Regional iNinja Poker Tour to Restructure Following Allegations of Troubled Finances

The regional iNinja Poker Tour has announced that it will restructure its organization and financing in the wake of no-pay allegations by several of its sponsored players.  The upstart tour, centered in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and catering to an Upper Midwest (US) clientele, was jolted when three of its sponsored pros jointly published a damning critique of the tour’s founder and principal owner, Issac Tucker, accusing him of running something of a Ponzi scheme in his efforts to grow the iNinja tour.

team-ininja

Lavish graphics such as this piece illustrating several Team iNinja Poker players are slick, but a likely example of money poorly spent.

Among the allegations made by the three sponsored pros, Aaron Johnson, Kou Vang and Vlad Revniaga, were that Tucker had bounced at least one sponsorship check, been months late on payments made to many players, had sought loans from players and possible investors with conflicting and overlapping promises of returns on investment, and had destroyed the faith of the players (some who also became investors) that Tucker could manage the iNinja tour responsibly.  Other allegations included that Tucker had not properly segregated designated player funds, and may have instead used tour money to pay personal expenses, and that at least one experienced tourney reporter was never paid for her work at two separate iNinja events.

As the three wrote, in an 18-page diatribe published a few days ago on Google, “Over the past few months, we (us former iNinja pros and others close to Issac) have uncovered a mountain of evidence which undeniably show that Issac has conducted himself unethically, unscrupulously, and deceptively.”

Tucker, who goes by the handle of “Issac RunGood,” responded publicly on Twitter on Friday.  He acknowledged some of the alleged mismanagement of funds while denying any malintent, while also announcing the increased investment presence of one of iNinja’s existing co-owners, Alan Carty.

As Tucker wrote:

Regarding the statement written in collaboration by Aaron Johnson, Vladimir Revniaga, and Kou Vang, I would like to start off by apologizing to the community for the way this situation was handled, but more importantly for my mismanagement in operating iNinja Poker.  I simply overextended myself with expenses from the very beginning.  I’ve made good on my loans since I attained them, although a little later than expected which happens in life sometimes.  Moving forward, iNinja Poker has decided to bring in Alan Carty to help manage iNinja Poker’s finances.  Heading forward, an agreement to solve all shareholder percentages with Kou Vang will be fulfilled as promised.  [Vang was one of the sponsored pros who Tucker subsequently convinced to invest $40,000 in iNinja Poker, also becoming the tour’s general manager.]  In addition to this, Kou Vang has resigned as the general manager but will remain as one of iNinja Poker’s shareholders.  We look to make sure that we can provide many more great tournaments for our community and the iNinja Poker supporters for years to come. …

Carty, a poker enthusiast and experienced businessman from the Twin Cities, has emerged as a white knight to rescue the situation and save the new tour from probable insolvency.

Carty also issued a statement in which he listed some notable rights and wrongs in the way Tucker managed the fledgling operation, including this:

What Issac did right:

  • He saw the need for a low to mid-stakes poker tour and created one.
  • He created excellent marketing material.  I have not see any poker tour that was as good at marketing as Issac was.
  • He created a high level of interest in iNinja Poker.
  • He was able to get tournaments at some very good venues.

What Issac did wrong:

  • He tried to run before he learned to crawl.  He wanted to be huge on Day 1 instead of building it slowly and organically.
  • He offered financial deals to too many poker players in return for them representing the brand.
  • He paid far too much for professional services, many of which should never have been used by a fledgling company.
  • He borrowed money from individuals to help bridge the gaps between tournaments and was overly optimistic on his repayment schedules.

In what appears to be an assumption of financial responsibility and control, Carty also noted his belief that Tucker “lacked some of the business skills to run the finances of iNinja Poker,” but was still an “asset to the brand” due to his vision, passion and hard work.  Carty promises to cover all of iNinja’s existing debts, the better to give the smallish tour a chance to survive long-term.

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