Fri, Jul 21, 9:18am by Staff Writer
Matthew Kirk, a high-stakes poker pro known as ‘Aussie Matt’ to his peers, has filed a lawsuit seeking the return of USD$2 million he allegedly loaned to Leon Tsoukernik during a heated cash game held at the Aria casino in Las Vegas.
Per reporting by David Ferrera of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which cites documents filed within the Clark County court system, Kirk accuses Tsoukernik of refusing to pay back a series of massive loans handed out while the pair played poker together.
Kirk claims that he loaned Tsoukernik – owner of King’s Casino in the Czech Republic – USD$3 million in various increments over the course of the session, but only received USD$1 million in return.
Among the evidence presented by Kirk – a nosebleed-stakes cash game player by trade – was a text message exchange between himself and Tsoukernik which appears to confirm the terms of a loan.
In a text bearing a timestamp of 4:34 a.m. Las Vegas local time on May 27, Kirk writes to Tsoukernik and tells him “Gave you 500k” – meaning USD$500,000 in casino chips.
Approximately 30 minutes afterward, Kirk sent a second text stating “Gave you 1 million.”
In reply, Tsoukernik simply wrote “OK” on both occasions.
By 5:46 a.m. Kirk texted to let Tsoukernik know that he had now handed him USD$3 million worth of Aria poker chips.
Once again, Tsoukernik wrote back to say “OK.”
But just 12 minutes later, he texted Kirk to say “not valid,” and two minutes after that Tsoukernik texted “0 now.”
According to Kirk’s legal representation, these texts provide proof that Tsoukernik accepted casino chips from Kirk as a loan, before suddenly deciding that he wouldn’t be paying his opponent back:
“The defendant has committed a fraud upon the plaintiff.”
“Those text messages indicate that defendant never intended to pay his loans.”
The Aria’s video surveillance cameras captured footage of the players that night, and as the Las- Vegas Review-Journal reported, that footage has also been submitted as evidence by Kirk’s legal team.
Per the newspaper’s recounting of the footage, the game was four-handed at 4:29 a.m. when Kirk counts USD$500,000 worth of chips and slides them to Tsoukernik. By 5:07 a.m. he passes another USD$500,000 across the table, while both players begin texting.
Fifteen minutes later Kirk hands USD$1 million in chips to Tsoukernik, and another USD$1 million is handed over at 5:45 a.m. One minute afterward, the two players can be seen shaking hands.
Tsoukernik’s lawyer Peter Bernhard responded to the allegations of fraud by claiming in court filings that Kirk never offered a proper loan, but rather incurred an ‘unenforceable’ gambling debt:
“Since plaintiff seeks to enforce gaming debts arising under the contract, if the contract is void and not enforceable as a matter of law, then none of the contract, good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent inducement, and unjust enrichment claims can be maintained.”
“Since the gaming debts that plaintiff seeks to enforce are not evidenced by a ‘credit instrument’ at the time the debts were created in the early morning hours of May 27, 2017, then the alleged gaming debts ‘are void and unenforceable,’ and do not give rise to any administrative or civil action.”
One day after the alleged loans were made, Tsoukernik paid USD$300,000 to enter the Super High Roller Bowl tournament at the Aria.
When he finished in fourth place a few days later, earning a USD$1.8 million payout for his efforts, Tsoukernik then paid Kirk USD$1 million – but told him that no further payments would be forthcoming.
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