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Leon Tsoukernik Files Countersuit against Matt Kirk

Tags: Aria, Leon Tsoukernik, Matt Kirk.
Posted on 15 November 2017 by "T".

Matt Kirk, left. Leon, right.After being slammed with a lawsuit in Clark County court over allegedly not paying a $3-million worth of poker debt, Kings Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik had taken a strange move, countersuing high-stakes poker pro Matt Kirk and even the Aria casino in Las Vegas for $10 million.

The Story, according to Matt Kirk

In the wee hours of May 27, 2017, two pros of the poker world sat down for a private session, specifically a high-stakes poker match. The poker room was called the Ivey Room, a stylish area located in the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Czech entrepreneur and casino tycoon Leon Tsoukernik, was battling against Australian Matthew Kirk who is well-known for his hefty bets. A handful of people came to watch the game.

The session did not take a long time; however, a massive amount of money changed hands. Things weren't looking good for Tsoukernik. During their play, Kirk loaned him a total of $3 million worth of chips so as to keep him playing in the game, shown by sliding them across the table in increments of $500,000 and $1 million.

After an hour and a few minutes, Tsoukernik was beaten. However, when Kirk tried to collect his winnings, Tsoukernik declined to fully pay him.

This time, six months after the incident, these two men are engaged in a bitter and scandal-tinged court dispute over who is entitled to the money.

It was in July that Kirk filed a suit against Tsoukernik, alleging he was still owed $2 million. For the next months, Tsoukernik and his legal team refused to discuss the case's details, only saying that the amount asked by Kirk was an "unenforceable gambling debt".

Tsoukernik's Side of the Story

On November 8 Wednesday, Tsoukernik filed a counterclaim, and his reasons were: Kirk and the Aria casino, he alleged, had taken advantage of him during the late-night, booze-fueled match.

Tsoukernik claims that Aria staff gave him alcohol through the course of the session, allowing Kirk to deceive him into throwing away his money.

He said that he ended up getting so intoxicated that he misread his cards and even had to ask Kirk and the dealer to help him count his chips. When the spectators saw how drunk Tsoukernik was and tried to escort him out of the room, Tsoukernik said that the casino staff ‘prevented' them.

As the match went on to past 5 a.m., he said that "extreme fatigue" set in, further impairing his judgement. All that time, Kirk knew he was weary and wasted but kept playing against him at the table anyway.

Written in the counterclaim, "Tsoukernik acted under duress and, due to outside forces, was left without any ability to avoid any damages alleged" by Kirk.

According to Tsoukernik, Kirk also depended on financial backers to enable him to gamble with high amounts, and he said he had no idea where his opponent's money was coming from, "Kirk did not have the financial wherewithal to play at the levels at which he was playing against Tsoukernik, nor did he have the financial wherewithal to secure loans from Aria."

His countersuit seeks damages ‘in excess of $10 million' and says that Kirk damaged his reputation in comments after the match. Tsoukernik says he wants to claim damages for defamation of character and emotional distress on grounds that Kirk's allegations have harmed his reputation and in the process hurt his business because some pros were opting not to play in the games and events at his casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic as a result of Kirk's actions.

Rob Yong's Side of the Story

A recent blog post by Rob Yong tells quite a different story to what we have all been reading/hearing from the media write-ups so far.

Of course, the disputed amount is still the same, that Tsoukernik indeed had borrowed money from Kirk and he only paid 1/3 of the debt. However, how it exploded to a full-blown court battle is a bit more complicated.

Yong said he watched their game when it started but did not finish it as he went off to bed. The next day, he learnt from Kirk that Tsoukernik owes him $3 million and heard how the session got ‘out of hand' right after Tsoukernik got very drunk. Yong asked Kirk why he still chose to continue playing with Tsoukernik if he was so drunk, to which Kirk replied that he did not wish to "hit and run" Tsoukernik and besides, Tsoukernik had insisted to keep on playing, saying that if Kirk did not agree to continue with the match, he would never play with him again.

Yong suggested to Kirk that he offer Tsoukernik a $2M repayment deal and to play Kirk again for the remaining $1M, to which Kirk agreed to and asked Yong to propose this to Tsoukernik on his behalf. The reason why Yong suggested the $1M replay was because of the fact that even right after the session had been concluded and the two had got into the hotel elevator to go to their rooms, Kirk was convinced by Tsoukernik to further lend him $1M, which he then lost once they got back to Ivey's Room, and this clearly, says Yong, Kirk should never have agreed to, considering the (intoxicated?) state Leon was in.

