Pelham poker raid has players nervous

PELHAM, AL (WBRC) - A raid on a Texas Hold 'Em game in Pelham has poker players around the area looking over their shoulders.
Pelham and Hoover police served a search warrant at a game in Pelham on Saturday where more than 72 players and thousands of dollars were involved. Police are quick to point out no arrests were made on Saturday, but they did seize several pieces of equipment to help an investigation they say has been going on for weeks.

Investigators served a warrant at a building near Highway 31 in Pelham Saturday afternoon. Inside they found a big Texas Hold 'Em poker game underway.

"We encountered more than 6 dozen folks at this location," said Pelham police Lt. Scott Tucker. "Everyone was identified and released, there were no charges. The folks were cooperative."

Investigators are now gathering more information before they take their case to the Shelby County District Attorney, who will make the ultimate call on whether to file charges against anyone, and if so, who will face prosecution.

"These were not just folks that lived in Shelby County," Tucker said. "Many people came from outside the area to attend, and have been attending, some have been there many times."

So should you be worried about hosting a poker game at your house for a few friends? Pelham's lead investigator says the situations are different. "I would not consider the situation playing cards in your neighborhood," Tucker said. "Now there are instances where that may be considered a violation of the law. Now this case involved multiple people coming from numerous parts of the state."

State law makes it illegal to profit from an illegal gambling activity, but does provide a defense if "the person charged with being a player was engaged in a social game in a private place."
Investigators say if charges come from this weekend's search, it could be because prosecutors decide that the games promoters violated another state law which makes it illegal to promote or profit from illegal gambling even if you're not a player.

Pelham investigators say they know of other games in the area that are going on and they will be taking a look at those as well in the coming days.