Poker fans in Israel are eagerly awaiting a High Court of Justice hearing, scheduled to be held on Monday, which will discuss a petition filed by the Israel Poker Association against the Israel Police.
In the petition, the association asked the court to issue a declaratory order allowing it to hold an annual tournament of Texas Hold'em, the most popular version of the card game in Israel and around the world.
The association also hopes that authorizing the tournament will lead to legalizing the game in Israel.
"Today there are people in Israel who want to play high stakes poker and perhaps even make a living out of it – it's no great sin, but they are made to visit shady clubs in southern Tel Aviv and become part of criminal activity, instead of legalizing this game and allowing us to hold a championship," said Lior Ne'eman, editor of the Blazer men's magazine and an avid poker buff.
'More complex than chess'
During the hearing, the association will seek to prove to the court that poker is not a game of chance, by presenting a report by Professor Ehud Lehrer of the School of Mathematical Sciences at Tel Aviv University. In his report Prof. Lehrer claims that in order to win in poker, one needs skills and an understanding of the game, rather than just luck.
"There's much more to poker than just rolling a dice," said Ne'eman. "It's a highly complicated strategy game…In many levels this game is more complex than chess. If the police think it's a game of chance, they are welcome to play. We'll see who wins."
In it's response to the petition, the State argued that Texas Hold'em is an illegal game and that those who engage in it are committing an offence. It further stressed "the negative phenomena associated with gambling" in this regard.