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Now This is How an Illegal Poker Club Should Be Run
Before casinos and online gaming there were poker clubs and home games.
They still exist, and it's still business as usual.
Governments around the world have always tried to pin guilt on people for gaming.
Unless they are the house, of course, then all of a sudden it's guilt-free pleasure.
That's a double standard, which is probably what I hate most in the world.
Not Quite as Crazy as Sheldon Adelson's Crusade
It's not as completely crazy as Sheldon Adelson's current crusade.
That's the one where he's trying to sell that online gambling is horrible and should be banned but gambling in his casinos is just innocent fun -- especially with all the free booze.
Apparently all the billions he makes are as pure as Snow White.
The end result is nevertheless that people like you and I had to, and have to, spend time in underground and illegal clubs just because we like to play cards for a couple of hours (or days).
That's okay. I like it. The mystique adds to the pleasure and I get to hang out with like-minded people.
Who wants a bunch of idiots walking into revolving doors and leaving after a couple of hours like some boring newbie who doesn't get that a game of Monopoly that takes eight hours is endlessly more fun than one that takes two hours?
The Best Education ... if you Survived
The most legendary club of all time in Sweden is Kortoxen. It was open for 30 years in several different locations.
It was the best education a player could get -- if you survived.
The ones that rose to the top, the cream of the crop, became tough cookies to crack even for the Great White Sharks in Vegas.
At Kortoxen we had Grand Masters in Chess and Bridge, World Champions in Backgammon and bracelet winners in poker.
We could have taken on any club in the world and been competitive. The Mayfair Club in New York would have been the favorite, but we would have had a chance.
There are many stories from those times and the times before me.
When I tell them to my friends from around the world they recognize the stories, and the characters, because the clubs around the world are all the same.
The same thing happens everywhere and the same characters inhabit the clubs.
This is How an Illegal Club Should Be Run
The stories are similar but always a bit different of course, and always worth listening to.
Players around the world are all the same and it's a very good argument against prejudice and racism if you think about it.
I have many stories from Kortoxen involving some great characters.
One story is about Björn Eriksson, the Head of Police in Sweden from 1988-1996.
According to the legend there was a knock on the door of Kortoxen one afternoon. It was Björn Eriksson and a bunch of politicians and polices.
“I'm Björn Eriksson, Head of Police. Let me in.”
He was, of course. He took his entourage on a tour around the 600 square meter facilities where people were playing cards.
After the tour he said, “Now, this is how an illegal club should be run.” He turned to the guy in the bar and continued, “Thank you for the tour.”
Then they left.
I Asked the Head of Police Himself
Everybody at the club insists that the legend is true. Many even claim to have been there at the historic event.
That doesn't necessarily make it true but this one I believe because the story stayed the same over time.
Fairy tales have a tendency to improve much more over time than true stories.
The club was, by the way, walking distance from the Police Headquarters where Mr. Eriksson had his office.
Anyway, both Björn Eriksson and I later became famous in Sweden -- both for basically having big mouths. I met him at a red carpet event since he was a friend of my also famous wife.
The nightclub finally closed and Björn was standing outside, about to walk away in the night with a long blond woman and a smile on his lips.
I saw my chance and asked him about the story.
“You should never call out a good story.”
He gave me one of the most classic answers in the gambling world and Björn the Player walked away in the night. Ready for some action I'm sure.
So, was it true? Of course! If it wasn't. he would have said so. And if it was he could never admit it.
About Ken Lennaárd:
Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via PokerListings.com. Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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