A hundred police officers stormed and raided The Cincinnati Club, Scotland's only poker club. Police seized thousands of pounds and all of the clubs playing cards as well as all poker chips which infuriated the club's owners. Individual hands were kept together in bags for evidence if the need for it arises in the future. Four off-duty police officers were among those who were playing poker in the club.
The operation was dubbed 'Operation Hold-'Em', derived from the most popular form of poker. No one was charged with any offence on the June 21 raid.
One player relayed the following story: "I could hardly believe my eyes. There were around 35 players in the club and three times as many policemen. It was like a scene from old Chicago in the times of Prohibition during the 1920s when the speakeasies were raided by The Untouchables. I was half expecting Eliot Ness to walk up and start asking questions. But there was little chance of Al Capone types being in the club. Four of the guys playing at the tables were off-duty police officers, who are regulars in the club and wouldn't dream of getting involved in anything dodgy. They just sat there dumbstruck asking, 'What's going on?' Everyone reckons it's a huge bungle."
The police offices busted in under the speculation that a cut is taken by the management from the hands of the players. But Dave Colclough, top poker star and a director of The Cincinnati Club, is confident no charges will be brought.
"This is a waste of time for the police and a waste of taxpayers' money. We have a well-run and popular (poker) establishment and there is no reason to raid our premises," he said.
"When we set up, we spoke to everyone to ensure there would be no problems. We were advised that setting up as a private members' club would be the best way to go forward initially. When we obtained our drinks licence we also had to gain the approval of the Gambling Commission, which was no problem. I'm mystified as to what their motivation in this is. We offer a high-standard venue for poker and attract a very civilised crowd." He added further.
The police said that the poker club is free to continue its operations.
"We can confirm that Strathclyde officers, acting with inspectors from the Gambling Commission, carried out an operation within premises in Bridge Street, Glasgow. As a result, gaming machines and equipment was seized in connection with alleged offences under the Gaming Act," A police spokesman said.
"A number of people have been interviewed in connection with the operation but no person has been charged with any offence. Our inquiries are ongoing," he added.
September 12, 2006