Search

Popular Old Street poker club forced to shut

06:45 17 July 2012

A poker tournament in full swing at The International

A poker tournament in full swing at The International

Archant

A popular poker club has been forced to fold after losing its gaming permit once and for all.

The International Private Members Club, which was stripped of the licence in October, has finally closed its tables after losing an appeal at Thames Magistrates’ Court.

The ruling marks the end of a long-running saga that saw the club’s managers test the limits of gambling law.

Regular player Marcus Bernard, 26, who runs a dealer training business, said: “It really is the end of an era. It had the best atmosphere and the best players of any poker club in London.

“It was like a family, everyone was there as friends rather than just to take each other’s money. For lots of people it was a huge part of their lives.”

He added: “People are pretty angry. They feel it’s a classic case of a council patting itself on the back for tackling a nonexistent problem, instead of fixing real issues.”

Many poker pros had earned their stripes at the club before going on to win millions in tournaments across the globe. They include James Akenhead, who scooped more than $1million when he reached the final table of the poker equivalent of the World Cup, the World Series of Poker Main Event.

The club was first opened as the Gutshot card room in Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell, in 2004, without any kind of gaming licence. The owners attempted to prove poker is a game of skill rather than chance – and that therefore they didn’t need one.

When their argument collapsed in a high-profile court case in 2008, they reopened in East Road, Old Street, as The International, and acquired a private members’ club gaming permit from Hackney Council.

That has now been revoked because the venue was flouting the conditions by operating principally as a poker room. Under the 2005 Gambling Act, members’ clubs can only provide chance games like poker as long as they are not “wholly or in the most part” their reason for being.

Cllr Sophie Linden, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for crime, said: “This verdict sends a strong message that clubs operating with complete disregard for the law will not be tolerated.”

Matthew Hill, of the Gambling Commission, said: “We welcome this verdict, which confirms that the narrow permission allowing genuine members’ clubs to host poker cannot be used to justify the provision of what amounts to a commercial poker club.”

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00
Boddington

A leading tech boss has called for more action to get girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at school and for Tech City to become more multicultural.

Yesterday, 16:50
Gabriel Thomson, 28, who formerly appeared in BBC sitcom 'My Family' has been accepted to King's College London with a view to become a human right's barrister

Gabriel Thomson received a distinction whilst studying at City and Islington College

Friday, July 24, 2015
Members of the Islington Debt Coalition campaigned outside Finsbury Park Station last Thursday to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks

Council insists payday lending shops are not welcome in Islington

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Parking space for disabled person/

Recent statistics showed unemployment rates fall but disabled still face barriers to work

Most read news

Competitions

Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder