Poker Star Takes PokerStars to Court in Vegas

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — A professional poker player known as the Flying Dutchman sued PokerStars on Tuesday in Las Vegas, claiming the “big fish” in online poker swiped his International Poker Rules.
     Marcel Luske aka the Flying Dutchman has racked up more than $4.4 million in lifetime winnings, with a 10th place finish in the 2004 World Series of Poker netting him his largest pot, $373,000, according to PokerNews.com
     His best year was 2006, when he won $830,296. He’s known for wearing sunglasses upside down during games, always wearing a suit, and singing at the table.
     He lives in Holland and is CEO of co-plaintiff Federal International de Poker Association (FIDPA), which he founded in 2007 “in response to a call for fairness, transparency and consistency of the game throughout the worldwide poker community.” He’s also CEO of co-plaintiff Global Poker Support International, of Malta, which he founded in 2009.
     Through the FIDPA, Luske says, he wrote the International Poker Rules to “ensure credibility, fairness, transparency and consistency” in the global poker industry, and copyrighted them in 2008.
     The Tournament Director Association provided the “current standard at the time,” but those rules were designed to benefit poker tournament directors and organizers and not poker players, Luske says in his complaint in Clark County Court.
     Luske says tournament organizers routinely changed the rules to favor casinos and conclude poker events as quickly as possible so the players would spend more money at other parts of casinos.
     Professional players wanted a single standard of international rules that would govern all games, protect players and elevate standards in the poker industry, Luske says, so he wrote them.
     The Bellagio in Las Vegas was the first casino to adopt the International Poker Rules, and Luske says he carefully selected which casinos he’d license to use the rules to ensure that only the most reputable gaming establishments would use them.
     He says he was PokerStars’ top pro from May 2009 until PokerStars fired him in August 2104.
     While he was under contract, he says, PokerStars told him it wanted to use his International Poker Rules, would pay him an annual $25,000 fee, and help promote the FIDPA. PokerStars sealed the deal with a handshake witnessed by several professional players and affirmed in several subsequent emails, according to the complaint.
     Luske says Global Poker Index offered to buy the poker rules in 2013, but PokerStars was the “big fish,” and he thought the agreement would be lucrative, so he declined the offer from Global Poker Index.
     PokerStars controls about 70 percent of the global online poker market, according to CardPlayer.com.
     Instead of paying him as agreed, Luske says, PokerStars created its PSLive rules, and terminated its endorsement agreement with him in 2014.
     He says a comparison of the two sets of rules shows “every single rule is an exact copy and/or derivative of the language” from his copyrighted International Poker Rules.
     He says Isle of Man-based Rational Group owns and operates PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, while PokerStars and PSLive operate as Global Poker Tours. All are defendants.
     Luske says Rational, et al. structured their companies “in an unbeknownst and convoluted manner” to confuse him and “afford maximum protection and escape liability.”
     He seeks damages for fraud, misrepresentation, interference with prospective economic advantage, bad faith and breach of contract.
     Lead defendant Amaya Services paid $4.9 billion for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in June 2014. Defendants include Rational Entertainment Enterprises, and Rational Group dba Rational Services dba Global Poker Tours dba PokerStars dba PSLive.
     PokerStars did not respond to an email request for comment Wednesday.
     Luske is represented by Las Vegas attorney Kerry J. Doyle, who could not be reached by telephone after business hours Wednesday.

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