Maryland Poker Player Suing The WSOP Doesn’t Have Much Of A Case

Martin Derbyshire August 28, 2018 1181 Reads
WSOP

A poker player who spent years creatively skirting around his ban from Caesars properties to play in the World Series of Poker is now suing the organization for kicking him out deep in the middle of the 2017 Main Event.

Maryland’s Joseph Stiers knew full well that Caesars had previously banned him from all its properties when he registered for the 2017 WSOP Main Event. It is precisely the reason why he did so as Joseph Conorstiers from Washington, D.C. in 2016, combining his middle and last names in an effort to fool WSOP staff into letting him play.

It worked. Joseph Conorstiers finished 640th for $18,714.

In 2017, he reportedly dropped the Stiers name altogether in a further effort to conceal his identity. This time he registered for the 2017 WSOP Main Event as Joseph Conor.

He actually managed to run up his starting stack to around 630,000 in chips heading into the dinner break on Day 3. Then WSOP brass figured out who he was. They kicked him out on the break and pulled the chips from play.

Now, Stiers has the gall to cry foul. He filed a federal lawsuit in June seeking equitable and injunctive relief and punitive damages.

Stiers Vs. Caesars

Stiers’ ban from all Caesars Entertainment properties stems from when he was caught counting cards playing blackjack and 86’d from the Horseshoe Casino in Maryland in 2014. He admits he counted cards, but has been arguing against Caesars’ right to ban him for it ever since.

Any notion that Stiers was unaware it was a ban from all Caesars properties is dispelled by the fact he acknowledged it when he courted media attention for his case in 2015. He called the ban unfair in the Baltimore Sun, admitting all kinds of things to Sun staffers. This included the fact he’d been barred from WSOP events. Plus, he’d been kicked out of the middle of a poker tournament in Maryland in much the same way he would eventually be booted from the 2017 WSOP Main Event.

The ultimate freeroll

In the suit, Stiers now claims the WSOP freerolled him. He says the WSOP allowed him to buy in to as much as $200,000 worth of prelim events while he was losing. Then, it sought to institute the ban only when it appeared he might run deep in the WSOP Main Event:

“Caesars/WSOP had always accepted my money and retained my money when I was losing poker tournaments, which totaled to over $200,000, but only enforced this trespass eviction during a tournament when I was in a position to win up to $8 million and had around $150,000 in current chip equity.”

Clearly, WSOP security needs to take some responsibility for failing to effectively police its ban on Stiers. However, it’s highly unlikely there was any nefarious reason for this failure. Accusing the organization of freerolling him is a massive stretch.

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Falling through the cracks

It’s much more likely Stiers attempts to fool the WSOP by concealing his real name actually worked. Plus, he initially fell through the cracks in a year where the WSOP saw a record 120,995 entries over its 74-event schedule. Then, only when Stiers emerged as one of the leaders heading into the dinner break on Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event, did they realize he was there.

Kicking him out, removing the chips from play, and refusing to refund the $10,000 buy-in all seem like reasonable actions by the WSOP. The organization is certainly within its legal right to do all that. They have the right to ban people for a variety of reasons. Plus, they retain the right to kick them out when they get around the ban by using a false name.

Caesars has responded to the suit by claiming it did nothing wrong. They say Stiers entered the tournament under a different name, giving them every right to kick him out.

Lawyers for the organization want the case dismissed with prejudice. Plus, they want Stiers to pick up the tab for their services. Odds are they’ll find a judge to agree with them.

Not much of a case

Stiers doesn’t really have much of a case. This evidenced by the fact he is acting as his own legal representation. A move that suggests no decent lawyer is willing to take on the case.

He’s also grasping at a number of different straws. At one point, he asks for the right to play in future WSOP events. At another, he wants the WSOP to pay him an estimated $20,000 he would have cashed for had the WSOP blinded off the stack instead.

Stiers claims the ejection ruined his career as a poker pro. However, at the same time, it was false and misleading advertising by the WSOP that induced him to start that career.

Professional gambler or gullible rube

You might be a banned professional gambler who duped the WSOP in letting you play. You might even be able to claim you deserve to be compensated for gaming the system. It’s even plausible that you are a gullible rube who was coerced into pursuing poker as a career despite the potential financial dangers. You just can’t be all of that at the same time.

Stiers suit fails to recognize something a federal court will before long. That is that US courts have ruled previously gaming establishments like Caesars have every right to exclude any person from their premises. Just as long as the reason is not discriminatory or unlawful.

The truth is clear. Caesars Entertainment banned Stiers from all its properties for counting cards while playing blackjack. Whether we like it or not, they have the right to do that.

Ignoring the ban

Apparently Stiers didn’t like it, because he continued to ignore the ban and show up at the WSOP. He took advantage of some rather lackadaisical security. Plus, what appears to be a loophole allowing him to play under different versions of his name. He got away with it for a while. Eventually, Caesars and the WSOP caught him.

The WSOP is most definitely guilty of failing to properly implement a ban it has every legal right to institute. No court in the country is likely to find anything other than that.

In this particular skill game, it looks like Stiers has run out of luck.