Laliberte, Konnikova and Coronoavirus Hit the Industry Headlines

This weeks industry news features plenty of big names and interesting tales, Guy Laliberte selling shares, Maria Konnikova combating fraud and the coronavirus still affecting Asian poker events.

By: Andrew Burnett

Laliberte sells his final 10% of Cirque Du Soleil

Guy Laliberte, the billionaire Cirque Du Soleil co-founder who became a highstakes poker regular responsible for the One Drop clean water charity organisation, sold off his final shares in the circus show that made his name.

Cirque Du Soleil became a worldwide hit after Laliberte and fellow street performer Gilles Ste-Croix spent years developing the Montreal-based theatre company into an award-winning theatrical, contemporary circus without animals.

Laliberte was a regular on season 4 of both High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, but his poker career is best-remembered for two wildly differing results.

His online highstakes play under many different pseudonyms saw him rack up losses of more than $31million, the Canadian eventually quitting the online when he became know as the world’s biggest poker whale.

That is in stark contrast with his success at making poker part of the One Drop Foundation, a philanthropic organisation designed to provide clean drinking water around the world.

The Big One for One Drop became the first-ever $1million buy-in tournament in poker history, Antonio Esfandiari winning it for $18,346,673.

Laliberte sold his remaining 10% stake in Cirque Du Soleil to a Quebec-based pension fund company, although the pricetag was not announced.

Poker King Club to remain closed amid coronavirus fears

The Asian casino industry is still reeling form the coronavirus outbreak, the Poker King Club in the Venetian Macau announcing this week that its doors would remain shut for the time being.

Macau closed all of its casinos recently after fears that the coronavirus would spread among staff and patrons, and although 29 of the 39 active casinos will re-open this week, the Poker King Club will not be among them, according to

A spokesperson stated that in view of the regulator’s guidelines restricting the number of gaming tables and a table cap of four players maximum, “Therefore, our poker room at the Venetian Macao will remain closed.”

The coronavirus outbreak has already seen the cancellation of the Triton Poker High Roller series set for Jeju, South Korea this month, and the WPT followed suit last week by cancelling or postponing all of its Asia Pacific events until May.

Maria Konnikova teaches bank staff how to detect fraud

Celebrated author and poker star Maria Konnikova has been helping out Lloyds Bank in their fight against high-level fraud, the former PokerStars ambassador spending four days in London atg the banking group’s HQ.

The 36-year old Moscow-born Harvard graduate shot to fame in the poker world when, after shadowing Erik Seidel during a high stakes event as research for a book, she went on to amass over $300,000 in tournament earnings herself.

Her earlier 2016 book, the Times Bestseller listed ‘The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It… Every Time’, was on Lloyds Bank Director of Fraud Paul Davis’ holiday reading list.

Looking for ways to train his staff in how to spot the “human element” of fraud and scams, psychology and poker graduate Konnikova was the obvious choice to share her expertise.

Her 4-day crash-course in London focused on the Seven Deadly Scams listed below, according to

  • Purchase Scams
  • Investment Scams
  • Advance Fee Scams
  • Romance Scams
  • Impersonation Scams
  • Invoice Scams
  • CEO Scams


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