Gordon Vayo Suing PokerStars Over $700k in Unpaid SCOOP WinningsMay 9, 2018 11:15 am
Last May, Gordon Vayo won a PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker Tournament Series (SCOOP) event for $692,461, but the US pro has still yet to collect his money after the operator claimed that he had violated the country’s law by playing from within the US.
As a result, Vayo has now filed a lawsuit against PokerStars in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, with the player claiming that he had actually played from within Canada, and that PokerStars had acted fraudulently and should be held responsible for a breach of contract.
“I am deeply disappointed it has come to this, but feel that taking legal action is necessary to protect my rights as well as those of other PokerStars players who are in my situation, but may not have the means to get their message out and protect themselves against the unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced during this ordeal,” explains Vayo.
Gordon Vayo is a talented poker pro who lives in Los Angeles, but also resides part-time in Ottawa. Throughout his career, he has amassed $6,231,394 on the live circuit, including finishing runner-up to Qui Nguyen at the 2016 WSOP Main Event for $4,661,228. Vayo has also notched up a further $2,434,378 playing online tournaments on PokerStars, with his biggest score coming in 2016 after taking down the PokerStars SCOOP-01-H: $1,050 NLHE Phased tournament for $1 million, although he only collected $692,461 of that amount following a five-way deal.
VPN Use Concerns
Vayo says that he regularly played on PokerStars from his “part-time” residence in Ottawa, Canada, and for several years had not encountered any problems until winning the almost $700k sum on PokerStars in May 2017. After claiming the huge prize, he said that he continued playing “regularly” on the site for another two months without any objections being raised, with the situation eventually coming to a head after he tried to cash out his winnings.
At that point, Vayo claims that PokerStars froze his account and demanded proof that he was playing from Canada at the time of the tournament, and not from the US where players are banned from joining international player pools following the Black Friday indictments of 2011. Vayo did admit, however, to using a virtual private network (VPN) for some other online activity he was involved with while he was in Canada at that time.
Nevertheless, most poker sites have strict rules when it comes to using VPN’s, and PokerStars is no exception, with the site informing him that a thorough investigation would subsequently be conducted on the matter. Fast forward almost a year, and PokerStars recently told him that it had decided to withhold his money, prompting a swift response from Vayo who then filed for legal action in April.
In the civil suit filed by his attorney in the federal court in California, it was noted that Vayo had been informed that his account was being frozen pending an investigation concerning suspicious activity. As part of the 29-page suit explains:
“What ensued was a nearly year-long inquest, during which Defendant engaged in an appalling campaign of harassment, prying into every aspect of Mr. Vayo’s record, demanding Mr. Vayo produce detailed retroactive proof of his location, and even opening meritless investigations into his friends’ accounts, in order to gin up a pretext for not paying Mr. Vayo what he had won.”
In his lawsuit, Vayo accused PokerStars of adopting dubious practices, and encouraging US players to compete on the site up until the point where they win a significant amount of money, after which they will have their funds confiscated following a “sham investigation” into the user’s activities and location. Allegedly, this also happened to another player who won $140,000 on the site back in 2016, but still had to wait a whole year before finally being allowed to cash out his money.
Vayo has also asserted that PokerStars threatened a countersuit against him over the issue, and that in the meantime it was still profiting from his name by touting his SCOOP victory on its PokerStars.com site.