Professional Player Gordon Vayo Sues PokerStars for $692,000

The poker player has filed a legal complaint in the US after PokerStars chose not to pay out a prize of $692,000 he won during the 2017 SCOOP series.

Vayo won the $1,050 No-limit Hold’em event in April last year and is accusing the company of counts of fraud and deceit, false advertising and breach of contract.

PokerStars opted for non-payment after an investigation into Vayo’s whereabouts during the event. The online poker giant believes that the professional played some of the tournament in the United Sates using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and therefore breached the PokerStars rules.

Professional poker player Gordon Vayo

Professional poker player Gordon Vayo ©TIME Magazine

Vayo is best known for his 2016 WSOP Main Event second-place finish. The Connecticut-born 30-year-old won $4.66 million that day and has more earned more than $6.23 million in live cash in his poker career.

Vayo denies the VPN allegation, claiming that he can prove he was in Canada for the tournament, where online poker is legal. He told Forbes magazine:

[PokerStars] has 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. Then, after a U.S. citizen or resident wins a significant amount of money on the PokerStars.com site, the Defendant conducts 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. Gordon Vayo, Professional Poker Player

Vayo does not deny that he used a VPN to play on the PokerStars site, something that prohibits the company’s terms of service. However, he maintains that he was in Canada for the tournament and has proved this to be the case for the first two days of the tournament at least.

Is there a precedent for this kind of non-payment?

In 2007 Natalie Teltscher, playing as the screenname TheV0id, was refused a payout after PokerStars accused the account owner of using more than one account in the same tournament, and thus breaching the rules. Teltscher filed a lawsuit but dropped it several months later. She never received her payout.

In March 2011, Dutch poker player Jimmy Jonker was stripped of his prize money when it was discovered that he was underage at the time of the tournament. PokerStars donated his $518,000 prize money to charity. In the Teltscher case, the money was paid out to players receiving a pay jump as a result of the disqualification.

The full Vayo complaint can be found here.

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