Nick Marchington finished seventh from a massive field of 8,569 players in the 2019 World Series of Poker main event, cashing for $1,525,000. It was only the 21-year-old British poker pro’s third live tournament cash, and by far the largest. He had just under $20,000 in live earnings prior to his run in the main event.
The seven-figure cash looked like it would be an incredible jump-start to his young career, but the sweet taste from the score has been soured by a lawsuit brought by a poker backing group. C Biscuit Poker Staking is arguing that they are owed $152,500, having bought 10 percent of Marchington’s actions. The case is complicated by the fact that Marchington reached out a week ahead of the main event to ask to cancel the deal and offering a refund. The refund was accepted before Marchington sat down for day 2, after he had some difficulty figuring out the best way to return the funds to C Biscuit. For a more in-depth look at the facts of the matter, check out this story detailing the lawsuit.
Card Player Publisher and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Barry Shulman has been around the poker world for decades now, and the business world for even longer. Shulman brought his experience from both to bear in his comments on the issue, which can be found below.
Barry Shulman On The Marchington Staking Debate
Controversy surrounds Nick Marchington’s seventh-place finish at the WSOP main event where he cashed for $1,525,000.
Apparently, he was staked for 10% by C Biscuit Staking and then he canceled them because he got a better deal.
Obviously, that is totally not honorable. It was interesting that his excuse for canceling the deal was that he was having a bad Series. Normally it goes the other way around. There is a precedent in professional athletics where players want a better deal after a great season. You never hear them ask for a lowered salary after a bad season.
Back to this case. People keep debating the issue as to whether it was legal to cancel the deal. I’m not an attorney but have been in business for decades and know a bit about these things. Marchington and C Biscuit Staking had a contract. That means there was an offer and acceptance. That means it was binding. Unless that contract said he could renege if he got a better deal, then Marchington was clearly out of luck.
However, two parties who have a contract can always enter into a new contract. It seems that Marchington offered to give the backers their money back if they canceled the contract. Here is where we need facts. If they said ‘no’ that would be the end of the story legally. However they agreed, and accepted cash back from him, even if they were reluctant, it appears that by taking back the cash they accepted his offer.
If they wanted to force him to honor the deal, then they should have acted appropriately.
Then there is something called specific performance. They couldn’t force him to play. At that point, the issue would be what are the damages? Most likely it would have been the amount they put up.
Bottom line is Marchington, in my opinion, acted quite immorally, but may have legally canceled the contract when they accepted his amended deal that got them back their money.