Judge in closely watched poker case puts off decision

If a local judge in the Lowcountry decides that Texas Hold’em poker is a game of skill,  the case may result in other towns following suit to legalize what has been considered gambling under South Carolina law.

Municipal Judge Lawrence Duffy, Jr. wants more time to think about this case, so court will reconvene next Thursday. 

Five men arrested in a 2006 poker raid in Mt. Pleasant have challenged a South Carolina law that is more than 200 years old. The defendants, now known as the “Mt. Pleasant Five,” were apprehended for playing Texas Hold’em in a Mt. Pleasant home and declined to pay the fine of $300. One of the five, Bob Chimento, wanted to prove that the world famous poker game was one of skill and not chance. In court Friday, Chimento said their plea seemed to work because Judge Duffy stated, before continuing deliberation, that Texas Hold’em is a game of skill.  Chimento considers that statement as a half win for the Mt. Pleasant Five.

“He has to take it and he has to apply that to the law that is on our books so he has evidence beyond belief of what he has to go and take and come up with his opinion,” says Chimento.

Judge Duffy will have his ready next Thursday. In Friday’s session, three expert witnesses testified on the side of the defense, claiming that Texas Hold’em is a game of skill and not chance. One of those witnesses, Las Vegas World Poker Tour host, Mike Sexton testified on the side of the five men, and he was, in the words of Chimento, “astounding.” This court case has larger implications, defendants say,  because it is the first time a judge has ever ruled, with a defense and prosecution, if the poker game is chance or skill.