I am part of a poker game that meets for a few hours every month. We play for small amounts of money. We are all Ashkenazim and one of the players wants to ask a Sephardi to join us. I say no because of the shita of the Rambam and the Mechaber which says that gambling is gezel. We posken like the Rema and Tosphos and it is not gezel for Ashkenazim. I feel having this Sephardi will be placing a stumbling block before the blind and we will be over on making him do aveiros. It has been a point of contention. Please give me a pesak, Is it okay to play cards with a Sephardi? Thanks you.
This is an interesting question.
Although you are right not to invite a Sephardi to play, I think that you don’t have to object to the others inviting him, and if he joins you can continue playing.
As the question correctly notes, there is a difference in rulings for gambling between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, whereby it is permitted for Ashkenazim to gamble (where the person has a profession), but not for Sephardim (for whom the Shulchan Aruch rules that this is a form of gezel).
Based on this there will be a problem of inviting a Sephardi to play,
However, there are some considerations that will possible provide room for leniency.
One consideration is the fact that you are playing for small amounts of money alone, indicating that the activity is meant as a recreational pastime, and not as proper gambling. The money is only there to make it more interesting, and for small amounts one can assume that all players are fully prepared to part with their share.
Another consideration is that poker is not about luck alone, but involves much skill, too, as we see from the fact that professional players make money in the long run.
There is certainly room to dispute both of these considerations, yet, together with the fact that the Rema is lenient, I think they are sufficient cause for not objecting to the invitation, though as noted in the answer I think you are right in not inviting yourself.