Celebrity gossip has a way to infiltrate even the hardest of hearts. No matter how much you ignore the plenty of red-rag guarantees that you will be surprised by the latest news or that you won’t believe what happened at an occurrence that you would never expect to happen, no-one is completely immune from being fascinated to the point of clarification.
Rick Salomon, Pamela Anderson and the Saudi Sheik — How $2.8 million disappeared So when Pamela Anderson stated in 2014 that her ex-husband Salomon had won $40 million playing poker, the poker industry’s collective response was similar to the most giving reaction when told of NASA’s plans to return to the Moon by building a permanent base around the Earth’s tide-controlled orbiting rock
But while many scoffed at the claims of the former Baywatch actress, a recent French court case appears to have confirmed the approximate amount of wins. Salomon, who took part in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Big One for One Drop, where he reached the final table, has won just under $10 million in live poker tournaments according to the Hendon Mob, with about $9 million coming in those One Drop appearances.
However, we need to go back to 2014 to find out about the seemingly’ missing’ money that led to the court case of Salomon.
So the story goes, in a cash game on the French Riviera, Salomon took the Saudi Arabian sheik, Raad al-Khereiji. So far, so trustworthy. A beautiful location, and no reason to believe this. Al-Khereiji belongs to one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families, and the game was reportedly played at the Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Cannes, the famed venue of the film festival synonymous with champagne and silver screen.
According to Salomon, the cash game took place over 48 hours, during which time al-Khereiji won $2.8 million. Because Salomon did not receive the money he received from the sheik, Salomon was told by al-Khereiji’s lawyers that the Saudi Arabian side claimed the game would be played for no money at all, just just for fun.
While several members of the game claimed that they heard al-Khereiji telling Salomon that he would pay him and that his lawyers would be in touch to arrange that fee, none was forthcoming, and while al-Khereiji is a player who has lost $34 million in less than three years in Ivey’s Room at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, nothing could be proven over the years.
Arguments in court turned to the game itself. According to a relatively obscure French law dating back to 1804, gambling debts can only be enforced by statute if they include “games involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis, and other games of the kind involving physical skill and exercise.” The judge, who is believed to have never picked up Jason Koon’ for rolls,’ ruled that poker was a game of chance that involved physical exercise.
Salomon’s lawyers had been pursuing the case on the grounds that the game was going on for 48 straight hours. What could be more lasting, they claimed, than a two-day and two-night mental acuity study.
As argued by the French lawyer of Salomon, Ronald Sokol, the judge did not buy that poker was
“a game of skill and involved the exercise of the body.”
While there is an opportunity for an appeal, Salomon and his team have not made an immediate decision to go back to court to settle the perceived debt. For the time being, the judge ruled in favor of al-Khereiji, and it was either a game played for fun or not one involving skill and physical exercise.
They do say you either win or learn in poker, and while Rick Salomon will see it as an expensive lesson in historical French law, he might think twice about going back to the Riviera to bet big again, like other games.
As for the judge’s sympathy in the case which took place in Grasse, a small perfume-producing town on the French Riviera’s Cannes foothills, Salomon did not receive anything.
Not a single drop.