A Fair-E Tale
March 19, 2012, Posted by Submission
It's nearing Easter, and my 3 year-old daughter is excited about the Easter Bunny's arrival. A candy-dispensing rabbit a silly concept of course, but we've all been there. We've all believed in stupid things that turned out not to be real. Things like the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Or the financial solvency of Full Tilt Poker.
I'm beginning to wonder if anything is real anymore. "Jesus" is under federal indictment. The "Robin Hood of Poker" owes FTP $400,000. And now the golden boy of poker, Erick Lindgren, is apparently less "E-Dog" and more "E-Dodge."
At least the fictional characters from my youth held up their end of the bargain. If I lost a tooth, I knew the Tooth Fairy would pay me for it. I'm glad she's not like Erick Lindgren, in which case the Tooth fairy would take your tooth and leave you an IOU, explaining that she's been on a downswing lately and is "cash poor." She'll promise to pay you back for the tooth later, then fly out to San Jose to buy into the $10K WPT Shooting Star tournament.
Erick Lindgren's much publicized debt situation (it's been reported he owes Full Tilt $4 million, and the IRS $3.5 million) was shocking to many of us. I've always admired the guy. He always seemed to conduct himself with class, and was a relatable figure. He was the boy next door.
It turns out the boy next door is broke.
In addition to the aforementioned debts, E-Dodge reportedly owes thousands to fantasy sports players, as well as figure to sports bettor Haralabos Voulgaris that Daniel Negreanu described as "insane."
For those keeping track at home, that's $7.5 million, not including Voulgaris's undisclosed tab. The IRS liens are the most troubling. Those are like venereal diseases or in-laws; they don't go away. Most of you probably cannot phantom a debt of such proportions. However my son was born just five days before Lindgren's baby. Trust me. You can easily go through $7.5 million just on diapers.
Yet this whole saga represents a sad final chapter to the glory days of Full Tilt. Remember how cool they were back then? The slick black and white ads. Smooth guys in dark suites, sauntering down Freemont Street in Las Vegas, bearing cocky grins, and acting like they owned the place.
That's because they did.
They even had that slogan, "Learn, chat, and play with the pros." The play part was right. But the only thing I learned from these "pros" is that when you're pulling in $250K a month as a sponsored player, you should sock some of it away. And chat with the pros? Sure. You will "chat" with the pros. You'll send them multiple emails telling them to pay back the gambling debt they owe you.
It's all a (hopefully) humbling lesson for a man who was the WPT Season 2 Player of the Year and the 2008 WSOP Player of the Year. From Stu Ungar to Mike Matusow, the strip is lined with the financial corpses of great poker players who felt their superior skills on the felt could easily transfer to the betting window.
Lindgren is obviously not the only pro whose reputation has taken more hits than Charlie Sheen's pipe. Barry Greenstein admits to owing FTP $400K. Ivey reportedly owes them $4 million. Meanwhile the mild-mannered and likeable Gavin Griffin, the first player to win a WSOP bracelet, a WPT title, and EPT title - a guy who has over $4.6 million in tournament winnings - blogs about rebuilding his bankroll by playing, ahem, $8/$16 hold'em.
My heroes have all been slain. What's the next poker bombshell? Because at this point, I half-way expect to see Phil Hellmuth begin acting humble, or Liv Boeree to come out and admit she's actually a man. (For some of you, that would only add to her appeal).
In the meantime, I've lost faith in the Ivey's, Greensteins, and Lindgrens of the world. They're not real anymore.
As for the Tooth Fairy? She's still real. But don't expect a buck for your tooth. She lost it all on sports betting.