Chinese Tech Tycoon Xu Chaojun Busted for Running Illegal Poker Game

Xu Chaojun is a big name in China. A businessman who made a large part of his money from his ownership of Renren a social media website which focuses on college students, study groups and blogging – a kind of blend between Facebook, Wordpress and the revision rooms in a university library.

The press coverage he’s been getting more recently though has been on the wrong end of a court camera after he was arrested recently for taking a rake in a home game at a restaurant game in Beijing’s Dongcheng district.

There was around 3 million yuan in play when the police called on the game, an amount roughly equal to US$450,000 at the current exchange rate.

Cash, Rake and Tournaments in China

Gambling is illegal in China, with the notable exceptions of its offshore semi-autonomous regions like Macau and Hong Kong. And while there is not much of a penalty for trading cash over the mahjong table at home, or even over cards at a restaurant like Mr Xu did, charging a fee or taking a rake opens you up to charges of ‘running a casino’ which is far bigger potatoes in the eyes of the law.

Another issue Mr Xu’s defense have is that while tournament poker has managed to survive in the margins – by taking the ‘mind-sport’ line and talking in terms of entry fees and prizes rather than wagers and winnings – cash games are always out of bounds. The APPT found this out to their chagrin when the Nanjing Millions was shut down due to alleged side games starting up back in 2015.

“Not About The Money…”

Xu, who was part of the team who represented humans against Libratus and founded the Beijing Poker School, has taken the defence that the game was “not about the money” to the players about whom he said:

“The participants involved [in the game] are not professional gamblers, but members of the social elite. […] Money is not the issue here. For example a loss of 80,000 yuan doesn’t mean much to these people. Their desire is simply to conquer the game.”

Whether a prosecutor will buy this decidedly white-collar defense will remain to be seen. There is no current update on when his trial is to be held.

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