A French court earlier this month ruled that a Saudi Sheikh does not owe high-stakes poker pro Rick Salomon the amount of $2.8 million that he lost in a poker game in the French Riviera in 2014.
Salomon sued Raad al-Khereiji, a scion of one of Saudi Arabia's richest families, claiming that he won the money fair and square during a Texas Hold'em game at the Tiara Miramar Beach hotel on the French Riviera, but the sheikh apparently welched.
The court made its decision following an antiquated law that dates back to over 200 years, which states that only debts incurred in games "involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis and other games of the sort which involves physical skill and exercise" enforceable. As such, the court found that poker was a game of "chance" and did not require any "physical skill and exercise."
Salomon's lawyer Ronald Sokol said it was easy to prove that poker is a game of skill, but it was difficult to convince the court that poker "involved the exercise of the body."
Of course, for those who really play poker, they would understand while the game does not require one to do some type of physical skill that traditional sports activities do, it does require stamina, and a lot of it in some circumstances. Sitting for long sessions, most especially in big poker tournaments, can be tiring, both mentally and physically. This is one obvious reason why bots are such a big threat in online poker as they never get tired. Real people, on the other hand, could have their play affected if they are exhausted and their decision-making skills could go two ways: improve or fade over time.
Sokol argued that there was an endurance factor to the poker game between Salomon and Khereiji since the session ran for 48 hours straight. Meanwhile, Kheireiji's lawyer Paul-Albert Iweins, argued that poker was a game of complete chance, which lacked any physical skill.
According to The Telegraph, all is not lost for Salomon and his legal team. The court agreed to see the sheikh's gambling records which were obtained via court order.
Sokol said that the records "show he spent $34 million in 29 months in the Ivey Room (at the Aria Resort and Casino and since renamed Table 1) where the minimum bet is $100,000."
This information is very crucial because of Salomon's experience (playing poker versus the sheikh) presented during the trial. Some players who participated in that game testified that Khereiji was on a massive downswing and promised Salomon that his lawyer would contact him to take care of the payment of his poker losses. However, that lawyer told Salomon seven months later that he will not be given the money, as Khereiji thought the game was just a "friendly part with no financial stake."
Khereiji's lawyers may have devised a plan that the 1804 gambling law would work in their client's favor, thus his sentiment on the payment.
Salomon's attorney said that if necessary, they are considering appealing all the way to the French Supreme Court.
Rick Salomon has a short-lived albeit lucrative live tournament portfolio, over $9.9M in cashes. He has been married four times: to Elizabeth Daily voice actress of The Powerpuff Girls and Rugrats, actress Shannen Doherty, and twice to actress Pamela Anderson. He also became widely famous for a 2003 sex tape in which he appeared with then-girlfriend Paris Hilton.