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    Inside the Fall of FS+G: How Epic Poker and the Palms Never Got Along | QuadJacks News

    Posted by Quad Jacks March 14, 2012

    Federated Sports + Gaming has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, future of Epic Poker League uncertain. QuadJacks examines the history and antecedent of Epic-Palms relationship.

    by Marco Valerio, Wednesday Feb 29, 2012

    IN THE BEGINNING

    The collaboration between the Epic Poker League and the Palms was made public in January of last year. In the beginning, Palms president George Maloof “wasn’t completely sold” on the idea of working with the League, but, as Howard Stutz wrote in August 2011, “he’s glad he changed his mind.” Maloof was quoted as saying that he hoped the League would “help boost casino play.”

    By June of the same year, the Maloof family, original founders of the Palms Hotel and Casino, were no longer the majority owners of the property. TPG Capital, which also owns Caesars Entertainment, bought out most of the ownership, leaving Maloof with barely 2% of it.

    The substance of the deal between Epic and Palms was the following:

    - Epic would have a home to host its tournaments, and therefore the ability to do whatever it meant to do to make money.
    - The Palms would benefit by the publicity the League would draw to the venue, assuming success. Maloof must have liked the prospect of incoming advertising and sponsorships, but it was the image of some of the richest degens in the world throwing money into the Palms pit that probably made his mouth water the most.

    In short, Epic gets its venue, and Palms gets its traffic. But it wouldn’t go exactly as planned.


    SHAKY FROM DAY 1

    It did not take very long for the collaboration to go sour.

    Both Epic and Palms wanted to do things too much their own way, and co-existence was soon forgone almost entirely. Instead, the two separate teams split into something out of a Twilight novel.

    Moreover, the early disputes had a lot to do with money. Palms was surprised at how many expenses it was asked to incur by Epic. This included all the players’ rooms, plus family members occasionally, all food vouchers, even during tournaments not directly associated with Epic, and all promotional materials (posters, flyers, etc.).

    For its own part, Epic was spending an exorbitant amount of money. Keep in mind that the company began with an exorbitant amount of investment money at its disposal, and yet was able to burn through it all before the completion of the first season. Epic’s coffers were to fund the large overlays, the even larger freerolls, the sizable CBS time-buys, salaries for the numerous executives that made up Federated’s management, a world-class tournament director, a veritable army of poker media, extras in the audience, and so on and so forth.

    On top of all these squabbles, Palms’s face turned increasingly red when the first event turned out be such a disappointment. The low turnout meant that barely anybody patronized the casino, which was supposed to be one of the biggest selling points.

    And then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse…

    ENTER MICHAEL DIVITA

    The decision to disqualify Michael DiVita in the first place was entirely Epic’s. Whether Palms made an effort to debate or protest the idea is unclear, but as we saw for ourselves, Epic must have ultimately prevailed.

    On January 12, 2012, the Nevada Gambling Control Board ordered the Palms to pay $18,500 to Michael DiVita, which the Palms did without protest. Although the Palms got stuck with the bill, QuadJacks can confirm that the Palms demanded and was paid back this amount of money by Epic.

    HEARTLAND POKER TOUR

    Judging by some of their own admissions on Twitter [1] [2], the HPT is mostly unaffected by this ordeal, even though according to FS+G’s bankruptcy filing, sister company and “Heartland owner Federated Heartland Inc.” is also co-filing.

    The HPT is actually the only profitable sub-entity of FS+G, and has remained so while retaining virtually complete autonomy since agreeing to be annexed by the parent company. Federated’s interest was to acquire a profitable company, but Heartland reportedly owes no dues or tithes to Federated.

    We dare to suppose that, when the deal was first being worked out, Heartland was drawn to Federated’s connections and influence. The idea of having Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack go to bat for you, along with fellow executives Michael Brodsky and David Goldberg, must have been a very tempting proposition. If Federated ultimately did exert this kind of influence on behalf of the Heartland Poker Tour, it is unclear.

    At any rate, whereas Epic has had to postpone its fourth Main Event indefinitely, Heartland will merrily go ahead with its upcoming River City Casino event next week.

    PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT, TAKEOVER DEAL AND THE $1,000,000 FREEROLL

    In his statement today, Jeffrey Pollack made hardly any secret that in order for FS+G to survive, it will have to be rescued by another company, which reinforces the Wicked Chops Insider report from last month that Pinnacle Entertainment may be looking to take over (at least) the Epic Poker League.

    As it turned out, Pinnacle Entertainment was also one of the early investors, having lent the fledgling company $2 million back in the day. Could this outstanding debt be enough for Pinnacle to take over the company without having to pony up any additional expenses?

    As for the Palms, if control of the League is passed over to another company, the new company will probably want to move the tournaments to another casino, most likely one of its own, or one with which it shares some interest. Pinnacle doesn’t actually run any casinos in Las Vegas, but who knows what’s going to happen either way. (Update 3/1/12: Wicked Chops Insider is now reporting that Pinnacle Entertainment “got cold feet” about the deal with Epic, read the story here.)

    Although mostly underlooked at the outset of this story, the poker community, especially those players who participated in Epic’s events so far, is becoming increasingly aware and indignant about the cancellation of the Epic Poker League’s $1,000,000 freeroll for the top 27 players who participated in all three Main Events so far, many of whom were motivated to do so in great part to eventually qualify for said freeroll. Will the Palms get stuck with this enormous bill once again?

    QuadJacks – Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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