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An interesting interview with the famous billionaire and Cirque de Soleil owner Guy Laliberte appeared yesterday (May 6) on ‘Journal de Montreal’ web pages. In this interview, Laliberte talks about how he sold his house in Las Vegas and that he has somewhat outlived his phase of organizing big, legendary parties. He also speaks his opinion on rumors dating back from 2011 about alleged cheating against him on Full Tilt.

Not surprisingly, the topic of poker came up as well during the conversation. Those following the nosebleeds action are probably aware that Guy has been absent from the virtual felt for quite some time now. He admitted that he’s been playing and doing well in live games, but says he hasn’t put a cent online since Black Friday.

One reason is, as he puts it, is that he is a dinosaur in the Internet environment. As this was a short interview and done in French, we are left with a little guess work to do, but he probably refers to the fact that he cannot keep up with all the complexities that playing online brings with it, like HUDs, sharing and analyzing information about the players, gathering huge data samples, etc.

But this alone would probably not be enough to keep Laliberte, who has always enjoyed the high stakes action, away from the tables. The feeling he was getting cheated, on the other hand, most likely would.

Guy did not go into too much detail about what exactly was happening, but he basically believes that he was being freerolled by the people online; people he knew personally – to make things worse. He claims they were playing against him with basically infinite bankrolls. They would force the action against him, because they didn’t have to fear losing, as it wasn’t their money, explains Laliberte. With all this in mind, he says that online poker is probably his craziest expense – not solely due to money lost (which is a lot by his own admission) – but because of the feeling that he got bent over and provided the Vaseline himself (approximate translation of the French article quotation on ‘Journal de Montreal’).

Guy is clearly bitter and has finally decided to share his feelings with the world, albeit in a somewhat cryptic way, as he describes the entire situation, which would have to be quite an elaborate ploy, in a few lines. This is not the first time we hear about it, though, as there were similar rumors back in 2011 on Two Plus Two forums, but the billionaire remained silent at the time.

Naturally, the poker world is once again buzzing with rumors, trying to guess what exactly Laliberte is referring to. The best guess is that he most likely believes that the room would provide players with the money that wasn’t actually available so they could play him and take his money. That way they got to play risk-free and they could force the action any way they wanted.

It is impossible at this time to check the veracity of these claims. However, if they are true, it certainly creates an interesting ethical dilemma. On the one hand, there are those who claim that Guy himself was playing with basically an infinite bankroll, so it really didn’t put him at a disadvantage. On the other, poker is a complex game consisting of many different factors – availability of funds being quite near the top.

Guy Laliberte has often stated that he plays poker for fun and he never seemed too fazed about losing inordinate amounts of money. Given all that, it is unlikely that he is just coming up with random accusations. He probably truly believes he was being scammed/freerolled.

He always played the best in the industry and most likely did not really expect to come out on top in the end. But if he had one advantage in those games it was the depth of his bankroll. He could put pressure on other players as losing a million or two is of much bigger significance to them than it was to him. Giving those same players a freeroll against Guy would remove that advantage completely and, if his claims are true, it is very shady at best – and leaning towards outright scamming.

It is uncertain if this story will get a continuation or an epilogue as Laliberte seems pretty much done with online poker and seems to still take the blame for his losses, even if it was for the lack of caution. The overall feeling from the interview is not so much that of anger but rather that of disappointment. Considering the fact that he actually knew a lot of people he played with online, if what he believes is true, Laliberte has every right to be disappointed.

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Ivan Potocki

Ivan is an aspiring journalist writer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a degree in English Literature and a fiery work ethic, Ivan adds a dynamic and flexible element to the PokerUpdate writing staff.