The known facts which led to the lawsuit
During the 2017 WSOP in Las Vegas, King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik and High Stakes Cash Game Regular Matt “Aussie Matt” Kirk played Heads-Up against each other at the ARIA.
Kirk borrowed 3 Million Dollar to Tsoukernik and then won it all back. However, Leon only paid back 1 Million, claiming he was drunk and tired and that: “It was an unenforceable gambling debt.”
Matt’s attorneys then filed a lawsuit against Leon for the outstanding 2 Million Dollar in Las Vegas.
The court ruling
On the 17th of October the trial took place at Clark County’s Eighth Judicial Court in Las Vegas.
The judges dismissed 8 out of 10 counts and declared the debt to be a nonenforceable gaming debt. However, the court ruled that Matt can proceed with the lawsuit on the final two allegations of fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.
“Unjust enrichment” occurs when a person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust.
“Fraudulent inducement” requires a claimant to prove that it reasonably relied upon promises of future conduct made by another party.
That means if Matt manages to prove one of the above points the court might rule that the debt needs to be paid back. However, this will be very difficult to proove.
Leon Tsoukernik Hits Back at Matt Kirk with $10 Million Counterclaim
On the 9th of November Leon went on the offense by issuing a 10 Million Dollar counterclaim against Kirk and the ARIA.
Tsoukernik claims that:
“Before any legal pleading was filed, I chose to resolve this matter amicably, with the help of several of the most respected members of the poker community. But, as a result of the behaviour of Matthew Kirk and the third-party defendant, I was taken advantage of and can no longer remain silent.”
The counterclaim further states:
“Tsoukernik acted under duress and, due to outside forces, was left without any ability to avoid any damages alleged.”
Was the ARIA really backing Kirk?
Leon furthermore claims that Kirk acted as a shill and that he was backed by the ARIA:
“Several individuals in the Ivey Room recognised Tsoukernik’s intoxication and attempted to help him leave the Ivey Room, but Aria and/or its agents, employees or representatives prohibited these individuals from assisting Tsoukernik.”
Is Leon afraid of Matt damaging his reputation?
The counterclaim doesn’t comes as a big surprise though as Leon has been telling a different story in the German-speaking poker community since the start.
In addition to that, he is the owner of King’s Casino Rozvadov, the biggest poker room in Europe, and might fears the defamation of his character and reputation as several pros have already refused to play at King’s Casino events as a result of the lawsuit.
Rob Yong reveals new “Stone Cold Facts”
Dusk till Dawn owner, Rob Yong, who was also present at this day in the ARIA and therefore was seen by many as arbitrator has now revealed new facts in his personal blog in a post called “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas [NOT]”.
In the blog post Rob tells his version of the events that took place in this night at the ARIA between Leon Tsoukernik and Matt Kirk and states that articles have some inaccuracies.
We have summed up the most interesting parts of Rob Yong’s blog here:
Apparently, Matt contacted Rob that night saying he won 3 Million Dollar playing Heads-Up against Tsoukernik and was worried about getting paid:
“I was sound asleep when the Leon Matty game happened. Matty came over and told me that he had won $3M heads-up off Leon last night and was worried about being paid, so I asked Matty what had happened?
“Matty told me the game got out of hand when Leon became very drunk, loaning in total $3M in Aria chips from Matty which he then lost back to Matty heads-up.”
“Matty asked me what he should do. I replied, ‘I am sure Leon will pay you in full but if you feel a bit bad, and want to give him a small discount as a goodwill gesture that would also be okay’. Matty asked me what discount. I replied after some consideration, ‘Maybe $2M cash and play heads-up for the $1M loaned after ‘the lift’ as clearly the game should never have re-started with Leon in that state. Matty agreed and asked me to propose this settlement to Leon. Matty wanted to settle today before playing Leon again as this was a large sum of money.”
“Leon and Matty hugged and shook hands on this $2M + $1M heads up deal”
“As soon as Leon arrived at Liquid he said to me, ‘Tell Matty not to worry, I don’t remember much but whatever I lost I will pay today’. I told Leon that Matty wants to offer him a discount to $2M cash plus heads-up for $1M [so $2.5M equity]. Leon replied ‘fine, whatever Matty wants’. I shouted Matty over and Leon and Matty hugged and shook hands on this $2M + $1M heads up deal.”
“20 minutes later Matty called me and told me ‘There is no deal, Leon has to pay the full $3M’. I asked why and he told me the person on the phone has said ‘no deal’ and it was ‘out of his hands’. I went back over to our cabana and told Leon that the settlement was now off and Leon said to me ‘this is ridiculous, you get me out of bed after 2 hours sleep, I don’t remember anything but I agree to everything, I even offer to get the money brought here now, I shake hands and now you tell me this!’.
“I returned back to the UK a couple of days later. My phone rang and it was Leon and Matty on speakerphone. Leon said ‘Myself and Matt are here at the Rio Cage, we have agreed a settlement and we would like you to be a witness to it. I am giving Matt $1M and he accepts this as a full and final settlement for the game.’ I said ‘eh, $1M, are you serious! Matty, WTF’. Matty came on the speakerphone and said ‘Yes, it’s fine, we are all settled, I want to move on’. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but at the end of the day, they just wanted me to witness the settlement and I was sick of being involved so I just said ‘fine, I have witnessed it’.”
“Matty said he was going to use the $1M to ruin Leon’s reputation in the poker world”
“That night Matty skyped me. He was absolutely fuming, he said he didn’t care about the money now and he was going to use the $1M to ruin Leon’s reputation in the poker world. Matty told me that him and Leon had sat down to discuss settling up and Leon had said ‘this is a lesson for you, you shouldn’t loan money to drunk people’ and that Leon spoke to him like he was just a kid. I asked Matty ‘why the hell did you accept $1M? ‘and Matty told me that Leon proposed $1M and he was so mad with how Leon had spoken to him that he just took the $1M.”
“A couple of days later Leon messaged me to say that a lawyer had turned up to the Rio and served him with a court action for $2M. I messaged Matty and he told me his lawyer had told him that he could no longer speak to me.”
Rob Yong’s blog post indeed reveals some new facts about the case. Nevertheless, this still isn’t enough to give Leon the right to refuse paying back his debt.
We say pay the man his money and move on!