Lawsuits Involving Poker Players You May Have Heard Of
October 16, 2023
October 16, 2023
Poker has produced many great players over the years who gained fame due to their results in major tournaments and high-stakes cash games.
Unfortunately, being in the spotlight sometimes backfires. The stories are endless — failing to repay debts, cheating, and even making controversial jokes.
This article will discuss lawsuits that well-known poker players have filed against casinos and other players, but also lawsuits that were filed against them.
A poker pro named Mike Postle was involved in the cheating scandal commonly known as “ Postlegate“.
Postle was accused ofcheating on live-streamed poker games during events hosted at Stones Gambling Hall in Sacramento in 2019.
The winning streak started in July 2018 and continued until September 2019, when a fellow player Veronica Brill noticed that his winnings at the Stones Gambling Hall were too good to be true and tweeted about it. Consequently, the world learned about Postle’s actions and stopped believing he was an exceptional poker player.
On top of that, 20 players who competed against Postle during that time filed lawsuits. One of them was a poker vlogger Marle Cordeiro, who put together a 23-page letter with evidence against Postle, seeking $250,000 in damages. As a result of the scandal, Postle and the casino’s tournament director were sued for more than $30 million.
The scandal took a new twist in 2020 when Postle launched a $300 million defamation lawsuit against Veronica Brill, Joey Ingram, and subsequent companies. Famous poker players who have publicly spoken out or investigated Postle’s alleged activities were targeted in this lawsuit. However, the defamation went awry, and Postle eventually withdrew it. The culmination of the event saw Postle going bankrupt after reaching a confidential settlement with some of the plaintiffs, including Veronica Brill.
Despite being one of the most successful poker players, Phil Ivey’s achievements seemed to be overshadowed by the legal troubles he has experienced in recent years.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa sued the “Tiger Woods of Poker” in 2012. At that time, Ivey played baccarat at the New Jersey casino and earned $9.6 million.
Despite baccarat being the game of chance and not skill, the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner was accused of dishonest play.
On top of that, the London-based Crockfords Casino withheld his $10.1 million in winnings after believing Ivey and his accomplice Cheung Yin Sun were involved in “edge sorting“ while playing Punto Banco. It is a tactic used to gain an unfair advantage over the house.
It is estimated that Ivey lost around $20 million in court battles. In 2017, the Federal Judge in New Jersey ruled that Ivey and Sun didn’t win fairly and should refund the $10.1 million. The Borgata lawyers have been tracking down his assets for years, and finally, all parties settled in July 2020 when Ivey agreed to pay $10.1 million.
Clonie Gowen made a name for herself by dominating the international high-stakes tournament poker scene in the mid-2000s. She was also a member of Full Tilt Poker and one of their ambassadors.
However, the famous poker site decided to let her go in 2008.
The Oklahoma girl filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker, its parent company Tiltware, and all the individuals associated with them.
She claimed there was an unwritten agreement between them, where she was promised 1% of the company and $40 million.
In her 20-page document, she also stated she didn’t receive compensation for tournament entries and print ads from Full Tilt Poker. She was offered $250,000 as part of the settlement but refused. It later turned out to be a huge mistake since the court dismissed her lawsuit in 2010, and Full Tilt Poker went out of business in 2011.
Lena Evans and Chris Moneymaker
A professional poker player and a two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner, Lena Evans, sued PayPal in May 2021 for terminating her account and confiscating nearly $27,000 without notifying her.
Evans is a founder of the Poker League of Nations (PLON), the world’s largest women’s poker organization.
She claims she used her PayPal account to help her run her company. After multiple futile attempts to contact the digital payment company and retrieve her account, Evans decided to take legal action.
Another famous name in the world of poker, Chris Moneymaker, had the same issue with PayPal in 2021.
He was a step away from filing a lawsuit against the company for seizing $12,000 from his account.
However, the matter was settled outside the courtroom and PayPal issued the Americas Cardroom ambassador his funds back. Moneymaker could play a key role in Lena Evans’s case in her upcoming legal battles.
Owner of King’s Casino from the Czech Republic, Leon Tsoukernik, got involved in a high-profile lawsuit with the Australian poker player Matthew Kirk.
Kirk sued Tsoukernik for $3 million, which Kirk allegedly loaned him in May 2017.
Tsoukernik lost the entire amount in over an hour in a gambling session and later only paid back $1 million but refused to return the other two.
Nevertheless, Tsoukernik has filed a counterclaim claiming Matthew Kirk and Aria Resort & Casino exploited him by encouraging him to continue playing although intoxicated, stating that he could not read his cards and keep count of his chips.
