A top South Florida poker player is caught up in a gambling dispute. Tallahassee lawyer Hal Lewis filed suit last week against Maurice Hawkins, claiming he is owed $22,788 from a 2016 broken staking deal. Hawkins said he repaid $10,000 via cashier’s check, used the rest for entry fees in accordance with their agreement — and yielded more than $120,000 in winnings to Lewis before that.
“Numbers are numbers, and numbers don’t lie,” said Hawkins, of Lantana, who has been a poker pro for about 15 years.
Lewis disputes Hawkins’ response.
What’s not in dispute is that Hawkins has been on a roll. He won a World Series of Poker circuit series main event in West Palm Beach Nov. 18 (good for $95,921), another circuit series ring April 7 in Council Bluffs, Iowa ($97,561) and finished sixth this June 24 in a Las Vegas tournament ($213,591).
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Lewis and Hawkins originally met in Jacksonville in early 2016. Lewis said he knew Hawkins, who has more than $2.8 million in documented tournament winnings, had a personality that could get under opponents’ skin. (Hawkins has noted that his table demeanor is part of gamesmanship.)
“Some people say they hate playing with him,” Lewis said. “But I’m not looking to invest in a friendly guy. I’m looking for a winner.”
Poker players make verbal deals all the time, ranging from being staked to swapping pieces of potential winnings. (“I get 5 percent of whatever you win in this tournament and you get 5 percent of me.”) If a player develops a reputation for not making good, those deals dry up.
Hawkins said it’s for that reason that the suit is so troubling, pointing out that protecting his reputation is worth more than the $22K. Lewis said he, also, didn’t want the issue to go public.
“I told him, ‘Please don’t make me do this,’” Lewis said.
Why do poker players take on backers? One word: Variance. It’s not uncommon for big players to hit losing streaks from tournaments, which have fields of players in the hundreds and sometimes the thousands.
But there’ll be a time, players hope, for that big score. And rebating some of that big cash for the security of being able to afford many more events just makes good business sense.
Accused man wins $100K
Meanwhile, a Lantana man out on bond from manslaughter charges at an adult nightclub earned $101,444 in the World Series of Poker main event on Sunday.
Paul Senat, accused of firing an AK 47-style rifle through a wall at Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret in April, finished 70th out of 7,221 players at the WSOP event in Las Vegas. Gunshots killed Darryl Rudolph, a club employee.
Senat, 37, was released April 26 from the Palm Beach County Jail on a $35,000 surety bond, after being arrested the day before on a manslaughter charge.
The Palm Beach Post said Senat told Palm Beach County Sheriff’s authorities he took the gun from a shelf late April 21 and didn’t realize it had fired until he saw Rudolph, a handyman at the club and father of Florida State University football standout Travis Rudolph, bleeding from the neck in the adjacent room. The bullet went through a wall from an adjacent liquor-storage room and struck Rudolph as he changed a filter to an air-conditioning unit in an office.
The tournament pared to the final nine on Monday night, with play resuming at 9 p.m. Thursday. The final six compete at 9 p.m. Friday, with the three survivors playing for a $8.1 million first prize on Saturday.
▪ Magic City Casino is hosting possibly its biggest tournament ever at 6 p.m. July 31, but you’ll have to get lucky to earn an entry. To qualify, players must hit a royal flush using both of their hole cards in the card room in July. First place will pay $12,500, second will pay $7,500, and third will pay $5,000. The event marks 20 years of poker at the facility.
▪ Seminole Classic has “$30,000 Spin to Win” from 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday. One player from each Seminole Wild Card Level (Platinum, Elite and X-Card) will be selected every half hour to win up to $1,000 free play.
▪ Hialeah Park gives away $100 free slot play every 15 minutes from 7-10 p.m. on Mondays this month.
▪ Comic Marvin Dixon returns to the Casino @ Dania Beach at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Dixon, known for his appearances on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comic View, will serve as part-performer, part-emcee to his newest show, “Fifty Shades of Comedy - The All White Edition.” Smokey Suarez, Darren “DS” Sanders and Big Sean Larkin also will perform. Tickets start at $15 via casinodaniabeach.com.
▪ Miccosukee Resort and Casino has free poker tournaments six nights a week. At 7 p.m. Fridays, it’s a $5,000 guarantee Texas Hold ‘em event. The rest carry a $2,150 guarantee: Texas Hold ‘em at 2 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Thursdays; a mixed game at 7 p.m. Mondays, a bounty tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and a Crazy Pineapple tournament at 2 p.m. Saturdays.
▪ Singer-percussionist Ramiro Aguirre plays a free show at 10 p.m. Saturday at Casino Miami. Aguirre has worked with Celia Cruz, Nestor Torres, Rey Ruiz and others.
Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com. NickSortal@BellSouth.net