While the 2019 World Series of Poker Championship Event may have concluded about a month ago, there is still a hubbub about one particular part of it. According to many reports, including one from my friend and colleague Dan Katz, Nick Marchington, who earned his third ever cash in only the biggest poker tournament in the world, allegedly stiffed some backers who thought they were in on his good fortune. Instead, they found themselves given the cold shoulder from Marchington, who denies he had a deal with them for the WSOP Championship Event and, therefore, didn’t owe any money from his $1.525 million in winnings to them.
Now a respected figure in the poker community, two-time WSOP bracelet winner, 2009 WSOP-Europe champion and CardPlayer Magazine publisher Barry Shulman, has spoken up with his thoughts on the subject. When someone in such a position takes the time to respond on a subject, it is advisable to listen.
Marchington “Not Honorable,” Shulman Says
In an op/ed penned on CardPlayer.com, Shulman takes the time to look over the situation regarding Marchington. For those of you who may have missed it, Marchington was allegedly staked by a group called C Biscuit Poker Staking, with a contract signed between the parties and C Biscuit Poker Staking paying 10% of Marchington’s action. Marchington suffered through an awful run in the early segments of the WSOP and, a week before the Championship Event, offered a refund to the group to cancel the deal.
This is where the story gets a bit cloudy. The staking group alleges that Marchington got a better deal from someone else to play in the WSOP Championship Event and wanted to take that staking action and sought to end his relationship with C Biscuit. Marchington doesn’t deny this and says that, once he had returned their stake before he started Day 2 of the Championship Event, the relationship was over. Of course, Marchington would go on a run that saw him make the final table of the WSOP Championship Event and earn his new backers a nice chunk of change.
Shulman takes a look at this situation through two angles, the poker angle and the business angle, two areas that he would know well. While stating that he wasn’t an attorney (his wife, Allyn, IS, however), Shulman states, “Marchington and C Biscuit Staking had a contract. That means there was an offer and acceptance. That means it was binding. Unless that contract said he could renege if he got a better deal, then Marchington was clearly out of luck.”
But C Biscuit did accept some of their money back, which changes the situation, Shulman notes. Although he says that Marchington was “not honorable” in trying to break the agreement with C Biscuit, Shulman says “In my opinion, (Marchington) acted quite immorally, but may have legally canceled the contract when they (C Biscuit) accepted his amended deal that got them back their money.”
First, Marchington is a bit underhanded in seeking out other backers when he already was being staked by someone. When you’ve got all the “ducks in a row” – a signed contract, an exchange of money, etc. – you don’t go looking for another party that will usurp the people that believed in your skills. In this manner, Shulman is dead on that Marchington was “not honorable” and will probably have to live this down for the rest of his time in the poker community.
As to the contract, however, once C Biscuit accepted back the part of the stake that he hadn’t used – the part that was supposedly putting him in the WSOP Championship Event – the relationship between the two parties was terminated. They don’t deserve any of the windfall that Marchington received, even if he had utilized their financial support for earlier events (and not gotten a return).
This isn’t a suggested course of action, for those of you wondering. Marchington has completely damaged his reputation in the poker world (Does he care? That’s a very good question.). And while it is a course of action to take in their situation, C Biscuit probably shouldn’t make a practice of suing its horses when they have an issue (many contracts have a binding arbitration clause for that very purpose). The entire sordid affair once again shines the spotlight on what some might call a “dirty” reality of the poker world, the world of staking deals.