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Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Gunmen Rob Poker Club

BY TOM SOMACH

An underground poker club in New York where Yankees slugger Alex “A-Rod” Rodgriguez used to play was robbed early Friday morning by armed thugs, according to media reports out of New York.

After police arrived at the club to respond to the robbery, they promptly arrested the manager of the club for running an illegal operation, the reports said.

According to the reports:

A group of gun-toting bandits entered the the National Card Room, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, shortly after midnight Thursday.

The thugs stole all the money from the club’s “bank” and then robbed the approximately 70 patrons who were playing poker.

The bandits then escaped into the night with about $50,000.

No one was injured in the robbery.

When police arrived at the club shortly afterwards, instead of comforting the club’s manager, Edgar Concepcion, 29, they busted him for running an illegal card room.

Poker clubs are legal in New York City as long as the club doesn’t take a “rake” or cut of each pot.

In order to get around the law and still make money, some clubs charge players an hourly fee to play, instead of taking “rakes.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what system the National Card Room was using, but apparently, whatever it was, it wasn’t deemed legal by the cops who arrested the card room manager.

The poker club was raided and briefly shut in 2005, after police cracked down on a number of illegal card dens in the city.

A year earlier, the club was in the news when “A-Rod,” who was accompanied by poker pro Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth Jr., was photographed inside the club, and the photo ran in the New York Daily News.

After the photo ran, Major League Baseball warned Rodriguez to stop patronizing such clubs, for fear of tarnishing the game’s image.

In addition to “A-Rod,” other celebrities known to patronize the club are Robert “Tony Soprano Jr.” Iler of the TV show “The Sopranos” and several NBA players.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])

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