Man claims poker is all skill

Derek Kelly, 46, has claimed that poker is a game of equal opportunity, where skill decides who is the winner. He is accused of illegally holding two poker games under the 1968 Gaming Act at his Gutshot Club in Clerkenwell, Central London.

The Act specifies that a licence must be granted to host games of chance, such as blackjack and slots but not games of skill, like chess or quiz machines.

Mr Kelly told Snaresbrook Crown Court that he could prove that poker is a game of skill and he could prove it.

"Poker is a game of equal opportunity. If I sat down to play with you nothing would detract from who is the best player other than skill,” Mr Kelly told a police officer in an interview.

"If you do not believe that, I could produce volumes to show you that the best players in the world continue to win competitions," he added.

In what is turning out to be a very interesting case, members of the jury are also being given free lessons in how to play poker.

Graham Trembath QC for the prosecution told the jury: "This case is all about poker. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I do not know of course whether you, or any of you, are familiar with playing poker, what poker involves, the rules of poker.

"Some of you may know what it is all about, some of you may not. Well, I anticipate during the course of this trial you will have, as it were, a free short tuition in what poker is all about, what poker involves, how it works and so on and so forth."

Mr Kelly held tournaments of the massively-popular version of poker, Texas Hold’Em, and charged a levy on winnings. Police officers visited the club on two occasions, the first on 7 December 2004, where the club kept £270 of the £2,165 winnings. The next occasion was on 27 January 2005 when the club kept £2 of a £22 entrance fee.

The irony of the whole case is that the UK’s new Gambling Act is set to be introduced later this year in September, with proposals for poker gambling in pubs reported to have been put forward.

Editor, - 2007-01-12 11:19:55

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