Yong waked Tsoukernik and told him Kirk wanted the debt paid immediately, and Tsoukernik replied, "Tell Matty not to worry, I don't remember much but whatever I lost I will repay today." After Yong mentioned the proposal to him, he agreed.

However, a surprising turn came up...

In just about 20 minutes later, Kirk told Yong that the deal was off and that Tsoukernik should pay him the full $3M. Of course, this statement spells bad news for Tsoukernik who replied, "this is ridiculous, you get me out of bed after 2 hours sleep, I don't remember anything but agree to everything, I even offer to get the money brought here now, I shake hands and now you tell me this!"

A few days later, when he was back in the UK, Yong received a conference call from Kirk and Tsoukernik, with Tsoukernik telling Yong that they were at a cage at the Rio and that he and Kirk had agreed to $1M as a full and final settlement. Kirk had said, "Yes, it's fine we are all settled, I want to move on." Even though Yong couldn't fathom why this is the final agreed amount, but since he had only been called to witness the settlement, he just said, "fine, I have witnessed it."

Later that night, Kirk told Yong through Skype that the only reason he took the $1M was that when they had sat down to reach a settlement, he felt insulted at Tsoukernik speaking to him as if he was a child, saying stuff like, "this is a lesson for you, you shouldn't loan money to drunk people." Obviously too angry to continue talking to him, Kirk accepted the $1M and he said to Yong that now he doesn't care about the money and he aims to use the $1M to ruin Tsoukernik's reputation in the world of poker.

Tsoukernik received the papers and served a court action for $2M, and when Yong tried to contact Kirk about it, Kirk's lawyer answered and said he could no longer speak to him.

Now that Yong's side is out, this paints a whole new different angle to both Tsoukernik and Kirk regarding this topic.

What now?
Kirk's lawyers said their client wasn't immediately available to discuss the case last Friday. Previously, they stated in court that Tsoukernik had ‘committed fraud' against their client and gambled away his money without the intention of ever paying him.

A representative of Aria was contacted as well for comment, but no response has been made at this time.

Before going to court, Kirk and Tsoukernik reportedly tried to resolve their dispute amongst themselves, twice. The afternoon following the match, the two men met at Aria's pool to try and sort things out. Rob Yong, a respected casino operator and a common friend to both men, was there with them and tried to broker a ‘discount' on the $3 million. The agreement didn't happen, but a week later they met again, with Yong again acting as their intermediary.

At some point in time, Tsoukernik paid Kirk $1 million. When he declined to pay the remaining balance, Kirk then sued him. His lawsuit indicated the $3 million loan is regarded as a business deal, not a gambling debt, and accused Tsoukernik of fraudulent inducement, unjust enrichment, and other claims.

Court papers show that there have been text messages the two poker pros exchanged at the poker table as Tsoukernik borrowed money from Kirk. Kirk's lawyers said these text messages showed Tsoukernik intended to defraud him:

"Gave you 500k," Kirk wrote in a May 27, 2017 text message, the time 4:34 a.m.
"Gave you 1million," he wrote about 30 minutes later.
"OK," Tsoukernik replied, as the two documented the transactions.
At 5:46 a.m., Kirk wrote that he had sent the total of $3 million, and Tsoukernik replied "OK."
At 5:58, Tsoukernik wrote: "Not valid." Two minutes later, he typed: "0 now."

On October, Tsoukernik partially won in this case. District Judge Linda Marie Bell threw away a number of claims from the lawsuit, ruling that the money was really just a gambling debt and was not enforceable in civil court. However, Judge Bell said Kirk can still continue to pursue unjust enrichment and fraudulent inducement claims. Tsoukernik may have very well intentionally refused payment, using the debt's ‘unenforceability'. The judge said, "If proven, this could place Mr. Tsoukernik at the greatest moral fault in this matter."

