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Baltimore poker professional and other players sue tour

A Baltimore poker professional has filed suit in Montgomery County, contending that the managers of a poker tour didn't pay him promised prize money for finishing atop a tournament in Aruba last November.

Stephen Deutsch and three other players, including one from Montgomery County, say they were collectively entitled to more than $235,000 in winnings from the Players Poker Championship, but each received $10,000.

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The players were "told the residue of their respective winnings would be wired to their respective bank accounts in the coming days or weeks," according to the Circuit Court suit.

The suit said Deutsch, the first-place finisher, had expected to collect the most —- $136,687 — but that the balance never arrived.

Maryland Live casino of Hanover is named as a defendant along with the poker tour, which the suit listed as based in Pompano Beach, Fla.

According to the complaint, Maryland Live conducted "feeder" tournaments in which top finishers could win entry to the Players Poker Championship main event. It said Deutsch "tendered monies to Maryland Live" — it did not say how much — to participate in the feeder event.

The suit says an unnamed Maryland Live employee helped oversee play during the Players Poker Championship main event in Aruba and promoted the casino during the tournament.

A Maryland Live spokeswoman said the casino would have no comment because the litigation is pending.

The suit, which seeks to collect money from the tour plus damages, was filed this month in Montgomery County, where one of the plaintiffs, Michael Lerner, lives.

It alleges the poker tour failed to maintain money for the prize pool in a separate trust so it would all be available to winning players.

On Jan. 3, the court issued a temporary restraining order barring Players Poker Championship LLC from moving any of its assets or destroying any of its records.

"PPC has been operating a complex, international Ponzi scheme involving poker tournaments at myriad casinos inside — and outside — the United States for at least one year and potentially for as many as four years," the plaintiffs said in their application for a temporary restraining order.

Neither of the poker tour's managing members, Bryan P. Oulton or Thomas Swartzbaugh, who were named in the suit could be reached for comment. There was no answer at the last listed residential phone number in public records for Oulter in Broward County, Fla. Swartzbaugh, also listed in Broward County, also could not be reached.

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