As we reported last week, the Epic Poker League held its inaugural $20,000 Main Event at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas with David “Chino” Rheem taking down the first place prize of a cool million. But along with the fame and fortune came a blast of controversy about Rheem’s shady conduct, which has led the Epic Poker League’s Standards & Conduct Committee to take a stand and release a statement.
At the conclusion of EPL’s first Main Event, we relayed the statements made about Rheem in the poker community, specifically the allegations made by Will Molson in the TwoPlusTwo forums. Molson accused Rheem of borrowing money and never paying it back and called Rheem a ‘scammer and welsher.’ Those accusations were soon affirmed by other poker pros such as Tom Dwan, Ben Lamb, and Joseph Cheong.
When Rheem cashed out after winning the million dollar first place prize in the EPL Main Event, a line of debtors were waiting at the cage to collect. The big question flying around since Rheem won however centered on speculation of just how much money Rheem got to see after paying his backers.
The poker forums estimate that Rheem was backed for 70 percent. The backer is rumored to be One Drop charity founder Guy Laliberté and as a condition of the deal, 10 percent was reserved for the charity. That would leave Rheem with 20 percent, but it is also rumored that Rheem made a percentage deal with another player in the tournament for anywhere from 8 to 10 percent. If all of the rumors are true, Rheem ended up with $120,000 for his million dollar win.
After all the publicity surrounding Rheem and his habit of not repaying his loans, many critics of Rheem called for him to be banned from the EPL, citing the League’s published Code of Conduct policy as the reason. In fact, several formal complaints were submitted to the EPL asking that the committee hold a hearing and review Rheem’s conduct. The EPL listened and a meeting was held on Monday, August 15, 2011, to discuss Rheem’s alleged misconduct. On Friday, August 19th, the EPL released the following Media Statement:
During the formation of the Epic Poker League, the Standards & Conduct Committee made a policy decision that any personal conduct that occurred prior to the League’s formation would not affect initial eligibility of a league member. The Committee, however, communicated to the League members that subsequent to the start of League play, the Committee would enforce discipline against any League member who violated the League policies, including the Players' Code of Conduct, or the law. As a result of ongoing personal financial obligations incurred prior to the League's formation but impacting the League during the Inaugural Epic Poker League Main Event, the Committee has voted to place David “Chino” Rheem on probation in order to effectively monitor the personal conduct of Mr. Rheem as he works to meet his personal financial obligations as required under the Players' Code of Conduct. Under the integrity and Honor principles of the Player's Code, meeting "financial responsibilities on time and honoring contractual agreements" is required to maintain eligibility. In reaching its decision, the Committee recognized that Mr. Rheem used best efforts and all of the proceeds he personally received from winning the Inaugural Epic Poker League Main Event to partially satisfy outstanding financial obligations.
By order of the Committee, Mr. Rheem must continue to proactively repay his outstanding debts by, from this point forward, using any and all proceeds Mr. Rheem personally receives from personal poker winnings worldwide to satisfy all of his remaining financial obligations in an orderly fashion. In addition, Mr. Rheem must continue to report to the Committee regarding his compliance with the terms of his probation. The probation period will remain in effect until Mr. Rheem has satisfied his pre‐league formation financial obligations. Failure to do so or any subsequent violations of league policies or the law by Mr. Rheem will result in immediate suspension of Mr. Rheem from the League.
According to Stephen Martin, an Independent Ethics Advisor and Chair of the Standards and Conduct Committee who was recently interviewed by PokerNews, “the EPL made clear with Mr. Rheem is that if he does not pay those off, does not take action to satisfy all the debts, or violates the conduct code in any other manner, he will be suspended immediately.”
When asked how the EPL would know who Rheem owes and how the committee will know if they have been paid, Martin said, “Some people have come forward in terms of the obligations that they’re owed. Mr. Rheem, you know we’ve had discussions with him in terms of his financial obligations and he has to report to the Committee regarding all of the financial obligations that he owes, and then ultimately he will have to report to the committee that he has satisfied those. He really needs to get any poker winnings worldwide, that he personally receives, to pay that off.”
It is popular opinion that this is one poker pro that needs to clean up his act and fast. Not only are their big ethical issues at hand for Rheem personally, but professionally as well. If he gets suspended from the League - he blows not only what is left of his reputation, but also his shot at winning the EPL’s $1 Million FreeRoll event.