Texas Card House Finds a Gambling Loophole

5 years ago
Texas Card House finds legal gambling loophole for club members
28 Dec

In a brilliant and (apparently) legally sound move, a poker hall has been opened up in Texas and it’s not on a reservation! The hall, called Texas Card House, has found a way around Texas’ tight anti-gambling legislation, and opened up to some surprising success.

Previous to this, Texas has managed to keep gambling out of the state except in the case of Native American reservations. While many casinos and lobbies have petitioned for legalization, none have been successful up until this point. However, a new player has recently done what was thought to be impossible.

The club is the brainchild of Sam Von Kennel, previously the Chairman of the Licensing and Administrative committee for the state of Texas. Because of his close proximity to licensing law in the state, Von kennel has managed to come up with a legal way to to host poker without getting Native American status.

The idea is simple. Instead of players directly betting their own money, players pay a daily or monthly membership fee that gives them unlimited access to the club tables. They can join any active game or tournament without paying an entrance fee and without risking their own money. Instead, players are given even stacks of chips that come with game participation. The house collects no rake and tipping dealers is strictly forbidden.

Because the house doesn’t collect rake and the players don’t technically risk their own money, playing at the club tables doesn’t actually count as betting. Of course, players can still win money. The payouts are just taken from the club memberships that members pay.

Frankly, I think the move is just genius. By shifting the money so that it just pays for club access, Von Kennel has removing the “betting” part of poker and hence, the main legal restriction. I've read the Texas legal code myself and the loophole honestly looks to be perfectly in order. You really have to commend Von Kennel for going the extra mile to allow players to enjoy our favorite passtime. Setting up this club has been a major investment for him and he runs a serious risk if anything goes awry.

However, the club has already seen a great surge of popularity and plans are in the works for both a ten table expansion and a second location in North Austin. Here’s wishing the best to Texas Card House and its players. Hopefully, lawmakers aren’t already looking at ways to shut them down.

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Paul Nirenberg is a burgeoning author and long time fan of games of skill and chance. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he has been an avid poker player since he was given The Little Black Book of Poker at age 13. He now spends his time writing freelance while accruing short stories for a science ...Read more


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Chris_80Chris_80on 28/6/17

Were they granted a business license to open it?