The Dusk Till Dawn poker club in Nottingham recently hosted a high stakes private cash game that included big name poker pros and casino owners. This article contains viewer reaction derived from the archived YouTube live stream.

On January 9th, UKGC-licensed poker club Dusk Till Dawn hosted a “private” cash game in conjunction with the venue’s partypoker MILLIONS UK tournament series.

The £100/£200 [£400 “straddle”] Pot Limit Omaha game included Dusk Till Dawn proprietor Rob Yong, Casino Atrium owner Leon Tsoukernik, and several well-known professional poker players.

The live cast private game spanned a total of eight hours, and has been generally well received by YouTube viewers in the two weeks subsequent to its original air date.

Streamed: Jan 9, 2020 – 52,906 Views — 284 Likes, 40 Dislikes partypoker LIVE YouTube Channel

Dusk Till Dawn Private Cash Game (Forum Feedback)

The January 9th live stream has been posted to the popular TwoPlusTwo News, Views & Gossip forum.

DISCUSS NOW: Trickett’s Room Live Stream (2+2 NVG, Post #11, January 2020)

Despite the overall positive reception that the Dusk Till Dawn private cash game achieved from YouTube’s “Like/Dislike” feature, posting members of the TwoPlusTwo NVG board were critical and/or unclear about several actions that took place during real money poker play.

“Looked like a pretty good game to me. Fun viewing.” Loctus

“Why did Leon kick Luke off the table?” Fat_Trel$$

“According to twitter, it’s because Sam wanted it done.” Snipers35

“Don’t think anything to do with trickett…” a_r_K

“Watched the first few hours and got bored.” ashwebster

“Rob and Leon were just salty because they were getting their butts kicked and made a couple really bad costly decisions.” — “There was another hand that ‘wolf’ got drawn out on on the river and was pissed that his opponent put him all in for his last 6k into a 40k pot with the nuts as opposed to a friendly soft playish checkdown.” PrecisionPunting

Dusk Till Dawn Private Cash Game (Timestamps)

The following timestamps are based on the archived YouTube live stream video clip.

[1:52:30-1:59:30] Hand between “The Wolf” and “Kyle”

At [1:54:20], The Wolf places a Turn bet of £13,200 (subsequently revised by the dealer to £13,300) that is called by the only remaining opponent in the hand (Kyle). At [1:55:39], Kyle comments/asks “You want to run it from here,” which results in uncertainty due to the fact that The Wolf still has £5,800 available to wager, and therefore is not “all-in.”

Upon realizing that “run it from here” doesn’t apply to the hand, Kyle requests that the River be dealt. The Wolf checks, Kyle places enough on the table to cover The Wolf’s remaining £5,800 and The Wolf calls. The discussion and confusion continue from [1:56:10-2:00:20], at which point the players go on break.

[2:16:20-2:20:30] Hand between Rob Yong and Luke Schwartz

At [2:17:10], Kyle bets £4,000 on the Flop. Rob Yong calls £4,000 — then Luke Schwartz raises to £20,000. The action is folded around to the only remaining opponent in the hand (Rob). At [2:17:58], Rob Yong eyeballs the remaining stack of Luke Schwartz, fans the chips/placards that have already been wagered by Luke Schwartz, and asks for clarification — apparently on the amount already in play and not the amount of chips that Luke Schwartz still possesses in his remaining stack (because Rob had already gazed at Luke’s remaining stack moments earlier, seemingly maneuvering his head to glance at Luke’s stack which appeared to be at least partially obscured from the live-stream camera angle).

Luke Schwartz replies, “It’s just £20,000 more,” which Rob Yong interprets as representing the total amount that would be at risk if Rob Yong were to raise, and therefore cover all of the remaining chips Luke Schwartz has available. However, Luke Schwartz is shown to have £11,100 left behind (not £4,000), which means that a raise by Rob Yong would require £27,100 more (and not £20,000).

At [2:18:25] Rob Yong requests clarification from the dealer, who explains that the current Luke Schwartz wager is £20,000. Rob Yong raises, and Luke Schwartz calls with his remaining chips. At [2:19:00], the Turn card determines that Luke Schwartz will win the hand outright. At [2:19:25], Rob Yong expresses confusion upon being prompted to pay out in excess of £20,000 and comments, “I thought it was £20,000 more.”

Luke Schwartz explains to Rob Yong that it was Luke (and not the dealer) who replied £20,000 “more,” and offers to refund the “£5k” (or £7,100) that is being disputed. Rob Yong informs Luke that such a player-to-player refund is not permitted because “it’s my place, I can’t do that” — a reference to Rob Yong being the owner/proprietor of the Dusk Till Dawn poker club.

At [2:20:00], Rob Yong argues that he may have folded the previous hand if he had been aware of the extra £7,100 he would be committing by raising.

[2:32:50-2:35:10] Rob Yong physically counts bet, apparently in reaction to prior hand

At [2:32:50], Rob Yong and Luke Schwartz are once again heads-up in a hand. Luke Schwartz checks the River, Rob Yong bets £25,000. Luke Schwartz check-raises to £68,000 (holding the best possible hand of four-of-a-kind, Kings). At [2:34:15] Rob Yong physically reaches over to count the chips/placards that have already been wagered by Luke Schwartz and says, “I’m not going to ask you this time.”

According to the live stream, Rob Yong makes a “call,” and Luke Schwartz increases his stack to £205,500.

[2:38:30] Casino Atrium owner Leon Tsoukernik requests a dealer change

Upon losing a hand versus Luke Schwartz (whose session profit rises to £208,600 according to the live stream), Leon Tsoukernik informs players that he will not participate in any more hands until there is a dealer change.

