Police Raid Private Poker Game in North Carolina

Pro Poker Players Chis Bell and Michael Gracz Part of Police Raid

Poker players had gathered together for a private poker tournament in a Johnston County, a rural area about 50 miles south of Raleigh, North Carolina, but their game would never be completed as twenty police officers from North Carolina’s Alcohol Law Enforcement agency raided the game charging 71 people with misdemeanor gambling.

Among the players charged were professional poker players Chris Bell and Michael Gracz, who won a World Poker Tour event in 2005. Chris Bell was also charged with engaging in a game of chance, operating a game of chance, and possession of gaming tables.

The poker players were in the middle of the tournament when police entered the building and stopped the game. Among the items the police seized were cards, chips, dice, a craps table, a roulette table, more than a dozen poker tables, along with $70,196.75. While Bell and Gracz refused to elaborate on what stakes they were playing, according to one source it was a $500 buy-in with re-buys that occurs every three months.

This wasn’t the first time Michael Gracz was present at a poker game that was busted. Two years ago, while playing in a cash game at a business complex in Raleigh, a group of around a dozen policemen burst into the building, bearing rifles as they busted up the game. All the money was seized and the players were led away in handcuffs. Michael Gracz said that in comparison to that event, the raid on Saturday was much more calm and peaceful, with business being handled in a pleasant manner.

Gracz did say that the authorities were just wasting the time of their twenty agents, as the misdemeanor gambling charge is just like getting a speeding ticket. Gracz said, “They could go catch sexual predators or something that has a real impact on society. If they had gotten two guys to come there, they could have asked us to leave the premises and we would have left.” Michael Gracz said that he would just pay the fine and move on.

All those who were charged were allowed to go home, and the entire operation took approximately four hours.

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