Poker Game Question

This may end up in CS but I figured I would start here. Yes, I know this is a work of fiction, but it feels like it might be an accurate representation of a real situation.

I was watching an episode of the Sopranos where Tony takes over Junior’s “executive” high stakes poker game. It’s a great episode with Frank Sinatra Jr. playing himself, but I digress. During the poker game you see the dealer take a few black chips off the table and put them in what looks like an old coffee pot. I assume this is the money the “house” takes after each hand for holding the game. After a day and a half the game breaks up, and Tony and Silvio discuss that they made 50 g’s on the game. Does it make sense that high rollers would pay a mafia crew $50,000 just for the privilege of playing poker privately?

They could just as easily drive down to Atlantic City and play for a lot less, although they might be restricted from playing because they were mobsters. Assuming these are known mobsters would they be barred from playing in a legit casino and be forced to play in these kinds of private games?

Mods… this should probably be moved to the Games area… sorry.

They could be blacklisted from casinos down there if they were suspected or convicted of any type of game tampering.

I think the guys playing at the home game do so because they won’t have to worry about being exposed in public to anyone with a grudge. Plus, when you’re talking high stakes like that, the casino would have to report the winnings and so there’s a tax issue to avoid as well.

This is generally untrue for cash games. Casinos in certain states will issue W-2G forms for tournament winnings, but I don’t believe any casino in the US reports winning from cash games. Indeed, this is impossible to track, as money and chips can be freely exchanged.

For the story at hand, I could imagine that security costs a pretty penny, but $50k does seem awful steep for a few hours of protection.

They would report on any tournament winnings, but cash games are supposed to be self reported. I Granted, I doubt that happens often; but it could be a consideration.

Black chips are typically $100 chips–if they took only one chip per pot, that’d be only 500 hands in the day and a half. If they’re playing with black chips, that might be the house take even at a casino, depends upon the betting. Each pot might reach a couple thousand dollars–casino rakes can be 5 to 10 percent of each pot.

I’d guess that playing with actual murderers and mobsters around adds to the excitement in a way that playing in a corporate-run casino cannot.

I thought that was Frank senior though.


Good answers all. Thanks!

Agreed. I was just addressing the claim that casinos report cash game winnings, which they do not.

Rakes are done as a straight percentage only at lower-stakes games. Black-chip games in casinos are “time-collection” games, where every 30 minutes (say) each player pays a fee or a sum is removed from the next sufficiently large pot.

If the game on the show was of this variety and it had ten players playing for five hours, they’d each have to pay $500 every 30 minutes to reach the $50k figure.

The OP implied a pot rake of some sort, but yeah we dunno really.

The OP says the game lasted a day and a half. They’d only have to donate a chip every hour or so, using that.

Ah, I missed that info. Yeah, that would make it a pretty reasonable collection, then.

It’s a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from NYC to Atlantic City, and add an hour or three to the drive from the congestion going back into the city … so yes, a lot of New Yorkers play in private games.

Generally, high limit games charge a time fee and lower limits rake each pot. Generally, the rake is designed to extract the maximum fee quickly, taking either 5% or 10% of the pot up to the maximum rake, but they take only up to a maximum of something like $4 to $6 per pot.

Generally, the dealers are very good at taking the correct amount, taking $1 or $2 from a $20 pot, $2 or $4 from a $40 pot, etc.

There are, however, games run by less scrupulous operators. The games are known as “snatch games”, the idea being that the dealer snatches whatever amount from the pots he thinks he can take without the players complaining. A lot of players are pretty much totally unaware of the rake. A snatch game needs to have a constant stream of new players because everybody goes broke so quickly.