A Maryland poker pro says the World Series of Poker was in the wrong when it ejected him from the 2017 main event, according to a federal lawsuit filed in June.
Joseph Stiers said in court documents obtained by Card Player Magazine that he’s seeking “equitable and injunctive relief” and punitive damages from Caesars Interactive Entertainment, owner of the WSOP. Stiers was booted without refund from the $10,000 buy-in tournament on day 3 with a large stack, relative to the field at the time, of 630,000 chips.
In 2015, Stiers told the Baltimore Sun that he was banned from Caesars’ Horseshoe Casino in Maryland after he made a scene when the casino suspected him of card counting at blackjack. The casino declined to comment on the incident at the time. Horseshoe confiscated $350 in chips from him, and Maryland gaming regulators reportedly ordered the casino to refund that money.
Stiers said he was “top nine” in chips in the main event when he left the tournament area for the scheduled dinner break. He claims that when he went into the hallway of the Rio Convention Center he was “ambushed” by casino security and Las Vegas police.
“I was grabbed, handcuffed, and quickly moved to a private room,” Stiers alleged.
Stiers said he was informed that he would be disqualified from the event. He said the casino told him that he was “trespassed from all Caesars properties.” He claimed the WSOP told him he had been barred since December 2014. Stiers also claimed that he had been playing at the WSOP in the years since his ejection from Horseshoe Baltimore. He finished 640th in the 2016 main event and received a payout of about $18,000, though he entered the event as “Joseph Conorstiers”, which combined his middle and last names, according to the WSOP’s website. He also registered for the 2016 main event as hailing from Washington, D.C., rather than Maryland.
“Caesars/WSOP had always accepted my money and retained my money when I was losing poker tournaments, which totaled to over $200,000, but only enforced this trespass eviction during a tournament when I was in a position to win up to $8 million and had around $150,000 in current chip equity,” Stiers wrote, acting as his own legal representation.
He added that he was the victim of “freerolling” by the world’s premier poker festival.
Stiers said he lost his poker career as a result of his ejection from the main event.
“I can barely explain the tremendous amount of pain defendants caused me when I realized years of my hard work and dedication were for nothing,” he said.
Stiers also claimed that if the WSOP had allowed his 630,000-chip stack to blind out, rather than remove the chips from play, he would have cashed for at least $20,000.
“I did everything I could to reason with them and offered to sign an agreement barring myself from all table games, since they were worried about my skilled blackjack play,” Stiers claimed. “All my appeals were denied without any explanation of why.”
He’s also asking that the court order the WSOP to let him play again, even though his allegations include a claim that “false and misleading” advertising “induced” him to play at the WSOP and leave his job “at a prominent consulting firm” in 2005.
The WSOP responded to his complaint last month and denied the allegations. The WSOPadmitted that Stiers was removed from the 2017 main event without refund, but it didn’t state a reason. The WSOP said it has the right to “raise additional defenses” as the case progresses, adding that “discovery has not yet commenced or been completed.”
The WSOP said that Stiers, as described in the complaint, entered the main event “under a different name.” Stiers said he bought in with his first, middle and last name.
Caesars wants the case dismissed with prejudice and Stiers to pay its attorneys fees.