Hustler Casino pulls plug on main-event guarantee partway through opening-day flights (updated)

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on: August 3, 2022 8:19 pm EDT

Update: Hustler management has announced a new solution to what is effectively a Grand Slam of Poker main event cancellation. For more on that development, please click here.

Gardena, California’s Hustler Casino has received widespread criticism after canceling the final eight of a scheduled 14 opening-day flights in the main event of the 2022 Larry Flynt’s Grand Slam of Poker. The main event in the series carried a $350 buy-in and a $250,000 guarantee, which the casino does not plan to honor.

Instead, players who survived any of the six opening-day flights that ran two per day from Sunday, July 31 through Tuesday, August 2, will return for an abbreviated Day 2 which will take place on its originally scheduled day, Monday, August 8. (According to another report, only four of the six starting flights scheduled on the event’s first three days ran as planned.) However, only a tiny portion of the $250,000 once claimed as a guarantee will be given to players.

Hustler Casino’s general manager, Shaun Yaple, posted on Twitter, “Bigger club stepped on us after we released our schedule. Better to re-group and plan for the future then head off a cliff.”

Fine print on an earlier version of the event and series schedule includes a disclaimer that states, “HUSTLER Casino reserves the right to change this promotion at any time at its sole discretion.” However, that disclaimer does not necessarily cover potentially liabilities to players who already took part under the impression that the event’s $250,000 guarantee was in place. The schedule’s fine print did not include the standard escape clause that other venues have used to back away from guarantees. In general terms, such language declares — in advance of the event’s start — that if a certain number of entrants isn’t met, then the guarantee won’t be honored.

Even in the absence of such fine print, such non-guarantees generally bring derision from players. Venues that don’t honor guarantees are, promotional aspects aside, not guaranteeing anything.

Players express anger and disappointment over cancellation

Whether or not players negatively impacted by Hustler’s cancellation choose to file a complaint with California gaming regulators is unknown, but widespread player disgust over the non-guarantee quickly spread across social media. Touring tournament grinder Ari Engel posted, “Cancelling a guarantee mid tournament by a semi prominent American casino.. didn’t think I’d see that in 2022.”

Numerous players scolded Hustler Casino for not understanding the implied commitment of using the word “guarantee”. Lisa Pickell’s take was typical.

So far Hustler and Yaple have not responded directly online to the complaints and controversy. Poker.org may update this report depending on further developments.