Epic Poker League Places Chino Rheem on Probation

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This wasn’t quite the start the Epic Poker League (EPL) wanted.  Just a week after the conclusion of the new professional poker league’s first $20,000 buy-in Main Event, it disciplined its first champion in a move that is quite unusual in the sport of poker.

Chino Rheem, who won the $1,000,000 first prize as the winner of the 137-player Main Event, was placed on probation Friday by Epic Poker league officials for not “meeting ‘financial responsibilities on time and honoring contractual agreements.'”

Earlier this month, it had come to light that Rheem was in debt to many fellow poker players, debts which most felt he had no intention of honoring.  Will Molson opened the floodgates by posted on the Two Plus Two poker forums about a loan gone wrong with Rheem.  At last year’s European Poker Tour London stop, he agreed to loan Rheem and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi each $20,000 so that they could buy-in to some events.  He transferred them each the money on PokerStars with the understanding that they would later transfer the money back via Full Tilt.  Because of a PokerStars issue, each player was accidentally sent $40,000.  Mizrachi repaid Molson shortly thereafter, but despite placing 3rd in the High Roller Turbo Event for almost $150,000, Rheem claimed he was broke and couldn’t pay Molson back.  As of earlier this month, he still hadn’t.

Other players then began telling their stories.  2010 WSOP Main Event 3rd place finisher Joseph “subiime” Cheong said that he gave Rheem $40,000 in exchange for a piece of fellow November Niner Mizrachi’s action in the Main Event (Mizrachi placed 5th for over $2.3 million), and while Mizrachi confirmed that Rheem did have a rightful claim to a chunk of his action, Cheong never received it.  Cheong said that it was apparent that Rheem offered the same thing to others as a way to scam people out of money.

This year’s WSOP all-star Ben “bemba” Lamb has also informed the poker public of some shady dealings he had with Rheem.

Because of all this, several people filed complaints with the EPL’s Standards and Conduct Committee.  The Committee held a meeting last Monday and issued a statement Friday which read, in part:

“During the formation of the Epic Poker League, the Standards & Conduct Committee made a policy decision that any personal conduct that occurred prior to the League’s formation would not affect initial eligibility of a league member. The Committee, however, communicated to the League members that subsequent to the start of League play, the Committee would enforce discipline against any League member who violated the League policies, including the Players’ Code of Conduct, or the law. As a result of ongoing personal financial obligations incurred prior to the League’s formation but impacting the League during the Inaugural Epic Poker League Main Event, the Committee has voted to place David “Chino” Rheem on probation in order to effectively monitor the personal conduct of Mr. Rheem as he works to meet his personal financial obligations as required under the Players’ Code of Conduct.”

In order to continue participating in the EPL, Rheem is required to use his poker winnings to pay back his creditors and to report to the Committee as to his progress.

One would think that his $1,000,000 would have gone a long way towards these payments, but word is that someone had 70 percent of his action and another 10 percent was earmarked towards charity.  Eyewitnesses have said that there was a line of creditors at the cashier when Rheem went to collect his winnings and while some were paid, the payments were just small percentages of what was owed.

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