Friday, September 07, 2012

Partouche Postscript

“They paid it!”

So tweeted Matt Savage, serving as tournament director for the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes, France this week. Savage was caught in the middle of this week’s controversy over the failure to honor a purported €5 million guarantee for the PPT’s Main Event.

Yesterday PPT’s CEO Patrick Partouche confirmed that from the organizers’ point of view there never had been such a guarantee, and thus the prize pool of about €4.26 million would stand. Partouche further announced that this fifth year of the PPT would be the last, a decision seemingly prompted by distaste at players’ negative response to the news there would be no overlay.

Today we learn the decision has been made by the PPT to add the more than 700,000 Euros to make the prize pool €5 million after all. Such was the news tweeted by Savage.

Again the announcement of the change was made by Patrick Partouche prior to his delivery of the charge to “shuffle up and deal.” A letter including his comments has also begun to circulate, including being posted over on Two Plus Two.

They paid it!' tweets Matt SavageThere Partouche reiterates that the tournament’s official rules never included anything about a €5 million guarantee, although he acknowledges some were misled “by the way this event was promoted in the media and the confusion that since followed.” He then notes that he’s “asked the Partouche group to bear the consequences and make up the difference” and add €736,880 to the prize pool.

There is a French law, apparently, that limits the amount of money a casino can add to a prize pool in this way, so that will have to be sorted out somehow. (That law also makes the whole idea of a “guaranteed” prize pool theoretically hard to fathom.) In any event, players are glad -- especially those who have now made the money, as the cash bubble has already burst.

Just like yesterday’s announcement that the PPT was finished, today’s news caught most by surprise. My friend Benjo -- who like Savage was also kind of caught in the middle yesterday in his role as a reporter -- tweeted when he arrived for Day 4: “Just got in the Cannes casino, got welcomed with the news that Partouche is actually honoring the €5M prize-pool. #wow #rewow”

Patrick PartoucheThe letter containing the announcement continues, with Partouche (pictured at left) adding a few more statements of support for his colleagues (or “troops”) and recognizing that all are prone to mistakes.

“That being said,” he adds, “I cannot now go back on my word and therefore my decision stands and the PPT will be no more.” That reaffirmation remains sad news for many, including staff and media for whom the PPT provided not insignificant employment opportunities.

As I concluded yesterday, it is difficult to judge or assign blame here, although there was obviously a lot of miscommunication regarding the terms of the tournament and that led to significant problems with how it has proceeded this week.

Some are reacting to the news by citing the many other recent examples of miscommunication and/or false (or misleading) “guarantees” such as exemplified by online sites like Full Tilt Poker, UltimateBet, and Absolute Poker, the debacle that was Epic Poker League, and countless other scandals involving various companies and individuals. I don’t really think this incident belongs in the same category of those other egregious failures, actually, although I can understand the inclination to step back and once again talk about poker as a whole being plagued by such.

Just as money is a crucial element of the game -- as some insist, the game is meaningless without it -- perhaps that very fact ensures that conflict and (sometimes) controversy will necessarily ensue. After all, the game itself is a kind of fight over money, one the very rules of which encourage combatants to mislead one another with false promises and deceit.

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