PokerStars Accused of Pilfering Poker Rules Mike Heuer, CDC Gaming Reports · August 10, 2016 at 9:03 am Marcel Luske is one of the world’s best professional poker players and created the International Poker Rules, which he says PokerStars agreed to pay him $25,000 per year to use. Only problem, Luske says, is PokerStars reneged and hasn’t paid him. Luske in Nevada’s Clark County District Court accuses Rational Services dba PokerStars, Amaya Services and Rational Entertainment Enterprises of fraud and/or misrepresentation to steal his copyrighted International Poker Rules. Luske says he created the International Poker Rules in 2008 to “ensure credibility, fairness, transparency and consistency throughout the poker industry globally.” The standard at the time was the Tournament Director Association rules, which Luske says was “geared toward the tournament directors and organizers of the tournaments, not towards players.” The problem was, every casino, poker league, card room or poker club amended the rules to fit their own needs at the expense of poker players, he says. “The ‘rules’ would change at any time unfairly to players, in favor of the casino and to make the poker events done as fast as possible so players would spend money in other parts of the casino,” Luske says. Professional poker players, though, wanted an established set of international rules that would not vary or change, and Luske says he created the International Poker Rules via his Federation International de Poker Association (FIDPA). Luske in 2007 founded the FIDPA and in 2009 created Malta-based Global Poker Support International, of which Luske is the CEO. Luske says his International Poker Rules, and promulgated by the Federation International de Poker Association, became the “standard for fairness and consistency towards players in an industry that started out very favorable to the casinos, not the players.” “An endorsement by the FIDPA was invaluable for a casino because it would attract more players, which in turn brought more success to the casino,” Luske says. He says the Bellagio in Las Vegas began using the poker rules in 2008, making it the first casino to adopt the International Poker Rules. Luske says a 2011 poker tournament in Madrid, Spain, raised allegations of fraud and lead to the firing of PokerStars New Events Director Thomas Kremser. Kremser had declined to use the International Poker Rules because they would have made it impossible to pull off the type of fraud alleged to have occurred in Madrid, Luske says. He says the incident raised industry awareness, and many operators, including PokerStars, sought his help to prevent further occurrences. Luske says he carefully selected which casinos could use the poker rules to ensure only those with a good reputation would be licensed to use them. Meanwhile, Luske says he became PokerStars’ professional ambassador and poker player from May 1, 2008, to Aug. 12, 2014, via an endorsement agreement. He says PokerStars in 2012 sought permission to use the International Poker Rules, which “thrilled” him, due to PokerStars being the “’big fish’ in the pond, and collaborating with them in use of the International Poker Rules would bring even more recognition and brand awareness” to FIDPA. In 2014, Luske says PokerStars agreed to pay a $25,000 annual licensing fee and feature the FIDPA logo and branding on all PokerStars events. The deal was sealed with a handshake witnessed by many professional poker players and affirmed in emails, Luske says, adding that his position with PokerStars made him comfortable enough not to demand a formal contract for the deal. In October 2013, however, Luske says he was “suddenly informed out of the blue that [PokerStars] would not implement the International Poker Rules” and instead had updated their own rules, called PSLive rules, and no longer needed the International Poker Rules. A PokerStars official claimed the rules are the product of his own work and began using them in PokerStars events, but Luske says the updates to the PSLive rules were done with the “exact proportions” of his International Poker Rules. “Every single PSLive rule is an exact copy and/or derivative of language from the International Poker Rules,” and PokerStars “proceeded to publish, advertise and use the PSLive rules throughout the poker community,” Luske says. He says PokerStars “strung” him along by making him believe he’d be paid $25,000 annually and provide exposure for the FIDPA brand. “All the while, they just copied plaintiff’s copyrighted rules and proceeded to say they were their rules,” Luske says. Afterward, Luske says PokerStars ended its years-long endorsement agreement and restrained him from carrying on his trade for a year afterward due to an “illegal non-compete clause.” Worse still, Luske says Global Poker Index in 2013 wanted to buy FIDPA and the International Poker Rules. He says he declined the offer, because he anticipated great things coming from the agreement and exposure with PokerStars. Luske seeks general and special damages, plus interest, for fraud, interference with prospective economic advantage, bad faith and breach of contract. He is represented by Las Vegas attorneys Kerry J. Doyle and Tyler M. Crawford. Luske is a citizen of Holland and has been a professional poker player the past 25 years, and says he is known as the “Flying Dutchman” and the “Gentleman of Poker” among professional poker players. He won the European Poker Awards Player of the Year award in 2001 and 2004, won a Lifetime Achievement award in 2008, has many money finishes in the World Series of Poker, and has been nominated twice for the Hall of Fame at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.