Chicago Poker Tournament Marred By Silver Payout Controversy

Imagine reaching the money places of a $1,100 tournament only to discover you're going to be paid in silver bullion

A new poker tour officially launched in Chicago on October 2 but its future is already in doubt. The Midway Poker Tour Chicago Main Event drew negative headlines when it paid out in silver bullion!

The $1,100 buy-in Main Event drew in a 266-strong crowd. These were dispersed across various ballrooms of the Sheraton Suites Chicago Elk Grove to comply with social distancing rules. Organizers paired with the 4 KIDS Sake charity to help the event take place.

Everything went without a hitch until the players were in the money. The final 31-players returned to the tables having locked up a $2,300 prize. But, and here’s the but, Illinois Charitable Gaming Act regulations threw a sizeable spanner in the works.

Rules dictated players could only receive $500 in cash on top of the cost of the buy-in. This meant the in-the-money players could only receive $1,600 cash regardless of their finishing position. Paying the rest of the prize in silver was the plan hatched by the organizers.

Some local players were aware of this loophole but the majority were not. The plan was to pay each player in gold, that player would then sell the gold back to the organizers, and reused for the next payout. That never happened either.

Terence Shiel of the state Attorney General’s office, headed to the venue to oversee payouts. Shiel demanded all precious metals be on-site and accounted for. Shiel explained it was illegal to sell the precious metals at the venue.

$208,000 Worth of Silver Acquired

The organizers worked frantically behind the scenes to obtain enough precious metals to payout the prize pool. They found a bullion dealer who sold them $208,000 worth of silver. Coins, memorabilia, and bars made up the silver bounty.

Andy Mettille, co-owner of Wisconsin-based AMPM.999, supplied the tournament with silver. Players were meant to receive contact details of someone willing to purchase their physical silver. It now appears this person doesn’t exist.

Mettille issued a statement that distanced himself and his company from the shambles taking place in Chicago. Part of that statement reads:

“We in no way were associated with the tournament. All we did was fill in an order for silver.”

Midway Poker Tour paid over the odds for the silver bullion, adding insult to injury. Most of it cost $35 per ounce but was mostly worth $24 per ounce. This overvaluing of the silver means the in-the-money players are out of pocket. Throw into the mix they also have to find a precious metals dealer and it is a disaster.

Tour’s Organizer Disappears From the Venue

Paying out in silver was bizarre enough but there was still more to the story. Attorney General representatives returned to the venue when 10-players remained. This was a standard check-up ensuring rules were being followed.

They left and the remaining players contemplated striking a deal. They feared the remaining silver would be confiscated for evidence. Not knowing the true value of the silver meant they couldn’t deal, so they played the final table as planned.

Place Player Prize value
1 Renato Spahiu $55,060
2 Satoshi Tanaka $38,180
3 Joseph Paris $25,800
4 Rocco Pace $18,320
5 Amanda Heidbrick $14,120
6 Josias Santos $11,600
7 Steve Federspiel $9,680
8 Nicola Ditrapani $8,150
9 Bob Peppe $6,680
10 Frank Lagodich $5,290

Dan Bekavac is the Midway Poker Tour owner and founder. He is the man who the book stops with. Amazingly, Bekavac was nowhere to be seen when the proverbial hit the fan; he disappeared and was uncontactable.

He’s since taken to social media to put his side of the story across. Bekavac claims he is out of pocket to the tune of $55,000 so hasn’t made a cent from this debacle. He also explained they were forced to pay over the odds for the silver used to pay the players.

Bekavac claimed he left the venue to seek a better payout option that didn’t pan out.

It’s extremely likely this is the one and only event Midway Poker Tour hosts, but we’ll be surprised if this is the last we hear about this debacle.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.

News

Put Your Opponents on a Range of Hands Not Specific Hands

Jonathan Duhamel On The Hook For $1.8M in Unpaid Taxes

Who Are The Best Poker Players From Massachusetts?