Leon Tsoukernik Countersues Matthew Kirk in Debt Stiffing Case
The drama between the owner of the King’s Casino – the venue of the recently completed WSOP Europe – and a professional poker player has taken another turn. Leon Tsoukernik, the casino owner who was sued by poker pro Matthew Kirk for refusing to make good on $2 million worth of loans, has now filed a countersuit against Kirk.
How It All Began
The strangeness dates back to late May when the two men squared off in a high stakes cash game against each other in the wee hours of the morning at the Aria in Las Vegas. Kirk was apparently giving Tsoukernik a drubbing and over the course of play, loaned Tsoukernik a total of $3 million in casino chips so that Tsoukernik could keep playing. The chip exchange was witnessed by at least two people at the table and is evident on security tapes.
Kirk also sent Tsoukernik text messages documenting the loans, which Tsoukernik confirmed via text replies. Where it got weird, though, was just minutes after the final confirmation was given by Tsoukernik that he accepted $3 million in total loans, Tsoukernik turned around and texted, “Not valid,” and then “0 now.”
It looked like Tsoukernik accepted $3 million in loans and then immediately said he wasn’t going to pay. He did pay $1 million back in early June, but that was it.
Kirk filed a lawsuit against Tsoukernik, but about a month ago, Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell dismissed eight of the ten charges because gambling debts are not enforceable in Nevada (which I would assume mean most debts are not enforceable in Nevada). She did, though, leave the fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment charges open, meaning Kirk and his legal team could still get Tsoukernik on those as long as they can separate out the gambling debt part.
But now – and Card Player was the first to report this – Tsoukernik has filed a counterclaim against Kirk, essentially saying Kirk knew Tsoukernik was drunk out of his gourd and took advantage of him. He also feels the badmouthing he has gotten for being an alleged debt-stiffer has hurt his casino business, as poker players have not wanted to play there.
Tsoukernik said the quantity of alcohol he was given by the casino, witnessed by Kirk, was “sufficient to visibly intoxicate and impair” him and “induce him to play for large sums,” something, frankly, that seems fairly standard at a casino.
Tsoukernik claimed he was so bombed and so tired that he had trouble reading the cards and needed help counting his chips. A casino owner claiming that was anyone’s fault but his own is pretty special if you ask me.
His countersuit actually said, “Tsoukernik acted under duress and, due to outside forces, was left without any ability to avoid any damages alleged.”
Now, I will never claim I am a lawyer and if there is something here I am missing, feel free to correct me, but unless the casino forced alcohol into Tsoukernik’s mouth or strapped him to his chair or Kirk drugged his drink or he was somehow unable to freely make the decisions that led to him losing millions of dollars, I have a feeling Tsoukernik is a bit out of line here. Maybe you could argue that Kirk acted unethically in continuing to gamble with someone who he might have seen was trashed (MAYBE), but unethical does not necessarily mean illegal.
It will be entertaining to see how this all plays out.
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