Justice Sonia Sotomayor Says She Is A Big Poker Fan

Judges and lawyers have always enjoyed a game of poker. This is relatively well-known, and even the poker cult classic Rounders famously depicted the fondness for poker among the legal community.

That interest extends, unsurprisingly, all the way to highest court in the U.S.
In a recent public speaking event involving Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the 67-year-old told a joke involving her new poker hobby. She didn’t reveal too much about the behind-the-scenes games at her home, but her home games sound like a good time.

“In the last few years, I took up playing poker,” she told the audience at Washington University in St. Louis in April. “I read books about it. I watched the World Series of Poker on TV. I’ve watched better players than me play and I’ve learned a little bit.”

“My playing is a bit of a charity,” she continued. “I invite people to my home, I feed them, I give them all the liquor they want — you buy any advantage you can in poker. And so when I win their money, I don’t have to report it.”

The New York City native assumed office in August of 2009 and was the third woman to join the Court behind the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Kagan, also from New York City, has also been reported to be quite the poker player herself.

There’s been no word on how big the stakes are in these games, but these poker enthusiasts certainly have the bankrolls for some big games. Supreme Court Justices earn $274,000 per year.

Of course, having some card sharks on the Court hasn’t exactly helped poker in recent years. In 2014, the Supreme Court even declined to weigh in on whether or not poker should be considered a contest of luck or skill. Then again, their ruling in 2018 on the Wire Act did clear the way for state-by-state regulated sports betting.

Her comments came at just after the 1-hour mark in the video below.

Not bluffing: Justice Sotomayor has a new pastime.

“In the last few years, I’ve took up playing poker. I’ve read books about it. I’ve watched the World Series of Poker on TV. I’ve watched better players than me play, and I’ve learned a little bit.”https://t.co/WZPUnLZUYs

— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) April 6, 2022