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Thread: Hustler Casino misses $250k tournament guarantee by large amount, cancels event midway, huge uproar occurs on Twitter

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    Hustler Casino misses $250k tournament guarantee by large amount, cancels event midway, huge uproar occurs on Twitter

    I have a special place in my heart for Hustler Casino. On January 17, 2001 (yes, I remember the exact date), having just read Lee Jones' "Winning Low Limit Holdem" poker book, I showed up at Hustler to play my very first hand of Texas Holdem, shortly after work. I broke exactly even that night at my $3/$6 game. When I walked out, I couldn't wait to come back. Over 21 years later, I'm still at it.

    Hustler is a medium-sized card room in Gardena, California -- the southern part of Los Angeles County. It opened in 2000, and has maintained a pretty good reputation over the years. Larry Flynt really enjoyed poker, and personally supervised the project. He also played in high stakes games there for awhile. For unknown reasons, he eventually stopped playing at Hustler, long before his death last year.

    Hustler is not in a huge building. It simply does not have the space that the Bike or Commerce have, so it can never fully compete with those rooms. Still, it seems to do okay, and is by no means a small operation.

    In recent times, Hustler is best known for hosting "Hustler Casino Live", a venture founded by former Live at the Bike producer Nick Feldman, and his business partner Nick Vertucci. Feldman took his list of contacts from Live at the Bike (which had fired him) and his general talents in producing such shows, and created a very well-liked show which quickly eclipsed Live at the Bike, and became the top streaming poker show in the world. It is almost exactly one year old at this point, and has been a rousing success. It is likely that Hustler Casino does not own any piece of Hustler Casino Live, and this is probably some sort of business arrangement. Feldman appeared last year for a lengthy interview on PFA Radio, and I've always gotten along well with him.

    This recent controversy has nothing to do with Hustler Casino Live or Ryan Feldman.

    It has to do with a $250k guarantee tournament, held this week at Hustler.

    There has been a lot of controversy recently regarding guaranteed tournaments, and players are getting increasingly frustrated. Casinos all over the country are finding various ways to worm out of paying missed guarantees, or they are inserting little-known terms in the fine print, such as the minimum number of players needed to trigger the guarantee. Others simply have cancelled guarantee tournaments in advance, when they aren't seeing promising early registration numbers.

    Hustler does not have any such controversy in its past. However, they committed one of the worst violations of a guaranteed tournament to date. About 8 hours after the vague announcement (which hadn't yet gotten a lot of mainstream attention), I asked for some clarification:

    https://twitter.com/#!/x/status/1554707592542203906


    Shaun Yaple, the general manager of Hustler Casino, then gave an odd response. He stated that there were "many layers" to this decision, but he would not state them on Twitter. Instead, he offered people to find him "in person", and promised to tell them face-to-face. This got a very poor response (as you might expect), and that response is now deleted.

    However, I took up Yaple on that offer. I did not go visit Hustler, but I did ask him to DM me and tell me there. Indeed, he did so, and told me what happened. I will not reveal the exact content of the DMs, because they were not intended for public consumption. However, I will summarize them by saying that Yaple essentially blamed another LA area casino for starting a competing series at the same time as their $250k Guarantee event, which he insisted was non-standard in the market. He told me that up until this incident, the LA casinos basically stayed out of each other's ways when it came to major tournament scheduling.

    Yaple also conceded that indeed he made the decision to yank the guarantee because Hustler was on pace to lose "low six figures" on the event, and that such a hit to the room of Hustler's size was too devastating to accept. He acknowledged that he knew there would be a lot of angry people, but said that was what he felt was his only realistic option.

    I countered (also in DM) that Hustler isn't a small room, and while it's never pleasant for a business to lose six figures in one day, I believed Hustler was large and profitable enough to absorb it, and that their reputation hit would ultimately be more costly.

    More in next post...

