Places to play poker in Manhattan?
May 23, 2008 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for cool spaces (preferably bars) in Manhattan where they'd let you just sit and play poker with your own cards and chips -- just among friends, not against a casino. Would most bars not care? Any ideas? Thanks.
posted by Malad to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (11 answers total)
Most bars would be very, very upset with this. If you are playing for real money, it's right out. If you're not playing for money, it still looks suspicious and places with liquor licenses tend to not like things that would put that license in peril.
posted by absalom at 7:42 AM on May 23, 2008

I'm not sure about New York, but when I worked at a pub in New Jersey we had to put the kibosh on all card-playing immediately, because the ABC had a policy of interpreting the sheer presence of cards as indication of gambling and had the power to shut you down right there.

I wonder if you and your friends could locate a club with a club license - that might be the way around it.
posted by Miko at 7:44 AM on May 23, 2008

Yeah, my experience is the same as Miko's. In the bar that I used to manage we had to get rid of all signs of gambling (and cards/dominoes are out, chess probably not!) We were a members only place, so we had a different license and we still weren't allowed to have card playing. Again this is in NJ so NYC might be different, but I've always been under the impression the licenses are even stricter in NYC.
posted by ob at 7:55 AM on May 23, 2008

I've played all kinds of card games in all kinds of bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn and I've never seen a lick of interference. Just ask them if you're worried.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 AM on May 23, 2008

"ABC had a policy of interpreting the sheer presence of cards as indication of gambling and had the power to shut you down right there."

That's the way it is in the vast majority of the states, from my experience. One of those reactionary laws from the death of prohibition that nobody has really thought to repeal yet.

Judging by sweetkid's comment, though, that's either not the case in New York or they don't enforce it, but yeah... call around to some bars that you might want to go and see what they say.
posted by toomuchpete at 8:05 AM on May 23, 2008

I think that a lot of places will look differently upon just playing cards than they would bringing chips, which implies gambling in a way that recording point totals for gin rummy or something might not. But that's just my guess.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:12 AM on May 23, 2008

posted by acro at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2008

I would suggest that you ask whoever is the acting manager at that particular location. I worked in a bar (in ontario) where the owner would play poker with some of the regulars. I always had a suspicion that money changed hands, but if there was no money to be seen, it was fair game. I know other people that have worked bars where anything that can even be considered to be used for gambling, (cards, dice, dominoes) were off limits.
posted by mrw at 9:04 AM on May 23, 2008

I bet you could do that at Dive 75. There were always a bunch of people playing games when I was there.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:43 AM on May 23, 2008

I don't know about bars in Manhattan, but my experience has been good with bars and restaurants in Connecticut allowing people to play games. Usually we get a reserved room at no charge, and sometimes get drink or food specials. From their perspective, our group represents customers and money, so it seems worth their while. Mind you this was just playing board games and party games, but I don't see how poker with chips would be any different. Just agree on denominations for the chips and buy the chips. If it's a concern, keep the money out of sight.
posted by indigo4963 at 9:52 AM on May 23, 2008

I've played in bars in the city, but it was always understood that we were bending the rules. Money was out of sight, and the tables were usually tucked away in a spot that wasn't very highly visible.
There was one Irish bar that used to run multi-table tournaments in their upstairs space.

My understanding is similar to those above - a place is risking it's liquor license if they permit gambling.

My advice is to see if any of these places have a private room where you can close the door, and they can have plausible deniability.

Also - gin rummy and backgammon make for easier bar gambling than poker.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:35 AM on May 23, 2008

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