I was thumbing through Bluff magazine today in a local bookstore. I was surprised to see a news item about professional player Clonie Gowen launching a 40 million dollar lawsuit against online poker room Full Tilt Poker and various members of Team Full Tilt, of which she was a member until November 11th. Gowen's claim includes a charge of breach of contract regarding an alleged verbal agreement promising her a 1 percent stake in Full Tilt's operations in exchange for her signing on as a Full Tilt endorser. When I saw the list of who she's sueing beside the actual companies involved my first response was "Wow, she's suing everybody!" An exaggeration of course, but if you're familiar with pro poker you know some or all of these names: Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Phil Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius. These are some of the top pros on the circuit.
Seeing all this I can't help but wonder if Gowen hasn't done damage to her future poker career. Only the naive would assume that the pros all like each other and are one big, happy family. It's obvious to anyone who has ever seen the pros interact on TV they aren't. Some are friends, some are pleasant to each other at the table but otherwise probably have little to do with each other otherwise, and some obviously dislike each other. But this is different. It's one thing not to get along with someone. It's quite another to sue them for a large amount of money. Even if she only sued Full Tilt and its parent Tiltware it would have seemed less like an open personal attack on the character and integrity of these players, several of whom Gowen is said to be friends with. Certainly other poker companies may be leery of signing up Gowen as an endorser, and it's hard to say what pressure some of those involved in the suit might put on say the organisers of poker events regarding her participation. In fairness I should note that apparently rumours having been floating about that several of the pros named in the suit are less than happy with Full Tilt themselves, so it may be that they accept that this is a tactical move on her part, but even if that is the case I wouldn't assume everyone will take it as such.