South Carolina’s catching up

February 22, 2009

So this week Mount Pleasant Municipal Judge Larry Duffy told the world what most of us, at least the poker enthusiasts around the world, already know. Playing poker is a skill.
That’s a bit like telling a fisherman the sea gets angry during a thunderstorm, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

For most of us, this “decision” won’t matter in the least in our everyday lives. That is, of course, unless you live in South Carolina, where the law that, read literally, makes any game with cards or dice — including popular board games such as Monopoly and Sorry — illegal.

Poker just can’t climb out of Monopoly’s shadow, can it?

All joking aside, the state isn’t as crazy as you might think, and through a looser interpretation of the law considers games reliant more on chance than on skill, including our favorite Texas Hold ‘em, to be gambling and thus illegal. And they’re not alone, about half the U.S. states have similar laws.

What could this ultimately mean for South Carolinians? That eventually, if poker is recognized by the state as a game of skill, that police might not be able to arrest people involved in house games.

Friendly house games, of course.
I can just see it now, a half dozen of you and your buddies sitting around the old felt beast with some beers and a mean game of follow the queen going, when who shows up to break up your party but a bunch of boys in blue. Luckily, you all have a copy of the new state law handily sandwiched between the empty bag of cheetos and the six jokers you stripped from the decks before you started.

“See officer? We can play. We’re skilled. Don’t mind the orange smudges, they don’t nullify the law.”

If only your elementary, high school and college – if you went – teachers saw as much skill in you as the South Carolina law now does.

This brings up my next thought…why the hell would a cop bust up a home poker game where the people are playing for chump change? They don’t have anything better to do? I’d be a pissed off citizen if somebody broke into my house, mugged me or jacked my car only to find out the police were too busy to be around during or shortly thereafter the crime because they were crowbarin’ the door to Johnny’s mother’s basement. And for that matter, how the hell would a cop even find out one of these games were going on? The only way I can see someone really being charged with this is if the cops are there on some other type of call (domestic disturbance, if I don’t mind stereotyping) and happen upon the game in the process. Kinda like when they pull you over for speeding and then double you up for not wearing your seatbelt. Doesn’t that one suck.

That’s the only way I can see it happening. Unless there’s a secret underground ring of co-workers snitching to the law as a plea deal for slipping Janine one too many roofies at the bar.

Laugh, it’s not that far-fetched. Another reason to only play with people you know.

Um, where was I? Oh yeah, poker’s a skill. Good for South Carolina. No longer will it be lumped in with the likes of Kansas and Georgia. It’s moving up in the world. Pretty soon it might give North Dakota a run for it’s money. Next thing you know Texas will finally come forward and declare sex a skill. Won’t that be a glorious day. The rest of the country follows suit, identifies prostitutes as the most talented of us all, and all-too-familiar boutiques start opening up on every corner of every strip mall.

“Welcome to The Beaver Squad. We’re the most skilled artists this side of the London Symphony Orchestra! Like, totally!”

OK, now I’m just dreaming.