We’re a little short

This past weekend, a new live poker tournament series called the Midway Poker Tour debuted in Chicago. For those jonesing for a regional, relatively low-to-mid stakes tournament series, that’s great. But oh dear, was it a mess, unless you don’t like to travel light.

The $1,100 Main Event had two starting flights, one on Friday and one on Saturday. The second and final day was Sunday, with 31 players returning to chase for the title. All of them were in the money, each about to win at least $2,300.

But there was a problem. The tournament was associated with the charity 4 KIDS Sake. According to state law governing charity gaming, the maximum award that any given player could win was their buy-in plus $500. Thus, nobody could win more than $1,600.

Would you accept these shiny coins?

The solution was bizarre. After receiving their $1,600, players were to receive the rest of their prize in precious metals. Gold and silver. Yeah. Here’s your cash and here’s your sack of dubloons.

On top of that, the mechanics of the payment were even stranger. Someone was to be on-hand to immediately buy back the coins so that the player could receive cash and then the coins that were sold would be awarded to the next player. Sell those to the buyer and keep going through the cycle.

But when a representative from the state Attorney General’s office arrived to ensure that all the guaranteed prizes were available, he pointed out that the payout scheme violated the law. The buy was not allowed to be on the premises and the coin prizes could not be recycled from player to player. For the latter, that meant that not all the prize money was on-hand.

Are precious metals dealers open on Sundays?

But acquiring six-figures-worth of precious metals quickly isn’t easy. Tournament officials eventually found a dealer called AMPM.99 in Wisconsin that could get them $208,000 in silver and gold. There was also the issue of not being allowed to have a buyer on-site, though. For that, the idea was to give players the contact information for a buyer they could visit elsewhere to finally cash in their prize.

As it turned out, though, the buyer never materialized. Now players were stuck with silver and gold coins.

Ok, so if you are a player who cashed, there’s nothing you can do except get your shiny objects. There was yet another problem, though. It appears that most of the payments were in silver coins that were purchased for about $35 each. The precious metals dealer isn’t going supply all of the coins for free, though, so guess what? It was the players who ended up paying the commission.

A poster on Two Plus Two explained that he cashed for $2,600, so he was owed $1,000 in precious metals. He received 28 one-ounce silver coins, which means they were each priced at about $35.70. But the spot price of one ounce of silver is $24 and change. So even if he could turn around and sell each coin for $25, he would only make $700, when he was supposed to receive $1,000.

Hopefully some of the players had kids, because my 11-year-old told me receiving a bunch of gold and silver coins would be awesome.

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