Las Vegas Poker Player Attempts To Push Howard Lederer Petition, Is Denied

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Howard Lederer has become one of the most polarizing figures in the poker world over the past few months. After the August settlement between the U. S. Department of Justice and PokerStars regarding the “Black Friday” indictments of 2011 – in which PokerStars acquired the then-shuttered Full Tilt Poker, which Lederer allegedly led – Lederer has been on a campaign to get back into the poker community, first through a series of interviews and then through getting back on the felt. A Las Vegas poker player, however, is taking steps to make his thoughts known on the presence of Lederer in Las Vegas casinos, albeit with some stonewalling.

Nick DiVella, who proclaims on Twitter that he is a “poker player slumming the $5/$10 and $10/$20 No Limit games” in Las Vegas, was one of the members of the poker community that noticed Lederer’s return and hasn’t been pleased with it. For those that don’t know, Lederer has been frequenting the high stakes cash games at the Aria and the Bellagio poker rooms in Las Vegas and even entered the Bellagio’s Festa al Lago Main Event last month. Pictures of Lederer on the table with other poker professionals, including Eli Elezra and Doyle Brunson, furthered the ire of many in the poker world.

DiVella, not only through Twitter but also through physical action on the grounds in Sin City, wants to see that stopped.

According to his Twitter feed, DiVella has developed a petition that, with enough signatures, he would present to the Aria ownership stating that Lederer should be barred from the property. The petition says, in part, “(the poker community) wish to express our deep concern with Howard Lederer playing poker in the Aria casino while currently under investigation by the Department of Justice.” DiVella’s petition goes on to state the concern of poker players that, according to the indictment that Lederer faces, “(Lederer) knowingly conspired to commit acts of fraud and money laundering with regards to Full Tilt online poker players money.”

We believe the casino has a moral and ethical obligation to bar Howard Lederer from playing in the poker room,” the petition concludes. “Should Aria casino fail to take immediate action we, the poker playing community, will be forced to boycott the poker room in Aria casino.”

Yesterday afternoon, DiVella took the step to garner signatures for his petition. “Come down to Aria tonight starting at 4PM to sign (the petition),” DiVella Tweeted to his followers. Apparently this didn’t sit well with the Aria management, who prevented DiVella from circulating his petition once he reached the grounds. According to DiVella, however, the attempt wasn’t without some positives.

“I just had a 45 minute meeting with Aria and they are taking our concerns to upper management,” DiVella chirped over Twitter. “(However) I was told as of right now the poker room must stay neutral on the situation,” regarding DiVella getting signatures for his petition. Later in the evening, DiVella expanded his opinion, Tweeting, “This movement goes for Bellagio and any other poker event around the world. Aria is my favorite place to play, wish I didn’t pick on them.”

The attempt by DiVella to push action in the Las Vegas casinos regarding Lederer has drawn a great deal of support from the poker community at large. On the Two Plus Two message boards, a 130-post thread developed in a short time with posters debating the issue vehemently. While the overall gist of the thread is supportive of DiVella’s efforts, there is some disagreement on how far to take the issue.

“He single handedly almost ended the online poker industry and, all the while, put thousands of players out of a job by stealing their bankrolls,” poster ‘The_Dean221’ opined. “I feel his situation is so unique and destructive to the poker community that a ban should be in order for everyone’s benefit.” On the other side of the coin, poster ‘G11Y’ noted, “I agree that he should be banned. The problem is do you then ban everyone with a shady past? There are a fair few in this game we play now.”

Even 2+2 head honcho Mason Malmuth sounded off on the thread. “I find this a troubling development and believe that a petition is not the way to go,” Malmuth writes. Surprisingly, he vouches for Lederer (saying that he is an “honest broker”) and says that “the call to boycott if Lederer can continue to play is not something I would ever support.” Needless to say, Malmuth’s comments weren’t well received by the 2+2 rank and file.

While the worldwide poker community continues to sound off on DiVella’s efforts, the final verdict on his petition attempt is still unknown. Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the hubbub over the situation and report as it develops further.

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