Doug Polk’s Plans to Open “Largest Poker Room in Texas” Denied By City

Home » Doug Polk’s Plans to Open “Largest Poker Room in Texas” Denied By City
Doug Polk Farmers Branch City Council Meeting

Two years after buying the largest poker room in Texas, Doug Polk had ambitious plans of branching out to other cities by building another large card room.

Those plans hit a wall on Tuesday night as the Farmers Branch City Council voted against a measure that would have allowed card rooms in the small town northwest of Dallas. But the Upswing Poker founder isn’t going to give up, and will now seek a different location in the state for his second poker club.

PokerNews was on-site for the packed and contentious city council meeting in north Texas and interviewed Polk before things kicked off.

Read More About Doug Polk’s Texas Poker Plans

Passionate Defense of Poker

While there are dozens of poker rooms in Texas — some large and others small — the state has strict anti-gambling laws. Plain and simple — gambling is illegal unless it meets certain criteria. But there is a carveout in Texas Penal Code 47.01 that leaves open for the possibility of legally operating a poker room so long as rake isn’t collected. Instead, the card rooms such as The Lodge Card Club charge membership and seat fees as opposed to taking rake out of the pots.

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But there’s still plenty of pushback for poker in Texas at state and city levels, especially in Dallas where some city council members have fought tirelessly to shut down poker clubs such as Texas Card House. The objection to poker stems from residents complaining to the city about gambling in the area, anti-gambling religious beliefs, and lobbying efforts from traditional casinos in surrounding states.

Polk, who proposed building “the largest poker room in Texas” in the small industrial town, faced much of that pushback in Tuesday night’s meeting, which was packed with supporters of the initiative and residents opposed to card rooms in the area.

“There are card players all over your city today,” Polk told the council, “so I want to dispel the idea that this is somehow eroding the fabric of the community.”

Doug Polk speaks during a Farmers Branch City Council Meeting
Doug Polk speaks during a Farmers Branch City Council Meeting

Polk went on to deliver a passionate speech that brought applause from the room: “This attack on poker players in general like they are bad people. I’ll tell you what, some of the best people I have met in my life are poker players. I started my career with ten dollars and I turned it into millions of dollars by becoming one of the best in the world. And poker gave me that opportunity, and I’m tired of of people attacking poker players like they’re some kind of lowlifes.”

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Both Sides Make Cases

Several Farmers Branch residents spoke against the proposal, including Sharon Davis, who said “I like to play poker, too. But that doesn’t mean I want it in my city.”

“I don’t think card houses are a good alignment with the values that we have as a city,” added resident Chris Davis, a homeowner who has lived in the city for 42 years. “I came to Farmers Branch because it was a family-oriented city.”

And some residents were more hostile toward Polk and his plans for a poker room.

“Mr. Doug Polk, although you’re a nice man, you can pack your bags and go home,” said one woman.

But others spoke just as passionately in favor of the initiative, including a professional poker player named Marcus who said he used to take a bus “every single day” to play poker. “That costs money, and I’d like it to be here locally.”

Poker player Marcus speaks in favor of building a poker room
Poker player Marcus speaks in favor of building a poker room

“I know a lot of people here, they see movies where you go into this dark poker room or whatever, but it’s not like that. If any of y’all went into Texas Card House, y’all would see that everyone is friendly, nice and it’s a fun environment.”

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Measure Falls Flat

After several hours and dozens of comments from people on both sides of the issue, the Farmers Branch City Council voted 4-1 against the measure. However, the council told Polk that he could resubmit his request and he wrote on social media after the meeting that he would “be back.”

The location Polk chose as a potential poker room spot sits near the Dallas North Tollway, about 15 minutes from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

Polk’s card room wouldn’t be the first in the area. Texas Card House Dallas is located just out of the city limits of Farmers Branch.

Watch the full Farmers Branch City Council meeting on YouTube.

Hear More About Poker In Dallas From On Tilt Nick!

Will Doug Polk get approval to open a poker room in this location?
Will Doug Polk get approval to open a poker room in this location?

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