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Poker Club in Florida Shutdown by Authorities

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The gamble to play poker for money instead of points didn't pay out for several card players Thursday night when investigators raided a local bar in Vero Beach, FL. Nearly 12 players sitting near the back of Hillbilly Hideaway had to fold early when 4 undercover agents surrounded their poker table about 11:30 p.m. EST.

Following a verbal announcement of the poker investigation, officers surrounded the tavern, locked the doors and watched everyone inside. Even those not playing poker, including the staff, were checked before being allowed to leave.

Detectives from the county's Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement unit arrested 9 people and charged them with misdemeanor gambling. Two of them also were charged with felonies including running a gambling operation and possessing cocaine.

The One Stop Poker Tour, hired by the bar as entertainment, offers a free poker tournament every Thursday night at Hillbilly Hideaway. The company also hosts games on other nights in various venues from Melbourne to Palm Beach and is in its second season according to its Web site.

"We try to investigate every complaint of illegal gambling, including poker we get," Jones said, adding he got invited to play in the cash game during the initial stages of the undercover investigation. "If we get a complaint that turns out to be legit, we will enforce the law. We want everyone to know this."

Undercover investigators played in the free poker games for many months, and some were later asked to play in the "invite only" games for money, according to Jones. They even got tips from state gaming officials about how to play poker and what cheats to look for from dealers.

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