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Do you ever wonder what life would be like if we never gossiped? Probably mind-numbingly boring. But never fear, yet another edition of the PokerGuru Gossip Column is here to chase away your boredom and keep you entertained!
Ever heard the phrase ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’? Well, that seems to be the case for the Poker Hall of Famer Phil Ivey. After his tremendous come back at the 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP), everyone though that Ivey’s legal troubles were behind him, but they have yet again reared their ugly head and the poker pro found himself on the unfavourable side of the judge’s ruling.
While being unlucky in legal matters in hard to deal with, losing a huge pot due to unnecessary overconfidence is just silly! But that’s exactly what happened to ‘Bitcoin Yoda’ when he willingly revealed a hole card to his opponent Eric Hicks and lost a pretty big pot.
But the loss of a pot is still bearable, the loss of life is not. One of Afghanistan’s most prominent poker pros and former WSOPE winner Shekhan Farnood died under questionable circumstances in an Afghan jail. Why was he in jail you ask? Read it all below and find out!
After a pretty good run at the 2018 WSOP and other subsequent series, 10-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey is back in the news again. But this time it’s for all the wrong reasons.
On Tuesday, August 28, U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman denied Ivey’s motion to stay a $10.1 million judgement without bond pending an appeal to a higher court. Back in 2016, Hillman had ruled that the Poker Hall of Famer and fellow high-stakes gambler Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun were obligated by law to return the millions of dollars they won in 2012 at baccarat using a technique called edge-sorting. The New Jersey federal court had come to the conclusion that Ivey and Sun had breached their contract with the Borgata casino-hotel in Atlantic City when they gained a small edge on the house.
According to the lawyers of both poker professionals the court’s finding of breach of contract is erroneous. They asked the court to delay enforcement of the judgement pending an appeal for several additional legal reasons, including a claim that forking over the $10.1 million would cause “irreparable harm” because it would impact their careers as professional gamblers.
The legal team of Borgata gave a hard-hitting response to Ivey’s motion to stay the judgement without bond pending appeal on August 4. The casino said Ivey “is not in danger of being prevented from playing poker,” even pointing out in court documents that “one can play online poker with initial deposits of under $100.”
Based on this argument, Judge Hillman ruled in Borgata’s favour.
“Defendants [Ivey and Sun] have provided no proof to show how the ‘purely economic injury, compensable in money’ would ‘threaten the existence of’ their business,” he wrote. “Defendants simply say that returning the $10,130,000 [Borgata] paid to them in the first instance would have a ‘devastating impact’ on them. Without any evidence to support their claim that they will be irreparably harmed if the Court does not stay the judgment pending appeal, Defendants have not met their burden…to warrant a stay of the judgment pending their appeal.”
Hillman certified the $10.1 million judgement as final, according to court documents.
While confidence is a necessity in playing poker, overconfidence is not. And it was out of sheer overconfidence that poker player who goes by the name of ‘Bitcoin Yoda’ lost a massive pot to Eric Hicks.
The incident occurred during a “Live at the Bike” cash game at the Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles, California on August 27. ‘Bitcoin Yoda’ made a river bet of $10,000, increasing the pot to $25,000. He was up against Arizona native Eric Hicks who was on the button at the time. While Hicks was thinking about his next move, his opponent began to taunt him and even went so far as to offer to show Hicks one of his hole cards.
Hicks took him on his offer and picked on of Yoda’s cards which happened to be . With the board running ace-five-two-king-four, and only one other spade, Hicks knew his opponent couldn’t have a flush, but most likely had a 5 or 6-high straight. Whatever the case, Hicks knew he had the winning hand and he called to rake in the win.
The entire table was stunned by that Yoda’ revealed his card which eventually lead to him losing the pot. The entire incident was captured on video and posted on Live at the Bike’s Twitter account.
Update: We just had a $65,000 pot!
Sadly, the stream has not started yet but you’re not gonna wanna miss this game tonight.
After winning a $32,000 pot, Eric Hicks just won a $65,000 pot and now has a stack of over $65,000!!! pic.twitter.com/4bLGsCFLF4
— Live at the Bike! (@LIVEattheBike) August 28, 2018
So folks, what’s the lesson we have learned today? Proclaiming yourself as ‘Yoda’ does not automatically make you wise like the legendary Jedi Master.
Afghanistan is not a country frequently associated with poker, but the landlocked country did produce an exceptional poker player, Shekhan Farnood.
Farnood’s career in poker started way back in the early 2000s, with his very first international coming in 2002 in €1,500 No Limit Hold’em at the Worthersee Trophy 2002, Velden. He went to register multiple wins at the Crown Australasian Poker Championships – 2003, Melbourne, Autumn Tournament 2003, Paris and Midland Masters 2003, Walsall.
But the peak of his career was his victory in the £2,500 + 150 Limit H.O.R.S.E. at the 2008 World Series of Poker – Europe (WSOPE) where he faced off against the likes of Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer and Jeff Lisandro. With total live earnings of $627,647 under his belt, he topped the Afghanistan All Time Money List.
However, Farnood’s stay in poker did not last for long and he left the mind sport for a life in the world of finance. He became the Chairman of largest private money company in Afghanistan, Kabul Bank, while also opening businesses in Moscow that facilitated Sharia-compliant financial transactions. He was also the chairman of Pamir Airways, up until his arrest in 2011.
The former poker pro was arrested in 2011 on charges of running a Ponzi scheme that reportedly embezzled almost $800 million from money destined to rebuild the war-torn country. He allegedly used his bank as a front for siphoning money that was eventually used for purchasing properties in Dubai and golf villas. Farnood depended on his intimate connections with the country’s former president, Hamid Karzai, to facilitate the scheme.
While aware that his actions were unjust, Farnood believed he was above the letter of the law. He was recorded as saying, “What I’m doing is not proper, not exactly what I should do. But this is Afghanistan.” Due to his fraud, the U.S. suspended $3.9 billion in aid to the country in 2011.
Following his arrest, his initially sentence was to spend five years in jail and to return the $800 Million that he had stolen. But three years later, the sentence was extended to 15 years following the revelation that Farnood’s bank was just another Ponzi scheme that had been responsible for embezzlement, money laundering and forgery. He was sent to a military prison in Bagram and died on August 24 from apparent heart disease.
Nevertheless, Farnood’s family believe that his death was not due to a heart disease. According to his older brother, Sherin Khan, “I talked with my brother one day before his death. He was fine. We have no idea about it; the government knows how he died.”
Was Farnood’s death due to natural causes? Or is there more to the story than what meets the eye? We can only hope that with time, truth will prevail.
With that we wrap up this edition of the PokerGuru Gossip Column. We’ll be back with more news and updates soon, so stay tuned!