When Sally Anne Boyer attended the World Series of Poker Academy in 2007, she probably never imagined that she would go on to win that year’s Ladies Event just a few days later. The Academy was understandably delighted that one of their students had received such immediate success and used her image and likeness in a number of advertising campaigns. Two years later, Boyer has returned, suing Harrah’s and the Academy for using her image without permission and falsely attributing quotations.
The suit demands an injunction, a restraining order, the return of lost earnings from use of her likeness, and unspecified damages. In addition to Harrah’s Operating Company Inc., Post-Oak Productions are also named in the suit – who had been charged with managing and marketing the Academy since its inception in 2007.
Sally Boyer does not deny attending the course in the summer of 2007, but affirms that advertisements erroneously reflect the impact the course had on her fortunes. The plaintiff claims that she only attended one of the two scheduled days and argues that adverts proclaiming her an “Academy Graduate” are factually inaccurate. Adverts in Bluff magazine and on the Academy website also attribute a quote to the bracelet holder, which she claims never to have said. “The quickest way to your WSOP Bracelet!,” reads the advert, a statement Boyer claims was manufactured without consent.
The lawsuit, filed by Andrew Dixon of Bowler Dixon & Twitchell LLP, claims that, “the WSOP Academy began extensive marketing efforts, using Boyer’s recent win to widely market itself as an academy that breeds success in tournaments.” Boyer received $262,077 for her victory, along with a WSOP bracelet and Corum watch. “Boyer never said nor authorized a statement on her behalf to the effect that participating in the WSOP Academy was ‘the quickest way to your WSOP Bracelet!’ or intimating that her success in the tournament was attributable to her experience attending one day of a two-day WSOP Academy event,” the suit continues.
Harrah’s and the WSOP Academy have declined to comment, although Post-Oak owners Brandon Rosen and Jeff Goldenberg have released an email from 2007. In the correspondence, Boyer is reported to have said: “Think the latest ad looks fine. I’d like to mail you a better picture I have of myself in my ‘poker tournament attire’ which you could use for future ads if you like.” Dan Michalski of Pokerati has also unearthed a YouTube video that shows Boyer being interviewed for PokerNews shortly after her win. In the clip, Sally reports that she, “attended the World Series of Poker Academy this past weekend, which was incredibly helpful.”
The WSOP Academy was created in 2007, taking over the instructional seminars formerly known as Camp Hellmuth. It organizes teaching from well known professional players at a smattering of locations around the U.S. It is particularly active at the WSOP, where its numerous events are always well attended. Prices range from around $1700 to $2500 for a two-day course.