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National Poker Challenge Portland Closes

Aug 6, 2007
Author: Catrina Rudd
A suburban poker parlor, located in Cedar Hills Oregon, USA, which was supposed to transform card playing, has closed its doors. Not because the Oregon Department of Justice thought it presented illegal gambling to the general public. Law enforcement officials stated they were not involved with the card room's closing. Depending on which partner is talking, the business was shut down, or it's preparing to come back better than ever.

Two months ago, National Poker Challenge opened its second card room in the United States in the basement of a strip mall near U.S. 26 and Oregon 217. The business model, owners said, would be very successful because it filled a niche: casino-style Texas Hold'em in a neighborhood environment with something worth playing for, while at the same time avoiding illegal gambling.


Registered players received an e-mail that read, "It is with a very large regret that I am informing all of our customers that, due to actions take (sic) against us, we are temporarily ceasing our operations." Customers who have by now paid their August dues feel as if the company has made off with their investment.

Not the case, said Michael White, who opened the first National Poker Challenge in Memphis and is in partnership with the local operators, Josh and Matt Bloom. White said the e-mail was an error. The company is "retooling," he said Friday, planning to open bigger and better in Portland and in at bare minimum eight additional cities across the country.

In May when the card room opened, the Blooms said their games involved chance, but insisted money was in no way coming in and going out at the same time. Players paid $25 for a two-hour game or $115 for multiple games. Winners in those initial games didn't win cash or prizes. Instead, they were asked to return for free tournaments, with the potential to win $750 in weekly tournament prize or $3,000 in a monthly tournament prize.

Justice Department officials at the time said the game had the three basics that equal gambling: money paid in by the player, chance, and money paid out as prizes. Local law enforcement was asked to investigate.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office didn't squander a great deal of time investigating the business, Sgt. Bill Steele, a sheriff's spokesman explained. It wasn't a high priority, because National Poker Challenge wasn't evidently breaking the law, he said. Any dispute over money the company owes players is a civil, not criminal, matter, Steele said. The Bloom brother has not responded to repeated reporter contacts. White said the Blooms, whom he expressed were partners, no longer spoke for the company.

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