Big stakes, bigger problems for Gunbarrel Road poker players - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Big stakes, bigger problems for Gunbarrel Road poker players

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CHATTANOOGA,TN (WRCB) -- You'd have to ante up a grand just to play. But the winnings could top six figures.  Thursday night, however, the stakes got so high for a series that police raided a private poker game and shot a man who they say pointed a gun at them as he tried to get away.

Channel 3 brought you first word of the Thursday night's raid at ATC Healthcare  in the 1600 block of Gunbarrel Road. And police say the man who owns the block of buildings raided was the same man who was running the games. 

Those arrested range from their late 20's to early 80's, and include an orthopedic surgeon, several business owners, a UPS employee, and a caterer who ended up being shot.

He is 32-year-old Clifford Billups. He'll face charges of attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault and carrying a weapon. He also will face gambling charges, indicating police believe he was part of the game rather than simply the caterer from his father's restaurant: Herman's Soul Food on Brainerd Road.

Police say the building's owner, Kenny Higdon, will face a host of gambling related charges. The operation, investigators say, not only was high stakes, but well-protected.

"We've heard stories that 30 to 100 thousand dollars changed hands through the night," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd. "We've watched for probably three months, we've had a lookout in place. It's kind of odd that there would be a shooting for what amounts to a citation situation."

Higdon's Facebook page gives clues into two sides of his life. He speaks of the pride of owning  a business that helps seniors stay in their homes, and of other-medically related businesses.

But he also makes clear he loves gambling: telling people discount codes for the Tunica riverboat casino hotels and boasting of big winnings

Still, of those arrested, only Kevin England has any prior record. The 40 year old was arrested for gambling five and a half years ago, incurring a $10 fine. And he had to forfeit his winnings.


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