Since Matt Kirk filed a lawsuit against Tsoukernik, another poker pro, Elton Tsang, has also accused Tsoukernik (publicly but not in court) that the casino owner, in 2016 at Monte Carlo, had pulled the same stunt on him. Tsang alleges that Tsoukernik refused to pay him $2.4 million in loans made across the poker table. Tsoukernik did not claim he was drunk at the match with Tsang.



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15 comments on "Leon Tsoukernik Files Countersuit against Matt Kirk"

 pochui15/11/2017 13:54:34 GMT
yeah really interesting situation this is, kinda feels that the truth is somewhere in the middle. very often poker pros make their money from rich dudes who lose their brains due to long poker sessions to which they are not used to or/and excessive amount of alcohol involved, so they kinda use dirty methods too, not saying that dudes with lost of money but in this case not so much of brains left are faultless too...
 dule-vu15/11/2017 14:09:58 GMT
this text is too long,so I couldnt read everything,just on end!so what is problem here?one players was drunk and he asked another for money and now he cant remember of that?and he dont want to back?its easy to say,hey,I was drunk!ha,ha!
 pajalnick15/11/2017 17:12:55 GMT
the situation is confusing ... at the beginning of all this action, I was sure that Zuckernnikk was a bad person and a fraudster ... then after his words I began to doubt it a little ..... it seems to me that I need to lightly wait and see how the situation will develop further
 StheP15/11/2017 19:11:59 GMT
very interesting situation, but its not to us to tell who is right and who is wrong... let them sort things out through the court
 Mober15/11/2017 21:01:13 GMT
Now we hear for a part of the story we didnt know before.
Who knows what really has happened.
For sure though now it is more complicated than before, with the countersuit.
We are going to hear more news for it soon.
 Gerimantas15/11/2017 21:03:36 GMT
Yes this is situation that is not very clear, I think that it need some time and more details to get answers, because lots of people say this and then say different things and all looks veryu unclear, also alcohol is in situation and very big money lost and won. So i think it is not easy for judges to make food decision
 Mober15/11/2017 21:09:45 GMT
It looks shady now with what tsoukernik has said.
Being drunk etc, and they took advantage of him.
We have seen a similar situation in the past with a bet lost in poker, cant
remember her name, where she claimed she was drunk.
With that amount of money you dont play drunk.
And if you cant handle it you dont drink at all.
 doubletop77716/11/2017 10:01:30 GMT
This really is getting to be a nasty business and i can see this dragging on for years. I think that there is an awful lot more to this story than we first thought and we might never get to the truth
 dule-vu16/11/2017 14:08:53 GMT
well if this guy is right that he borrowed him this amount,then he should have some paper or evidence for this!at this situation if he cant prove this,that he is in big problem!but when you play drunk,what can you expect!
 CALICUL16/11/2017 14:08:55 GMT
I read about this story and i think in this case is necessary a serious investigation. Matt Kirk says about Leon Tsoukernik has to pay two millions dollars. Leon T. says he was fooled by Matt K. and Aria Casino. I do not know who's right but the video cameras must be watched and a court to do justice.
 pajalnick16/11/2017 17:25:44 GMT
Posted by dule-vu:
when you play drunk,what can you expect!

I can say absolutely exactly what happens when you play in anything .... in any game ... there is certainly a loss .... it's absolutely certain ..... of course at the beginning of the game can and luck, but with a long game the loss always happens ... I have checked it more than once so I'm sure
 Mober16/11/2017 21:28:49 GMT
It may annoy many, but at some point they should forbid the drinking while playing poker.
It is not the first time that someone is taking advantage of a drunk person on the tables,
and it wont be the last one either. Not hard to stay sober for a few hours.
 Tony_MON7ANA23/11/2017 09:15:28 GMT
When you decide to have a go at or make war against someone who is more powerful, important, famous, and wealthier than you are, you should prepare for the consequences. Things can get really nasty. Nastier than you can possibly imagine.
 DaCapo7124/11/2017 08:30:10 GMT
At first i think this guys have to much money and don´t know what he can do right with them. The best thing was, they spend the $3millons for charity and good is. This high roller games are amazing, but ok when the have the money-why not. But to say after them, that he was to drunkin was a bad joke.
 Mober24/11/2017 20:55:50 GMT
We havent heard any news yet on this one. It certainly is a story with interest,
as to what has happened. The sure thing is that courts take way too long as we all know.
To get them even started. And some times cases take for ever to be ruled.

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