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Thread: Arthur McFarland, owner of WSOP School of Poker (wsopsop.com) accused of scamming

  1. #1
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Arthur McFarland, owner of WSOP School of Poker (wsopsop.com) accused of scamming

    The WSOP School of Poker appeared to be affiliated with the WSOP. From what I can tell, it wasn't. However, it is unclear whether or not they had permission to use the WSOP name, as it was reported to me that they were holding classes in casinos right before WSOP Circuit events.

    The WSOP does indeed have an official poker training program called "WSOP Academy", but that service has not been involved in any scandals, and is separate from this.

    WSOP School of Poker seems to be a private business, run by a guy named Arthur McFarland.

    It had an impressive list of poker pros teaching for it, via a brand called "Zen Poker Mentoring".

    Andy Bloch
    Annette Obrestad
    Antonio Esfandiari
    Brian Rast
    Dutch Boyd
    Elliot Roe
    Jeff Madsen
    Jennifer Harman
    Joe Cada
    Kenna James “Cowboy”
    Kristy Arnett
    Layne Flack
    Maria Ho
    Mark Gregorich
    Mark Stephen Edwards
    Melanie Weisner
    Owais Ahmed
    Tom McEvoy
    Tom Schnieder
    Vanessa Rousso

    While some (Melanie Weisner, Dutch Boyd, Layne Flack) have checkered pasts, most of these people have good reputations in the poker world. I do not believe that any of these pros were involved in the scam, and were probably victims of the whole thing, as well.

    Zen Poker Mentoring appears to have been a joint venture between Brian Rast and Arthur McFarland, according to this 2015 Pokernews article.

    It is unclear to me if Zen Poker Mentoring and the WSOP School of Poker are the same thing, or if they were simply associated. However, McFarland was definitely part of both.

    There were actual classes held.

    A guy named Matt contacted me and told me that he had purchased lessons with Brian Rast through the site, but never received them.

    Hi Dan Druff,

    I talked to a nice guy at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Scott, about a month or so ago and he said you might be able to help me out. I paid for a Poker class on November 27th 2016 for a Poker prep class to be held at Horseshoe Casino on April 27th 2017. I paid $297 and the payment was processed by Zen Poker Mentoring. As the day approached, I was excited to take my class. I looked on their website and it was nowhere to be found. I called them several times and finally the day before the class, Arthur "Ace" McFarland, called me back to tell me that it was cancelled due to the MD gaming commission wouldn't allow the class to go on unless it was free to the public. He offered me a free class in vegas or a free in home session with a pro at their home in vegas. He said he would email me after the call, I got no such email. Since then the website has shut down and Zen poker mentoring's site has shut down. Zen poker mentoring was owned by Brian Rast so I have sent him 3 emails through his website. I have not gotten a response. I also tried to call my credit card and they said it has been too long since the initial transaction to dispute the charges.

    Can you help me at all? Thanks. I can email my receipt to you if that will help.

    Matt S****
    Here is what Brian wrote to him, after a long delay:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Rast
    Matt, I'm sorry this happened to you. Arthur McFarland was the owner and CEO of WSOPSOP. I am owed a large sum of money from him right now regarding many things with that business, including but not limited to not being paid for the last class I ran, which hasn't been operating for a while now. The last time I tried to call him it seems like he changed cell phones as his old number isn't working. I don't know where he is or what he's doing, but if you find out then I'd like to know as well. -Brian
    Ouch.

    I believe Rast, for what it's worth. However, the $297 is a small amount of money, and given that Rast seems to have owned the company (or at least Zen Poker Mentoring) with McFarland, my opinion is that Rast should just pay the guy back, even if it wasn't his fault.


    Anyway, the WSOPSOP website (wsopsop.com) has gone down, and in fact the domain expired.

    It does appear that Arthur McFarland has flown the coop.

    I will be doing some research whether the WSOP actually gave him permission to use that name, and will post my findings here.

    Anyone else scammed by McFarland -- whether a pro or a would-be student -- may post here or contact me directly with further info.

    If Arthur McFarland is reading this, please contact me so we can get this squared away with the alleged victims, and I will remove this post when everyone appears to be made whole.

     
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      ftpjesus: Agreed instructors likely were innocent.. Kinda take issue regarding Dutch Boyd.. Him trolling and screwing with Mallmutt doesnt make him shady.. It makes him smart and very funny in that regard

  2. #2
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Here are some photos of Zen Poker Mentoring classes taking place in the past:

    Dan Heimiller
    Name:  heimiller-zen.jpg
Views: 577
Size:  20.8 KB


    Melanie Weisner
    Name:  weisner-zen.jpg
Views: 588
Size:  25.5 KB


    Joe Cada
    Name:  cada-zen.jpg
Views: 567
Size:  27.8 KB


    Tom McEvoy teaching group
    Name:  zen-group.jpg
Views: 571
Size:  19.8 KB


    Maria Ho
    Name:  maria-zen.jpg
Views: 571
Size:  20.3 KB

     
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      ftpjesus: Real Grinders rep for Heimiller..