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    Doug Polk, who co-owns a poker room in Austin, took this opportunity to chime in, calling Hustler's decision "unacceptable":

    https://twitter.com/#!/x/status/1554870779912896514


    Yaple then responded, telling Polk a simplified version of what he told me, and Polk shot back at him:

    https://twitter.com/#!/x/status/1554905515909595136


    Ultimately, the pressure was too much for Hustler. I suggested privately to Yaple that they needed to just "take the L on this one and move on", and not attempt to save money at the expense of their reputation. He DM'd back that he agreed.

    Today, Yaple put out a statement, flanked by Vertucci and Feldman, stating that they would refund everyone's buyin, and also pay out the $27k prizepool for those who made Day 2. It is unclear how they will refund the buyins for anyone who left the area, or who isn't aware of this offer. They are also doing a $50k added event sometime in the future.

    For some reason, the sound quality is terrible, which is surprising given how good the production value is for Hustler Casino Live:

    https://twitter.com/#!/x/status/1554996670231810050

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Here's some details about the tournament itself. It was part of a Larry Flynt Memorial Series.



    It had 12 starting flights, and the buyin was $350. Unfortunately, with 4 flights completed, only 123 players had registered, and about half of them were in the first flight. While sometimes these numbers increase big time when word of an overlay gets around, Yaple realized that Hustler simply doesn't have the capacity to host a giant group of players on Flight #12, virtually assuring them of a big loss. With 123 players registered, that only amounted to $43,050 of the $250k needed to avoid an overlay! They would need 591 more players in the final 8 flights to get there, and with just 15 and 17 players in flights 3 and 4, they weren't very hopeful.

    The plans were to pay $27k to the nine players who survived the first 4 flights (I guess $16k had already been paid to some who cashed but busted).

    There was a $50k guaranteed first prize, which clearly wasn't happening anymore.

    The remaining players apparently were the ones royally screwed. Hustler's ultimate decision to refund everyone's buyin made this a tournament where they took in $43k and paid out $70k, albeit in a nonstandard manner. This still leaves $180k promised but unpaid.

    Some people claimed that the California Gambling Control Commission would force them to pay, but this is unlikely. The CGCC is notoriously player-unfriendly, and tends to only care about the type of games spread, payment of licensing fees, and preventing underage gambling. They usually won't get involved in matters like these.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    My opinion?

    Hustler -- and all other cardrooms -- need to stop offering guarantee tournaments they can't afford. Much like it's my fault if I play poker above my bankroll, lose badly, and then find myself in a bad financial spot, the same applies to cardrooms. A guarantee tournament is a gamble. It tends to draw more people than regular tournaments, but it puts the card room at risk of losing money if they overestimate likely interest in it.

    I do agree that it would be better if the LA rooms showed some respect to one another's series, but this isn't a requirement. Even if the "bigger room" (The Bike) decided to be assholes and compete with Hustler's series, that's Hustler's problem, and the players shouldn't have to suffer.

    If a cardroom cannot afford to lose the full amount of a guarantee tournament, they should not offer one!

    Otherwise, the guarantee is meaningless, and it's a freeroll for the cardroom. If it draws a lot of players and they blow past the guarantee, the house makes extra money. If they fall way short of the guarantee, they just find a way to not pay it. Very unethical.

    I do not believe that Hustler started this series intending to worm out of the guarantee. I think they panicked when they saw that they were drawing so poorly, possibly due to the Bike's unexpected competition.

    Some have also suggested that cardrooms simply require a minimum number of entrants to trigger a guarantee. I disagree with that, as well. Minimums ruin the potential value of guaranteed tournament pools. Players like guarantee events because they sometimes end up playing with an overlay. If the overlay cannot be more than a pre-specified amount, then it becomes far less appealing. Either offer guarantee events and accept the possible loss, or don't offer them at all. Tournament series can run just fine without guaranteed prizepool events.

    I believe Yaple legitimately knows he screwed up here with how Hustler initially handled it, and they probably didn't mean badly. Still, the players were shorted $180k, and that's pretty bad.

