A millionaire banker is suing swanky London casino Les Ambassadeurs over claims that the high-stakes games he played there were corrupt. Iraj Parvizi, 48, believes he was the subject of an elaborate sting at the casino in the city’s wealthy Mayfair district and is attempting to recoup Â£10 million ($16.8 million) of his losses.
The game, which included famous soccer players Teddy Sheringham and Niklas Bendtner, as well as Arab sheiks and a couple of unnamed pro poker players, was a private weekly cash game for high rollers, in which pots could regularly climb to six figures. Parvizi believes he was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy that involved collusion between players and he claims that even the massage girls were in on the scam.
The squabble began when Parvizi, who is based in Dubai, cancelled checks he’d paid to the casino for a night’s worth of chips – some Â£185,000 ($310,892) – because he believed he had been cheated during the session. The casino sued and Parvizi counter-sued for the full Â£10 million, which represents the amount Parvizi says he lost over a period of four years. Parvizi believes he was cheated constantly over this period of time, stating that the two pros were working together “to encourage him to bet as much as possible,” according to UK tabloid The Daily Mail, and splitting the money between themselves.
Les Ambassadeurs’ lawyers countered that encouraging opponents to bet as much as possible is “accepted poker strategy.” In fact, we’d go one step further and say that it’s the entire point of the game!
Parvizi, however, is also claiming that the casino management was in on the conspiracy, and accused Craig Stevens, who organized the game on behalf of Les Ambassadeurs, of employing massage girls to be “under his instruction.”
The casino declined to comment, although one of the pros involved did speak to the Daily Mail on condition of anonymity, and suggested that Mr Parvizi’s claims are somewhat delusional: “No one would need to cheat to beat Iraj. We’re professionals and he’s terrible, so it’s like Brazil versus San Marino in football. As a professional player, you sometimes need credit and you rely on your reputation. I’d rather lose than collude.”
Les Ambassadeurs, which was featured in the first Bond movie, Dr. No, is owned by Indonesian tobacco billionaire Putera Sampoerna and is well-known for attracting the incredibly wealthy. It has been the centre of a very discreet high-stakes game for several years, and while Mr. Parvizi’s claims are somewhat outlandish, the participants in the game will certainly be irritated by the unwanted publicity.
Meanwhile, Mr. Parvizi is busy with some corruption charges of his own, having pleaded not guilty last year to a charge of insider dealing. He is due to face trial in September.