Students ran poker games in apartment just like real 'casino' - Thursday 12th of May 2005

A group of Virginia Tech students ran Texas Hold 'Em poker games just like a Vegas casino, according to one of the student's police caught playing in a game last month. The student preferred to remain nameless, but said a judge ordered him to stay out of trouble and serve 50 hours of community service to avoid a possible fine.

The student was one of 18 people who went before a Montgomery County district court judge in Blacksburg Thursday charged with some form of illegal gambling. Blacksburg police say Tech student Edwin Park ran Texas Hold 'Em poker games out of his small Terrace View apartment between mid-February and late March of this year. Investigators believe Park and others took in a "rake," or portion of each poker hand players would bet, making the games illegal. A district court judge fined seven people, primarily Tech students, police charged with being dealers in the poker games $400 each.

The judge ordered another 14 players in the poker games to stay out of trouble for one year and perform 50 hours of community service, or face a large fine. Park waived his initial hearing in district court meaning his case would be taken before the next Montgomery County grand jury later this month. Park is the person charged with a felony. Most of the dealers fined by the judge have appealed their cases to circuit court.

Two players who spoke to 10 On Your Side on the condition that they remain nameless said they were offered free beer and pretzels as they were playing poker. One of the players said the house would offer a "two dollar McDonald's run" each night, and described seeing a shoebox with $3,000 cash the house would use to cash out other players. A Blacksburg police officer played in a poker game March 24th at the Terrace View Apartments according to a search warrant on file at Montgomery County circuit court. The officer lost $120. Blacksburg police busted the poker games the next night.

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