Mars Callahan: Alleged Death Threats, Extortion, and Fraud, Oh My!

November 6th, 2014 | by Kaycee James
Mars Callahan Poker Junkies movie poster

Former WSOP contender and actor/director Mars Callahan appears to be in boiling hot water, since his former production company for “Poker Junkies” is suing him for multiple and serious breaches of conduct. (Image: Poker Junkies poster)

Mars Callahan, actor, TV producer, and former WSOP Main Event contender,  is facing more drama in real life these days than he’s ever portrayed on the screen or at the poker tables: Callahan is being sued by his former production company Gawk Inc. for alleged death threats, fraud, and extortion.

Also the director and star of “Poolhall Junkies,” Callahan is reportedly being sued by members of his former production company, Gawk Inc., for, among other things, threatening to kill them.

The charismatic grinder who was featured on this year’s ESPN coverage of the WSOP Main Event is facing a string of charges relating to everything from fraud, racketeering, and making death threats. And although Callahan might not be well-known to the poker community at large, he did finish 94th in the WSOP Main Event for $64,531 back in 2011, and this year was featured during various parts of ESPN’s TV coverage.

Was Callahan’s Poker Movie a Bluff?

On top of enjoying moderate success at the poker table, Callahan is friends with a number of poker enthusiasts, including actor Kevin Pollak, and was in the processes of producing, supposedly anyway, a film called “Poker Junkies”. Following a similar format to “Poolhall Junkies,” the film features Callahan as a young poker contender trying to make a name for himself in the world’s toughest cash games.

According to the film’s teaser site, “Poker Junkies” is in “preproduction” inside Raleigh Studios which is the “largest independent film studio” in the US.

In order to fund the project, Callahan raised $8 million, plus a further $3.3 million in 2011, to produce the film and two TV shows, one about yoga and one focusing on poker players. However, almost three years later, the film still hasn’t been made because, according to Gawk Inc., the money was stolen by Callahan and his business partner, John Hermansen.

Fraud, Threats, Extortion

In a declaration to the Federal Court, Callahan’s former company, Gawk Inc., stated that the former ER and The Wonder Years actor used the money raised to make improvements to his house.

“Gawk seeks punitive damages for fraud, RICO fraud, conspiracy, securities violations, breach of contract, breach of faith, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty,” read the court document filed by the LA-based company.

In addition to claims that Callahan stole the money for personal gain, Gawk Inc. also stated that Callahan and Hermansen tried to extort that company for $1 million after the duo’s alleged crimes came to light.

“After they were fired, Callahan and Hermansen fabricated a $3 million contract and inserted a $1 million default provision,” said the lawsuit.

On top of this, Callahan “threatened to put a bullet in the head of the current CEO of Gawk and also threatened the teenage son of one of Gawk’s consultants” in an effort to receive a favorable severance package after his dismissal back in May. (As an aside, we’re not sure that’s how you get a favorable severance package, but what do we know).

A judge will now decide the case, and whether or not to uphold Gawk Inc.’s series of complaints.


  1. BRUCE says:

    I got suckered in by Mars and his co-horts on both Spring Break 83 and Poker Junkies. Lost a large part of my retirement. I hope he does go to jail.

  2. Nix says:

    Mars scammed me and several others for multiple thousands and deserves to rot in jail

  3. Wynn poker player says:

    Mars befriended me years ago inside the Wynn poker room and convinced me to, “invest” into GAWK. Haven’t heard from him since. How can we ensure he does t scam more people in the future?

  4. David Eliassen says:

    Mars scammed me out of $160.000 for his two movies What Love Is and Spring Break ’83. He is the biggest crook that I know. I would love to sue his ass!!

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