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  • ‘Illegal’ clubs are still open for business

    By Roy Houghton

    As some of you will know I am involved in the Loose Cannon Club which is in the heart of the City of London. I have not spoken about this here before because quite frankly not a lot was happening at the place. Knowing the Gutshot Club was being taken to Court for infringements of the Gaming Act (1968) Sections 3 & 4, I naively (as it turned out) thought all the ‘illegal’ clubs would be closed down. The only way to open a legal club was to have a Private Members Club whereby members paid a quarterly, six-monthly or yearly payment and all poker, including tournaments, was TOTALLY FREE OF CHARGE.

    But although found guilty, as of to-day all these ‘illegal’ clubs are still open for business, which frankly made our model impossible to operate. The fact is that poker players will not pay a fee up front, preferring instead to pay registration fees for tournaments and a table charge or rake for cash games. Despite letters to the UK’s Gaming Commission and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.( none of which was answered) we religiously stuck to our guns and persevered, knowing the membership payment was doomed. We were offering the cheapest poker in the world,,but players just would not part with the fee.

    Now we have been forced to adopt the same tactics as all other clubs, which we started to do at the beginning of this year, and already we are noticing a difference. It’s still very early days yet,- but instead of sitting in an empty room as we did all last year we have had two tournaments this week, and better still have had cash games both nights; so here’s hoping the club continues to grow.

    Please understand I have no wish for Gutshot or indeed any of the other clubs to be closed down; I just need some clarity from the authorities whereby we all have a ‘level playing field’. The number of poker players in the U.K. is huge and even from my experience at the Loose Cannon is still continuing to grow; it is not a tiny minority of people any more as since 2001 the internet and T.V. coverage has led to a massive growth of players. Hopefully the relevant UK authorities will realise that poker in itself is now a major business and bring in proper legislation for these players and the clubs who cater for them, to operate without fear of legal intervention.


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    Comment from Johnny Hughes
    Time: January 20, 2008, 3:20 pm

    Hey Roy,

    Do you fear that writing about illegal poker will gain attention and cause heat from the laws??? I have that problem here in West Texas. Poker is illegal. One of my friends said that my novel might cause heat. I had done three radio interviews, but I am laying low now. In a way, I am breaking the old outlaw code by writing about outlaw poker.

    Johnny Hughes

    Comment from Rick Theobald
    Time: January 24, 2008, 11:54 am

    Hi Roy,

    I know that the LPM (London Poker Meetup) are all very happy that Loose Cannons continues to be a prime venue for poker in London. On the back of several trips to the club, not least of all for the monthly 100 pound games, we’re running a series of tournaments at the club.

    These will be an undoubted success (numbers were great last year at a different venue) and I’m confident that, even if the model was then to return to the original one, plenty of our rank would join.

    The question is, are you able to just say “Ooh, sorry, I didn’t realise” and return to the original model, or have you now committed yourselves to one course of action?

    Rick T

    Comment from Roy Houghton
    Time: January 27, 2008, 1:46 pm

    Hi Richard,
    Hope you had a good time at the Loose Cannon on Saturday 26th January. Must say we thought you were a great crowd, no one got very drunk; all behaved in a proper manner, and for our part would always welcome members of LPM.
    Now to your comments, in answwer to your last sentence, it may be possible for us to do this. The fact is that the Gaming Commission are aware that having a private members club with a reg fee, is not workable. Should the authorities act in relation to ‘illegal’clubs, it may well be possible for us to revert to the registration fee and then free poker.
    Should we be grouped with all other’illegal’ clubs, we would have to produce documentation to prove our intent, with the letters sent to all relevant authorities, which as I mentioned in my article were not answered. Hope of course the latter does not happen; just want players to have a choice of where they play poker; and not be forced to visit casinos; with the other temptations( hard gaming) they would be faced with.

    Comment from Gary Christopher
    Time: February 19, 2008, 6:15 pm

    Hi Roy

    I just wondered if you had ventured down the the recent opened Dusk til Dawn club at Nottingham. Rob Yong and his team, which includes Simon Trumper and Paul Jackson amongst others, have done a great job, after overcoming many obstacles, to bring us exactly what you mentioned in your previous comment- pure poker action, and legal too!! No temptations of the dreaded roulette in sight!!

    With over 45 tables, I have no doubt there will be some great tourney action in future festivals that are surely in the planning.

    I cant give it justice with these few sentences….come down and see the place. Recent news and photos are the dtdpoker site if you fancy a look.

    Hope to see you down there sometime

    yours in poker

    Gary C

    Comment from Gary Christopher
    Time: February 19, 2008, 6:19 pm


    I’m sure your’s is a great club too btw, just too far away from me and my meagre pocket, as i live in Lincoln lol

    Gary C

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