The Epic Poker League is a brand new event series, featuring an all-star cast of the world’s best tournament poker players. As their first event, the Epic Poker League went all out with promotions, including plastering signage all over the Palms Casino, and taking out advertisements in publications as well as establishing a strong web presence.
Chino Rheem, best known for being one of the 2008 WSOP Main Event November Nine and for having over $4 Million in live tournament winnings, won the first Epic Poker League event winning $1 Million. The Main Event was a four day battle, featuring 137 of the world’s best players. When it was all said and done, Chino Rheem defeated poker legend Erik Seidel heads up to become the inaugural Epic Poker League Champion.
No sooner had Chino Rheem won the main event than controversy hit, as a line of disgruntled professional poker players lined up around the cage as Chino got paid out claiming Rheem owed them large sums of money. Some pros claimed that Rheem owed personally tens of thousands. An unconfirmed report stated that security had to step in to ensure that the situation didn’t get physical.
Chino Rheem, known for his outgoing personality and carefree attitude with money, is the guy who is known for picking up the tab when he’s up big, and getting into debt deep when things don’t go so well. We’ve seen it time and time again with poker players – the epic swings, the highs and lows. It’s what attracts us to them. It’s what makes them seem human.
Rheem’s story though, has a twist in that his debts come from a combination of staking deals gone wrong, as well as situations that are borderline unethical. The whole truth no one really knows, as much of this type of thing in the poker world is usually kept private. What is known is that friends of Rheem have come forward with accounts of wagering thousands of dollars on random events, like the flip of a coin or on the outcome of a swingy heads up match.
Many of the player’s who’ve come public have something in common. At the time of lending Chino funds, or prop betting with him, he was a complete stranger. Which begs the question, who’s at fault if someone lends a large sum of money to a complete stranger and doesn’t get paid back? Did Chino’s recent WSOP 2011 where he played 30 events and barely cashed at all effect this debt, or has this been an ongoing problem? Is it possible for someone to win a $1 Million first place poker prize, facing the world’s toughest competition, and at the same time have a gambling problem?
The newly formed Epic Poker League, headed by Annie Duke, took action when news of Rheem’s massive debts went public. Citing their player code of conduct, the Epic Poker League has put Chino Rheem on probation for the time being. Further violations could result in being barred from taking part in future Epic Poker League events. In this statement from the Epic Poker League, Rheem’s good standing with the league is dependent upon:
“Mr. Rheem must continue to proactively repay his outstanding debts by, from this point forward, using any and all proceeds Mr. Rheem personally receives from personal poker winnings worldwide to satisfy all of his remaining financial obligations in an orderly fashion.”
Chino responded to the controversy via Twitter:
“Ya, I won a million bucks! And I’m still broke! But I feel better than ever! Anyone Who’ wants to judge me, y’all better know me first! I’m ready to really rip shit up now! The difference this time is I got a game plan, a strong support system,and my swagger back babay!”