  3. #3
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    By coincidence, I posted this very shortly after Brian Rast won his 4th bracelet.

    That wasn't intentional. I just decided to out this story after a lot of back-and-forth communication with the alleged victim.

  4. #4
    Note to self: don't trust a guy with the nickname, "Ace"

     
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      snowtracks: Hi Ace
    http://www.miraclecovers.com

    "Donk down, that’s what you say to someone after they have lost 28K straight?" - Phil Hellmuth, online

  5. #5
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Rast responds on Twitter:


  6. #6
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I have found a way to contact Arthur McFarland.

    I have sent him a message, and hopefully he does the right thing.

  7. #7
    If wsopsop didn't have permission to use the name, I think wsop would have quickly put a stop to it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Eisenhower View Post
    If wsopsop didn't have permission to use the name, I think wsop would have quickly put a stop to it.
    probably, but don't underestimate the vast amount of incompetence that exists inside the Evil Empire...I can see those morons missing this shit...

     
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      Ryan Eisenhower:

  9. #9
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I have informed the WSOP about this, and they are looking into whether someone in marketing made an agreement with him.

    It's possible that he just took the name without permission, and it's also possible that some marketer gave him permission to use it and didn't follow up on the legitimacy of the whole thing.

    It does appear they offered real classes for awhile, so I'm guessing it all went well for some time, and then fell apart for whatever reason.

  10. #10
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I have received some information from the WSOP regarding this matter.

    The WSOP did indeed license their name to be used by Zen Poker Training, hence the "WSOP School of Poker" name.

    However, this was a straight name-licensing deal. The WSOP did not have any ownership in the company, nor did they assist with operations. Arthur McFarland basically bought the ability to use the WSOP name for his training classes.

    This was unfortunate, as it gave him credibility.

    While the WSOP did not state this to me, I have a feeling that they were wiling to do this licensing deal because Brian Rast was involved, as Rast has a great reputation.

    Anyway, needless to say, the WSOP got screwed by McFarland, too. He owes them money, as well. They also cannot reach him.

    They are also curious about how many victims there were here. If you got screwed by Zen Poker Mentoring or WSOP School of Poker (either as a coach or a customer), please contact me.

    The WSOP has decided that they are not going to license their brand name to player training companies in the future, given this unfortunate situation. I think that's wise. They are currently licensing their name to a dealer training company, but that one appears to be working out fine.

  11. #11
    I'm sure this was vetted by caesars through a bunch of legal channels digging deeply into the background of those involved in the company...

    oh wait who the fuck am I kidding...they saw a chance to probably grab a paltry 5 figure sum of money for name licensing rights and they drug the WSOP brand through the mud...

    BRAVO EVIL EMPIRE!! BRAVO!!

     
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      sah_24: yup, pretty standard operating procedure luls

  12. #12
    It’s a fucking joke that the WSOP lets them use the name which gives the impression they back it.
    Then people get screwed and they simply say ‘he owes us too’ while taking no accountability. They should have to refund everyone and can try get the money back from the scammer. They are a powerful organization with legal reps and instead force people with relatively no resources to try get 297 bucks back individually.

     
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      GambleBotsChafedPenis: YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP Rep
      
      sah_24: +12

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sebokcockshot View Post
    It’s a fucking joke that the WSOP lets them use the name which gives the impression they back it.
    Then people get screwed and they simply say ‘he owes us too’ while taking no accountability. They should have to refund everyone and can try get the money back from the scammer. They are a powerful organization with legal reps and instead force people with relatively no resources to try get 297 bucks back individually.
    While I'm not 100% there with you, I'm like 99% there...in gambling i think there is a whole 'buyer beware' aspect to things...

    HOWEVER with that being said you would think as a consumer if it has the WSOP name on it that caesars would have this thing vetted in some sorta way to make sure that the WSOP name isn't being harmed...

    I'm no marketer by any stretch, but i would have to say that at absolute bare minimum the WSOP name is worth low 8 figures...and to ever put that brand in harms way at all for what I'm guessing is a very minor payment is well fucking retarded...

    even out of bankruptcy caesars is still run by a bunch of fucking morons...

  14. #14
    I remember walking past their booth at the 2015 WSOP, and thinking "WTF is this?" It looked chintzy/shady even then. I remember talking to the Hansen kid about in, and we were both shaking our heads. I believe he was involved in some other training something or other prior to this as well.

     
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      snowtracks: I need to put a bounty on Khalwat again

  15. #15
    Gold ftpjesus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shizzmoney View Post
    Note to self: don't trust a guy with the nickname, "Ace"
    Many would agree in the WWE regarding Head of Talent at the time Johnny Ace aka John Laurinatis (brother of one half of the Road Warriors and Uncle to now retired NFL Player James Laurinatis who surprising didn't join the family business despite the obvious physical attributes to do so)..
    <This Ad Space for Rent or Sale>

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