Gambling / Gaming

Terrance Watanabe Terrance K Watanabe Terry Watanabe Harrahs.jpgWe just returned from a very fun weekend in Las Vegas, where we watched a friend compete in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Our friend was one of many lawyers in competition. He’s a prosecutor, but we also saw a public defender — her T-shirt said so — and possibly some lawyers from Morrison & Foerster (in “Run Like a MoFo” apparel). As discussed before in these pages, there’s something about marathon running that attracts attorneys.
Sadly, while in Sin City, we suffered some ill fortune at the craps tables. But things could have been worse — much worse. From an article in the Wall Street Journal:

During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.

The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe’s personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family’s party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos’ parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.

In a civil suit filed in Clark County District Court last month, Mr. Watanabe, 52 years old, says casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systematic plan to keep him gambling.

More about the lawsuit, plus a fun fact about the article’s authorship, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Watanabe v. Harrah’s”

Sports and the Law clip art clipart.jpg* A disappointing ruling from the 3rd Circuit for sports gamblers in Delaware. [USA Today]
* L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants to make hanging out illegal. [Los Angeles Times]
* Judge Jed Rakoff is becoming a media darling. Another article singing the BofA-bench-slapping judge’s praises. [New York Times]
* Foley & Lardner sued for allegedly revealing trade secrets. [National Law Journal]
* Connecticut prosecutor John H. Durham has been chosen to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into CIA torture of detainees. [Talking Points Memo]
* Four more years for Bernanke. [Washington Post]

Leo Wolpert.jpgWe usually wouldn’t recommend that law school students try to pay their tuition through gambling — but if you’re a former poker pro, it might not be such a bad idea.
Leo Wolpert, a rising 2L at the University of Virginia, just won “Event 29,” a $10,000 no-limit hold ‘em heads-up tournament in the World Series of Poker. From the Poker Pages:

Wolpert is a 26-year-old former professional poker player who is currently attending law school. He is enrolled at the University of Virginia. He just completed his first year. He graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. He spent two years as a poker pro, mostly playing online. Wolpert was so successful that he built up a huge bankroll playing mostly cash games. He decided to use his poker winnings to go back to school.

His total winnings in Event 29: $652,682 $625,682. With that in the bank and a law degree from UVA, we see a bright future in the cards for Wolpert.
Former pro Leo Wolpert wins Event 29 [ESPN]
World Series of Poker Leo Wolpert Wins Event 29 $10K HeadsUp [PokerPages News]

If you are of a certain age, your first experience with Delaware was probably this:

But then you went to law school. And at some point, you learned this:

But now we are in the 21st century. And it’s not your father’s Delaware, not anymore.
After the jump, Delaware gets ready for football season.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Road Trip: Delaware!”

The Venetian Vacation large.JPGTO: ATL Readers, Commenters, Tipsters

CC: The General Public, The Grammar Police, NYPD, LVPD

FROM: Elie Mystal

SUBJECT: Whereabouts and Other Sundries

I will be out of the office from right about now until Monday, February 23rd.

I have not been fired (so far as I am aware). My performance is not under review. I’m not having a heart attack. Nobody took my stapler. I’m not stuck at “the Sizzler” waiting for the jaws of life to pry me out of the door. I’m just taking a little vacation.

Above the Law won’t miss a beat. Lat and Kash will both be around as always, breaking news, providing insight, and keeping all of the readers in the loop.

But, for extra help during these crazy times, we’re bringing in a guest editor.

You know her, you love her, many of you voted for her six months ago: Marin will be girl-in-the-know next week on Above the Law. I trust that everybody will treat her with the same kindness and respect that I’ve come to so thoroughly enjoy.

I’ll not be checking email or voice mail, nor will I be scanning the sky for smoke signals. Carrier pigeons and other messenger fowl will be shot on sight.

Please send all of your tips, questions, concerns, hot documents, and non-sequitur ideas to, so that Lat, Kash, and Marin know what you want to read about.

And if you happen to be in Vegas this weekend, feel free to stop by and say hi. I’ll be the loudest guy at Venetian, the broke guy in the Bellagio poker room, or the mentally unstable, homeless-looking person taking money from people with no understanding of European history at Excalibur.

Free online gambling.jpgYou know what would be awesome, if the legal system got its claws out of my online poker “supplementary income” program.

Perhaps the first steps towards the decriminalization of poker have already started. While many states outlaw “games of chance,” the ABA Journal is reporting that some poker players are arguing that anti-gaming laws should not apply to them because poker is a game of “skill.”

