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An Epic Short Story

by Matt Glantz |  Published: May 02, '12

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January 2011

Federated Sports and Gaming announces the creation of a new player friendly poker league. It is stated the new poker league will be comprised of the world’s top 200 players and the events will be rake-free for poker professionals and feature generous prize pool overlays.

Sounds good to me. No idea if I will qualify but hopeful that I fit into whatever they come up with as the selection criteria.

May 2011

FS&G announces the roster of the 218 players eligible for the initial season. They will be offering $2.6m in added money and freerolls in the first year.

Feel fortunate to be on the list. Looking forward to hear the details.

Later that month FS&G announces first ever Standards & Conduct Committee in poker.

Now this is something I can get behind. Much more important than the league itself, poker has been long overdue for a Standards & Conduct Committee to clean up the game and help to produce a more marketable product for the masses. The committee listed consists of Eric Baldwin, Andy Bloch, Chad Brown, Joe Hachem and Nick Schulman, Matt Savage and an independent professional ethics advisor, Stephen Martin. Well done with their representatives from the poker community. If done right, this committee will set standards not only for the new poker league but for all other leagues around the world. I can’t describe how excited I am for the possibility of this entity taking the game and business of poker to the next level.

June 2011

FS&G unveils the name of the new league: The Epic Poker League

July 2011

Epic Poker League announces it will be broadcast on CBS and Velocity Network. The Global Poker Index is launched.

TV situation sounds good. GPI is clearly better than any of the current ranking systems. Impressed with everything to date.

August 2011

Inaugural $20k buyin Epic Poker League Event is held at the Palms in Vegas.

137 players attend. 1st place is $1m. With 14 players left I flop a set for a chip lead pot and Chino fixes me right up. I exit in 14th for $43k. Chino goes on to win the event. Must be nice. GFY Chino!

Don’t get the wrong idea, GFY = Good for you.

Couple weeks later the Standards & Conduct Committee decides to put Chino on probation for “violating the league’s Code of Conduct, after allegedly failing to pay back debts owed to other poker players.” Seriously guys? Wow, I was deflated. Had big hopes for the S&C Committee. But getting involved in the personal business of players is just a huge mistake. Simple unnecessary overstep. I was pretty vocal about my disappointment which will come into play in the months ahead.

September 2011

2nd Epic Event held at the Palms.

Only 97 players attend. Bad timing with the European events going on at the same time. But no big deal. It is not a rake based model anyway. They don’t need huge numbers in the way of entrants.

12 players left I decide to get involved in a race with Erik Seidel. Not a good idea for anyone to do in 2011. I bust 12th for $46k. To think we just had dinner together the night before and then he does me so dirty. Must be nice to be Seidel in 2011. GFY Erik!

Don’t forget, GFY = Good for you.

This second cash in two events puts me in great position for the 27 player $1m freeroll tournament at the end of the season.

Michael DiVita incident with the Epic Poker League. Totally on board with not letting him play in the event. Only bad publicity can come from him being involved. But not to give him his $20k as compensation??? Made a phone call to a league executive wanting to get an explanation. I was basically told it was Nevada Gaming Commission that says the seat has no cash value and the EPL has no responsibility to pay him the $20k but they are refunding him his $1500 he used to buy in the Pro-Am event.

I was very vocal that this would come back to haunt them. It is just a bad business decision that should have been avoided with just some common sense.

I found out later that the S&C Committee had decided in this matter for DiVita to receive his $20k but after their meeting adjourned league executives determined it wasn’t a committee issue after all and decided to give the guy just his original $1500.

Link

October 2011

I join the Standards and Conduct Committee.

Link

Even though I had been very supportive of the league from the start, I voiced my displeasure loudly when things didn’t seem right. To the credit of league executives, rather than ignore me or try to pacify me, they asked me to join the S&C Committee. Even knowing it would be a thankless job I was willing to commit to this responsibility only because of the benefit a committee such as this can be to poker if we get it right.

Link

December 2011

League executives explain to the committee there are scheduling conflicts for the fourth event and also the freeroll event previously scheduled in February. We approve of pushing the last two events back to an unknown date.

At this time we as a committee had no knowledge of any financial troubles with the league and no good reason to suspect. I can not go into details but I also firmly believe Annie Duke, the Commissioner of the Epic Poker League, had no idea of upcoming financial troubles at the time. When she sent out a letter to all members of the league describing the scheduling conflict reasons for the delay of the final two events I believe it was in good faith.

Let me be clear: I am not interested in defending or attacking anyone in this writing. I am just being objective based on what I saw.

January 2012

Rumors rampant about Epic Poker League financial troubles.

