There I was on Friday, three deep in online-site merger stories, when two-thirds of the Tri-Chops machine e-mailed me to let me know they had a new PDF file and related post up on their site, detailing Jamie Gold's response to the Crispin Leyser lawsuit seeking half of Gold's winnings from the 2006 WSOP. Alas, not only was I under the gun on Friday, but I had --- *gasp*! --- non-poker matters that were going to keep me busy for Friday evening and most of the day on Saturday. I'd already read the Chops post on the response to the complaint, and like most Snake/Chops/Addict stuff, it's wicked biting and occasionally wicked funny as well, even if I couldn't quite find the laugh-my-ass-off moment that I received from this recent gem.
Besides that, the Chops crew does a wonderful job of digging up juicy tidbits and doing, like, ummm, real research, and they get kudos for that as well. God love muckrakers. It's good to see them get the Bluff gig; whether or not they'll be able to go full-bore over the long haul within that medium remains to be seen.
What I mentioned privately to those guys is what I plan for the remainder of this post --- a look at at least one other factor tossed into the rather well-done character assassination that is Gold's (or rather, Gold's lawyer, Samuel Israel's) legal response in the Leyser matter. Not only does the Gold response portray Leyser as someone you might not want to invite home to meet Momma and Poppa, it tosses a little dirt Mark Seif's way as well.
Mark Seif, you ask? Isn't that the dude that won two WSOP bracelets in 2005, was all huggy-kissy with Mike Matusow when Matusow got cold-decked at the '05 WSOP final table --- it was NOT a bad beat, subsequent reinventions of history that you might have encountered notwithstanding --- and looked a mite uncomfortable in this promo shot for the one-season-only Professional Poker Tour?
--- photo sources, World Poker Tour
Well, Mark Seif still practices his previous profession as well, when the need arises, and that profession is the one where they sue you if you tell jokes like the one at the bottom of the post too often.
Yes, not only is Mark Seif a lawyer, he represented Leyser as Leyser attempted to secure his share of Gold's winnings through negotiations with Gold's attorney, Israel. Apart from the recategorizing of Gold's alleged prize-splitting promise to Leyser as a gift of unrequited benevolence and magnanimosity by Gold, which he then had to regrettably forego due to Leyser's unworthy, subsequent actions, it's the part about Seif's involvement that's the most newsworthy. This passage pretty well sums up the "unsavory lawyer" claim, as it indirectly refers to Seif:
"Gold retained Sam Israel, a California tax attorney, to analyze the tax issues related to disbursement of the prize money.  Almost immediately, Israel was contacted by Mark Seif, a lawyer and professional poker player representing Leyser, explaining how the Rio could distribute the funds directly to Leyser.  Israel became concerned. Isreal believed there were many issues related to a direct distribution to Leyser including potential IRS audit risks and the inability of Gold to deduct business expenses.  Seif, however, was not concerned. Seif alledgedly found an obscure loophole that allowed Leyser to avoid taxes if he returned to the British Isles. In other words, once Leyser received any distribution of funds he intended to leave the country without paying any taxes."
The very last of several documents and exhibits attached to the legal response adds even more meat to the above. Per this side of the story, Israel and Gold were willing to have money deposited into an escrow account pending resolution of the tax matters, to shield Gold from tax liabilities on any monies which would be paid to Leyser. Here's the point where it all broke down:
"Again, Seif absolutely refused to agree to any escrow and threatened that his client would file a lawsuit and seek a preliminary injunction tying up all of the winning held at the Rio. He was very belligerent in his response. I then reminded him of his ethical duties to discuss these proposals with his client."
Assuming that the above has some truth to it --- an assumption upon which this writer passes no judgment --- then it seems as though Seif the lawyer is much the same as Seif the poker player: an aggressive, high-risk bluffer. That's fine enough with one's own money, but might be considered a bit reckless with someone else's, especially money not even in hand.
* * * * * *
Oh, yeah, that joke:
A tourist wanders into a back-alley antique shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. Picking through the objects on display he discovers a detailed, life-sized bronze sculpture of a rat. The sculpture is so interesting and unique that he picks it up and asks the shop owner what it costs.
"Twelve dollars for the rat, sir," says the shop owner, "and a thousand dollars more for the story behind it."
"You can keep the story, old man," he replies, "but I'll take the rat."
The transaction complete, the tourist leaves the store with the bronze rat under his arm. As he crosses the street in front of the store, two live rats emerge from a sewer drain and fall into step behind him. Nervously looking over his shoulder, he begins to walk faster, but every time he passes another sewer drain, more rats come out and follow him. By the time he's walked two blocks, at least a hundred rats are at his heels, and people begin to point and shout. He walks even faster, and soon breaks into a trot as multitudes of rats swarm from sewers, basements, vacant lots, and abandoned cars. Rats by the thousands are at his heels, and as he sees the waterfront at the bottom of the hill, he panics and starts to run full tilt.
No matter how fast he runs, the rats keep up, squealing hideously, now not just thousands but millions, so that by the time he comes rushing up to the water's edge a trail of rats twelve city blocks long is behind him. Making a mighty leap, he jumps up onto a light post, grasping it with one arm while he hurls the bronze rat into San Francisco Bay with the other, as far as he can heave it. Pulling his legs up and clinging to the light post, he watches in amazement as the seething tide of rats surges over the breakwater into the sea, where they drown.
Shaken and mumbling, he makes his way back to the antique shop.
"Ah, so you've come back for the rest of the story," says the owner.
"No," says the tourist, "I was wondering if you have a bronze lawyer."