Guy Laliberté, Founder of the One Drop Foundation

Guy Laliberté talks about how he was “cheated” on original Full Tilt

Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté is probably best known by most people as one of the creators of the massively successful Cirque de Soleil. However, before Black Friday in 2011, he was also a regular visitor to the highest stakes tables on Full Tilt Poker. Tables that Guy sat at were automatically filled, with a large waiting list. “Why?” I hear you ask? Probably because it’s suspected that Guy lost around $26 Million while playing online poker.
Why are we talking about a player losing large sums of money back  on the old Full Tilt Poker, a site that closed over three years ago? Probably because Guy has recently talked about his losses with a Canadian Newspaper, and his thoughts that he was at an unfair dis-advantage. He feels cheated while playing the likes of Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond along with the rest who seemed to be able to empty his bankroll on a whim.

Guy’s losses are not able to be confirmed as the original Full Tilt didn’t seem to mind that player used multiple accounts to play (even though this was against the sites terms and conditions) and Guy was thought to be playing on at least 5 accounts. The best known of these were “noatima,” “patatino” and “LadyMarmalade.”

In the recent short Journal de Montreal article, Guy stated “J’aurais dû me souvenir que je suis un dinosaure par rapport à ça [l’internet… L’histoire de Full Tilt est claire: Je me suis fait arnaquer, carrément, par des gens que je connaissais personnellement, qui utilisaient unfillted bank, qui payent pas d’argent.” or as Google translate and my rather rusty French has translated “I should have remembered that I am a dinosaur compared to this [internet]…The story of Full Tilt is clear: I got scammed, squarely, by people I knew personally who used unfillted bank, paying no money*”
*By this we think Guy is either talking about those players who were able to deposit onto Full Tilt without funds actually leaving their bank account via the e-check process, or it could also have something to do with the Team Full Tilt pros who got given loans from the company to play online.

Given the poker community is still very interested in what was happening on the original Full Tilt, mainly because of how badly that all ended, this story has started to generate interest, along with a thread on Two Plus Two.
People have been trying to work out what Guy actually meant. As you can see above, the translation of Guy’s comments isn’t great, and the use of the word “unfillted” has puzzled many of us who actually speak a little French.

One 2+2 poster, “coltranedog”, claimed to have actually played live poker with Guy, and had some insights about the Cirque de Soleil creator:
“This whole thing is a case of someone with an ego being embarrassed that he lost a fortune playing online poker and now attempting to save face. There is a reason why Guy changed his username frequently, and it wasn’t so others didn’t know who they were playing against, it was so the tracking sites would have a tougher job keeping track of how much he lost.”
He went on to give examples of Guy secretly adding to his chip stack as the game went on so it didn’t look like he was losing. He then ended the night declaring he had “…broken even.” “Coltranedog’s” post seemed to conclude that Guy was a proud man, and was embarrassed whenever he lost at the table, almost regardless of the sum.

Tom "Durrrr" Dwan

Tom “Durrrr” Dwan

Guy Laliberté can not be described as a poor man. Wikipedia has his current net worth at $2.6 Billion, so his poker losses were never going to bankrupt him. The lion’s share of his losses apparently went to Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Phil Galfond and the two Dang brothers, Di and Hac.

The thoughts that Guy is embarrassed by his losses could be well founded. He is one of the most successful businessmen in the world. He helped build the biggest performance based groups ever from nothing, and has reaped the financial rewards for that. It must have been galling to see the dollar signs haemorrhaging out of his poker accounts, when he was much more used to seeing dollars going into his bank accounts. Guy obviously knows how to play poker, and has four entries on his Hendon Mob page, all of them for more than $25,000. One of these was a fourth place in the 2007 World Poker Tour Five Star World Poker Classic which had an entry fee of $25,500. His fourth place was worth $696,220, which if you also factor in Guy satellited into the event for $2620, gives him a massive return on his investment.

It seems that from these results, Guy had an expectation that he could match the best in the world at the poker tables. Based on his online results, this was blatantly just not true. Guy is a reasonable player, but is the archetypical  “Whale.”
For those who don’t now what a Whale is in poker parlance, it’s a player with access to a massive bankroll that is looking to play in the biggest games possible. As you can probably see, Guy fits that to a tee.

Given his recent actions with the World Series of Poker, Guy has obviously not let his bad experience online damage his love for poker. The 2nd of June 2012 saw Guy’s new poker baby launched. The Big One for One Drop was a rake free World Series of Poker event with a massive $1 Million entry fee. 11% of the entry fee (or $111,111 for those who like numbers) was donated to the charity Guy set up to provide clean water to those who needed it, One Drop. The event was won by Antonio Esfandiari for a massive $18.3 Million, as he beat out the 48 player field. Guy also played in the event and managed to get a fifth place finish for $1,835,666.

The big one for One Drop is back in it’s full version for this year’s WSOP, and we’ll have to see if Guy can make it to the money again.  I’m certainly not expecting to see him playing online any time soon, even if the man can afford to buy his own island paradise.

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