Australian poker pro Matthew Kirk can still pursue Leon Tsoukernik for damages linked to an alleged debt, despite a judge ruling their transaction was unenforceable.
Following the initiation of a lawsuit by high stakes pro Kirk back in June 2017, District Judge Linda Marie Bell has thrown out eight claims made against King’s Casino owner, Tsoukernik. When the case was first presented at Clarke County Court in Nevada, US, Kirk accused Tsoukernik of not paying back US$2 million (AU$2.5 million) of a US$3 million (AU$3.8 million) loan.
Known to Las Vegas regulars as Aussie Matt, Kirk was reportedly able to beat Tsoukernik for a sizeable amount before agreeing to loan his opponent money so he could continue playing. Kirk might only have just under $239,000 in live tournament winnings, but he is a regular in some of the richest public and private high stakes games in the US.
Method of Payment Not Valid
According to Kirk’s version of events, he handed Tsoukernik stacks of chips equal to $3.8 million in lieu of reimbursement at a later date. However, as argued by Tsoukernik’s attorney, Peter Bernhard, the transaction inside Aria, Las Vegas, didn’t amount to an enforceable debt.
“Since the gaming debts that plaintiff seeks to enforce are not evidenced by a credit instrument at the time the debts were created in the early morning hours of May 27, 2017, then the alleged gaming debts are void and unenforceable and do not give rise to any administrative or civil action,” argued,” said Bernhard.
Essentially, because casino chips were used, the debt is void in the eyes of the law and that’s something Judge Bell concurred with. However, the judge didn’t completely absolve Tsoukernik of the debt or any potential moral fault in the matter.
“Tsoukernik entered into the contract intending to use its unenforceability to refuse repayment. If proven, this could place Mr. Tsoukernik at the greatest moral fault in this matter,” noted Bell.
Problems for Tsoukernik Ahead of WSOPE
Kirk’s attorneys, David Chessnof and Richard Schonfeld, now plan to use this verdict to pursue damages against Tsoukernik. Those in the poker world will recognise the names Chessnof and Schonfeld as the team that helped Paul Phua escape a federal indictment for running an illegal World Cup betting ring from a Vegas hotel.
That news won’t bode well for Tsoukernik whose casino is currently preparing for the arrival of the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE). Set to take place between October 19 and November 10 inside King’s Casino, Rozvadov, Czech Republic, the festival will be one of the largest of its kind.
With the guaranteed prizepool across 11 bracelet events set at $30 million, the tournaments are likely to attract plenty of players from around the world. Whether Kirk makes the flight across from Australia remains to be seen, but it’s certainly looks as though his interactions with Mr. Tsoukernik are far from over.