Poker Pro Sentenced in Michigan for ‘Operating an Illegal Poker Room’

Poker pro Joshua T. Thatcher was sentenced to a year of probation for running what the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) called “an illegal poker room.”

Last week, Judge Jennifer A. Mazzuchi of the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette sentenced Thatcher, 42, of Gwinn, Mich. He pleaded guilty to one felony count of “gambling operations,” the MGCB announced today. Mazzuchi’s online court records only dated back to Jan. 23 when MichiganSharp checked them today.

The poker pro listed on Hendon Mob as earning $84,640 at 14 online and in-person events since June 2018 operated 906 Poker Social, formerly located at 1200 S. Front Street, Marquette.

MGCB said today:

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.

Poker Pro Thatcher Talks to MichiganSharp

Thatcher told MichiganSharp today:

For myself, it’s been a really good learning experience.

He’s decided that being a poker pro and a poker vlogger is more his calling.

Thatcher said:

So the reason I opened up 906 Poker Social was so that people could have a safe, fun, and a professional environment to play poker at.

He’d thought that he was supplying the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a nearby game because the only other live play option they had was Island Resort and Casino. (Online poker is legal everywhere in Michigan.)

Thatcher said tonight, while standing inside the Upper Peninsula retail casino:

It’s the only choice I have right now.

Poker Pro Thatcher Called Club ‘Legal’ When It Opened

From April Fools’ Day to July 8, 2021, the 906 Poker Social business portrayed itself as a “private members club.”

The closed establishment’s Twitter account said it opened its doors at 5 p.m. on April 1, 2021, and gave “Over $500 worth of giveaways” to its first 100 members.

Thatcher told Noel Navarro in an interview the TV6 evening meteorologist published on April 26, 2021:

‘We have zero rake. All we have is membership fees and chair fees – so you do rent a chair from us. But we do not take a single penny out of the rake,’ explained Thatcher.

As a private members club, 906 Poker Social requires no approval by the Michigan Gaming Control Board as applied to casinos.

Poker playing is legally permitted in a private setting, in which no one makes money for operating the game except as a player.

However, MGCB said today that 906 Poker Social charged members weekly, monthly, or yearly membership dues. Plus, playing live poker and other games involved a $10-an-hour chair rental fee.

So the “club” closed on July 8, 2021, “following a joint investigation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Michigan Gaming Control Board Criminal Investigation section,” the MGCB said today.

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams added:

Unregulated gambling operations do not offer Michigan residents the same protections provided through legal, regulated gambling. 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.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is a writer for Michigan Sharp with a focus on online casino content. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Heather's work in Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report, which lead her to MI Sharp.