The poker police blotter lit up again this week, this time from the Pacific Northwest. More than 20 months after pleading guilty to charges of copyright infringement and tax evasion, a poker player from Oregon received a year-long sentence in federal prison. He will also face repayment of a significant restitution to the organizations that he stole money from and be on supervised release for three years following the end of his sentence.
Original Case Dates Back to 2013
Talon White, who in 2019 was called by his attorney Rain Minns a “professional poker player,” started with his scheme back in 2013. According to court documents, White earned more than $8 million between 2013 and 2018, setting up streaming outlets and selling that content to paid subscribers. In just six months in 2018, as an example, White was able to collect $3 million in fees from those subscribers.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) does not take kindly to folks pirating their materials. In 2014, the organization sent “cease and desist” (C&D) notices to White, which he ignored and continued to offer his services. The end came in 2018, when federal authorities raided White’s home and White was charged; he plead guilty three weeks after his arrest at the beginning of November 2019.
White was to be sentenced in February of 2020 but, because of COVID, he was not sentenced until this last week. Along with the one year in jail (White faced a maximum of five years from the charges), White will have to repay $4.3 million to the MPAA and the IRS and all monies that had been seized from his bank accounts were forfeited. White also lost a sizeable chunk of cryptocurrency and a home in Newport that he had bought with the money he received from his criminal activities.
Did White Use the Money on Poker?
Did White actually use the money he received from his enterprise to fund some of his poker playing? Evidence would say that is entirely possible.
White’s first cash was at the 2012 Spring Poker Round Up in Pendleton, OR, when he earned a runner-up finish in the $500 Main Event of the tournament schedule. That $31,153 would turn out to be the largest cash of his poker career. It was not for a lack of effort, however.
White earned 23 cashes in tournament poker over the past nine years, with one shining moment in the poker sun. In 2018, White would enter the $10,000 Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better Championship at the World Series of Poker. The tournament was eventually won by Paul Volpe and featured other luminaries of the poker world such as runner-up Eli Elezra, Robert Mizrachi, and Mike Matusow. Perhaps surprisingly, White would only earn $20,948 for his 14th place finish.
Since that “lightning strike” in 2018, White was able to add another WSOP finish (four days later in the $1500 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em event), but he only had three more scores in small Pacific Northwest tournaments until his arrest in 2019. All totaled, White accumulated roughly $100,000 in tournament earnings, primarily from the Pacific Northwest events.