Shuffle up and deal: New club brings legal poker to the Galleria area

The poker fad that kicked into high gear when Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million at the 2003 World Series of Poker may have cooled a bit in terms of media attention, but the game remains as popular as ever. This year’s World Series drew 7,221 players from 83 countries, good for the third largest field in the event’s history.

While players can always find games online, playing live against other people provides an undeniable thrill — and the certainty that everything is on the up-and-up. Finding a legal game can be tricky without access to either a regular home game or driving to Louisiana (or flying to Vegas).

However, a newly-opened business in the heart of the Galleria area aims to change all that. The Post Oak Poker Club offers players a safe, legal, casino-style environment to enjoy their hobby. Three owners, Daniel Kebort, Bill Heuer, and Sergio Cabrera, have turned the space that once housed Mo’s...A Place for Steaks and the previous incarnation of Tony’s into central Houston’s first poker club.

And yes, it’s legal, if controversial. The Post Oak Poker Club is following a model established by places like Texas Card House in Austin that follow laws that allow for private poker games. “The laws are written to protect country club games and private home games,” Kebort tells CultureMap. “Essentially, we created a country club setting specifically around poker games.”

What that means is that the Post Oak Poker Club is a members-only establishment where all of the money bet during the game stays with the players. The club does not earn any sort of rake from the pot. The policy is so enforced do strictly that players aren’t even allowed to use their chips to tip dealers or servers — members can use $1 coins for that purpose.

To play, would-be members pay a membership fee, either $15 daily or $150 monthly, and a chair rental fee of $7.50 per half hour, which is slightly more expensive than mintpoker, a similar concept in the Clear Lake area. Paying the fees entitles a player to a seat at one of the tables. Typical games include 1-3 and 2-5 No Limit Hold ‘Em, 4-8 Limit Hold ‘Em, and 1-3 Pot-Limit Omaha, but the club wants to cater to as wide a poker playing audience as possible.

“We’ll run any game with interest. We want to get guys in here playing Stud, Crazy Pineapple, any variation we’ll offer,” Kebort says. “Wednesday nights we’re doing ‘Omaholics.’ We’re going to try to give Omaha addicts a place they can come at least once a week.”

Most of the Mo’s decor remains intact, but dining tables have been replaced with poker tables. The bar area now serves as a lounge where people can dine between games or watch sports on TV. The restaurant’s private dining room has been converted into a high limit room where local professionals can host games. Of course, the patio still welcomes cigar smokers — so much so that the club plans to put a couple of poker tables outside once the weather cools off so that people can smoke and play.

Kebort, who also owns a catering company, has created a menu he describes as “casino quality cafe food” that’s built primarily around sandwiches like a hamburger, pulled pork, BLT, and a Philly cheesesteak. Those looking for more of a snack may opt for either green chile queso or food truck-style fries with different toppings. Based on a couple of dishes Kebort provided to sample, the cuisine won’t compete with the area’s top restaurants, but it’s good enough to provide sustenance during a tournament.

Although it’s currently BYOB, the club does plan to offer a full range of wine, beer, and spirits. Currently, members can purchase setups for liquor or non-alcoholic beverages, along with cigarettes and cigars. Ultimately, the partners want to create a venue that appeals to more people than just hardcore poker players.

“We’re really trying to create an entertainment destination built around poker. We’ve got the lounge experience, the humidor for guys to smoke cigars,” Kebort says. “Eventually we want to add a few more components to make this a destination.”

The Post Oak property, which also contains an Oriental rug dealer and an Al’s Formal Wear, will be redeveloped, but the Poker Club has a lease on the space through May 2018. That should be enough time to determine if Houstonians have embraced the concept enough to justify finding a permanent home.

“There’s a lot of history in this building that we want to tap into,” Kebort says. “It’s the old Tony’s. This specific location used to be the hotspot for the upper crust. We want to try to tap into that and see if we can get one last party.”

Post Oak Poker Room, 1801 Post Oak; Hours: Monday through Friday 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday 11 am to 2 am; Sunday 11 am to midnight


Originally appeared on CultureMap

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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