Czech Republic Casino Owner Leon Tsoukernik Countersues Aria and Matt Kirk in Dispute Over $3 Million Poker Table Loan

Posted on: November 10, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: November 10, 2017, 11:36h.

After remaining mostly silent about losing $3 million in a high-stakes poker game to Matt Kirk in May, King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik has decided to let his lawyers speak for him.

Leon Tsoukernik Matt Kirk Aria countersuit
Go Fish: Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik is countersuing the Aria and poker pro Matt Kirk, alleging the Las Vegas Strip gaming venue overserved him alcohol and the Aussie took advantage of his condition in a head’s up match, causing him to lose $3 million. (Image:

In a lawsuit counterclaim filed Wednesday against the Aria in Las Vegas and the Australian player Kirk, the suit alleges that they were both at fault for his massive losses, claiming the resort plied him with liquor and that his fellow competitor took advantage of him while he was tired and drunk.

The move came as a defensive ploy against Kirk, who had filed legal action in June against the Czech entrepreneur in an effort to get back $2 million of the $3 million he had loaned him when the two were playing heads up at the Ivey Room, a special high-roller area of the Aria’s poker room.

The case was partially dismissed in October, with District Judge Linda Marie Bell ruling it was an “unenforceable gambling debt.” She did not discharge the case outright, however, as the Czech’s defense attorneys had requested, saying that Kirk could still pursue money he believes he is owed on grounds of “fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.”

In court documents obtained by Card Player, Tsoukernik’s counterclaim asserts he was provided copious numbers of adult beverages that would be “sufficient to visibly intoxicate and impair” and “induce him to play for large sums.”

He also said he was so out of it that he needed Kirk and the dealer to help him count his chips. When others intervened and tried to get him away from the table, casino workers “prevented” him from leaving, the countersuit claims.

Social Media Backlash Not Buying It

Kirk has not yet responded to the lawsuit, but poker icon Doyle Brunson posted a scathing commentary to on his own Twitter account to Tsoukernik’s accusation.

“This is so stupid,” he tweeted. “Anybody that knows Matt Kirk knows he would bet his last dollar when he gets in heat. U need a witness Matt, call me.”

Other remarks on the social media site were equally critical and extremely unsympathetic.

“What a joke,” wrote Paolo Lombardo, a Canadian player with a modest tournament track record. “When a regular person goes to a casino to gamble will they give them back their losses if they were drunk and tired? I’ve lost a lot playing drunk can I claim a lawsuit?”

Criticism Mounting

This isn’t the first time the owner of the Czech Republic casino that’s been hosting the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) has had his reputation called into question. Canadian player Elton Tsang said in August that he loaned Tsoukernik $2.4 million for a game in Barcelona in August 2016, and hasn’t been paid back.

Tsang said when he tried to collect the money, associates of Tsoukernik attempted to intimidate him. But Leon denied the allegation and said his losses should not have been paid back because they were invalid and the game was “strange and not fair.”

Tsang has not pursued any legal action, but Kirk’s lawyers plan to pursue their client’s case. Attorney Richard Schonfeld told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his team will move forward on asserting Kirk’s claim.

“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling that we are able to maintain our lawsuit and seek damages from the defendant,” Schonfeld, a partner of high-profile criminal defense attorney David Chesnoff, said.