by Ashley Adams
In my last column I continued my tale of poker in the western prairie, leaving North Dakota for poker rooms in Montana. In this column I’ll continue with my journey and write about poker in Wyoming.
Wyoming is a testament to the importance of government and the law. You see, as much as we gamblers may be civil libertarians at heart—preferring for the government to stay out of our lives— when push comes to shove—the right laws can make for the ideal poker environment. Such is the case in Wyoming.
In Wyoming, sky’s the limit! No silly $500 pot limit as they have in Montana. No $100 bet limit as they have in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. In Wyoming the law does not limit how big the bet, how big the pot, or how big the buy-in can be. Poker, no matter how big or small, is fully legal.
In Wyoming, there is no restriction on where or who can run a game. There are legal poker games in restaurants, in bars, and in lounges. There are games in private homes, clubs, and lodges. All are legal, freely talked about, and out in the open. No hiding in back rooms. No paying of protection money to keep a shady operation going.
The law in Wyoming also makes it illegal for the house to charge a rake or a time charge. So all the games—from the tiny to the mighty—are played rake free. The only charge is the tipping that is done for the dealer. That’s it.
This eliminates any full-time professional poker rooms from springing up. But it doesn’t mean that there is any limit on the number of poker games one can find. Nearly every good-sized city or town has poker—often a lot of it.
I experienced this first hand when I arrived in Gillette, Wyoming (“The Energy Capitol of the United States”). It is home to a large natural gas, propane, coal, and oil industry. There were no ads in the paper or on the Internet for poker rooms or casinos. I had to find a game the old fashioned way—sort of. I relied on word of mouth—with some help from networking on the Internet.
Before I arrived in town I sent an email, asking about poker, to every employee at the Gillette News Record, the local newspaper. One person responded. He led me to a city councilor who knew of a couple of games. When I arrived in town, at a great local restaurant called Humphrey’s, I asked the waiter about local poker games. He gave me three leads. The guy sitting next to me seconded the recommendation and told me of another couple of games—complete with contacts to get in. By 7:00 PM I had seven possible games in which I could play—from a small buy-in tournament to a $5 - $10 blind no limit Omaha 8 game with a $5,000 minimum buy-in.
I decided to accept the invitation to the Gillette poker club’s $20 tournament, followed by a $1 - $2 no limit cash game—half hold’em and half Omaha 8 or better. It’s run in a building next to a lumber company—and it’s only a block away from one of the lounges that regularly runs a game (if you want more leads on poker games in Gillette, Wyoming just email me). The bigger games were in people’s homes—but the invitations were free and easy. Finding a poker game in Gillette really was as simple as “just asking around” as one player in my tournament suggested.
I finished 18th out of 48 in the self-dealt tournament. It wasn’t a high-end casino—so I had to buy my drinks ($.50 for water, $1.00 for soda). There was free cake and free veggies with dip that someone had brought to the game. And there was no rake in the cash game that followed—though everyone gave $1 to the club for the night.
My travel plans required an early departure the following day. But I want to go back to try out the bigger action at the other poker venues in Gillette, Wyoming. What could be better?
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning 7-Card Stud and Winning No Limit Low Limit Hold’em. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast Mondays at 5—6 p.m. in Boston, MA, on 1510 AM, and on the Internet at www.houseofcardsradio.com. Contact Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.