Kings Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik has lost his $10-million countersuit against poker pro Matt Kirk after a Las Vegas Court decided to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that Kirk and the Aria Casino conspired to take advantage of him during a poker game in May 2017.
Judge Bell Orders Tsoukernik To Pay Kirk’s Legal Fees
Clark County District Court Judge Linda Bell tossed the countersuit filed by Tsoukernik this week after hearing the defense argue that the Australian poker player Kirk and Aria conspired to intoxicate him so that he would be at a disadvantage and lose a high-stakes poker game. Judge Bell ruled that Tsoukernik will have to pay legal fees for Kirk’s attorneys but also confirmed that he has the option to file another lawsuit if they find another angle to the story.
Those who are not familiar with the background of this story may not understand what the counter lawsuit was all about. The lawsuit and counter lawsuit which was played out in the media goes back to a high-stakes match played between Tsoukernik and Kirk on May 27, 2017 at the Ivey Room which is a part of the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The Controversial High Stakes Poker Game
Tsoukernik played against Perth-based pro Matt Kirk in an after-hours heads-up poker match. According to lawsuit filings and witness accounts, what started as a friendly match quickly turned sour when Tsoukernik started to quickly lose his chips. The booze-fuelled Tsoukernik found himself low on chips in the middle of the game and decided to borrow money from Kirk to continue playing.
According to the text messages sent between Tsoukernik and Kirk during the game, Tsoukernik confirmed the loans in increments. He replied “OK” to all text messages sent by Kirk noting the amount he has loaned him. The money loaned amounting to $3 million and the two players were only an hour into the game. Shortly after Tsoukernik “OKed” the loans, he then sent a text message to Kirk that read “Not valid. 0 now.”
Settling The Bill
After the controversial game took place, Tsoukernik and Kirk tried to settle the gambling debt with the help of their friend and poker personality Rob Yong. According to Yong, Kirk expressed his regret for lending money to Tsoukernik when he was so drunk and because of this, Yong suggested that as an act of goodwill, Kirk should only ask Tsoukernik to pay back $2 million. The three met at the Liquid pool at the Aria Casino and agreed to the deal, shaking hands and move on.
However 20 minutes after the deal went through, Yong once again met with Kirk who appeared to have changed his mind and now wanted the full $3 million from Tsoukernik. This angered Tsoukernik who stormed off without agreeing to make payment.
A couple of days after the incident, Yong once again tried to settle the differences between the two players and connected them via a conference call. However things once again turned sour and apparently Kirk threatened to expose Tsoukernik and destroy him.
Lawsuit Filed By Kirk
The legal battle between Kirk and Tsoukernik began with Kirk’s lawyers filing a civil complaint against Tsoukernik, demanding that he pay the remaining $2 million from the debt, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and cost of suit. The suit enumerated ten claims against Tsoukernik, including charges of breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, entering into the agreement with fraud and malice and unjust enrichment.
The lawsuit did not have a massive impact as Judge Bell threw out eight of the ten claims by Kirk. The Judge said that Kirk could still pursue Tsoukernik for the money owed based on the last two counts of “unjust enrichment” and “fraudulent inducement”.
Tsoukernik Files A Counterclaim
In response to the decision, Tsoukernik filed a counterclaim against Kirk and the Aria, alleging that he was over-served alcohol so he misread his hands and was not able to make rational decisions during his game. He also claimed that Aria representatives conspired with Kirk by financing him with Aria poker chips and that the Aria employees prevented people from helping Tsoukernik quit the game and leave the room, when they saw that he was intoxicated.
In a statement, Tsoukernik said, “I was taken advantage of and can no longer remain silent. As a casino operator, I feel it is my obligation to never allow a patron to be treated as I was and to alert the poker community of the risks they take in situations like mine…Too much damage has been done for me to keep quiet.”
Judge Bell’s decision
After hearing all the arguments of Tsoukernik, Judge Bell decided to throw out all the claims of the countersuit. In response to the claim that Kirk displayed fraud by not disclosing the source of his funds, Judge Bell said that there is no law of any sort that requires any gambler to disclose to his opponent the source of his gambling funds.
Judge Bell also shot down the claims of Tsoukernik that Kirk conspired with Aria to intoxicate him because there was no evidence that Kirk was ordering drinks for Tsoukernik. While Tsoukernik tried to drag Aria as a defendant, Judge Bell dismissed the claim and said that the matter should be settled by the Gaming Control Board instead.
The Gaming Control Board has yet to comment on the matter and Rob Yong has not been called to court to testify.

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