Breaking Down the Action:
  • What Did Hustler Casino Do?
  • Players Angry About Cancellation
  • The Back Pedal Begins

4 Minute Read

Hustler Casino reneged on a $250,000 guarantee in their Larry Flynt tournament, to widespread condemnation from the poker industry.

Whenever a live poker tournament goes back on a guarantee, it enrages poker players and fans more than perhaps any other misdemeanour by tournament organizers. This week, Hustler Casino in Los Angeles, billed as ‘California’s only luxury casino’ saw a controversial cancellation of their $250,000 guaranteed event, leading to fury from the players who were affected and the wider poker community.

What Did Hustler Casino Do?

In case you missed it, Hustler Casino has become perhaps the premier location for live-streamed cash games over the past year, providing some amazing YouTube footage along the way as they have brought reputable cash games streaming back into people’s homes after the Mike Postle debacle.

To have built up the trust of the public and then withdraw a quarter-million guarantee, however, is not good business practice to say the very least. Here’s how they chose to announce it:

To say that poker enthusiasts have been disappointed by this turn of events is an understatement. Hustler proposing to cancel from this point and play down the final table with the ‘remaining prize pool’ of just $27,000 has got to a lot of people.

Doug Polk, co-owner of The Lodge in Texas, said:

“The reality of running tournaments is if another club announces a tournament, you ride it out. Lose money? Regroup and make a new strategy. It isn’t the players responsibility for you to hit your guarantee.”

Players Angry About Cancellation

Some of the comments shared by players have only added to the fire already raging in others.

“Thankfully I haven’t stepped inside your place in years and after this, I will make sure to never go again,” said one on Twitter. “So unfair to the players, especially those who qualified for Day 2 expecting a nice guarantee only to see your cancellation notice in the middle. Just wow.”

Another called the move ‘so filthy’.

“Take the loss, build the name,” they continued. “Way to ruin Mr Flynt’s old casino. I’m not even a tourney player mostly and it feels so dirty, players must feel so betrayed. What’s the unexpected circumstances again?”

One fan summed it up quite neatly with this Seinfeld GIF, as the ‘guarantee’ element of the prizepool was abandoned.

Players were clearly livid, not least anyone who entered. The backlash was so bad that Hustler Casino were forced to face the cameras, which was exactly what they did.

The Back Pedal Begins

Appearing in two separate videos, all three men at the heart Hustler’s operations faced the cameras and explained their initial decision, the subsequent fallout and their plan to recompense everyone who entered. As well as doing that, they’ll add $50,000 to a tournament “probably in September”.

It’s not exactly a full retraction of what’s been said in terms of cancellation and at least to our eyes, it’s hard to see poker players who were looking to choose between Hustler and their rivals when the next big tournament is advertised putting their trust in a casino who has cancelled the guarantee on a tournament after four Day 1s have already taken place.

Rob Yong, whose work at Dusk Till Dawn has seen him put up the funds for many huge guarantees, rarely missing, but always paying, said:

“Just pay. Plus amazing how many times everyone turns up on last day expecting added value so you’re never dead if you have [enough] tables.”

That ethic is clearly not shared by Hustler Casino in this instance and a fair amount of smoothing over of the relationship with their fans is going t be needed for their reputation to survive. Everyone makes mistakes, but in poker, guarantees are the one thing you never mess with – just ask the Partouche Poker Tour, whose 5 million guarantee was taken off their website, only for an eagle-eyed Justin Bonomo to capture the screen where it was promised. Poker players do not forget or forgive such an act easily, and the next few months will be extremely interesting from a streaming and live attendance perspective with regards to Hustler.

In 2022, if you try to hustle a poker player, they are going to call you on it.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience writing online casino reviews and game guides. His betting strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004.

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