A Pennsylvania judge ruled Texas Hold ‘em is a game of skill and acquitted a man who held poker games in his garage, according to And a Colorado jury acquitted the organizer of a poker league after a University of Denver statistics professor testified poker is a game of skill, according to a press release by the Poker Players Alliance.

How is this not a slam dunk argument? Only people who don’t know how to play poker think that it is a game of chance. Luck plays a role, sure, just like in everything else in life.

“Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker every year? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? ”

Is Poker a Game of Skill that is Legal? S.C. Judge Will Decide [ABA Journal]

Jane Willis Jane E Willis Ropes Gray Kate Bosworth Above the Law blog.jpgPicking our Lawyer of the Day was easy. Today the winning hand belongs to Ropes & Gray partner Jane Willis. From the Boston Globe:

Jane Willis was always a standout student. Her reputation as a math whiz was well known at Phillips Exeter and Harvard, where she graduated in 1991 with a lofty recommendation from Lawrence Summers.

But no one suspected how Willis was using those skills, and she wasn’t about to tell. Even as a partner at a high-powered Boston law firm, she has kept her curious back story to herself.

“Sounds weird to say, but it just never came up,” Willis says, sipping a draft beer in a hotel bar not far from her office at One International Place.

She likes beer? Ick. Why not some fine wine or top-shelf liquor? But Jane Willis is not your ordinary Biglaw partner:

She might still be mum if not for 21, the new movie about MIT’s celebrated blackjack team. Willis, it turns out, was a member of the card-counting cadre that beat the casinos and, later, inspired the best-selling book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. In the film, which opens Friday, Kate Bosworth’s character is based on Willis.

How cool is that? We like the casting of Bosworth; there’s definitely a resemblance (see photos; Willis is on the left).
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Jane Willis”

poker online gambling gaming Above the Law blog.jpg* Remember the Mystery Pimp from our recent column about Cadwalader? Peter Lattman, who works in the same building as CWT, has solved the mystery. Fantastic! [WSJ Law Blog]
* “Despondent Microsoft Has Nervous Breakdown; Jumps Into Elliott Bay To Live With Alien Sea Creatures.” [What About Clients?]
* New digs for The American Lawyer. Their landlord is now Larry Silverstein, who was recently featured on the magazine’s cover. Did they get a break on the rent for that kind of publicity? [The Real Estate]
* Brilliant Harvard Law professors rush to the defense of… online poker! Charlie Nesson and Alan Dershowitz? Now that’s what we call a full house. [Conglomerate]
* “Is Dumbledore gay simply because Rowling says he is?” Discuss. [PrawfsBlawg]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIt appears that lots of things are going up in smoke out west. From Blogonaut:

Two weeks ago the 700-lawyer San Francisco firm announced 65 staff were laid off. Now Heller has lost two leading and loyal partners to rival firms.

Patricia Gillette, a co-chairwoman of Heller Ehrman’s the labor and employment practice has defected to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe along with another labor partner and four associates, the Recorder reports.

This defection in San Francisco comes at the same time that Jerry Marks, Heller’s Los Angeles managing partner and a well-known securities litigator, is jetting for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

Not good news. A slowdown in work, staff layoffs, and partner defections are the hallmarks of a law firm implosion. They’ve foreshadowed the demises of several firms over the years, such as Brobeck and Testa Hurwitz.
Remember how the Heller Ehrman summer associates were grumpy over not getting paid at the $160K level? At this rate, they should be grateful to have somewhere to go after graduation.
Speaking of the Heller Ehrman summers, we have a summer associate story not previously posted, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Going to Heller in a Handbasket? (Part 1)”

Michael Vick middle finger Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe plea hearing for the embattled star quarterback took place this morning. One of Michael Vick’s lawyers, Billy Martin, spoke to reporters on the courthouse steps. He stated that “this matter is concluded until December 10th, when Judge Hudson will sentence Michael Vick according to the plea agreement.” He also announced that Vick will make a statement of his own at 11:30 AM today.
At the hearing, Judge Henry Hudson told Michael Vick something along these lines: “You know you’re taking your chances here. I’m not bound by the recommendations [of the parties].”
A correct statement of the law, especially after Booker? Yes. A smart thing for a judge to do at a plea hearing, to prevent the defendant from later claiming he was blindsided? Sure.
But, reading the tea leaves a bit, we’d hazard a guess that Judge Hudson might give Vick significantly more than the 12 or so months that the parties will recommend (per the plea agreement). Stay tuned.
(We’d guess that the parties will recommend a year and a day, which will make Vick eligible for certain “good time” credits applicable only to sentences over a year.)

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