Poker inches closer to legalization in Texas

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Poker advocates in Texas are making a serious push in the upcoming legislative session to legalize the game, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News.

Currently there is no casino gambling of any kind offered in the state of Texas, but the underground poker scene seems to be exploding, and with it, the amount of police raids. Dallas alone had 10 raids on poker rooms between 2006 and 2007 with a total of 270 players arrested.

Poker advocates are arguing that under the newly elected House Speaker Joe Straus (whom many see as much more open-minded about the issue than his predecessor), the time is right to legitimize No-Limit Hold'em in the state.

Perhaps the most positive development for poker fans has been that Rep. Jose Menendez has submitted HB 222, which would see poker games operated under the authority of the Texas Lottery Commission.

The bill's supporters say that Texas is missing out on a huge financial opportunity and that legalized games would bring more safety to poker players in the state.

"Right now, you don't know what kind of game you're walking into," said Mike Lavigne, Texas director of the Poker Players Alliance in the Morning News article.  "It could be a game with cheating. There could be collusion. There could be guns. The bill gives the players a safe place to plan in an honest game."

Last session the HB 3186 bill (which was similar to HB 222) made it through committee but never came before the House. It was estimated the bill, if passed, would bring over $1 million to the state of Texas over two years' time.

One of its biggest supporters is Dan Michalski, the editor and founder of poker blog Michalski is a former Dallas resident and mentioned the danger of not legalizing the game in the Morning News article.

"It can turn into a criminal enterprise, which is something we don't want it to be," he said. "When you make something legally questionable it has to underground, it starts to attract people who are looking to make money in an off-the-radar way."

Ironically, some of the world's best poker players, including Doyle Brunson and the now-deceased Johnny Moss and Sailor Roberts, hail from Texas.

Michalski is encouraging Texas poker fans to write e-mails of encouragement to both Straus at and Menendez at

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Bill seeks to legalize poker in Texas


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