Tiffany Michelle Responds to PokerNews Accusations

Statement Released on MySpace. Stop Laughing.

by , Jul 18, 2008 | 1:10 am

The recent brouhaha involving Tiffany Michelle, her agent, PokerNews, and UltimateBet has become a bit less one-sided clearer with the release of an official statement from Tiffany Michelle.

PokerNews released an official slam statement
on its popular website – incidentally, the official provider of World Series of Poker live updates – just as the WSOP main event was winding down on Day 7 and while every poker fan and his/her mother was checking the site for updates. The public release of the scandal that had exploded behind closed doors (and in front of the press box in the Amazon Room) was timed for prime readership and seemingly to take the wind out of the sails of Tiffany, who had just finished 17th in the main event for $334,534. The next few days in Tiffany’s life were undoubtedly a mix of celebration and concern, and she posted her response today on MySpace. (Again, stop laughing. Everyone doesn’t have access to official PR companies… Wait a minute… Never mind, that’s beside the point.)

Tiffany’s statement indicates that her contract with PokerNews was loosely written and did not indicate that she was unable to choose her own online sponsorship deal. Seriously, UltimateBet??? She discusses the “slanderous accusations and inaccurate information” and explains her actions. Here is the statement in full:

Tiffany Michelle Official Statement
Thursday, July 17, 2008

It is with great sadness that I’ve had to see my accomplishment of finishing 17th in the WSOP Main Event clouded by slanderous accusations and inaccurate information. I have been humbled by the overwhelming support from friends, fans and the media and for their sake as well as mine I feel as if I must respond and bring clarity to the situation.

There is no denying the positive press and exposure I brought Pokernews by wearing their logo and being their representative during the 2008 World Series of Poker main event. After such a successful series, I am greatly dismayed by Pokernews’ subsequent actions. No one has ever questioned my integrity before this and I am so distressed that Pokernews is using their powerful public forum to spin such a negative recounting of the facts of what occurred during the final two days of the main event.

As we all know, it is standard practice for players to wear multiple logos during the main event. Pokernews was aware of this, having placed their logos on a number of players with sponsorship deals with other companies. Throughout the World Series I saw several players wear the Pokernews logo alongside the logos of online card rooms such as Pokerstars and T6. This makes it very clear that Pokernews supported this practice as a rule and were not against players wearing their logo in conjunction with the logo of an online card room. Like many other people, I wore multiple logos but in no way diminished the presence of Pokernews in doing so.

Unfortunately in this instance, Pokernews suddenly felt that I was in violation of my backing deal by wearing another logo. I have a written contract that has been reviewed by legal counsel – and it is very clearly a non-exclusive contract meaning that while I was expected to wear the Pokernews logo – I was in no way prevented from wearing any other logo. Furthermore Pokernews did not possess any power to make, advise or negotiate any kind of logo or sponsorship deal that came about via my playing the main event. In light of recent allegations by Pokernews, I have had this contract reviewed again by legal counsel to reconfirm my stance – that I in no way was in violation. It was never even said to me verbally until after the fact that there was an expectation of exclusivity. Even in my previous dealings with Pokernews, as their On-Camera Host I have made a point to never agree to any kind of exclusivity with their company as advised by my talent manager. The first I heard of Pokernews’ disapproval to me wearing the UB logo was after I already had it on and was playing on the featured table.

It was unfortunate that while I was working hard to try to win the main event (and in so doing help to further promote Pokernews) I was chastised by Pokernews representatives at all hours of the day and night for wearing a second logo. Despite my repeated requests that they go through my manager and let me just concentrate on playing, they insisted on contacting me directly, greatly upsetting me during the most important weekend of my life. These representatives of Pokernews kept repeatedly telling me they had nothing but ‘my best interests at heart’ yet I felt bombarded by several parties trying to control my decisions and pressure my actions.

A fact that is known to Pokernews is that I was approached by many online poker sites wanting me to represent them during the last few days of the event; however I chose to work with UltimateBet. Tony G even quotes in his BLOG “I had been working on putting a deal together for Tiff with PokerStars and they had just emailed me. I knew Tiff could become a huge star and I was going to allow her to do a deal that would protect Pokernews also for the main event”. The fact that Pokernews was willing to work with PokerStars on a joint deal says it all – the contract was NONEXCLUSIVE.

