Does this mean I’m getting arrested

In San Mateo County in my home state of California, the cops decided it would be a hoot to bust up a small time poker game.

Police in San Mateo County, California apparently first spent months investigating the small-stakes poker game. From this firsthand account, it looks like a couple of the officers were playing regularly for several weeks before sending in the SWAT team, guns drawn, last week. If California is like most states (and I believe it is), a poker game is only illegal if the house is taking a rake off the top. In this case, it looks like that “rake” was the $5 the extra the hosts asked from each buy-in to pay for pizza and beer.

I’m going to my buddy’s poker game this weekend, and I’m supposed to bring $5 bucks to offset food and beer costs as well.  Should I be expecting a visit from SWAT Ninjas?  Plus, since I don’t drink when I play, I’ll be carrying, so you know, now you’ve got gambling and firearms.  Yep, we’re clearly mobbed up.  I guess Uncle, with his love of poker, should probably watch his back.

I hate stuff like this.  Way to allocate police resources to crack down on dangerous criminals, guys.


  1. I spent the first 19 or so years of my life in San Mateo County. To give you an idea of what the police are like there, I’ll tell you the tale of my home town of Belmont (pop ~26,000) and radar speeding tickets.

    Back then (don’t know if the law has changed in the 30 or so years since this took place) the police could only use radar to give tickets if they met certain requirements. They were things like:

    1. Do an evaluation of the quality of the road, the existing traffic flow, the types of businesses/residences on the street, etc in order to determine what a reasonable speed limit would be.

    2. Do secret radar monitoring of the current traffic on the road.

    If the formulas used in #1 or the results of #2 showed that the speed limit was set too low, you couldn’t use radar to issue tickets there. On the lower portion of Ralston Ave, the speed limit was set at 30mph. The average car was doing something like 42. Since the speed limit was lower than the allowable percentage of the average speed, using radar was not allowed. The city tried to raise the speed limit, but the homeowners on the street raised such a noise that they couldn’t do it. They might not have even been able to due to their being houses there.

    What to do? People are speeding, but it’s against the law to use radar to cite them for it.

    Use radar and issue tickets anyway. Lots and lots of them. To fight the ticket, you had to take at least a half day off work to enter your not guilty plea. Then you had to come back and lose at least another half day’s work to say “they used radar on Ralston Ave to give me this ticket and that’s a no-no” and have the judge dismiss your ticket. So, for the cost of only 1-2 day’s wages you can save yourself $40. Everyone just paid the ticket.

    Then, one day, a lawyer got a ticket. He sued the city and won. Then he took out an ad in the paper saying that he would sue the city on behalf of anyone else that got ticketed there. Won himself a few more cases. The city mailed out notices to everyone else with a pending ticket saying they were dropping the ticket.

    So, what did this little burb stand to lose? The figures they gave were that by not being able to use radar to write tickets on this less than two mile stretch of one road they would be out something like $300,000 a year just from the city’s share of the ticket revenue. They can still write tickets, just not by using radar to tell how fast you’re going.

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