Poker player denied payment of $2.8-million debt
Rick Salomon can’t force a Saudi sheik to come clean on poker losses
A poker game resulting in winnings of approximately $2.8 million was played between the professional poker player Rick Salomon and Raad al-Khereiji, a Saudi sheik, and it did not end well. Salomon is now claiming that money that he won during that encounter hasn’t been paid and that al-Khereiji refuses to pay. Salomon decided to take things to court in France, since the game occurred in a casino in the country, using a French law stated back in 1804 that talks about paying gambling debts; however, the law didn’t turn in his favor either.
This debt is not new as it dates back to 2014 in the middle of a Texas Hold’em game at the Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel, near Cannes, France. Since then, Salomon has been trying to collect the winnings, according to his lawyer in the case, Ronald Sokol. When the trial came, Salomon presented witnesses who confirmed that, in fact, al-Khereiji promised to transfer the funds for the debt later through a lawyer in Las Vegas. The lawyer did contact Salomon, but only to tell him the debt won’t be paid as al-Khereiji believed he was in the middle of a friendly poker game with no stakes involved.
This sounds like a lame excuse for anyone that plays poker, but actually this situation was presented as a legal issue based on the 1804 law in France. This legislation says, “Debts involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis and other games of the sort which involves physical skill and exercise.” al-Khereiji’s lawyer used this law in his favor with a straightforward defense stating poker does not fall into that definition since it doesn’t involve a physical contest. Sokol tried to fight back saying the game lasted 48 hours and it did require some endurance, but the judge didn’t buy the argument and dismissed the case.