In the movie From Dusk Till Dawn the two protagonists, George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, unwittingly seek refuge in an establishment that turns out to be the main drinking hole of a bunch of vampires. On the face of it, both Clooney and Tarantino believe they are amidst normal everyday people. But there is a darker side lurking beneath the facade. And when the light finally comes on there is absolute carnage.
For those of you who do not reside within the U.K, the names of Rob Yong and Simon Trumper may be unfamiliar. They spearhead one of the greatest – if not very best – live poker rooms in Europe called Dusk Till Dawn. This week the lives of Yong and Trumper are just like Clooney and Tarantino in the afore mentioned movie. They have just wandered into the lives of Bernard Tapie, Laurent Tapie and Prosper Masquelier, who between them have founded the ill-fated and untrustworthy International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT). From the outside appearances look normal. But when are the incisors going to slink up those lips? When are Yong and Trumper going to get eaten alive?
At a recent press conference, at the iconic Wembley Stadium, a relationship between DTD and ISPT was unveiled. DTD would license, operate and market the ISPT with Simon Trumper acting as the Tournament Director (TD). The relationship is akin to Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant having a cuddle back in the late eighties. Yong, Trumper and the DTD are heralded as perfect poker people. The ISPT are heralded as a joke: an untrustworthy, unreliable, unprofessional company.
But the biggest shock was yet to come. Rob Yong and DTD were going to guarantee €1,000,000 to the winner. As one poster on the BlondePoker Forum said: “Rest assured if DTD and Rob have put their name to this comp then 100%, this is going to run, even if it only attracts 300 regulars from the club someone is getting paid a million out of Rob’s pocket.”
That statement sums up the thoughts and feelings of most of the forum posters on BlondePoker and 2+2, and it boils down to trust and integrity. The poker people trust Yong and Trumper and this is why this floundering fish has just been pushed back into the water. But that leads me onto the ISPT and the question of why? Why do the poker people not trust the ISPT? Why don’t the people believe they have any integrity?
“It’s funny how I can go from having absolute no interest in an event to thinking it’s almost certain to be the biggest poker tournament ever held in Europe by simply attaching three letters to the mix.” A BlondePoker forum member stated when they heard the news of the involvement of DTD.
Within poker there are a lot of companies that are run by people who have a lot of enthusiasm about poker, but lack in business acumen. It doesn’t matter how many disasters they create – they never quite get it. It seems that the ISPT have climbed out of this soggy mould. The dream is commendable, and there is certainly a lot of energy being generated. It’s just such a shame that they employed Stan Laurel to complete the execution instead of Albert Pierrepoint. You need to look after the people and then the business will shine. The ISPT do not look after the people because they are not true to their word. They are the epitome of ambivalence and this develops a lack of integrity. In short, they make statements they cannot back up with action, and this is why they are not trusted.
“Incredibly Stupid Poker Tour,” was the description of the acronym offered up by one 2+2 poster.
It was one year ago that I received a YouTube clip of the ISPT being unveiled in all of its glory. I remember thinking: “A poker tournament on the hallowed turf of Wembley, a guaranteed prize pool of €30,000,000, a record number of 30,000 players and a hope that it wouldn’t rain in the U.K for seven days? What is this nonsense?” The video wasn’t released through any of the normal official media circles and so everyone just thought it was an elaborate hoax, and there the seed was planted. It was right back then, during the release of the first video, that every dealer, tournament director, player and media member thought: ’This would never happen.’
Eventually the news started to circulate from PokerNews that the event was cosha. But when the names behind the event were revealed there was further distain. The trio of Tapie, Tapie and Masquelier has heavy connections to the Partouche Poker Tour (PPT). The tour where millions has been handed out to alleged cheats, where non-French poker players ran to the 2+2 forums to cry of mistreatment and where the owner had to fly into Cannes, by personal helicopter, to appease a baying mob of poker players when they refused to honor their €5,000,000 guarantee. Partouche could not be trusted and so neither could the ISPT.
In the summer swell of sin city, Benjamin Leiba, Group Secretary for the ISPT, sat down to talk to the QuadJacks radio show at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). When asked to promote the ISPT Leiba said:
“We have the goal of gathering 30,000 poker fans in Wembley Stadium for the biggest tournament ever,” he continued, ”It’s going to have a prize pool of €20 million. It’s going to last seven days and it is going to mix live and online poker. 30,000 poker players in their seats playing online. They will bring their laptops, which they are comfortable with and they will play. The best 10% will play on the field on the stadium for Day Two. The winner will win €4 million.”
