PPC Poker Tour Accused of Being a Ponzi Scheme

Back in November, it was reported that a number of poker players had filed a lawsuit against the Players Poker Championship (PPC) after reaching the PPC Aruba $2,400 Main Event final table, but failing to receive their cash payouts. Although others are involved, amongst the known aggrieved individuals is Stephen Deutsch, who has still to collect his $133,687 winner’s prize, as well as Michael Lerner ($48,126), John Ott ($32,085), and Joan Sandoval ($21,930).
This week, it has now come to light that a temporary restraining order has also been issued against the PPC, as the Montgomery County court agreed with the defendants that there existed a substantial risk that PPC owners Sandy Swartzbaugh and Bryan Oulton might attempt to transfer assets out of the United States. Likewise, the filing further stipulates that none of the PPC’s assets can be transferred over to “members, to investors, to insiders, [or] to third party creditors.”
As more and more details emerge about the debacle, a picture is emerging of a poker tour in disarray that, according to the lawsuit, failed to keep its tournament fees separate from its prize money, and therefore “created a situation where PPC was constantly utilizing funds from one creditor to pay another creditor and/or enrich itself and its members.”
The suit further alleges that the PPC continued to act as a Ponzi scheme until an insufficient inflow of new funds made it impossible to disguise the fact any longer. Commenting on the unfortunate situation in which the players now find themselves, Attorney Maurice VerStandig explained:
“My clients are honest poker players who went to Aruba without aces or eights up their sleeves. At least one otherwise-reputable American card room had its branding deeply intertwined with that of PPC. And yet the injustice that followed is nothing short of startling.”
VerStandig’s reference alludes to the involvement of Maryland Live! a casino which has previously hosted PPC tournaments, and also held feeder events through to the PPC Aruba $2,400 Main Event held at the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba.

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