Recently, Poker News Daily brought you the story of Brandon McSmith, who had a lawsuit pending in the Eighth District Court in Nevada charging that Poker PROductions used his idea for the NBC poker game show “Face the Ace” without compensation. Now, the FBI has become involved in the case.
McSmith told Poker News Daily that he originally created a series dubbed the “All Star Poker Challenge,” which featured five pros taking on contestants in a series of five heads-up matches. Players would win $2,000 per match and, after their fifth win, would take home a seat in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. On “Face the Ace,” three matches were held, with a top prize of $1 million up for grabs.
McSmith explained that he’s been pursuing a copyright infringement claim in Nevada. Among those law enforcement officials he contacted was Arlo Devlin-Brown of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. McSmith commented, “This week, the FBI got in touch with me twice and asked for all of the information. They’ll be launching an investigation of the copyright infringement charges.”
Back in July, the Southern District was behind a massive $30 million seizure of online poker funds destined for 24,000 players. Banks affected by Devlin-Brown’s actions included Citibank, Goldwater Bank, Alliance Bank of Arizona, and Wells Fargo. Major sites affected included Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. McSmith explained, “They’re investigating everyone. An FBI Special Agent told me to forward everything to him. I read an article about Arlo Devlin-Brown freezing the assets of online payment processors. That’s why I chose to contact him.”
Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars reimbursed players for bounced checks and other payment issues at the time and in some cases issued a 10% bonus to offset any hassle. Meanwhile, McSmith continues to pursue his claims of ownership of “Face the Ace.” He told Poker News Daily, “At a certain point in time, you get tired of people lying about this. These guys knew I wanted to prosecute them. In order to prosecute a copyright infringement charge, you have to know you’re right. I’m not hiding anything. I put it out there and they’re on notice. The FBI is involved and my intent is to prosecute.”
Poker PROductions brings shows like “Face the Ace,” GSN’s “High Stakes Poker,” and NBC’s “Poker After Dark” to life. Mori Eskandani is the leading man behind Poker PROductions, but according to McSmith, Eskandani has dismissed his claims. McSmith added, “They didn’t contact me. Everything they’ve said is ridiculous and it’s a lie. It’s documented in letters and e-mails.” Besides Poker PROductions, NBC and Full Tilt Poker, which sponsored the show, have been brought into the mix.
It remains to be seen if Devlin-Brown is interested in the case because of the involvement of Full Tilt Poker, the industry’s second largest site. McSmith sent e-mail correspondence and other materials to the FBI via Next Day Air on Thursday. He originally requested $85 million, but then realized that according to Nevada state law, damages over $10,000 do not require an exact dollar figure. McSmith lamented that the situation was not resolved sooner: “Everybody could have done the right thing on this and brought me in to settle it. These guys choose to conspire and lie. When they first started denying and lying about it, I wanted to get the Feds involved.
On the future steps in the process, McSmith remarked, “The first step was printing everything out and forwarding it to them. I sent it Next Day Air, so they probably won’t get it until this week. The FBI Agent also gave me his direct line.”
“Face the Ace” featured Full Tilt Poker pros and was largely a ratings flop. It debuted with a 0.4 rating and a 2 share, the equivalent of 1.59 million viewers. The series originally aired in a Saturday night time slot in August before shifting to the afternoon.