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A man from Michigan was sentenced for operating a small social poker club

A man has been convicted for operating a secret poker club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Joshua T. Thatcher, 42, was sentenced to one year on probation for running the 906 Poker Social in Marquette, which is located on Lake Superior. In early December, Thatcher pleaded guilty to one felony count of Gambling Operations and was sentenced on January 19.

Josh Thatcher was arrested in Michigan for running a poker operation. (Photo courtesy of Saddleback Photo)

Open to the public
On April 1, 2021, Thatcher, also known on YouTube as the PLO Professor, will launch a six-table room in a building across from an auto repair company. It was just as visible as the bakery across the street, replete with signs and posters of playing cards in the windows.

The big opening was covered locally on radio stations, TV news, and newspapers, with Thatcher being described as a former professional poker player.

Thatcher informed the media that he was not breaking the law since he ran 906 Poker Social as a club. Players pay a membership fee as well as a $10 hourly cost while playing. The rake was not taken. It’s comparable to how certain rooms in Texas get around the law.

He told Fox 6:

“When people go in and look around, the most typical reaction is, ‘This place is genuine!'” We are not in the basement, the barn, or the garage. We’re in a business facility, and there are security cameras on every single table, as well as cameras monitoring the front entrance and covering the whole space. In addition, we have a security guard and professionally qualified dealers. I will not tolerate any kind of non-professional at my tables.”

What 906 Poker Social looked like before it was taken down by Michigan regulators. (Photo by Saddleback)

Busted in any case

Transparency and adequate security did not assist Thatcher. It took Michigan regulators barely three months to finish an investigation and close Thatcher’s poker room on July 8, 2021.

The Michigan Department of Attorney General and the Michigan Gaming Control Board Criminal Investigation Section collaborated on the investigation.

Thatcher was charged in May 2022 with five further felony offenses, including two counts of using computers to commit a crime, and a gross misdemeanor count of allowing a gambling house for profit. These were dropped upon a guilty plea.

“Unregulated gaming operations do not provide the same safeguards to Michigan citizens as lawful, regulated gambling,” stated Henry Williams, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, in a statement. “The objective of the Michigan Gaming Control Board is to assure fair and honest gaming in Michigan, and we collaborate with the Michigan Department of Attorney General to investigate and remove illicit gaming operations across the state.”

Along with probation, Thatcher was ordered to surrender everything in the building related to the operation of his room, including the tables and almost $13,000 in cash.

The major stumbling block here is that Michigan has a thriving poker and gaming culture. Casinos dot the state like freckles on an adolescent, and its online market, which debuted two years ago, has swiftly grown to become one of the biggest in the nation.

Small poker rooms, like the previous 909 Poker Social, will always be targets for attorneys, bureaucrats, and law-folk until the law is expressly amended and rules and regulations created.


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