Thus, he filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million for unethical practices and damaging his reputation. However, the two parties ended their dispute and settled the debt for an undisclosed amount in 2018.
Former NBA legend and avid poker player Paul Pierce was sued over alleged $180,000 poker debt. Stephen Carmona filed a lawsuit against Pierce, who borrowed money on two occasions in 2022 to play high-stakes poker and never paid it back.
According to Carmona, he loaned Pierce $150,000 on one occasion but only returned $10,000 after losing $140,000. Additionally, Carmona claimed he lent Pierce $40,000 the following week for a game, which he also lost. However, there have been no announcements regarding future hearing dates or settlement negotiations.
Robert Anthony Lay
Oklahoma City native Robert Anthony ‘Tony’ Lay sued the famous casino group Caesars for fraud and deceptive trade practices in 2017.
Lay stated the casino banned him from all properties sending him a notice known as an ‘86.
Unfortunately, this happened right after he earned the seat in the WSOP Global Casino Championship. The poker pro was seeking $75,000 for the injustice. The case moved to the federal court in 2018, when the judge dismissed it.
Actor, TV producer, and pro poker player Rick Salomon sued a Saudi Sheikh, Raad al-Khereiji, in 2019 over a poker game on the French Riviera in 2014. The Sheikh allegedly owed him a whopping $2,800,000. However, defense attorneys argued that the lawsuit was unenforceable and that poker is a game of chance.
The American eventually lost his claim against the Sheikh but won two small victories in court. Sheik Khereiji requested that Salomon pay the Sheik’s legal fees for the case, but the judge denied his request. As for the second win, Khereiji’s Las Vegas gambling results were accessed as proof of his gambling enthusiast status.
The 2016 WSOP Main Event runner-up, Gordon Vayo, filed a lawsuit against PokerStars in 2018 for freezing his account. It all started when Vayo won $692,240 at the $1,050 NHL SCOOP Event 1 in May 2017.
The poker pro didn’t immediately cash out his winnings, but a year later.
In the meantime, he continued playing on PokerStars with the money still in the account. Once he tried to withdraw the funds, he realized the account was frozen. Vayo decided to sue them and filed a complaint with the US District Court for the Central District of California.
However, PokerStars issued a statement saying that Vayo was using a VPN and probably spent part of the SCOOP tournament on US soil, both of which are strictly prohibited. The American dropped his lawsuit against PokerStars in 2018 for not providing sufficient evidence of his whereabouts. Plus, some of the evidence was doctored.
Scott Robins, a poker player, was banned from the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa in 2019 for making a suicide joke while checking in.
Although Robins later clarified he wasn’t serious, the hotel clerk still reported him, and the security escorted him to a medical facility.
The Massachusetts poker pro sued the venue for $1.25 million due to a previously imposed lifetime ban. He asked for a seven-figure amount to cover all the medical costs he had to undergo and the loss of future income — he estimated he would lose $85,000 per year in poker earnings for the next ten years, including $200,000 of sponsorship money.
He also added another $200,000 for false accusations. According to court records, Robins settled out of court with Borgata for an undisclosed amount.
Another WSOP bracelet owner, Cory Zeidman, was arrested by federal authorities for money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud on May 25, 2022. Zeidman was allegedly a leader of the Phoenix Organization group that orchestrated a sports betting fraud scheme from his Florida and Long Island residences.
According to the feds, he held a high-ranking position in this organization which ran national radio ads, promoting wagering as investing instead of high-risk gambling. Their ads offered a dial-up phone number that gamblers could call and learn about the outcomes of the fixed sports events. The pro poker player issued a ‘not guilty’ plea on the mentioned accusations. The court hearings are yet to be resolved.
This English poker sensation is probably best known for ending in seventh place in the $80 million WSOP tournament in 2019, where Marchington collected a prize of $200 million.
However, it turned out that his winnings were the subject of a lawsuit that a gambling backing firm C Biscuit Poker Staking, filed against him.
The young poker player was accused of fraud and breaching their contract. Marchington allegedly reached out to this staking company asking if they could buy a 10% stake in his performance at two tournaments, including the WSOP Main Event. The company accepted the proposal, and made the deal.
However, Marchington backed out of the deal shortly after that and offered the group a refund. His stakers felt entitled to his 10% of the prize even after that, which would have been $152,500. Fortunately for Marchingon, the judge ruled in his favor, allowing him to collect his entire $2,200,000 WSOP prize.