Leon Tsoukernik Has Got Some Real Balls, I’ll Give Him That

As the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe finishes up at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, there is a dark cloud hanging over the festivities. No, not the one in which Chris Ferguson wins the WSOP Player of the Year title, but rather the one in which Leon Tsoukernik, owner of the King’s Casino, is quite the piece of work. When the man who owns the venue where the WSOP is being held is an alleged loan stiffer, the excitement gets dialed back a notch. Tsoukernik already looks bad in this whole drama, but now he has turned full heel.

Matthew Kirk

Matthew Kirk

To review, Tsoukernik was in Las Vegas during the traditional World Series of Poker to promote his casino and its hosting of the WSOP Europe. In the wee hours of the morning on May 27th, he and poker pro Matthew Kirk were playing against each other at the Aria, during which time Kirk allegedly loaned Tsoukernik $3 million worth of casino chips. There were at least two other people at the table who saw the exchange and security cameras have been examined that show the activity, as well.

The two men also exchanged text messages at the table as a sort of record-keeping method of their transactions. During a 72-minute period, the following messages went back and forth:

Kirk: Gave you 500k
Kirk: Gave you 1million
Tsoukernik: OK
Kirk: (paraphrased, exact message unknown) Sent 3 million total
Tsoukernik: OK

Aside from the obscene amounts of money, this is pretty straightforward to this point. Poker players loan each other money all the time. But then, twelve minutes after the final confirmation, Tsoukernik wrote, “Not valid,” and “0 now.”

Um. The hell?

From all appearances, a man who owns a casino, and a casino that is currently hosting the WSOP Europe, no less, had accepted a $3 million loan from a fellow poker player and then immediately showed him his fingers that were crossed behind his back, telling him to screw off.

About a week later, Tsoukernik paid Kirk back $1 million, but there was still the matter of $2 million to settle.

Kirk proceeded to sue Tsoukernik to get his money back. In mid-October Clark County (Las Vegas) District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell dismissed eight of the ten civil counts. The eight dismissed counts had to do with “breach of contract” or “breach of implied covenant,” because gambling debts, ironically, are unenforceable in Nevada. The two counts that she let stand, though – fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment – allowed Kirk to try to keep going after Tsoukernik as long as he could separate out the gambling part of the loan.

On Thursday, Card Player reported that Tsoukernik isn’t admitting defeat, but rather – get this – blaming Kirk and the Aria for the situation and filing a counterclaim against Kirk. According to the court documents acquired by Card Player, Tsoukernik claims that he was so drunk at the time of the chip exchange that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor should he be responsible for it.

Let’s unpack this. At a casino, a place that Tsoukernik knows fully well will happily loosen up players with free alcohol, Tsoukernik said that the amount he was given to imbibe was “sufficient to visibly intoxicate and impair” him and “induce him to play for large sums.”

Yeah, no shit. Guess what? There are no clocks or windows in the casino, either! And sometimes they give away lots of other shit like hotel rooms and food to get you to keep playing! You do this yourself at King’s Casino!

Tsoukernik also claims he had such “extreme fatigue” and was so intoxicated that he misread his cards and needed help counting his chips.

I can relate. I, myself, was playing some Overwatch the other night and found myself getting very tired. The solution to my predicament was radical, but I pulled it off: I went the fuck to sleep.

More hilarity: “Tsoukernik acted under duress and, due to outside forces, was left without any ability to avoid any damages alleged.”

My god, just fuck off already. Nobody forced you to drink. Nobody forced you to gamble. You own a goddamn casino – it’s not like you are some rube who stumbled in off the street, attracted by the flashing lights and melodic chimes. You could have gotten up from the table at any point. And even if you were so hammered you that needed help back to your room, nobody was playing poker for you. Nobody took your chips and bet them.

Tsoukernik has also filed a lawsuit against the Aria, saying that the casino purposely plied him with too much alcohol (again, yeah, no shit) and “prevented” other gamblers from helping him leave. And, Card Player writes, “He said he was invited to the casino to gamble.”

I am at a loss.

Tsoukernik further claims that Kirk set out to “destroy” his reputation as a gambler and that his casino is losing business because poker players don’t want to patronize it as a result of this loan fiasco. His lawyers claim that he “has been harmed and has suffered, among other things, damages, pain and suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress, in excess of $10 million,” and is therefore looking to pull some punitive damages out of the situation.

To summarize, Kirk beat Tsoukernik’s ass in poker, loaning him money along the way so that Tsoukernik could keep playing. Tsoukernik acknowledged the loans, then refused to pay two-thirds of them, resulting in Kirk suing him. Tsoukernik has now countersued, claiming that he was so drunk and tired that he shouldn’t be held responsible for his actions. In fact, he blames Kirk and Aria for it all because fuck personal responsibility.

After all, Tsoukernik is just a poor, naïve casino owner who would never take advantage of a gambler.


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