Local poker player sentenced for illegal operation


Journal Staff Writer

DETROIT — Professional poker player Joshua T. Thatcher, 42, of Skandia was sentenced on Jan. 19 to 12 months of probation after pleading guilty on Dec. 2 to one felony count of gambling operations for his role operating an illegal poker room known as 906 Poker Social, formerly located at 1200 S. Front St., Marquette.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced that as part of his plea agreement, Thatcher agreed to forfeit to the state of Michigan all items seized from the location, including six poker tables, $13,050 in cash and other money held in bank accounts connected to the investigation of 906 Poker Social.

The so-called private poker club opened April 1, 2021, and closed July 8, 2021, following a joint investigation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Michigan Gaming Control Board Criminal Investigation section.

“Unregulated gambling operations do not offer Michigan residents the same protections provided through legal, regulated gambling,” said Henry Williams, executive director of Michigan Gaming Control Board, in a statement. “The Michigan Gaming Control Board’s mission is to ensure fair and honest gaming in Michigan, and we partner with the Michigan Department of Attorney General to investigate and eliminate illegal gaming activities across the state.”

The Michigan Department of Attorney General prosecuted the case.

“My office remains committed to upholding business rules and regulations, and that includes our state’s gambling laws,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “I appreciate the work the Michigan Gaming Control Board has done to protect Michigan residents and businesses.”

In published reports, Thatcher described 906 Poker Social as a private membership club where members gambled against each other. He charged members a fee based on weekly, monthly or yearly membership plus a $10 per hour chair rental fee. The location offered live poker and other games.

Thatcher also was charged in May with five other felony counts, including two counts of using computers to commit a crime, and a high misdemeanor count of permitting a gambling house for gain. The other counts later were dismissed.

Judge Jennifer A. Mazzuchi of the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette presided over sentencing.

“The reason why I opened 906 Poker Social was to provide people with a friendly, professional and safe environment,” Thatcher said via social media. “It’s really unfortunate that the attorney general decided that it wasn’t in the best interest of residents of Michigan, particularly with residents of the (Upper Peninsula), because now our choices of playing poker went from the Island (Resort and Casino in Harris) and 906 Poker Social to the Island and a home game, without security and safety.”

He said most players in Marquette don’t like to drive 80 minutes just to play cards, and that’s 80 minutes one way, he said.

Thatcher called the situation an “incredible learning experience,” and will focus on vlogging as a pot limit Omaha “professor.” Pot limit Omaha, he said, is a type of poker usually played with higher stakes.

He also said that a home game is when someone goes into a player’s basement, buys chips from the host and play poker with other players.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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