Roland de Wolfe and Josh Gould are accused of high-staked poker collusion by a wealthy trader who is suing London’s exclusive Les Ambassadeurs casino for Â£10 million (Â£16.8 million). Dubai-based Iraj Parvizi claims that he was constantly cheated by the players who, he said, were in cahoots with the casino during a weekly high-stakes cash game he played at the casino, known colloquially as “Les A.”
The Â£10 million represents the amount Parvizi lost over four years of playing the game, whose regulars included Arab sheiks and soccer players Teddy Sheringham and Nicolas Bentner. Parvizi has stated that the two British pros were working together “to encourage him to bet as much as possible,” and even claimed that the massage girls were in on the act.
Les A, meanwhile, has denied that any such conspiracy existed and branded the allegations “embarrassing.” Furthermore, the casino’s lawyer has pointed out that “encouraging an opponent to bet as much as possible is an ‘accepted poker strategy.'”
The squabble began when Parvizi cancelled checks he’d paid to the casino for a night’s worth of chips, some Â£185,000 ($310,892), because of his suspicion that he had been cheated. Les A sued and Parvizi counter-sued for the full Â£10 million.
Giving evidence in court was Richard Marcus, an American author with a fondness for hyperbole and a love of the limelight, who claims to be the “world’s best professional poker cheat” (retired), as well as being the “world’s best professional casino cheat” (also retired). After viewing CCTV footage, Marcus backed up the collusion claims, stating “I will not even concede to a small probability that this poker game… was fair and above board.”
However, de WolfeÂ and Gould are well-known in the poker community and have good reputations, so the idea that they are guilty at first seems unlikely. As cash game players who rely on their reputations to make a living, the publicity could be wholly unwelcome. Roland de Wolfe, a winner of poker’s Triple Crown, was one of the UK’s most successful tournament players before he opted to duck the limelight and concentrate on live high-stakes cash games, and he has barely played a tournament since.
As one of the players told the Daily Mail on condition of anonymity, before their names had been made public in the court documents: “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.”
While de Wolfe and Gould have good reputations, however, the same cannot be said for Parvizi. Ironically for a man shouting collusion, he is currently being pursued by the Financial Conduct Authority for alleged securities fraud linked to insider dealing. He denies involvement.