Tsoukernik Alleges Bobby Baldwin/Aria/Matt Kirk Conspiracy in $10Million Counterclaim3 years ago
Kings Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik’s long-running legal battle over $3million losses he incurred during a late-night, drink-fuelled, high-stakes poker game with Australian pro Matt Kirk has seen Bobby Baldwin named as the man backing Kirk, according to court documents.
Lawyers for the Czech millionaire have claimed a “conspiracy” involving Baldwin and others is the reason for Kirk reneging on a deal to settle the debt accrued by Tsoukernik, claiming that 1978 WSOP Main Event winner Baldwin is among those who “back Kirk and other professional poker players to play against Aria casino ‘whale’ patrons.”
Tsoukernik’s legal team stated in court documents that Kirk attempted to enlist the aid of a number of high-profile players to support him, with Bobby Baldwin and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté named in a text message from Kirk. Lithuanian poker pro-turned-politician Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga and Dusk Till Dawn owner Rob Young were also named.
Tsoukernik has also alleged that after Kirk agreed on a $1 million settlement, he was told to “renege on the deal” by his backer during a ‘mysterious phone call’ in which the person hung up on Rob Yong, that person “believed to be Baldwin of the Aria.”
Baldwin, who is President and COO of the Aria, an MGM resorts-owned resort & casino, has yet publicly comment on the case.
Tsoukernik vs Kirk timeline
Tsoukernik and Kirk played a late night heads-up match in the Aria Casino’s Ivey Room on May 27th 2018, during which Kirk loaned Tsoukernik $3million in chips in order to continue playing – the loans recorded by sms and CCTV.
Kirk launched legal action claiming that Tsoukernik was refusing to repay the outstanding amount of $2million, the Kings Casino boss having repaid $1million on June 3rd.
The majority of Kirk’s claims were thrown out by Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell who ruled that ‘gambling debts are not enforceable in law’. Eight of the ten allegations from Kirk were dismissed, but Judge Bell stated that Kirk could still pursue redress - along with potential punitive damages - on the ‘fraudulent inducement’ and ‘unjust enrichment’ accusations.
Tsoukernik hit back by launching a $10million counter-claim stating he was taken advantage of by the Aria and Kirk working together. He also claimed that Kirk reneged on a deal made in the presence of Dusk Till Dawn casino boss Rob Yong after receiving a mysterious phone call – now believed to have come from Baldwin himself.
A few days later, Yong himself published an account of the Tsoukernik-Kirk deal, his blog posting supporting Tsoukernik’s claims that someone (as stated above, believed to be Bobby Baldwin) had interfered after the deal was struck and told Kirk he was not to accept the deal.
Tsoukernik’s counterclaims were rejected by Judge Bell, although she left the door open for a renewed claim if Tsoukernik could bring detailed evidence to the court to support his claims. Kirk’s legal costs were awarded against the Czech high-roller.
This week Tsoukernik brought these ‘details’ to court as outlined above as an “opportunity to amend his counterclaim based on the additional facts he received… along with other facts that may be developed during discovery.” His lawyers also asked that Kirk’s legal costs award be suspended until after trial.
In addition, separate documents have been filed which claim that although the NGCB (Nevada Gaming Control Board) would ordinarily handle elements of Tsoukernik’s case which allegedly involved being plied with alcohol among other factors, there is a “conspiracy” that “occurred after the poker game in question” and that extends beyond the regulator’s boundaries.
A jury trial for the case has been set for April 2019.
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