Daniel Cates, Illya Trincher File Objection in Phil Ivey WSOP Garnishment

Prominent pro poker players Daniel Cates and Illya Trincher have filed a legal objection in the Nevada offshoot of the long-running legal battle between New Jersey’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and pro gambler Phil Ivey, who at this juncture continues to owe more than $10 million to the Borgata after losing the high-profile “edge sorting” case judgment to the Borgata. Specifically, Cates, popularly known as “Jungleman” or “Jungle”, and Trincher have asserted that they fully backed Ivey into the 2019 World Series of Poker Event #58, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

Under the terms of the staking deal attested to by Cates, Trincher, and Ivey, Cates and Trincher put up all of Ivey’s $50,000 entry. Ivey went on to finish eighth in the event, officially cashing for $124,410, only to learn that the Borgata had filed the proper legal paperwork to have those winnings garnished.

Phil IveyThe deal attested to by the three players stated that if Ivey cashed, the first $50,000 of his winnings would be returned to Cates and Trincher. Any remaining profit was then to be split 50-50 between the two backers and Ivey himself.  Ivey “profited” by $74,410 in the event, and half of that amount is $37,205. Cates and Trincher are thus claiming they are entitled to $87,205 of Ivey’s $124,410 payday in the PPC.

The objection to the writ of execution securing the garnishment was filed on August 30, 2019 by Richard A. Schonfeld of the high-powered Las Vegas legal firm Chesnoff and Schonfeld. The firm may be the most prominent American legal firm specializing in gamblers and gambling matters, and Schonfeld has been Ivey’s attorney of record in other cases.

According to the objection, Ivey has been staked by Cates and Trincher into poker events for some prior time:

… Mr. Cates and Mr. Trincher had an existing staking agreement with Mr. Ivey. On or about June 24, 2019, Mr. Cates and Mr. Trincher agreed to provide Mr. Ivey with the full $50,000 buy-in for a World Series of Poker tournament at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, specifically the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (Event #58) on June 24, 2019, in exchange for 50% of the winnings (in addition to the return of our $50,000 principal). On or about June 24, 2019, Mr. Trincher provided Mr. Ivey with said $50,000 for the buy-in pursuant to their existing staking agreement.

In said chat exchange on or about June 24, 2019, at approximately 4:04 pm, Mr. Trincher sent a message to Mr. Cates which stated that Trincher “Gave Phil 100 for tournament total so far (50 for today).” This chat evidences that Mr. Cates and Mr. Trincher provided Phil Ivey the full $50,000 buy-in pursuant to the terms of their existing staking agreement.

The objection goes on to assert that Cates and Trincher are “the rightful and legal owners of the $87,205” in garnished winnings. The filing also includes an image of the running phone chat between the two men between June 6 and June 24 showing them arranging for Ivey’s backing:

The filing duly notes that staking deals are legal and enforceable under Nevada law. It also excerpts a section of Nevada’s civil code that purports to ensure Cates’ and Trinchers’ rights to the funds.

However, the claim faces some difficulties, despite Schonfeld’s legal prowess. Ivey was certainly aware that the Borgata had received legal approval to docket the $10.13 New Jersey judgment into Nevada back in early February. It would beg credulity to assert that Cates and Trincher were unaware of Ivey’s situation with the Borgata, given the years-long, high-profile nature of the case, along with their own backing arrangement with Ivey.

Such an objection, if upheld, would also provide gamblers in Nevada and some other US states a wide-open channel for dodging all sorts of legal judgments, simply by creating a multi-layered net of backing deals. There’s no evidence that happened here, but backing Ivey could well end up being adjudged a “buyer beware” situation, where Cates and Trincher could also be forced to pursue Ivey legally for the lost $87,205.

Buried within all this is an implied statement — perhaps intentional — that Ivey doesn’t have the tens of millions in assets that some biographical sources claim.

The Borgata has yet to respond formally to this Nevada-based objection.

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  1. Julius Rosen

    Assets hidden well and he’ll never play Vegas again

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