local Gestopo thought was worth an investigation that "had been ongoing for months". People playing cards, no one is putting up any money, but they consider it such a dangerous threat to society that probably tens of thousands of dollars of the TAXPAYERS MONEY were spent to put a stop to this public threatening activity. Barging in with guns and masks in the best of Stalinistic tradition.These are the kind of incidents that make people wonder if the police are even human. They'd probably tells us that they were acting in the best interests of the comumity. Really? A bunch of retirees playing cards with no money on the table? Watch or re-watch the movie "Fahrenheit 451" to see where this is going. Florida residents: Use your votes this year to address issues like this.


over 9 years ago

this particular line interests me...
league points are accrued based on one’s tournament finish AND BAR TAB..

Seems like i could finally drink my way into some winnings.
Nice structure


over 9 years ago

Thank God our boys in black have finally crushed this criminal gang! Let's all give them our heart felt thanks for their months of dedicated effort at stopping these fiendish snack loving perps. Don't be fooled by their jovial facade or by their blatantly lawful behavior for it is all on the surface! Underneath it all these ruthless villains have been patiently planning the destruction of our society and secretly communicating these plans during "poker" games.......[rolls eyes / head in hands]

Multi-Agency, multi-month investigation and raid: $100,000 plus
Legal fees and related costs for lawsuit against above: $2,000,000 plus...
Net recovery during raid: $0.0, no guns, no evidence of a crime, but they did get some tasty nachos and fish tacos...If I lived in Florida, I'd have somebody's [at least 1 persons] job over such a gross misuse of taxpayer funds.


almost 8 years ago

Oct.2012 was Louie's Grill and Bar's raid. ELECTIONS are coming and the local newspaper THE LARGO LEADER is great for getting information to taxpayers. All TAXPAYERS should be very interested on how much this raid cost and in addition, taxpayers should be told what was "REALLY OCCOMPLISHED"? MONEY SPENT = OUTCOME


almost 8 years ago

It will be election time soon. Everyone should not re-elect anyone who wasted our tax payers money on this raid. No guns or cash was recovered. In fact out of everyone arrested, that evening at that location was ever convicted of anything. The building had a fire and never re-opened.
I would appreciate anyone who could help me research all of the people in office at the time of this raid.
The Mayor,police chief,Fl Dept, of Tobacco and Beverages. 140 people only 6 taken away and not one charged. A lot of money spent on a raid for what? Who got the feather in his hat. This raid is an example of our political system. Someone was in charge of this investigation. Someone signed their name to have this raid carried out on this date and at the time it went down. Pretty bad we have these state officials spending our money. This raid accomplished nothing. Thanks, Pamela K