Now if Rob Yong had uttered those words, the poker people would have believed. Instead Leiba was ridiculed. Everyone inside the poker circus continued walking the tight rope and never gave the ISPT a single thought. As time moved on things changed. A lot of things changed. The ISPT were no longer promising 30,000 players all seated in Wembley Stadium, playing online on their laptops. Instead, people were going to play Day 1A at home. But the satellites were not drawing any significant numbers, and several reports circulated that many had to be cancelled. There was a countdown clock on the front of the site that showed the number of people that had so far entered. It once read over one thousand and now it doesn’t even exist. The countdown has vanished into the ether along with the promise of a €4,000,000 winners check and a guarantee for $30,000,000.
Where did the promise of the guarantee go? Despite the ISPT’s attempts to cover up its existence there are still YouTube clips showing the promise of a $30,000,000 guarantee. Even this week an ISPT representative went onto the 2+2 Forum and told them that there was never a guarantee offered by the ISPT, before quickly vanishing again. To make matters worse there are even rumblings of a change in structure when the tournament has already started!
So I ask again where has the guarantee gone?
ISPT Co-Founder, and Chief Executive, Prosper Masquelier had the answer in an interview with PokerFirma at WPT Baden recently: “When we created this tournament we hoped to get more than 27,000 players online at the stadium. After some technical issues we realized that it wouldn’t be possible to create a 100% secure connection. So we stopped this format and now have a live tournament. With 27,000 players in the stadium it’s easier to have a bigger prize pool. But now we will have to revise it because we don’t know how many players will be coming,”
So that’s where the guarantee has gone.
But, it just doesn’t work like that Mr. Masquelier. Once you declare a guarantee then you have chosen to put your balls on the chopping block. Whether or not you become Ms. Masquelier then depends on the successful marketing of the tournament. You cannot simply change your mind and expect people to fill your stadium, because they won’t come. It’s such a shame as well because it was such a great idea.
All hail the caped crusaders Yong and Trumper, who have well and truly saved the day by bringing a sense of modicum back to what was fast becoming a farce. Someone is going to get paid €1,000,000 because Rob Yong’s balls are in line for chopping and that’s something he is used to. This man is a put up or shut up type of guy, and Trumper can run a bloody good tournament. The DTD team has a loyal following. Let’s just hope they don’t end up like rats following the Pied Piper, because we all remember what happened to them.
The way I see it we have a bunch of dreamers trying their best to turn those dreams into reality. Only their best wasn’t good enough. Is it coincidental that the tour was being created at the same time the Tapie Group were in discussions surrounding the purchase of the assets of Full Tilt Poker? Now that could have been interesting, an attempt to create the biggest live event in the world from the back of the online presence of the second largest online poker room in the world? The people behind the ISPT set out with good intentions at heart, but due to their inability to organize an event of this magnitude they screwed it up. Like all good humans each attempt at recovering their lost dignity just created more mess. We have all been there, done it and wear the t-shirts every day.
Just to top it all off, the event clashes with the WSOP, and one event in particular. Interestingly, it is event 6A “Millionaire Maker” No Limit Hold’em with a guaranteed $1,000,000 first prize. There have been some arguments that this is yet another irresponsible move by the ISPT, but I beg to differ on this one. Wembley Stadium isn’t your local pub. You aren’t going to be able to click your fingers and rent it when you want. In addition, I truly believe the owners of the ISPT when they say there are 20 million people who play poker, worldwide, and they are not necessarily in competition with the WSOP. In fact, 80% of the WSOP attendees are American. The ISPT is aimed at the grass roots poker player and this thought it supplemented by the decision of the APAT, to host their Poker Masters Main Event as part of the side event action at Wembley.
So it seems that the ISPT’s inaugural event at Wembley Stadium is very real, will go ahead as planned and will hand out €1,000,000 to the eventual winner. Why? Because Rob Yong said so. But that doesn’t impress me. If the caped crusaders really want to grab my attention then I want to see how the hell they are going to stop it raining for a seven-day poker event in the open air of Wembley Stadium.