Poker pair strike up deal…with the police

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Two high-stakes players have taken plea deals in relation to an underground poker ring

US-based high-stakes poker players Justin Smith and Edwin Ting have both seemingly opted to play their trumps cards in accepting plea deals linked to an illegal poker ring that was first uncovered earlier in the year.

In all, some 34 different individuals are facing criminal charges following the crackdown on the illicit poker games which took place in New York City up until April of this year.

New York Police leading the investigation into this latest illegal betting ring had uncovered evidence suggesting that the proceeds generated from these meetings were being funnelled into criminal organisations based overseas.

Groups like the Russian mafia were among those linked to this particular setup, according to a statement from Ray Kelly the current New York Police Commissioner.

Smith and Ting had previously been facing up to significant jail time, but after accepting plea deals, those charges have now been reduced.

Under the new agreement Ting is set to admit to operating an illegal gambling business as part of the operation with Smith admitting to accepting a payment for internet gambling as part of the underground ring.

These charges carry a significantly reduced sentence, with both men likely to face a maximum of just five years in prison as a result of their willingness to cooperate with the authorities.

But while the pair are due to learn their fate in a court hearing next month a whole host of other poker players also indicted in relation to the illegal poker ring face a tense wait.

These include Abe Mosseri, Peter Feldman, Justin Smith, Arthur Azen, Bill Edler, John Hanson and Vadim Trincher along with his sons Illya and Eugene Trincher.

Among these names the most serious charges are levelled at Trincher, Hanson and Azen who could face up 90, 92 and 115 years in prison if convicted of the charges levelled at them.

Illegal poker activity remains a major bugbear of the US police force, with 42-year-old player William Barbalat the latest person to face similarly serious charges in relation to such activity.

The US citizen confessed earlier this month to hosting high-stakes poker games in his home and could now face up to ten years in prison as a result.

Whether these stories are enough to put off any would-be back room high-rollers remains to be seen, but the message remains clear: if you want to stay out of trouble and play cards, go to a casino or better yet go online.