Mike Sexton, the World Poker Tour announcer and poker pro who has more than $3 million in lifetime tournament winnings is scheduled to appear in a Charleston, South Carolina courtroom Friday morning. Sexton will be an expert witness in the trial of five local poker players according to the defendants attorney, Jeff Phillips. The hope is that this trial will be the conclusion of a lengthy poker battle that has been ongoing in South Carolina since April 2006. At the time, nearly 20 local poker players were arrested while playing in a weekly home game. Since then, all but five of those players have plead guilty and agreed to pay a fine. The remaining five players, Bob Chimento, Scott Richards, Michael Williamson, Jeremy Brestel and John Taylor Willis, refused to accept the plea and have been involved in
this case ever since.
"All we want to do is play in our houses," said Chimento. "We're hopeful that we're going to be able to present enough evidence for the judge to rule in our favor." Phillips plans to argue that Texas hold'em is a game of skill and is therefore legal under South Carolina law. The law that the defendants are being tried on was originally written in 1802. The law, 16-19-40 technically bans the playing of "any game with cards or dice". If the law is taken literally, that would also include such popular family games as Sorry! and Monopoly.
"The particular law in South Carolina is so antiquated and so garbled that it's virtually indecipherable," said Phillips. "At some point, you need to look at the facts. Poker is not like any other game in the casino. Poker is predominantly a game of skill, therefore it should be treated differently."
Phillips has said that he will be bringing in two expert witnesses, Sexton who is considered a longtime ambassador of the game and Robert Hannum, a professor of statistics who also recently testified in a recent Colorado case in which poker players were able to successfully argue that poker was a game of skill.
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