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Online Poker News Archives - November 15, 2005

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Copyright 2005 The Mercury News

November 15, 2005

New MVP vows to avoid poker parlors


As the song says, you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em - and it's come time for Alex Rodriguez to stop playing the Gambler.

The rookie card shark vowed Monday to stay out of New York's poker parlors, no doubt to the relief of his Yankee bosses.

A-Rod had been spotted at several of the city's poker parlors this year, as the New York Daily News first reported - and the perennial All-Star even played at a midtown club on five consecutive nights the week after his team was knocked out of the AL playoffs by the Los Angeles Angels.

"Obviously, it wasn't the right thing to do," the superstar third baseman said Monday after winning his second AL MVP award in three seasons. "In retrospect, it is probably a place I shouldn't have gone."

Rodriguez, 30, said he visited the clubs with friends visiting from Miami because he was "trying to be a human being" and have "a little fun."

A-Rod said he didn't know if his visits to poker clubs have tarnished his image. "That's for you to decide," he told reporters during a telephone conference call. "But I realize, I'll never go back."

As The News reported this month, Yankee officials gently warned him that his visits to card clubs could hurt his reputation - and possibly put him in danger.

Sources said that Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was "very unhappy" because A-Rod's poker club visits sent the wrong message to young fans, even in an age when many celebrities are involved in the poker craze.

It is not illegal to play at the city's underground poker clubs, although it is against the law for the operators to take a cut of the pot.

City cops have shut down seven poker parlors this year, and there was one reported robbery at a club this summer.

Yankee officials worried that A-Rod was rubbing elbows with gamblers who may have also bet on baseball and was possibly putting himself in a dangerous position by frequenting the unregulated clubs.

Major League Baseball bosses also were unhappy that the man who is considered by many to be the greatest active player was visiting establishments that could be raided by police or robbed at gunpoint.

But because Rodriguez, who slugged 48 home runs last season, had not broken any laws or contractual provisions, baseball officials said there was little they could actually do to rein in his public poker playing.

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