Looking back at poker’s free-league debacle in Tampa

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In our January issue, we reported police and agents from the Division of Alcoholic, Beverages and Tobacco raided the Nutz Poker League, arresting several people, including owner Rick Danford, his father and the proprietor of the establishment, Louis Karamanos, of Louie’s Grill, which hosted the game that day. The charges were dropped for most, and an agreement was made for the Danfords and Karamanos to have their charges ultimately erased.

I spoke with Rick and asked him about that night.

“People thought we were being robbed,” he said. “I couldn’t believe this was happening. Did somebody put money on the table? Were they there for things to do with the bar?” He said he and his partner discussed shutting things down six months earlier but because of the relationships and friendships cultivated in the league he wanted to keep it going. Now, after the arrest and subsequent agreement, the league is out of business. But that has not deterred Rick or fans of the league for coming together and discussing the future. He is a part of the charge to get the laws changed and the old 1800s statutes changed. Ante Up will continue to follow this story.

HARD ROCK TAMPA: March 1-10 will bring the World Poker Tour back to Hard Rock Tampa with another regional event. Poker room manager Henry Funke also said the March event will be the first of four events in Tampa, with a series planned for May 31-June 9, Sept. 6-15 and Dec. 6-15. Also, the Hard Rock has been listening to players by adding some player-friendly events and guarantees on all tournaments. Of course, the Hard Rock will be running single-table and multitable satellites.

Some new events include black-chip bounty tournaments, All-In or Fold, two senior events (a main on March 6 and then a second-chance event later that day) and a six-max event. Funke predicts an “enthusiastic” turnout.

— Andrew Malowitz is Ante Up’s Central Florida Ambassador. Email him at anteupanndrew@gmail.com.