Craig Bateman Accused of Reneging on Action Sale

Alex Weldon : August 26th, 2015

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Paul Volpe took to Twitter this morning to accuse Pennsylvania local and Parx Casino regular Craig Bateman of failing to hold up his end of an action-selling deal he allegedly struck with Volpe and Matt Glantz for this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event.

Although neither Volpe nor Glantz has yet produced evidence of the deal, Bateman’s Twitter feed shows that he was in fact soliciting investment for the Main Event, in which he finished 538th for $19,500. It’s also extremely unlikely a player of Volpe’s stature would make false or exaggerated claims for what is a relatively small amount of money, when he himself cashed for over half a million over the course of this year’s series and remains a contender for Player of the Year. Bateman himself has yet to confirm or deny the accusations.

Furthermore, another minor pro, George Cicak, responded to Volpe’s tweet to say that he, too, had bought some of Bateman’s action and had not received his share of the winnings.

Bateman was essentially unknown until last year, when he won the Parx Casino Big Stax 500 for $71,719. Prior to that, his only tournament cashes had been a couple of small scores under $1000, back in 2006. The Big Stax win is the sort of breakout, bankroll-establishing score that often convinces an amateur or semipro to take a stab at making a living at poker, and it seems that this was the case with Bateman, who played numerous events around the country in the months following.

Although he cashed another dozen times (including the Main Event), most of these were for small amounts; the biggest, aside from the Main Event, was a 3rd place finish in the $340 Fall Philly Poker Open main event for just over $10,000. Given the amount of money he would have spent on travel and accommodations, plus an unknown amount on the buy-ins for events he didn’t cash, it’s unlikely that he was turning a profit, and it was in April this year that he began looking for staking on Twitter, first for Borgata and Parx events, then the WSOP. Assuming the allegations are true, one imagines he would have had to be in a fairly difficult financial position by the end of the World Series of Poker to be willing to sacrifice his good name just for whatever portion he’d sold of his $19,500 winnings.

As with last month’s story about Ben Warrington admitting to defrauding his investors, Bateman’s story is a reminder that one should be careful when buying action, particularly players without a long-established track record. Unless Bateman makes a public confession and apology as Warrington did, it’s unlikely we’ll know whether his plan was to take the money and run from the start, or whether it was made spontaneously later on. Either way, the fact is that poker can be a brutal game and has a way of driving players to do desperate things. When buying action, always protect yourself by keeping a formal record of your deals, doing your homework on the person you’re buying from, and preferably making the deal public in order to avoid falling into an oversell scam.

Update: It seems Glantz and Volpe had a combined 60% of Bateman. Including Cicak’s 4%, the amount known to be owed by Bateman so far would be $12,480.

Second Update: Volpe, at least, has managed to collect his portion from a friend of Bateman’s, who originally vouched for him.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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