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Feb. 19, 1895: Cop breaks up a poker game

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Newspapers, Crime Updated: June 3, 2010 - 3:15 PM
After reading this detailed account of a police raid on an illegal card game, one wonders if a Minneapolis Tribune reporter was among the men gathered in the "dingy little room" at the back of a cigar store on Washington Avenue.

BROKE UP THEIR GAME

AN AFTERNOON CARD PARTY
INTERRUPTED BY THE POLICE

Blue-Coats Raid an Apartment in Rear of a Cigar Store at 211 Washington Avenue South, and Catch 11 Men Intently Watching the Fate of a Jack-Pot – A Player Who Held an Ace Full at the Time Is Sorely Disappointed at His Ill-Luck – Names Given by the Prisoners.
 
“This is unfair, officer. Here I have an ace full on fives, and there is nearly $50 at stake in this pot. I have lost heavily and you have ruined my hopes of getting back what money I dropped in this game.”
 
The speaker was one of a party of 11 men engaged in a stud poker game, which, at the time of the interruption yesterday, was in progress in a dingy little room in the rear of R.L. Henshell’s cigar store, 211 Washington avenue south. The play had been going on all afternoon, and the casher’s box showed that nearly $100 worth of chips were in circulation. The game had been played with a small limit during its early stage, but several good hands were dealt out shortly before 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and the pot swelled gradually as the interest of each player increased. It was a jack pot, and the man next to the dealer opened it for a dollar. Several stayed, but when it was learned that the little light haired man at the end of the table did not draw cards, all but a trio dropped out. One of these held three of a kind when the draw was completed, another two pair, and the third a straight. The latter did most of the betting, and the rest could not get their money in the pot fast enough. The man with the two pairs became frightened when the second raise was made, and said he guessed he’d call. His friend with three of a kind followed suit, but when it came to the little man at the end of the table, he put in the necessary amount to see the raise, and said he’d go them $10 better, but the words had hardly fallen from his lips ere the man with a fur overcoat carelessly leaned over the table and secured possession of the little box the cashier had been watching so closely.
 
The fur-coated man’s presence had a magic effect upon the men seated around the table. For a minute they sat and stared at him with awe, as if at a loss to account for his sudden appearance. It was simple enough, though. He had been on that beat more than a day, and had got wind of the fact that a quiet poker game was being conducted in the rear of the store daily. Attention was all centered on the big pot in the middle of the table, and none of the players had heard him open the front door and noiselessly make his way to the rear apartment. Even when he entered the room he was not noticed, so interested were the men with their cards. Officer Dugan, for he was the intruder, stood watching the game fully three minutes before his presence was discovered. Little resistance was offered. The gamblers accepted the situation in a philosophical manner, with the exception of the little light haired man, who had counted on raking in the pot by the disclosure of his full hand. He was of the opinion that he had good grounds to kick on, but the blue coat claimed a hand in the pot, and it was a winner, too.
 
The party was politely informed that the patrol wagon was in waiting for them in front, and they marched in single file through the cigar store and out onto the sidewalk, where a crowd of several hundred people had gathered to see what was up. The outfit was hustled off to the Central police station, and the wagon returned for the table and chips. Sergt. Leonard, who had conducted the raid, appeared at the police station and entered a charge of gambling against each of the men. R. Henshell, the proprietor of the place, was not arrested, but the sergeant stated that he would be brought into the police court today. The men arrested gave the names of Andrew Iverson, G. Anderson, C.M. Phillips, Charles Hanson, James Thompson, P. Mulley, James Miller, Charles Albert’s, William Kline, Albert Manning, George Meghen.
 
This photo from about 1895 depicts a card game of some sort. But the scene is obviously posed: The gentlemen are dressed to the nines, their hair neatly combed, the cards arranged just so -- and no refreshments are in sight. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

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