Gordon Vayo sues PokerStars over unpaid tournament win

Back in 2017, Vayo took down a SCOOP event for $692,000 which the site refused to pay claiming breach of contract.

Vayo, who's been a long time professional, has over $6 million in live tournament cashes, $4.66 million of that amount coming from his runner-up finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, but he's no stranger to the online felt either, playing under the "holla@yoboy" moniker on PokerStars.

The seven-figure score, which accounts for his biggest ever online payday, comes from the 2017 SCOOP #1-H $1,050 NLHE event. After taking down the event, his prize arrived to his balance shortly after. Gordon kept on playing online, without any problem. It was two months later, in July, when he realized that PokerStars started an investigation against him and froze his account.

Stars believe that Gordon violated their T&C's, claiming he was playing the tournament from the United States, which is prohibited by the site, as it's banned from the U.S. since the infamous day of Black Friday. However, Vayo denies this allegation, saying that he provided evidence of his whereabouts in Canada, during the time period in question. PokerStars still states that it's 'not inconceivable' that Vayo was in the U.S. at some point during the SCOOP event.

According to Forbes SportsMoney, the lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and includes counts of false advertising, breach of contract and fraud and deceit. See the full complaint on courthousenews.com. Gordon was quoted by Forbes as saying, that the site:

"[H]as engaged in a practice of approving U.S. citizens and residents for play on the PokerStars site, allowing and encouraging them to play on the site, happily taking their money – in many cases for years. Then, after a U.S. citizen or resident wins a significant amount of money on the PokerStars site, Defendant conducts a sham investigation into the user’s activities and the location of the user’s access of the site, placing the onus on the player to retroactively prove that it is 'inconceivable' that his or her play could have originated from within the United States, in order to gin up a pretext to deny payment."

As it turned out, Vayo did use Virtual Private Network(VPN), but he didn't use it to play poker online:

While Mr. Vayo did not understand what prompted Defendant’s sudden inquiry, he surmised that the issue may have been related to a problem with the VPN he was using to access internet sites which he had encountered earlier that Spring, and which had persisted between March and May of 2017. He promptly responded to Defendant that same day, on August 5, 2017 – less than two hours after receiving Defendant’s email – and informed Defendant of the VPN issue that he had encountered earlier that Spring. He also claims, that he has proven, that he was in Canada for at least the first two days of the tournament: "60. Defendant made this assertion despite the fact that Defendant itself did not even allege that there were any out of jurisdiction logins to Mr. Vayo’s account during the SCOOP tournament, and despite the fact that Mr. Vayo had submitted uncontroverted evidence – which Defendant did not contest – that he was in fact in Canada on the first two days of the SCOOP tournament, on May 20 and 21, and it would have been virtually impossible (not to mention inexplicable) for him to travel to the U.S. in the middle of an active, intensive, major tournament that required nearly around-the-clock play and focus, leaving time for only brief periods of rest and nourishment."

This is not the first time PokerStars refused to pay out a seven-figure score. Back in 2007, the winner of the WCOOP, "TheV0id" never received his money, as Stars claimed he was multi-accounting. In this case, all the remaining players received a retroactive pay jump for a higher prize. In another case, a $518,000 prize was denied to be paid out by PokerStars, as the fourth place finisher of the Sunday Million special edition was underage. In this case, the money was donated to charity.