Just minutes into what was to be the last poker game ever held at the Hong Kong Poker House, police raided the downtown establishment and arrested everyone they could find. The poker club, located in the Hilltop Plaza on Hollywood Road in the city’s central business district, was shutting down because the landlord refused to renew the lease. A final celebratory tournament was being held, offering participants a chance to win round-trip tickets and hotel packages to Macau and eligibility to take part in a Macau poker tournament.
The club has been around since 2008, and regularly ran Texas hold’em cash games. It was popular among professionals; in fact, many of those arrested were lawyers and accountants. All players have been released on bail, and none have been officially charged.
While Hongkongese gambling laws forbid most forms of gambling in the city, poker has always a sort of gray area. As long as games are hosted in private, they are more or less acceptable. While all those present at the Hong Kong Poker House that night had paid 300 Hong Kong dollars (about $40) to join the game, they insisted that chips were not cashed in, and that the game was being played just for fun. Inconsistencies in the stories lead police to believe otherwise.
Poker is growing in popularity, so the closure of the city’s largest poker club comes as a big hit. Fortunately locals can still play online poker in Hong Kong. While internet gambling is not regulated in the city, players may access foreign-hosted internet gambling sites, where endless cash games and tournaments await.