Houston, Texas is home to a booming social poker club scene that has managed to thrive during the pandemic. But recently, a popular venue closed down for unclear reasons. 88 Social Club, owned by Johnny Chan, shut its doors on 03 Dec, leaving many players shocked as they still had cash left in their boxes at the club.
Others were holding chips from the establishment to prepare for their next tournaments, only to find out that the room had stopped operating. 88 Social Club did not post any notice on its website or social media accounts, leading to different speculations regarding the club’s financial status.
Has 88 Social Club Gone Broke?
In late 2020, 88 Social Club was supposed to host its Winter Tournament series but eventually canceled the event over fears it might not have adequate funds to cover the guarantees if events fall short of hitting their targets. The room also implemented a $2,000 cap on daily cashouts leading players to believe that something bad was brewing. A few weeks ago, the venue also unexpectedly dropped its planned Winter Classic event.
88 Social Club has been dealing with financial issues as early as 2019 when Chan filed a lawsuit against his former business partners accusing them of breach of contract, fraud, and misappropriation of his name and likeness. Chan started the 88 Social Club with David La and Ho Jun Sin. When the club was first launched, it was launched under the name 52 Social.
The trio later had a major dispute involving the club’s finances, leading to the lawsuit which reached a settlement without going to court. La and Sin eventually left 88 Social with Chan overtaking the club. La established his own club located directly across the street from 88 Social. La’s Legends Social Club quickly gained popularity, leading to a significant drop in 88 Social’s daily traffic.
While 88 Social was slowly losing customers, there were allegations of graft and mismanagement committed by the club’s management. The room was reportedly dealing with an operational shortage of between $850,000 and $1.2 million.
As of this writing, 88 Social Club or Chan has yet to make any official statement regarding the sudden closure, leaving many players worried that they may never get their money back. There are reports that three high rollers are holding chips worth over $500,000.
Accusations continue to emerge online, with some alleging that a manager had run off with the club’s money. There are also claims that the room is already financially drained and is struggling to get back on its feet.
Chan Reportedly Looking for Investors
Chan has reportedly reached out to several people encouraging them to invest in the club for a fresh start. One poker pro who appears to be interested in buying the room is Mike Matusow who also recently claimed in his vlog that he had the scoop as to the current status of 88 Social Club.
Matusow claimed that Chan told him his side of the story regarding the unexpected closure of the room. Matusow shared that Chan’s business partner allegedly looted the club while he was playing at the WSOP in Las Vegas. How much of this is true, is anyone’s guess!
Meanwhile, Matusow has expressed his intention to invest in the club as a business opportunity, adding that he’s already in talks with some people about the plan. He made it clear though that the decision isn’t final yet as the group will still discuss the prospect of operating the club.
Some sources say the club will reopen next week with a new owner. We will wait and see if this happens!