Matt Stephans of Competition Unlimited has been trying to organize Slot Gampang Menang tournaments to be held in various bars across Austin.

Poker tournaments are different from a live poker game in terms of legality because they can be classified as a contest rather than a betting event. A poker tournament would be comparable to a pinball tournament or a fantasy football pool — while the outcome is governed at least partially by chance, and it would be illegal to bet on, say, a single game of pinball in a public place, it is not illegal for players to pay a fee to enter a tournament to win cash or prizes.

That’s in theory, at least. I’ve never seen a legal case to test that interpretation of the law. And although the Texas penal code seems like it doesn’t prohibit poker tournaments, poker is still poker. Matt said that he spoke with the APD and they don’t believe that poker tournaments are illegal. But then he spoke with the friendly TABC people. They said they don’t interpret the law, and that they would shut down any poker happening inside a bar.

Matt is working on several options. The one I’d like to see is to get a written opinion from the Texas Attorney General. However, this is a 6 month process and requires a request to be initiated by a government agency. Nevertheless, if this happened it would open the door for public poker tournaments in Texas, which would be great. I think a poker club that offered only tournaments could do quite well in Austin.

The other option that Matt is pursuing and would be nearer term is to hold the poker tournaments in non-bar locations so they’re out of TABC’s jurisdiction. I still think the question of whether the APD or state troopers would want to bust such a tournament is an open one; while public poker tournaments seem legal under Section 47, it’s an untested aspect of Texas gambling law and therefore still open for interpretation.

I would love to see an Attorney General opinion on this; at least legal public tournaments would be a great step forward in Texas poker. Imagine public $220 buyin super satellite tournaments to enter the World Series of Poker $10,000 main event in Austin and the rest of Texas. That would be great!

austin 3rd most unwired city

Austin has been ranked third in Intel’s survey of “most unwired cities”.

This is pretty cool, but I’m kind of amazed by it. After reading of WiFi utopias in other cities where, seemingly, free wireless access points existed everywhere from truck stops to barbershops, and you could get wireless in the forest because the city had a catch-and-release plan whereby deer were implanted with access points and left to roam free, Austin seemed far behind that kind of ideal.