Top Stories of 2022, #6: Everything's Bigger in Texas - Especially Poker!

To say it’s been a roller coaster year full of ups and downs for poker in Texas would be quite an understatement.

In our sixth top story of 2022, we take a look back at the past 365 days of the good and bad that transpired across the Lone Star State in relation to poker. Being that we’re glass-half-full kind of people, we’ll kick it off with a little Phil Hellmuth positivity, even though we aren’t even sure if the “Poker Brat’s” ever played cards in Texas.

Polk, Neeme, Owen Purchase The Lodge

polk neeme owen lodge

Right after the New Year, Doug Polk made headlines when he, along with vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen, announced they had teamed up together to purchase The Lodge Card Club in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin.

The Lodge was already a popular poker club in the state and one of the biggest in the country. But Polk had even bigger plans for the business, which included improving the quality of the Poker at the Lodge stream and adding even more tables (now 82 tables).

Polk, who moved to Austin in 2021, isn’t just an investor who never appears at The Lodge “Mahal,” In fact, he’s one of the regular players in the poker club and often appears on the livestream. Neeme and Owen are also as active as they can be while living in Las Vegas, but they heavily promote the room and also come to town occasionally to compete on Poker at the Lodge.

In now almost exactly one year as co-owners, the trio has made The Lodge more recognized outside of Texas, which has helped bring in players from other states. As a result, the room hosted many huge events in 2022, none larger than the Lodge Championship Series in May, live reported by PokerNews.

PokerNews Embarks on Texas Poker Road Trip

doyle brunson texas poker
Doyle Brunson’s hometown.

In March, PokerNews’ Chad Holloway, Jesse Fullen, and Jon Sofen wanted to find out for themselves exactly what the Texas poker hype was all about. So, they took a six-day road trip across the state, visiting more than 20 card rooms in the big cities (Dallas, Austin, and Houston), along with rooms in smaller towns such as Odessa.

In between the poker room visits, they also made time to take in some poker history, visiting the gravesites of Johnny Moss and Jack Strauss, and stopping by Longworth, the hometown of the great Doyle Brunson.

What the crew discovered on their journey was that Texans love poker as much as anywhere. They’re passionate about the game and pack the dozens of poker clubs across the state. Not only that, but the owners of these fine establishments were welcoming and passionate about poker.

It seems like there are new rooms in Texas popping up every other month. There are places to play poker in just about every town of any measurable population these days.

Read Our Texas Week Recap

Texas Card House Dallas Fights Never-Ending Legal Battle

texas card house dallas

While poker is booming in the Lone Star State, there is one issue — nobody really knows if it’s legal. Some say the law — Texas Penal Code 47.04 — permits poker businesses to operate as social clubs, charging membership and seat fees in place of rake. But others disagree with the interpretation of the law.

As such, authorities and lawmakers in multiple cities have either forced the closure of certain card rooms or attempted to do so. None of these cases has been more prominent than at Texas Card House Dallas, one of the top poker rooms in the entire state.

In January, the city of Dallas revoked the card room’s Certificate of Occupancy, the beginning of what will become a lengthy legal battle. A few months later, the city’s Board of Adjustment (BOA) voted to reinstate the COO, which caused a Dallas inspection official to sue the BOA and claims they stepped outside their boundaries in overturning the COO revocation.

The judge in November ruled in favor of the building inspector, leaving TCH Dallas in limbo, although the card room remains in operation. Texas Card House CEO Ryan Crow Dallas told PokerNews he anticipates this case will eventually end up in the Texas Supreme Court and that it could impact the legality of poker across the state.

Shootings at Legends Poker Room

legends poker room houston

One Houston area poker room that has made headlines for all the wrong reasons — Legends Poker Room — is also one of the busiest and most popular in town. And that’s a bit of a problem.

Legends has some of the juiciest cash games, which brings in players. But there are safety concerns with playing in this Texas card room. Over the past year, shootings in the parking lot have occurred on multiple occasions. Not every time has the incident been related to the poker room, but it does bring into question safety issues when playing there regardless.

In January, a heroic security guard at Legends stopped an armed robbery, but bullets flew inside the building. Fortunately, no one was injured and the culprit was taken into custody.

Three months later and an even scarier situation occurred when bullets from outside Legends began spraying into the poker room. Once again, no one was hit, thankfully, but the incident still caused panic. Still, the room continues to draw in customers thanks to the juicy games.

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