5/10/10 – Poker organisers Diane Alice Dent and Walter Leroy Watkins have to be among the most determined fighters for poker to be recognised as a game where skill is more important than chance; the duo’s case could now be headed for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The couple, who were accused in 2008 of running a poker game in which no rake applied in the garage of a private home, have appealed a Superior Court ruling that had earlier overturned a lower court finding that poker is predominantly a game of skill and therefore falls outside the scope of ‘illegal gambling.’
The case started its long journey through various courts when a police sting operation resulted in the prosecution of the duo, and the Poker Players Alliance has been fighting poker’s corner in supporting the two Pennsylvanians.
The PPA’s executive director, John Pappas, feels there is a good chance a Supreme Court appeal will be successful, saying: “The [Superior Court] judges did not look at what was presented before them, but rather looked at other court cases in other states that said poker is a game of chance. They didn’t take into account any of the most recent academic studies and legal victories.”
The case has seen the presentation of some highly technical testimony dealing with the advantages of skilled players over less experienced gamblers in identifying opportunities to bluff, master odds, and interpret live tells.
It was to no avail in the Superior Court, however, where a panel of three judges voted 2 to 1 that chance is the predominant factor in the game, quoting from cases in other states.