I am a grown woman and I can decide for myself who I choose to associate myself with. That should not be Tony G’s decision. Just because Tony G. backed me in the event (and profited quite nicely by doing so) does not mean that he should be able to control or profit from any logo or sponsorship deal I might make or have any say in how I handle my career. I have been around poker a long time and it’s widely known that a backer has no say or cut of a player’s sponsorship or logo deal. Again, I had seen several Pokernews sponsored players wearing online card room logos already so clearly the backing deal and the logo deals were separate for every other player wearing Pokernews. Why would it be different just for me?

In the end, I completely stand by my decision and I feel that UltimateBet was the one site that treated me with the respect and dignity deserving of someone in my stressful situation. Throughout the whole event they were insistent on wanting me to just concentrate on my play and were clear that the decision in the end was mine and I should do what I felt was best for me.

It is unfortunate that Pokernews has taken the step of publicly accusing me of breaching their contract when I have been scrupulous in fulfilling my obligations. I have always felt that disputes like this should be handled privately and in this case using such a broad reaching platform to air such a dispute seems really inappropriate to me. Still, I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunities that Pokernews has given me. I am deeply grateful to Jeff Lisandro and Tony G for backing me in the event and giving me this opportunity to play in the most exciting event of my life.

5 Comments to “Tiffany Michelle Responds to PokerNews Accusations”

  1. DanM

    Reading both Tiffany’s and Tony G’s statements makes me realize that this was the crux of the agent warfare that was reaching a critical mass as we got down toward the final table.

    Why couldn’t Tony have had the same talks with her agent, Katie, instead of having to bug Tiffany with any of this during the main event? Certainly it’s reasonable to have a trusted friend serve as a buffer in this sort of situation.

    The whole point — or at least an added benefit — of a delayed final table was to allow better deals between players and sponsors … so they wouldn’t be bombarded by difficult off-the-table decisions. But because those final nine became so super-valuable, the shit that went down on Day 5 and beyond was ridiculous.

    Poker Royalty threw everything they could at Tiffany Michelle’s people toward the end of her main event. Why? Couldn’t Tony G, PokerNews and friends have worked the exact same deal with PokerStars and Tiffany by going through the agent she signed with upon making the money?

    The more and more I think about it, the more it seems like this was a matter of Poker Royalty potentially screwing Katie Lindsay out of her fair cut of Tiffany’s off-the-table action. And Tiff, being the good loyal friend she was, probably didn’t want to see that happen.

    I could be wrong … but if so … then really, why did Poker Royalty have anything to do with this matter once Tiffany Michelle did make the money?

  2. California Jen

    The way I saw it… Tony G, Jeff Lisandro, and other PokerNews bigwigs did talk to Tiffany’s agent. I’m assuming that when they didn’t get the answer they wanted, they went straight to the player herself.

    Tiffany was trying to be loyal to Katie, knowing that Poker Royalty was playing hardball and trying to use their khaki pants to get in on the big deal that Tiffany was turning into. And from my court-side point of view, Poker Royalty was having a tough time accepting the absolute “no” they were getting from both Tiffany and Katie.

    No one seemed to take these ladies seriously. Granted, they’re both quite young and suddenly thrust into this crazy situation, and though I’m not sure exactly what went down and how they truly handled the discussions, I think they handled it all with more tact than most 24-year olds that I know ever could have.

  3. Kevin Mathers

    Change100’s latest blog sheds more light on the negotiations. Seems she chose loyalty over millions of dollars, which seems noble until you see who she’s being loyal to.

  4. DanM

    ***I think they handled it all with more tact than most 24-year olds that I know ever could have.***

    More tact than a certain 34-year-old, it would seem:

    Also, here’s the link to the Change100 post Kevin’s referring to. (KevMath, do we have to have that talk again about the difference between a blog and a post?)

    It really is one of the more thoughtful analyses of the situation. Don’t tell Pauly I think his girlfriend did a better job than he did on this.

  5. edbucks

    “…overwhelming support from friends, fans…”

    She got fans now?