One of poker’s most well-regarded professional players, Marcel Luske who plays under the online poker handle called the ‘Flying Dutchman’ has accused online poker giant PokerStars of stealing his International Poker Rules book which he developed back in 2008. Luske alleges that the company promised to pay him for using the handbook but has failed to pay him the annual licensing fee of $25,000 per year.
Luske has filed a case in Nevada against PokerStars and parent company Amaya Gaming for fraud and breach of contract related to improper use of his copyrighted poker rules.
According to Luske, he had created the International Poker Rules in 2008 so as to ensure fairness, transparency and consistency in the way poker players were treated. At that point in time the poker industry tended to rely on the Tournament Director Association rules which tended to focus more on tournament directors and event organizers. Most casinos and poker rooms had varying rules which were often against the interests of the players.
Professional poker players wanted fair rules that would remain the same across the world which prompted Luske to create and release the International Poker Rules through his organization Federation International de Poker Association (FIDPA).
The International Poker Rules soon became the standard for fairness and consistency with a number of casinos and the Bellagio in Las Vegas was the first casino to adopt them. An endorsement by FIDPA was considered valuable for attracting players since it ensured that players were treated with fairness.
Luske served as a team PokerStars ambassador from 2008 to 2014 and it was during this period of time that he decided to share his poker rule book with the company. Luske stated that since he had a good position with the company he did not enter into a legal contract but closed the deal with a verbal agreement. The deal ensured that PokerStars would use the information and promote FIDPA at all PokerStars tournaments and also pay Luske $25,000
However in October 2013 PokerStars informed him that the site was going use its own rules called PSLive and subsequently removed him as an ambassador. Luske has alleged that the PSLive rule book is extremely similar to the rule book that he has created.
In a statement, Luske said
Every single PSLive rule is an exact copy and/or derivative of language from the International Poker Rules.
In his case against PokerStars, Luske is seeking damages plus interest for fraud and breach of contract.