[3:16:00-3:18:05] Announcers mention that Luke Schwartz is no longer in the live-streamed game

The live viewing audience is advised that Luke Schwartz is no longer participating in the Dusk Till Dawn private cash game, and that Leon Tsoukernik has returned. Table talk reveals that Luke Schwartz has apparently “cashed out” his winnings from the session. Leon mentions that “he takes forever,” an apparent complaint referencing the play of Luke Schwartz.

[3:19:15-3:21:40] Confusion over chip exchange, Rob Yong says Leon “refuses to play” versus Luke

As new player Richard Berridge enters the game, there is confusion [3:20:00] over how Berridge’s £50,000 buy-in should be tabled. The announcers explain to viewers that these types of back-and-forth chip transfers among players can result in “chaos,” then opine that any given player could have easily won or lost £5,000 in the exchange.

At [3:21:05], Rob Yong states, “I lose all my money to Luke Schwartz. Leon refuses to play with him. All my money’s gone out the door.” After making mention of a “cappuccino” (which may remind viewers of Rob Yong’s September 2019 invitation for a one-on-one dialogue extended to Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson), Rob Yong then says, “My money’s just gone. That’s it.”

[4:32:00-4:34:40] Rob Yong and Leon Tsoukernik discuss Mike Postle/Stones Gambling Hall scandal

At [4:32:05], Rob Yong informs players at the table that “you can use your phone,” which prompts conversation about Mike Postle and the ongoing Stones Gambling Hall scandal. Leon Tsoukernik says, “Forget it,” and opines that “it’s all bull****.”

At [4:33:45], Rob Yong explains that if contestants are being compensated for their appearances on a live-streamed poker game, then a venue should be correspondingly authorized to “make the rules” concerning phones/electronic devices. Rob Yong adds that if players are risking “their own money,” then the players should be allowed to negotiate among themselves to reach an understanding on whether mobile device use should be permitted during a real money poker broadcast. Players at the table comment that the current Dusk Till Dawn private cash game cast is akin to a “reality show.”

[6:40:00-6:41:35] Luke Schwartz explains earlier “£5k” argument from hand with Rob Yong

Luke Schwartz mentions an argument that he had with Dusk Till Dawn private cash game player “Borys” following the hand Luke played versus Rob Yong — and how Borys urged Luke Schwartz to refund the disputed £5,000 (or £7,100) to Rob Yong immediately following the hand in question. Luke explains that this offer was refused outright by Rob Yong because he directly informed Luke that such a refund was not allowed because Rob Yong is the actual casino owner.

Editorial Commentary and Observations

* All commentary and observations belong solely to the author unless otherwise specified.

As a general observation, the Dusk Till Dawn “private” cash game does distinguish itself as a departure from ultra-competitive, “open” peer-to-peer gambling events in which eligibility typically requires only general criteria such as minimum age and real money buy-in to participate.

The stream did include a number of players who are generally regarded in poker community/marketing terms as “skilled professionals.” However, there were multiple “unspoken rules” of this particular private game that were unknown, opaque, and/or open to interpretation. This severely limits the game’s classification as a true “competitive” PvP event, because real money won/lost is an overriding factor in defining “success” for non-branded peer-to-peer games in which some form of “gambling” occurs.

With that said, the lack of core competitive elements within the “private” cash game that coincided with the partypoker MILLIONS UK tournament series may not be a bad thing.

This specific high stakes game was advertised as “private” when it was being cast (nobody was misled into believing it was open to the general gambling public), and it has been very encouraging to see poker room/casino owners such as Rob Yong and Leon Tsoukernik assume an active role in catering to players, media, fans, and licensing bodies — while promoting poker through community engagement.

Plus, as partypoker Chairman Mike Sexton wrote in a December 2019 blog post, there are valid arguments for defending a casino’s commercial right to spread a wide variety of poker games or shows as it sees fit. Perhaps even more so when those responsible for making key decisions for a live or online card room communicate so openly on major platforms such as YouTube as well as social media.

However, the “private cash game” designation could also allow game “hosts” to implement special rules which may/may not be in compliance with current casino regulations for how real money games should be conducted in any given licensed jurisdiction.

Years ago, King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik was involved in a complaint filed by “Aussie” Matt Kirk, which alleged Tsoukernik had refused to repay seven-figures in loans that Kirk had extended during a private high stakes poker game in Las Vegas.

In a November 2017 personal blog entry, Dusk Till Dawn owner Rob Yong defended Tsoukernik in relation to the May 2017 “loans” — but the publication was re-directed to the partypoker LIVE website once the dispute was settled (much to the chagrin of poker news providers that covered the story and properly cited the original material).

As a result, the potential regulatory liability associated with casino/card room owners participating in their own poker games (or involving themselves in disputes related to high stakes “private” cash games) remains an unknown variable within the statewide U.S. market.

In this analyst’s view, such practices would be unlikely to gain formal approval from states that pass laws to authorize casino expansions due to the established level of drama and scrutiny that peer-to-peer gambling disputes tend to generate.

As social media platforms’ algorithms evolve, it will be interesting to see if “private” poker games continue to be aired publicly beyond 2020, or whether the content is more appropriately suited for restricted “paywall” services.

Read More Part Time Poker News Coverage

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PokerStars PA Feedback Points to “Great Success” (Jan 10, 2020)
Brookings Institution Releases U.S. Data Privacy Guidance (Jan 12, 2020)
partypoker Major Changes 2019 Analysis (Aug 18, 2019)

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