When you make the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, it is supposed to be a celebration. Even if you don’t win the whole thing, you have just won at least a million bucks and have made a name for yourself in the poker world. In Nick Marchington’s case, though, the aftermath of the WSOP has turned into a shit show. The seventh-place Main Event finisher is facing a lawsuit from two backers of the C Biscuit Stables backing organization, who are arguing that he did not officially withdraw from a staking deal with them for 10 percent of his winnings.
Deal made then cancelled after Marchington decides not to play
As reported by multiple poker media outlets, including PocketFives and Flushdraw, Marchington and C Biscuit’s David Yee and Colin Hartley discussed a WSOP staking arrangement in late May and agreed upon the following: C Biscuit would stake Marchington for 10 percent of his action in Event #70, $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em at 1.1 markup and in the $10,000 Main Event at 1.2 markup.
In tournament staking terminology, “markup” is a premium charged to backers for a portion of the player’s winnings. In the Main Event example above, Yee and Hartley were willing to pay 20 extra (1.2 markup) for 10 percent of Marchington’s Main Event action. Thus, rather than paying $1,000 of his buy-in for 10 percent of his winnings, they agreed to pay $1,200.
About a month later on June 29, Marchington told Yee and Hartley that he wanted to cancel the deal because he had not been doing well at the WSOP to that point and wasn’t going to play in the two events. They agreed and both sides looked to reverse the financial transaction. Allegedly not having the cash on hand, Marchington wanted to delay the refund a couple days so he could pay them back via PokerStars, which is how they paid him in the first place.
Marchington changes mind, plays Main Event with different deal
On July 1, the C Biscuit duo claim that Marchington told them that he was, in fact, going to play after all, but had gotten a 1.7 markup deal elsewhere. Marchington later sent Yee and Hartley a picture of his Event #70 receipt. They asked for confirmation that the image meant their staking deal was back on, to which Marchington replied that it was for Event #70, but was uncertain about the WSOP Main Event. Marchington did not cash in the $5,000 Six-Handed tournament.
Once of the C Biscuit backers told Marchington of his wavering on the Main Event, “ok I see – thanks for that. Just a note, once you book and people send you $ confirmed for an event, it’s not standard to disregard those already confirmed/bought pieces, even if you find a higher rate of markup. … i.e. if you were to play the M.E. later on, it would be unfair to those who booked action with you previously.”
Marchington then told Yee and Hartley on July 3 that he was definitely cancelling the Main Event deal, writing, “I am playing the main event but unfortunately your piece is cancelled. I know this is bad practice but I have to do what’s best for myself since I lost a lot on the trip.”
Backers upset, sue for their original share
The duo responded to Marchington saying that it was “not normal” to reverse a deal once money was exchanged and that a player “can’t simply book action as a placeholder and then shop around for better rates.”
The C Biscuit stakers are suing for $152,500, which is 10 percent of Marchington’s prize, plus legal fees. The case is interesting in that it does seem that the two sides agreed to cancel the Main Event deal before the tournament and that there was just an understandable delay in the refund from Marchington. What he did is widely considered very bad form in the poker community, but that does not mean it is not permitted legally.
Marchington’s counsel argues that C Biscuit accepted the refund and is only now going after his client because he won a ton of money. If he had not cashed, he argues, the C Biscuit backers would not have complained and would have gone forward with reclaiming their original payment.
Lead photo credit: @NickMarchington Twitter account