Earlier this month, American poker player David “Chino” w.w88 won the Epic Poker League’s inaugural $20,000 Main Event, winning a first prize of $1,000,000. Now Rheem has been placed on probation by the league for his failure to pay debts to other players.
A press release issued by the league stated that “Rheem’s probation will remain in effect until Mr. Rheem has satisfied his pre-league formation financial obligations.”
Rheem, who finished in 8th place at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, had been the focus of recent industry gossip due to his outstanding debts, including a reported $40,000 to poker pro Will Molson, as posted on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum.
“He flat out stole from me and it’s at the point where I don’t expect to see my money back,” Molson posted on the forum.
Fellow WSOP Main Event finalist Joseph “subiime” Cheong also posted that Rheem owed him $40,000. “Of course I hate having to eat $40k but there is nothing we can do in this situation,” Cheong posted.
Apparently these allegations were serious enough to result in the Epic Poker League’s decision to place its first winner on probation. The league acknowledged that “Rheem used best efforts and all of the proceeds he personally received from winning the Inaugural Epic Poker league Main Event to partially satisfy outstanding financial obligations.”
According to forum posts, Rheem was backed for 70% at the Epic Poker League tournament and reportedly only pocketed a total of $120,000 out of the total million dollar first prize.
CardPlayer-Ranked Aleh Plauski Wins $60,000 Gtd
On Friday, August 12, playing under his Titan Poker nickname “oleg12345”, Aleh Plauski from Belarus defeated 301 other starters to take down the Friday $60,000 Guaranteed for a first prize of $16,822. The next night, Aleh proved his tournament skills once again when he finished sixth in the $35,000 Guaranteed for a prize of $9,776.
“The deeper I am in tournament, the more aggressive I play,” Aleh says of his poker strategy.
Aleh has won a total of $1,806,295.46 in his online poker career and until recently he played at Full Tilt Poker. He is currently ranked in 6th place on CardPlayer Magazine’s 2011 Online Player of the Year Leaderboard.
“I have been playing poker for 7 years,” Aleh told us. “I started with freerolls and a no deposit bonus.”
We asked Aleh if he recalled any memorable hands from the Friday night tournament.
“I called the flop and the turn and was going to call a river bet with ace high when I was heads-up with the winning hand.”
In the final hand of the tournament, Aleh was holding pocket sixes to his opponent’s pocket fives. The fold came 7 8 6, giving Aleh a set, but also giving his opponent an open-ended straight draw and hopes of staying alive in the tournament. The turn brought a second eight, and the river delivered a king, sealing Aleh’s victory.
We asked Aleh what he plans to do with his prize money. “Invest in other tournaments,” was his reply.
Many American poker players lost their livelihood on Black Friday, when the U.S. government shut down the major online poker rooms and indicted their founders and senior management. Hope of resuming their online gaming swiftly faded for these players as legislation has been indefinitely delayed and Full Tilt Poker has been shut down altogether.
With the World Series of Poker now behind them, many avid online poker players have begun leaving the United States to relocate to countries where online poker is legal.
PocketFives, a community of online poker forums and rankings, has just launched Poker Refugees, a service to help displaced poker players take refuge in countries like Costa Rica, Panama, and Canada.
According to its website, Poker Refugees offers “a variety of services, including one-on-one interviews with clients, guidance on how to play on sites, high-speed Internet with a backup connection, detailed requirements and tips for setting up a local bank account” and more. The service assists players in finding homes and cars as well.
The person behind Poker Refugees is Kristin Wilson, who has been involved in the online poker industry for the past ten years. From her home in Costa Rica, Kristin has “helped hundreds of people relocate, retire, and start businesses in Central America.”
The services offered by Poker Refugees are not free, and American players should also be aware of legal requirements in their new homes. For example, U.S. citizens can stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days on a tourist visa and then must renew their visa every three months by leaving the country for 72 hours.
Explaining the reasoning for setting up the Poker Refugees service in an interview with the ESPN Poker Blog, PokerFives co-founder Cal Spears said, “We figured there would be a lot of guys waiting around and wondering, ‘What do I do now? I’m a professional poker player, do I want to start on the circuit or do I want to go somewhere to establish myself and play online again?’”