Rick Salomon Loses $2.8m Poker Debt Claim Against Saudi Sheikh

  • US poker pro alleges a Saudi sheikh owes him $2.8m from a game that took place in 2014
  • Defense came out on top due to an 1804 law that limits the circumstances for payouts
  • Salomon's legal team is considering filing an appeal and taking the case to the Supreme Court
  • The sheikh is an avid gambler, spent $34m over 29 months in a Las Vegas casino
gavel on table covered in 100 dollar bills
US poker player Rick Salomon has lost in his attempt to recover an alleged debt of $2.8m after a judge ruled that poker is a ‘game of chance’. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ruling based on 1804 law

US poker player Rick Salomon has lost his lawsuit against a Saudi sheikh after claiming that he was not paid $2.8m in winnings from a game that took place in the French Riviera.

The French court ruled that poker is a game of chance and that no physical exercise or skill is needed when playing the game.

trying to get his money back since the Texas Hold’em poker game took place in 2014

Salomon, 51, is a professional poker player and former husband of actress Pamela Anderson. He claimed that 59-year-old Raad al-Khereiji, who is a member of one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia, owed him the debt. 

During the trial, Salomon detailed how he has been trying to get his money back since the Texas Hold’em poker game took place in 2014. The game took place in the Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel, which is close to Cannes. 

The basis of the law under question dates all of the way back to 1804. This limits the types of gaming debts that a French court can enforce. These types are only those “involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis, and other games of the sort which involves physical skill and exercise”.

Defense arguments

The defense team argued that this lawsuit was not enforceable as poker is a game of chance. In response, Salomon’s legal team said that because the poker game in question took place over 48 hours, it was “energy consuming”.

Following the judge’s final verdict, the defense team said that the court’s decision was not a surprise. 

Mr Khereiji’s lawyer said: “There was an infinitely small chance of winning because even supposing there was such a debt, which my client totally contests, you cannot pursue someone in France for a gambling debt, full stop.”

Appeal in the works

Salomon’s lawyer in France, Ronald Skol, will have a meeting with his colleagues in the United States to decide if they should appeal the verdict. He admitted that the case was “an uphill fight” due to French laws.

He noted that while it was easy to showcase that poker is a game of skill, it was not as easy proving it involves bodily exercise. 

Two small victories for Salomon

There were two small wins for Salomon following this court battle.

The judge did not accept a request from Khereiji that Salomon should pay the sheik’s legal fees for the case. The other win was the authorization to access Khereiji’s Las Vegas gambling results to prove that he is a gambling enthusiast.

Las Vegas casino records show spending of $34m over the course of 29 months

These Las Vegas casino records show spending of $34m over the course of 29 months. This was mainly in the Aria Resort and Casino’s Ivey Room. This is a high stakes room, with the smallest allowable bet being $100,000. 

Alleged sequence of events

During the trial, it was detailed how a number of other players were present at the game when the sheikh allegedly racked up these heavy losses. These players said that Salomon was told by Khereiji that his Los Angeles lawyer would send the debt payment. 

However, it was seven months after the game when this LA lawyer got in touch with Salomon. The lawyer said that there would be no forthcoming payment as the sheikh said there was no financial element to the game and that is was just a friendly event. 

Salomon’s lawyer is considering taking the case to the Supreme Court in France. This is because of the law for the basis of the verdict being in place since 1804. Since this time, there has been no civil court case on this law.