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Midway Poker Tour Ends in Disaster

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
Oct/04/2020

The inaugural Midway Poker Tour event is ending in disaster as details emerge regarding payout process.

From TwoPlusTwo:

PokerNews and Bravo were advertising the "Midway Poker Tour", which is supposed to be the inaugural event for what will be an ongoing series. It was advertised as a $1,100 tournament with $100k guaranteed. They said $100 is being taken out for rake and $20 goes to the dealers, with $980 going to the prize pool. The event is being held at the Sheraton Hotel in Elk Grove, Illinois. Even though it's listed as a "charity event", I figured that's pretty reasonable rake so I decided to play it.

I show up on Saturday to register, and they tell me I need to enter my PokerBros player ID, and if I don't have pokerbros I'll need to download the app and create an account and they'll also send me some free money to load my account. Uhh, ok already shadiness with them giving me their sales pitch for their PokerBros affiliate account. I signed up for PokerBros, and then entered the tournament with $1,100 cash.

So I make day 2 of the tournament and come back Sunday morning for day 2. They had some fail with not having enough chips and delayed the start time by 30 minutes. I start hearing people in the hallway talk about how they're going to pay people out in gold. ???? I think it's obviously ridiculous as it wasn't mentioned anywhere, either when signing up or in the advertisements or on PokerNews, which is reporting on the event. Pokernews listed all the prizes as USD.

Before the tournament starts, the tournament director starts talking and says "apparently some people are just finding this out" but per Illinois charity gaming regulations we can only pay out $1,600 in cash. Anything above that will be given out in precious metals. Apparently they bought a bunch of precious metals from some guy and were planning on having him onsite to immediately convert the precious metals to cash, but then the attorney general found out about this and said they absolutely cannot convert the precious metals on site as it would be illegal. I got the impression that the Attorney General was not happy with the event overall. They also informed us that they would give us the contact info for the precious metals guy and we could contact him to sell the metals. But of course I have to assume he's taking some sort of commission, so now we're paying additional rake that wasn't advertised. I got some info from the staff working the event and they informed me that the TD they hired for the event opted not to come back for Day 2 because of the situation, and the owner/founder of the tour, Dan Bekavac, has not been on-site for 24 hours. He's essentially disappeared.

So I ended up busting pretty early on and got what they call a "$2,600 cash". So they pay me out $1,600 in cash (in $20s for some reason), and give me 28 1oz silver coins, which they tell me is worth $1,000. As I'm leaving the hotel, the guy who was in the cashout line in front of me is telling me how the coins are only worth $700. So we're being shorted 30%?? I looked up the price of silver and it's $24/oz. I assume I can sell these coins for around $25, which would be $700. So they're stealing $300 from me, which isn't the biggest deal but that means everybody is taking a big cut. First place prize is listed as $55,060, of which over $53k will be paid out in gold. If they undercut the price of that by 30%, they're ripping off the winner by over $15k. If they chop off 30% of the prizepool they're taking out an additional $65k+ on top of the rake they took. They gave out contact info for the precious metals dealer that they obtained the coins from. I reached out to him and he hasn't contacted me back (though it's only been a few hours), but I can't imagine he'd pay 45% over the spot price. I also googled all his contact info and he's nowhere to be found on the internet, even though they supposedly bought $210k worth of metals from this guy.

The whole tournament is filled with shadiness, and I would not recommend people play this event in the future. Had I known we were going to be paid out in silver and gold I would not have entered the tournament to begin with. Yes I still made money and only got shorted a few hundred, but that's not the issue here. They should have been upfront about how they're doing cashouts, but if they did that a lot of people would've not bothered to play. If the winner of the tournament gets shorted a five figure amount, it may be wise for him to explore a class action suit.

PokerNews Head of Live Reporting USA, Chad Holloway, followed the story closely throughout the day Sunday.

Midway Poker Tour owner/founder Dan Bekavac issued a statement on the matter.

- Ace King, Gambling911.com

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