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The positives of poker fundraising are currently trumping the state's laws regarding gambling, forcing the government to remind groups that these functions are currently illegal in California. According to a two-year-old law, the state justice department has, and can, put an end to these activities. According to the law, a business owner or poker game organizer can face one year in jail and a $5000 fine. The 2003 state law, which was originally designed to curb card club's take on pots, unfortunately includes language that "controlled games," such as poker, especially Texas Hold'em, can only be played at licensed card rooms or tribal casinos.
Playing poker with just chips, and no money, is legal.
No, if any money is played for or changes hands, it is illegal.