PokerStars Suing Erick Lindgren for $2.5 Million
Erick Lindgren, the poker pro who was once one of the darlings of poker television, is back in the poker headlines, but not for anything good. As reported by CourthouseNews.com, Rational FT Enterprises, parent company of PokerStars, is suing Lindgren for $2.5 million.
The lawsuit was filed in Nevada District Court on Friday, January 30th. In the suit, Rational claims that Lindgren owes the company $2 million that it says was accidentally deposited into his Full Tilt Poker account in April 2011, just before Black Friday. Also at issue is a sum of $531,807 that was allegedly loaned to Lindgren. The $2.5 million in question was originally transferred from Full Tilt Poker to Lindgren, but when PokerStars acquired Full Tilt, it also assumed the rights to the debt.
PokerStars likely has a case, but it unclear how much money, if any, it will be able to collect from Erick Lindgren if proceedings go in the company’s favor. The $2 million portion of the dispute dates back, as mentioned, to shortly before Black Friday. In an interview with Poker News in the fall of 2012, Howard Lederer, one of the principals closely tied to Full Tilt Poker’s problems surrounding Black Friday, said that Lindgren had asked Chris Ferguson, another Full Tilt owner, for $2 million so that he could pay another player. “I have no idea how it happened,” Lederer said, “but… somehow the message, ‘Give Lindgren $2 million,” someone took that to mean give it to him on the site and someone else sent him a wire to his bank account.”
Thus, Lindgren got the $2 million on Full Tilt and transferred it to the person he needed to pay. He also received a $2 million bank wire, resulting in…carry the one…$4 million going to Lindgren instead of $2 million. Lindgren never paid the money back. According to Lederer, Lindgren said that he thought he owed the money to Chris Ferguson, not Full Tilt Poker.
Lindgren essentially confirmed the story, telling Bluff Magazine in January 2013:
Loans were a nature of how Full Tilt was doing things. There wasn’t always a ton of communication on these loans. It was just the culture of how things were done,” Lindgren said. “It was made, I think, about a week before Black Friday. When (Full Tilt) was indicted and things were going downhill, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I had approached Chris Ferguson (for a loan) and as far as I knew it was a loan from Chris.
There was some discussion of the money with Ferguson, according to Lindgren, but it didn’t go anywhere and Lindgren told Bluff he couldn’t remember the details.
In that interview, Lindgren knew he owed a lot of money to Stars, saying, “My debt to Full Tilt was listed as $2.4 million and now Stars holds that debt.”
That much money would be difficult for anyone to repay in a timely fashion, even a top poker pro. The timing of it all, though, plus things Lindgren did to himself made it pretty much impossible back in 2011. Lindgren had been riding the Full Tilt Poker gravy train, receiving around a quarter million dollars per month in dividend payments. When those stopped after Black Friday, he was in a bad way.
To make matters worse, Erick Lindgren was a degenerate gambler. Most poker players have a little “degen” in them, but Lindgren was on a whole other level. He was heavy into sports betting, fantasy sports, and prop bets, and while he had his hot streaks, he also frequently found himself chasing losses. It would be bad enough if he was losing his own money, but he reportedly also lost other people’s money, leaving a trail of gambling creditors in his wake. In March 2012, a thread was started on Two Plus Two in which Max Weinberg accused Lindgren for not paying $11,000 in fantasy football debts. More posters chimed in, claiming Lindgren owed them money as well, but it was claims by famed sports bettor Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris that really opened the poker public’s eyes to Lindgren’s gambling problems. Voulgaris said that Lindgren had owed him six-figure dollar amounts for years and now that Full Tilt was done, Voulgaris doubted he would ever see that money.
Lindgren explained to Bluff that Voulgaris had gotten him setup with a few offshore sports books that were willing to take a huge amount of action. “…he put me into a place where I had a $2 million credit line and we settled at $500,000,” Lindgren recounted. “I think I won three or four hundred the first week, so I was betting very big, $50K to $100K per game, and then I started losing and flipped that down to where I was stuck, I think I paid $400,000 once and $500,000 once. So I was down $900,000 to them. And then I lost I think another $2.3 million.”
That, combined with other sports betting and poker losses, put Lindgren about $6 million in the hole. Voulgaris assumed Lindgren’s $2.2 million debt with the sports books and Lindgren did repay him $1.4 million, but he still owed a lot of cheddar.
At the time of the Bluff interview, Erick Lindgren was in a two-week stay at Morningside Recovery to treat his gambling addiction. He also filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Obviously, considering the lawsuit, he never repaid PokerStars for either the half million in loans or the accidental $2 million duplicate transfer.