Dutch Boyd finally has closure on his WSOP bracelet prop bet with Joe Bartholdi. Though it might not be the kind of closure he was hoping for. The court didn’t force Bartholdi to pay up the $8,500 which Boyd claims Bartholdi owed. Instead, the court ruled their bet was invalid from the very first.
In 2006 Boyd, won the 2006 World Poker Tour $25,000 Championship. This became the impetus for the two players to supposedly make a bet. For $10,000 at even odds, they planned to compete on who could win the most WSOP bracelets. The time horizon for the bet was the following ten years. Whoever had the heavier trophy cabinet then could collect.
By the time the bet expired in 2016, Boyd was up by three bracelets. Bartholdi on the other hand was still incubating a big old goose-egg. But the payment wasn’t forthcoming from Bartholdi. In the last five years, in fact, Bartholdi supposedly coughed up just $1,500 of the $10k owed.
So Boyd took Bartholdi to court.
The old wisdom states that a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. This is more a statement regarding enforceability and proof than a legal truth. In the UK’s common law, for example, verbal contracts bind the participants as surely as any written equivalent.
Vegas has a slightly different take on this subject. Under Nevada law, participants have to put oral contracts into writing if they span a period of more than a year. This applies to a prop-bet agreement as extended as Bartholdi and Boyd’s, which stretched out for 10 years. For it to hold water in a Nevada court, they should have typed the contract up and Hancocked both dotted lines.
This was the ruling of Hearing Master Amy L. Ferreira of the Vegas court system. Her decision stated that “According to the terms of the agreement, payment would occur 10 years after the agreement was made. The agreement was made verbally and no written document was created at the time of the said agreement. Therefore, according to NRS 111.220, the agreement is void.”
Put one on the scoreboard for Samuel Goldwyn.
Despite the court ruling, Bartholdi claims he still plans to settle the debt when he can. He told the press: “I am paying what I owe to Dutch. But I guess it wasn’t fast enough and he sued me. I am still paying what I owe.”
Some people have noted the irony in Dutch Boyd failing to get a payment out of his fellow poker players. In 2001, his poker site, PokerSpot, went belly up, taking with it some $400,000 in player deposits.
When PokerSpot ran into trouble with its payment processors, cash flow became a problem and the whole enterprise folded. This would just be a case of a business running into trouble — unfortunate, but no reflection on the integrity of those involved. However, Boyd admitted to making his customer service workers lie to customers.
It also came out later that he had failed to license the site as a gambling operator in its home jurisdiction of Antigua. The public has largely forgotten the PokerSpot scandal now. In the post-poker boom years, it is hard to see a $400k failure as being more than a drop in the online poker ocean. Back then, it was like someone draining the Pacific.
Mason Malmuth of 2+2 further accused Boyd of shady business practices several years later.
Boyd ended up paying 2+2 publishing $25,000 in damages plus another $30k+ in legal fees for cybersquatting. This is using deceptively similar URLs to siphon traffic away from legitimate websites. In this case, it constituted a breach of trademark.
Dutch Boyd has stated that the prop bet has taught him not to make bets with friends. Given his history, the rest of us might add, “especially if that friend is Dutch Boyd.”
Featured image source: Flickr