The Players Poker Championship (PPC) Poker Tour held its last stop back in November 2016 in Aruba. This was when the finale for the 2016 PPC Main Event took place. The Main Event concluded with five players sharing almost $300,000 in combined prize money. That seemed like a huge payout for the winners, but unfortunately they did not receive all of them. The PPC went bust after that and it looked highly unlikely that players were going to recover any of their money!
PPC Unpaid Winnings
Stephen Deutsh came on top in the PPC Main Event for $128,987, followed by James Beadnell in 2nd place for $85,906, Michael Lerner in 3rd place for $43,426. John Ott finished in 4th place for $22,085, and Joan Sandoval finished in 5th place for $11,390.
Each of them walked away with only $10K in cash and received a promise from tour owners Sandy Swartzbaugh and Bryan Oulton that the rest of their winnings will be paid in full via their bank accounts, a few days after the festival. But this turned out to be a false promises as the players never received the combined $291,794 due to them.
In December 2016, the owners began to get rid of substantive content from the PPC website, and the players were informed through email that the funds were not yet available, accompanied by another batch of excuses and promises. The long wait ultimately ended in a lawsuit with the players as the plaintiffs. Their case was brought to the court by noted gaming lawyer Maurice “Mac” VerStandig.
Players File Lawsuit Against PPC
The lawsuit accused both Swartzbaugh and Oulton of racketeering, fraud, corruption and running the PPC as a Ponzi scheme, among other claims. The owners allegedly failed to segregate PPC’s funds and intentionally utilized the monies from one creditor to pay another, or to enrich themselves, indicative of a Ponzi scheme. When the flow of new monies had become insufficient to deal with the tour’s financial obligations, it eventually collapsed.
Among other entities dragged into the case were Maryland Live! Casino which ran satellites to PPC events, as well as Tampa Bay Downs, one of the tour’s official host venues. Both were accused of aiding and abetting negligence, as they were involved in extensively promoting the tour and also sent in some employees to help run the tournament.
The developments in the case did not gain enough spotlight over the last three years. This is what we know so far:
Oulton Goes Bankrupt, Swartzbaugh Settles
One year after the last PPC Tour event, Oulton applied for bankruptcy in Florida. During that time, he incurred a massive debt of $890,000 and only had $414,000 in assets. He was also unemployed with no source of income. The bankruptcy process was eventually completed and Oulton was also able to finalize a divorce in early April, and also filed for compensation.
Swartzbaugh meanwhile went into the settlement route in 2017. He and Oulton agreed to a combined $120,000 settlement, to be paid back to players via $400 installments within 50 months.
Tampa Bay Downs Settles With Players
Tampa Bay Downs also settled with players, paying back a total of $80,000, with more than $43,000 shared among the five players, and over $36,0000 going to the Trustee and VerStandig’s law firm.
In the agreement, Tampa Bay Downs denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the alleged scheme. The settlement represented the largest single recovery for the plaintiffs following the fall of PPC.
The settlement agreement also put an end to the litigation, noting that the case was complex considering its gambling origins. It was approved by Judge John K. Olson in January of this year. Overall, the players were able to recoup $200,000 from the nearly $300,000 due to them.
Meanwhile, former owners Oulton and Swartzbaugh have taken a step back from the poker industry since the demise of the PPC, got rid of all of their social media accounts, and effectively destroyed the PPC website. They have remained invisible in any poker-related happenings and have since kept a low profile.
These latest developments could mark an end to PPC’s infamous dark chapter.

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