Not really thrilled about the rumors, but generally don’t put much weight in them and since seemingly so many people in the industry would like Epic to fail I chalk it up to wishful thinking by the haters.

February 2012

Federated Sports and Gaming files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Rumors were true. Ugghhhh. Why does it seem like the bad stuff in this business never ends. I still have hope. It is Chapter 11 (reorganization) bankruptcy and at least not Chapter 7. Wow, this sucks.

Link

March 2012

Looks like the Epic Poker League might not be able to fulfill its promises made to the players who supported the league. It is hard to now see how they are going to get new financing to run the fourth event with $400k added and the $1m freeroll event.

There is no useful information at this point going from league executive to members of the committee or the league. Basically we are receiving the usual lines about how they are working on resolving the financial issues of the company and can’t comment further. This is unacceptable to me and as a member of the S&C Committee representing the players I feel a responsibility to the players to get answers.

The Standards and Conduct Committee was formed to make sure the participants of the league were upholding to the highest of standards. With the unfolding of recent events I feel it is necessary at this point for the committee to investigate if league executives were doing the same.

It was a long process through the entire month of March trying to get answers. It was no surprise that league executives did not appreciate my attitude with these matters. They had a ton of their own problems to deal with at the time and I was just one more to add to the troubles. I pushed and pushed only because I felt a responsibility to the players of the league. If my name is going to be attached to any entity in poker I want all players to know that I am always doing my due diligence to make sure things are right.

April 2012

I resign from the Epic Poker League Standards and Conduct Committee.

After several weeks of back and forth between league executives and I they do agree to answer my questions and see financials reports if necessary but under the condition of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. As we negotiated on the NDA it became clear that what I wanted was not going to be possible. I understood the sensitivity of the information I was going to receive and was in no way intending to share it with any competitors or possible financiers. But I wanted to be able to look through the books and and get the answers I needed to be able to comfortable relay my general findings to the players of the league. I wanted to be able to share with the players whether we have a case of unfortunate business circumstances here or something more sinister. My gut tells me it was the former.

I believe from the little that I do know is that there were issues between the league and their major investor. When the investor pulled out unexpectedly it put the league in a very dire position. I would expect to see lawsuits in the future and I would assume at that point we will find out some of what actually happened.

I truly hope the EPL finds a way to survive. It is good for poker if the EPL can be successful. And conversely it is another in the long line of black marks on poker when a large company goes down.

The most important of our listed responsibilities as a member of the committee was: Functioning as a league and player resource for establishing and maintaining the credibility and integrity of the league.

This is what I was trying to do. But in the end it became clear that my understanding of that responsibility was different than that of our league executives.

Oh and by the way if it comes out eventually that Epic executives acted appropriately then GFY Epic executives. But if not, then really Epic, GFY!

Poker pro Matt Glantz has demonstrated high-stakes versatility by becoming the World Series’ most consistent performer in big money mixed-game tournaments. Since 2008, he has made four WSOP final tables in mixed-game events with buy-ins of $10,000 to $50,000. He has also earned a reputation as one of the top mixed-game cash game players.

Glantz is answering Card Player reader questions about mixed-game poker strategy. Readers can email Matt questions direct to matt.glantz@cardplayer.com and also should check out his website www.mattglantzpoker.com for more strategy and updates from the tournament trail.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

WPS22
2 years ago

If you can still publicly claim that they acted in good faith, can you give any insight as to how they expected this business model to work?

To my knowledge, no one has ever explained that.The whole operation consisted of holding rake free tourneys, adding big money to prize pools, holding million dollar free rolls, and paying to put it all on TV. Not one of those things brings in any money, all of them cost money.

How are we supposed to think they acted in good faith when its never even been explained to us how they ever planned to make any money? I think its pretty clear that their real plan to turn a profit on Epic never made it to the light of day. Either that, or they just started a business w/ no plan of ever making any money.

 
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notCIA
2 years ago

It would have never dawned on me to think there might be a problem when Annie Duke is involved.

 
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bparmalee
2 years ago

Mr. Glantz you have been very forthcoming with the information you but I still keep coming back to this: How did anyone with basic math skills think that this "league" could operate with no rake and huge free rolls? Poker players are suppose to be a skeptical bunch.... always on the look out for someone trying to hustle them. I find it hard to believe that most players thought this was a viable business model. Its just seems arrogant of the poker community to think that "200+ people playing rake free tourneys with overlays..sounds great. Oh and then the top 27 of us get to play for a free million dollars. This can't fail!!" There was a time when poker players and celebs got all kinds of poker free rolls but hasn't that time come and gone? Poker on TV is all but dead (though this last years WSOP live coverage was nice) and poker still has not been able to attract mainstream advertisers. I just think that if someone pitched this idea to Mr. Glantz about any other activity he would laugh and ask "How in world are you going to pay for all of this? Sounds like a scam." But somehow because it was poker it seemed legit? I think at the end of the day players should be happy that they received the few overlays they got and chalk it up free money.

