Two men were arrested in connection to an April 30 shooting outside a Texas card room that left Las Vegas poker player Tom “3betpanda” Steinbach seriously injured.
Austin police arrested Jermaine Patrick Spirlark, 41, and Charles Clines-Martinez, 24, on charges of aggravated robbery.
Police say Spirlark demanded Steinbach and another victim, who wasn’t shot, hand over property, likely money although that information hasn’t been publicly released. The alleged robber is said to have then shot the poker player in the back as he attempted to leave Texas Card House, a members-only poker room in Austin, Texas, at about 4 am. The second victim wasn’t physically harmed.
Spirlark and Clines-Martinez then allegedly fled the scene but were captured on one of the facility’s 26 surveillance cameras. According to Austin media, police believe Spirlark pulled the trigger.
Poker Community Responds
Following the incident, Steinbach was sent to an area hospital for treatment. Initial reports indicated he had suffered life-threatening injuries but, fortunately, has recovered quickly.
Known as “3betpanda” online, Steinbach has more than 8,700 followers on Instagram, where he hasn’t posted anything since the shooting last month. Hours after the robbery, friend @jillianfades shared encouraging words on Instagram about the poker pro’s health status. In her message, she referred to the robber as a “coward piece of sh*t,” and vowed to make him “pay” for what he had done to her friend.
She also set up a gofundme page to help cover medical costs, and poker community members from across the country responded to the call. The effort raised more than $8,500 from 62 donors. The Post Oak Poker Club in Houston gave generously to the cause, and popular vloggers Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme took up a collection at their recent Meet Up Game at the Westgate in Las Vegas.
Growing Safety Concerns
The robbery brought up security concerns at Texas Card House and other private card rooms in Texas. Poker in the Lone Star State is only available at illegal underground rooms or private, membership-based card rooms that are legally questionable.
Texas Card House, and other similar businesses, found what they believe is a loophole in the law by charging poker players a membership fee and a “seat fee” to play instead of taking rake out of cash game pots.
Traditional, land-based casinos are illegal in Texas other than on Indian reservations, and poker rooms can’t legally profit off gambling, which means they can’t take a rake.
In recent years, many private social clubs in the state have popped up, offering rake-free poker games. But there are many politicians and legal experts who believe the membership-club owners are still breaking the law even though they don’t charge rake.
The April 30 shooting brought increased attention to the safety, security, and legality of Texas card rooms, and had some Houston politicians contending they were illegal operations where such tragedies were bound to happen.
In response to the robbery, Texas Card House added security to prevent a future incident.