First up in my inbox this morning was news from BadBlood that Mike Gracz and Chris Bell (not to mention around 70 other people) were busted at a rural North Carolina poker game on Saturday.
The bust, perhaps, was to be expected. North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agents apparently hold gambling (and presumbly the illegal distribution of alcohol in said gambling parlors) among their top priorities. This time, some bigger name players got caught up in the raid.
I'm not friends with Bell or Gracz, but most folks know (even my wife, apparently) that we would not have Michael Gracz in poker if it weren't for Bell. Bell, a N.C. State business graduate, backed Gracz in his early forays into the poker world. Now, it looks like they can share an attorney. Gracz has some experience in this area. He was busted a few years back as well.
The basics of the story seem pretty straight forward: ALE agents bust in and take down a game in Johnston County, arresting 70 people, confiscating all the equipment and around $70,000. With the exception of craps and roulette tables being in the room, it sounds like your average, everyday underground room.
I could spend a lot of time talking about how ridiculous the raid itself is. After all, according to one neighbor in the rural community, "They've never caused any trouble up here that I know of, not in the neighborhood, they haven't," McLamb said. "They kind of kept it low key."
Instead, I think the former TV journalist in me is going to win out and go after the lackluster reporting of reporter Mike Charbonneau and/or his web editor Anne Leake. My favorite passage from the story: "Complainants said the building was used for a number of poker games, such as Texas Hold 'Em, blackjack and roulette"
I once wrote a Cop-Speak-To-Mabel-Speak Theasaurus for new police beat reporters. It might have helped the reporters write the above sentence and provide some alternate words for "complainants." If that doesn't help, I think we should all pitch in and buy them a copy of Super:System to let them know that blackjack and roulette are not poker games.
For more head-shaking fun, visit the WRAL web site. To see if you know anybody caught up in the raid (drop us a note in the comments or an e-mail if you know any more about what happened), check out the list of those arrested and thier charges.
Update: For a better story (one that actually knows that Mike Gracz is the lead), check out the News Observer.
Update 2: More on the North Carolina Poker Bust