Gordon Vayo Sues PokerStars For $700k, Claiming “Unwarranted Bullying”

3 years ago
Gordon Vayo Sues PokerStars For $700k, Claiming “Unwarranted Bullying”
15:37
09 May

Gordon Vayo, best-known for his runner-up spot in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, is suing PokerStars after the leading poker site refused to allow him to cash out almost $700,000 in winnings – Vayo describing the “unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced” during the year-long investigation into his 2017 SCOOP victory.


Vayo’s lawsuit against PokerStars, operating under its company name of Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited, includes counts of fraud and deceit, false advertising and breach of contract, the poker pro claiming that PokerStars had no grounds to withhold his winnings, Vayo complying with all their requests for proof that he was in Canada for the duration of the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) last May.


Despite playing on the site since 2011, providing proof of his Canadian residence status and continuing to play on PokerStars for another 2 months after his huge SCOOP win, Vayo claims that when he eventually tried to cash out $700,000, the site suddenly froze his account for an ‘investigation of suspicious activity’.

According to the lawsuit, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California:

“What ensued was a nearly year-long inquest, during which Defendant [PokerStars] engaged in an appalling campaign of harassment, prying into every aspect of Mr. Vayo’s record, demanding Mr. Vayo produce detailed retroactive proof of his location, and even opening meritless investigations into his friends’ accounts, in order to gin up a pretext for not paying Mr. Vayo what he had won”.

Vayo states of the decision to file a lawsuit against PokerStars:

"I am deeply disappointed it has come to this, but feel that taking legal action is necessary to protect my rights as well as those of other PokerStars players who are in my situation, but may not have the means to get their message out and protect themselves against the unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced during this ordeal.”

PokerStars, who have yet to comment on the lawsuit, had apparently claimed that despite Vayo providing detailed evidence to the contrary, it was “not inconceivable” that Mr. Vayo was in the U.S. at some point during his winning 2017 SCOOP run.


In the lengthy lawsuit, Vayo claims that PokerStars have “engaged in a practice of approving U.S. citizens and residents for play on the PokerStars.com site, allowing and encouraging them to play on the site, happily taking their money" – in many cases for years. 

He adds that:

“After a U.S. citizen or resident wins a significant amount of money on the PokerStars.com site, [they conduct] a sham investigation into the user’s activities and the location of the user’s access of the site, placing the onus on the player to retroactively prove that it is “inconceivable” that his or her play could have originated from within the United States, in order to gin up a pretext to deny payment."

Vayo rose to prominence in the poker world when he narrowly lost out to Qui Nguyen in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, walking off with $4,661,228 for his second spot – his lifetime live tournament earnings standing at $6,231,394.


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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