Chino Rheem and Erick Lindgren have been back in the news again in recent days, both with lingering issues revolving around the mountains of bad debt they’ve left littered throughout the poker world in recent years.
Rheem, the one-time WSOP Main Event November Niner, continues to be the focus of tales that he’s massively outspent his own poker winnings, borrowing from other players and declining to repay them on those occasions when he’s binked a big score.
The latest allegations have him being backed to enter the WSOP’s recent $111,111 “Big One” tourney by Guy Laliberte himself, the background of which emerged both on Twitter and in the recent posts of a Rheem-based 2+2 thread, with confirmations coming from Greg “FBT” Mueller and others. According to the stories, Rheem took the cash Laliberte had fronted him and blew it at a high-stakes baccarat table. There’s also some indication that Rheem may have sold shares of himself in addition to his full backing from Laliberte before not playing in the tourney.
It’s not as if Laliberte will miss the money, or that it’s even a primary concern right now for the poker-playing philanthropist and billionaire founder of the Cirque du Soleil, which endured a far deeper tragedy over the weekend with the death of a 31-year-old acrobat at Cirque’s “Ka” show at the MGM Grand. Rheem’s ongoing antics are a bit of crud in the corner compared to a real tragedy like that.
Then there’s Erick Lindgren, who returned to the winner’s circle at the WSOP a few days ago, in Event #32, a $5,000 short-handed NLHE tourney. Lindgren appears to have been backed into the event, in which he won $606,317. Lindgren thanked Phil Ivey and Gavin Smith in his post-win interview, suggesting they may have been among his backers.
One of the strange tales of another recent WSOP included a flare-up between Lindgren and Luke “bdbeatslayer” Vrabel, one of numerous people who seems to be among Lindgren’s debtholders. Lindgren and Vrabel ended up at the same table when heated words erupted, with Lindgren calling a clock on Vrabel (as a third party) and Vrabel returning the favor later on.
That led to another of Lindgren’s friends, Daniel Negreanu, coming over to the table and taking Lindgren’s side in another loud exchange, along the way accusing Vrabel of “catfishing”, a seeming reference to both the Manti Te’o social-network tale and Vrabel (as alleged by Negreanu) once posing as a woman on poker forums to raise an investment stake.
Negreanu is among those who’s been vociferous against other scammy and scummy antics in the poker world, as witnessed by his ferocious attacks on brother and sister Howard Lederer and Annie Duke, but he’s handled his friend Lindgren with amazing kid gloves, merely acknowledging that Lindgren has made some mistakes. For all the good Negreanu has done for poker, he’s always been more than a bit hypocritical.
One thing about the WSOP is that as the world’s largest poker series, it’s also a place that brings out the game’s biggest scammers, year after year. Some of them are very well known, like Lindgren and Rheem; others aren’t. It’s all a part of the poker scene.
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