Sep 11, 2017
Leon Tsoukernik Allegedly Owes €4m in Unpaid Poker Debts
By RTR Dennis
King’s Casino Rozvadov owner Leon Tsoukernik is embroiled in a couple of high stakes poker scandals. He allegedly owes Matt 'Aussie Matt' Kirk and Elton Tsang almost €4,000,000 collectively and refuses to pay up.
Let's look at both players' stories along with their allegations that Tsoukernik isn't repaying the debts.
Tsang Claims that He's Owed €2 Million
Elton Tsang, who is best known for winning the 2016 Monte Carlo One Drop High Roller and €11.1 million, went to EPT Barcelona with the intention to play tournaments only.
But his friend Richard Young got him in a big cash game with Tsoukernik, Yong, Fedor Holz, Dan 'jungleman12' Cates, Tony G, Peter Chan, and Winfred Yu. Blinds were set at €1k/€2k with a €4k straddle, and Tsang ended the cash game with a €2.8 million profit.
This prompted Tsoukernik to challenge him to a heads-up game, whereby the casino mogul won €1.4 million off Tsang. Later in the week, Tsang, Tsoukernik, Cates, and Christop 'Tight-Man1' played a small cash game, where Tsang won €2 million – with almost all of the losses coming from Tsoukernik.
Tsoukernik Proposes to Settle with Tsang
According to Tsang's interview with CalvinAyre's Lee Davy, Tsoukernik proposed that the two settle their debt. Here's the poker pro's description of the events.
“Then on August 27th, Leon messaged me and asked me for a short meeting. I went down to the hotel coffee shop to meet him. During the meeting, he proposed to settle my winnings for the first two games only. And wishes to cancel the last game. I asked him why and no reasons were given. He only stated that ‘this is a proposal he’s giving me.’
“On the same day, six hours later, I asked him to meet again, and we met at the same coffee shop. I explained to him that it’s not possible to just forget the last game we played and that it’s only right if he pays in full. I explained that I won the money fair and square, and there isn’t any reasons to cancel the results of the last game. He later gave a reason saying that he thinks the game was strange and not fair."
Tsoukernik wanted to settle the €1.19 million that he lost in the first two cash game sessions – including money from players that he backed. However, he refuses to pay the €2 million from the final session.
Poker Debts aren't Enforceable in Europe
The huge roadblock to Tsang recovering his poker debt from Tsoukernik is that they're not legally binding in Europe.
“I contacted some lawyers, and to be honest, they told me the same thing," said Tsang. "Gambling debts aren’t enforceable. The game that he hosted is not even legal even though we were inside the casino. It was a credit game, so I can’t sue him for it."
Tsoukernik Sent "People to Talk" with Tsang
Perhaps the most bizarre part of this story is that Tsang claims Tsoukernik sent people to deliver a message to the poker pro.
“Leon sent a lot of people to talk to me during this time, and they hinted to me that Leon is not a boy scout and stuff like that," he explained. "Hinting that he has a background, etc, etc. I’m like whatever, if he is going to kill me, he is going to kill me.
Matt Kirk Sues Tsoukernik over $2m Poker Debt
Matt Kirk claims that he loaned Tsoukernik $3 million over the course of their heads-up session at Las Vegas' Aria. The loans totaled $500,000, $500,000, $1,000,000 and $1,000,000 between the hours of 4:34 and 5:46am.
Tsoukernik lost his bankroll to Aussie Matt, including the $3 million in loaned money. He later repaid $1 million, but has since refused to give the other $2 million.
Kirk's court documents have been posted to TwoPlusTwo. Article 11 in the documents state that Tsoukernik "used that prior experience with Plaintiff [Kirk] as a basis upon which to convince the Plaintiff that he could have trust in the Defendant that he would in fact repay the loans as represented."
Aussie Matt said that he has evidence of the loans from both text messages and Aria's video monitors.
Kirk's case differs from Tsoukernik's because it happened in Las Vegas. And one can sue for gambling debts in America, provided they have enough evidence to make a case.
Tsoukernik has Responded to Both Claims
Leon Tsoukernik isn't taking these allegations lying down. He feels confident in the Vegas case, and believes that Tsang has made "completely erroneous statements."
Tsoukernik claims that his position as a wealthy casino owner has attracted some cheaters and scandals. Here’s part of his statement about the Tsang situation:
“Unfortunately, I have come to learn that some people take advantage of knowing me and target me when I play poker cash games. I have thus experienced a variety of practices in the game which corrupt the sport of the game. For example, poker collusion, marked cards, and hired professionals. I have many stories to tell, but I prefer to fight it my own way with the support of the courts of justice and other poker entrepreneurs instead of fighting rumors and lies over the internet.”
Someone representing Tsoukernik under the name “FabRicSing” commented on the Kirk case. Here’s an excerpt of their post:
“Leon is not currently in the United States due to business obligations but is looking forward to returning to Las Vegas on July 1st in order to play in the Poker Players Championship, followed by the Main Event. He has a lot of respect for the American legal system and a lot of confidence that justice will prevail.”
Tsoukernik stated that he can’t comment too much on the specifics of either case. After all, it might jeopardize his litigation in the United States.
Who is Leon Tsoukernik?
Leon Tsoukernik is the CEO of Vestar Group and King’s Casino. He lives a lavish lifestyle that includes collecting art, flying in helicopters, and playing in high stakes poker games.
Tsoukernik has done quite well with his casino business. He opened King’s Casino Rozvadov in 2003 and shifted the focus towards poker in 2009. He’s since opened additional casinos under the King’s brand throughout Western Europe.
In 2017, he successful negotiated a deal to bring the WSOP Europe to Rozvadov in both 2017 and 2019.
Tsoukernik won the 2014 Industry Person of the Year at the European Poker Awards. This award was for his work with the poker community and bringing more players to Western Europe.
However, his reputation is up in the air now with multiple accusations of failing to repay high stakes poker debts.