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    So Yapie was unaware that The Bike has run its Legends of Poker series which starts the last week of July into the end of August for the last 20 years (except Covid 2020)?

    I'd believe him more if he blamed high gas prices, recession, LA crime, and more out-of-state tourney competition these days.

    By the way, the restaurant upstairs at Hustler is actually pretty good if anyone ever goes back to play there after this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
    By the way, the restaurant upstairs at Hustler is actually pretty good if anyone ever goes back to play there after this.
    Hawaiian Gardens has some of the best Asian food in Southern California, and it’s cheap. I’ve often dropped in there and played an hour or two just to eat. It used to be comped when you played 20-40 limit hold’em, but I haven’t been there since Covid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayjami View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
    By the way, the restaurant upstairs at Hustler is actually pretty good if anyone ever goes back to play there after this.
    Hawaiian Gardens has some of the best Asian food in Southern California, and it’s cheap. I’ve often dropped in there and played an hour or two just to eat. It used to be comped when you played 20-40 limit hold’em, but I haven’t been there since Covid.
    100% agree upon the HG food.

    Also, apparent robbery and shooting going on at Hustler Casino right at this moment. Where's Desertrunner with his scanner when you need him.
    Last edited by JoeD; 08-04-2022 at 01:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayjami View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
    By the way, the restaurant upstairs at Hustler is actually pretty good if anyone ever goes back to play there after this.
    Hawaiian Gardens has some of the best Asian food in Southern California, and it’s cheap. I’ve often dropped in there and played an hour or two just to eat. It used to be comped when you played 20-40 limit hold’em, but I haven’t been there since Covid.
    I was told that the 40-80 game at Gardens, when it went, was great.

    It's too far for me. I can't bring myself to drive there, especially with traffic. Commerce is a trek enough.

    I don't know if that game still goes. I was sworn to secrecy about how good that game was, because the regular who told me was cleaning up, and in fact he regretted slipping it out to me. I told him I wasn't going to bother coming because of the distance, and that I wouldn't post about it.

    So why am I posting about it now? First, it's been awhile. Second, the guy moved out of LA, so it doesn't affect him anymore. So go check it out if it's still going.

    Oh, and Gardens did fuck people on a guarantee 5 years ago, so there's that similarity to Hustler beyond just the food: https://pokerfraudalert.com/forum/sh...tee-tournament

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jayjami View Post
    Hawaiian Gardens has some of the best Asian food in Southern California, and itís cheap. Iíve often dropped in there and played an hour or two just to eat. It used to be comped when you played 20-40 limit holdíem, but I havenít been there since Covid.
    100% agree upon the HG food.

    Also, apparent robbery and shooting going on at Hustler Casino right at this moment. Where's Desertrunner with his scanner when you need him.
    It was an armored car robbery: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/l...otout/2957097/


    At first I thought it was someone trying to force them to pay their guarantee.

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    I have to say I am very much surprised that Hustler didn’t keep this thing going. If they kept running the flights, I am pretty amazed the decision was made that the overlay would be more costly to the Hustler than the harm to the reputation to the Hustler as a brand by pulling the plug.

    HCL & the Hustler Casino may be separate entities, but for all intents & purposes they are linked. Nick & Ryan are doing that video to help the TD & to protect their brand. This won’t effect the show in any way or the cash games.

    But as far as tournaments go, there are tours/casinos who have kept their word when it comes to guarantees and there are those that have not. It only takes one time to break the promise and that is forever tarnished. Not withstanding an unforeseeable occurrence such as the pandemic. We can’t blame that anymore.

    In general this just further waters down the word “guarantee” when it comes to poker tournaments. The word to me just means the place is trying to get butts in the seats. Otherwise this would of been a small buy-in one or two day tournament.

    I wonder how close they were to actually going forward and taking the loss. Who made the ultimate decision that the plug had to be pulled? Maybe the person in charge of determining if they would eat the loss simply said it’s not happening.

