(Author’s note: This feature has been modified from its initial form — hh)
Perhaps the most successful 2022 WSOP event relative to advance expectations, the $1,000 Mystery Bounty, experienced a wild twist days after its completion when the player the WSOP hired as part of the festivities, Iowa’s Scotter Clark, was trespassed from all Caesars properties following his deep run in the ongoing Main Event. According to Clark’s version of events, he was trespassed because of the two prop guns he brought into the casino venue, which he wore during several events, including the Main, where he busted late on Day 5. “They knew [the guns] were fake,” he emphasized. However, it is not for certain that Clark was banned over the fake-gun issue.
Speaking at length with Poker.org, Clark expressed his shock and disappointment over a situation that appears to be a core misunderstanding between the World Series of Poker’s executive management and other high-ranking officials within the larger Caesars Entertainment (CET) group. Clark was hired by the WSOP to man the podium where lucky golden-chest winners in the Mystery Bounty event were called up to select envelopes containing the highest bounty prizes, ranging from $25,000 to the $1,000,000 ticket pulled by Matt Glantz.
Clark, who claimed to have been contracted by the WSOP to do the same gig in 2023, reported that WSOP staff were pleased with his performance on the podium, the start of which was delayed several hours to travel issues. (Jeff Platt emceed the treasure-chest hours for several hours on the Mystery Bounty’s Day 2 before Clark arrived.) “You did a great job,” and “Thank you for everything you did,” Clark reported top WSOP directors as stating.
Prop-gun presence became issue during Main Event
Clark decided to continue wearing his Jack Sparrow event in the Main Event, where he claimed it suddenly became an issue on Day 2D of the Main, on Friday, July 8. He was approached by security and floor staff about the costume guns. He explained the Mystery Bounty connection and showed them that though the prop guns were made of wood and metal, they were indeed movie-style items, with no chamber or barrel, though they could emit a “click” sound when the trigger was pulled.
“It’s about having fun while playing poker,” Clark explained. “I’m gregarious and full of life, and I’m trying to help promote poker as a fun activity.” He’s also been doing the Jack Sparrow costume thing for several years. He bought the costume in “2017 or 2018,” he recalled, from the same costume design company that created the original Captain Jack Sparrow look for the popular Pirates of the Caribbean film property. Clark disclosed that he paid $3,500 for the costume and wears it every Halloween, including in 2021 when he was at the WSOP and flew his daughter out to Las Vegas to experience the city for the first time.
All that background didn’t matter to the Bally’s security detail, according to Clark’s claims. However, he also claimed that he was allowed to surrender the prop guns to Bally’s staff, with a signed receipt, and to keep on playing in the Main Event.
Busted and trespassed late on Day 5
Unknown to Clark, according to his version of events, it was likely that Bally’s security executives had previously decided on Day 2 that Clark would be trespassed when his Main Event run concluded, though other possibilities exist as well. That occurred at about 8:30 pm on Day 5, when he busted in 195th spot for $53,900, the second-largest cash of his live-tourney career. Clark’s payout ticket was presented and he was immediately approached by two security guards, taking both Clark and the tournament staff by surprise.
Clark thought he was going to be taken to the security office to sign for and retrieve his prop guns, but that’s not quite how it played out in his tale. Instead, as Clark described it, “I was walked straight to the security desk. All of a sudden, about ten security guards came in, in a flurry of activity.” Clark did not specify whether the WSOP tourney director and the first two security guards were still present when this occurred.
“They read me a trespass warning. And they said if I was ever at any Caesars property or at the WSOP in the United States, I would be arrested. The WSOP hired me to work the Mystery Bounty, which I did. The WSOP actually flew me in for this.”
Clark also stated that the head Bally’s security official involved in giving him the trespass notice seemed almost embarrassed by it. “I don’t know any details,” Clark reported the security officer as saying. “This isn’t coming from me.”
Trespass likely originated from outside WSOP sphere of influence
Clark also expressed his belief that his being trespassed had nothing to with the WSOP itself, and that the WSOP’s officials were very accommodating and explanative during the whole ordeal. Instead, reading between Clark’s statements, it may have been a situation where the WSOP’s promotional concepts stumbled squarely into Caesars’ and most casinos’ bans on weaponry, even including non-functional prop items, although it’s not confirmable whether the prop guns were the real reason for the ban.
The trespass also derails Clark’s plans to return to the same gig in 2023, which he claims was part of the deal he signed. He’s at least the fourth person trespassed from the WSOP this summer for perceived offenses not actually related to the playing of poker at the tables. Neither Caesars nor the WSOP ever comments on ban/trespass matters connected to individual people, but instead refers most such inquiries to the State of Nevada’s exclusion list of banned persons.
Clark once helped operate grey-market ‘club poker’ online site Bigdog Poker
Subsequent to this story’s initial publication, Poker.org has learned that Clark’s poker past is not as pristine as the WSOP may have hoped for. In 2020, Clark was disclosed to be one of the operators of a small “club poker” agent-based room called Bigdog Poker. The invite-only room was besieged with complaints and was run on the “Poker Mavens” platform (Briggs Software), which was vulnerable to hacking that allowed players to view others’ hole cards.
Bigdog Poker encountered severe headwinds in May of 2020 and disappeared in January of 2021, leaving an untold number of players unrefunded for their balances on the site. Clark was reportedly out of the room’s ownership picture several months prior to its failure, however. The Briggs-based room was in the same general category of online poker offerings including PPPoker and PokerBROS, which are not necessarily illicit but are not held in high regard by the regulated-poker world and are generally viewed as laissez-faire offerings. The total amount owed and never paid when the site ultimately failed also remains publicly unknown, though one player claimed to have never received the $30,000 in his account.
Clark was previously connected to another off-the-charts site that failed in 2017, called PokerMania. Clark also attempted to attach himself to a different sort of fledgling startup that has since done quite well, the RunGood Poker Series, with posts such as this on Twitter: “The Pokermania Pro Player Tournament Tour has begun today with the first stop at Harrahs in Kansas City for the RunGood. Run well players!!” Clark never did reach any official partnership with RunGood or with the Heartland Poker Tour, another series in operation in the Midwest at the time.
Featured image source: Scotter Clark