 
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KingaDimuns
2 years ago

This is, of course, speculation. but FWIW it could be that the league was trying to build a brand. It's possible that with the recent developments in online poker possibly becoming legal that they were trying to create a name for themselves so that they could start out on top if the online thing ever became a possibility. It's a pretty risky scheme, and one that cost millions of dollars, but i can see how it would pay off were it successful.

 
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aneel
2 years ago

I believe Sam Rothstein said it best in Casino: "If you didn't know you where being scammed, you're too f#c@in dumb to keep this job. If you did know, you were in on it. Either way, you're out. Get out. Come on. Let's go."

 
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THEJOEF
2 years ago

In the business of poker if you exclude the masses you have no shot. It's nice to have a little club of players that rank in the top 300 tournament cashes but you are leaving out another 50 million players. To leave Chris Moneymaker or any other notable out of anything tournament wise is dumb. The whole poker thing is a pipe dream driven industry. You take the dream away and your back to a select few. The only people that seem to get it these days are the ones that run the WSOP. The million dollar freeroll gives the regular guy or girl something to shoot for. The $1000 buy ins at the WSOP (RIO) are also a great idea. $ 1000 is still alot of money but it does get people to fly out and take a shot. The future and growth of poker is all about people having fun. It should never be taken to seriously. Only 3% of all players can truly be positive pro players. Worry more about the 97% and how to keep them interested and in the game.Online poker is the only business model that can fuel poker to new heights. It includes everyone.

 
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bparmalee
2 years ago

Joef also makes an excellent point. You always hear "pro-players" talking about donkey this or idiot that. These are the people that pay their bills. The "dead money" in the game is in reality the pro-players boss... they are the customer base. Yet...the "pros" at every level (especially in cash games) show a crazy level of disregard for them. When I played all the time I tried to have fun and make sure everyone else had a good time. This really annoyed the other regulars and they could not grasp the concept that this was suppose to be entertainment. If the "pros" at every level would be more friendly.... talk to other players and stop trying to go for everyones last penny.... poker would be better off for it. Sometimes letting a man walk out with his dignity will make you more money in the long run than yelling "How could he call me with that?? Everyone knew I had Aces!! What a moron." Yeah.... that moron is going home to his 400k house... wife..kids.. real job and you just cost yourself and everyone a repeat customer. These people are your benefactors... not "donkeys".

 
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berkbrown
2 years ago

@ bparmalee: ^^^ I couldn't agree more. My #1 poker pet peeve is criticizing/ridiculing/educating others at the table. Be nice because it keeps them happy, or be nice because it's the right was to be a human being. Please don't ridicule their play or tell them how they "should have" played. Maybe you're never going to play with this opponent again, Mr. Superior, but I might get to tomorrow, or the people who play with him/her wherever they live - and I would rather he didn't get better out of an enlightened lack of ignorance or sheer embarrassment. As I like to say: "lessons are next week, tonight we're just gambling." Many of today's players don't understand the many factors that go into being a "professional", it's not just winrate, I promise. Thanks for the wise words, much appreciated - I hope it enlightens many of the critical masses, lol. (although your comments/editorials are often over the top, and I often disagree with them)

 
 

oliveras19
2 years ago

THE GENTLEMAN WHO WROTE THIS ARTICLE IS EITHER VERY NAIVE OR IS A SPOKESMAN FOR CJF, HL AND AD. YOU ALL KNOW WHO THEY ARE. ON THE LIGHTER SIDE THE SO-CALLED POKER PRO INDUSTRY IS A CLASSIC PONZI SCHEME. WIHOUT NEW REGULAR PLAYERS CONTRIBUTING THEIR DEAD MONEY INTO THE TOURNAMENT MONEY POOL THE POKER PRO INDUCTRY MUST FAIL. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENDED WITH EPIC IN WHICH THE POKER PRO PLAYER FIELD WAS LIMITED AND FIXED. THEY WERE IN EFFECT AN INCESTUOUS INBRED GROUP THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY SELF DESTRUCT. EPIC COULD NEVER SURVIVE WITHOUT THE CONTRIBUTON OF NEW DEAD MONEY FROM REGULAR OUTSIDE PLAYERS.

 
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