    As for Polk that is some loss they took and on one hand I give them immense credit for keeping their word & at the same time have to say they were completely delusional.

    No matter how many people watch Brad & Andrew’s vlogs or Doug’s content, they are doing so mainly at home in their underwear. To think that the poker world was going to change all their plans & suddenly travel to a strip mall in Texas was an act of lunacy. Massive overestimate but again, you have to respect paying out that much in overlay.
    Last edited by JeffDime; 08-04-2022 at 06:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jayjami View Post
    Hawaiian Gardens has some of the best Asian food in Southern California, and it’s cheap. I’ve often dropped in there and played an hour or two just to eat. It used to be comped when you played 20-40 limit hold’em, but I haven’t been there since Covid.
    I was told that the 40-80 game at Gardens, when it went, was great.

    It's too far for me. I can't bring myself to drive there, especially with traffic. Commerce is a trek enough.

    I don't know if that game still goes. I was sworn to secrecy about how good that game was, because the regular who told me was cleaning up, and in fact he regretted slipping it out to me. I told him I wasn't going to bother coming because of the distance, and that I wouldn't post about it.

    So why am I posting about it now? First, it's been awhile. Second, the guy moved out of LA, so it doesn't affect him anymore. So go check it out if it's still going.

    Oh, and Gardens did fuck people on a guarantee 5 years ago, so there's that similarity to Hustler beyond just the food: https://pokerfraudalert.com/forum/sh...tee-tournament
    I never played the 40/80. The 20/40 limit games were really good, but you had to put on your seatbelt. I remember one hand where the guy UTG raised, then was immediately reraised. I looked down at my A-J suited and mucked. UTG bet the whole way and the other guy called him down with A-4 offsuit. UTG showed pocket threes and won the pot. Of course a Jack came on the river, but it was a clear fold for me in middle position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post

    I was told that the 40-80 game at Gardens, when it went, was great.

    It's too far for me. I can't bring myself to drive there, especially with traffic. Commerce is a trek enough.
    was great, probably worth the drive.
    "Just Do Your Job"

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    At Gardens no 40-80 LHE since the pandemic. Also, they got rid of all their house players, have the smallest jackpot in town, and dont comp like the other casinos, including the food. Also the menu is very small.

    It seems their current business model is to not even try to compete with Bike and Commerce, and to keep costs down. My understanding is the casino is also for sale, so maybe this is part of the reason for their choices.

    Also, before the pandemic it was no "secret" the 40-80 at Gardens was great at times. But the player base wasn't very large, and no one was ever leaving a good game, so a lot of the time you were stuck playing in a tough must move game with good house players for hours in the hopes of getting in the good main game before it wasn't good anymore. Throw in horrible traffic and for most players probably made more sense to just take your chances in the more consistent games at Commerce/Bike, especially if you are not a morning person who isn't willing or able to get to the casino by 9 am (or earlier if overnight game) to guarantee you get in the main game.
    Last edited by Kalam; 08-13-2022 at 11:53 AM.

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    I wonder when the $50,000 added special event the Hustler promised back in July as part of this cancelation fiasco is going to happen.

    There does not appear to be any annual end of the year Christmas/New Years tournament series this year like they usually run.

    Go figure. . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
    I wonder when the $50,000 added special event the Hustler promised back in July as part of this cancelation fiasco is going to happen.

    There does not appear to be any annual end of the year Christmas/New Years tournament series this year like they usually run.

    Go figure. . .
    Thanks to Robbi Jade Lew, everyone forgot about this.

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    Plutonium Sanlmar's Avatar
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    What ever happened here?

    Was Robbi ever reasonably proven guilty?

    Did the muscle head Garrett give Robbi back her money?

    Hustler still streaming like nothing happened?

    Did Berkey, Joey and the other streamers decide they had raked enough YouTube revenue from the drama and move on?

    Everyone pretty much just go on with their lives?

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