Midway Poker Tour Founder Owes Players $55K, Shows Up To Play Iowa Tourney Regardless

Written By Joe Boozell on January 28, 2021 - Last Updated on February 15, 2022
midway poker tour dan bekavac

Midway Poker Tour founder Dan Bekavac partook in the Mid-States Poker Tour main event this past weekend, despite still owing players $55,600 from his dysfunctional event.

The Midway Poker Tour took place in October, and 12 of the 27 people who thought they had won money playing poker in Illinois have still not been paid in full.

Regardless, Bekavac resurfaced at the Grand Falls Casino event near Sioux Falls this past weekend. According to PokerNews, he fired at least two $1,100 Day 1 bullets in the event.

He did not advance to Sunday’s Day 2, where players could win money. Though in the past, Bekavac has won more than $220,000 from Mid-States Poker Tour events.

Bekavac had promised to make things right after the Midway Poker Tour fiasco.

However, his re-emergence at this most recent event is a bad look, to say the least.

What happened at the Midway Poker Tour?

The full story on the failed Midway Poker Tour can be found here, but we’ll summarize below.

The event was advertised as a $1,100 tournament with $100,000 guaranteed. It took place at the Sheraton Suites Chicago Elk Grove.

However, the Charitable Gaming Act in Illinois doesn’t allow for payouts of more than $500 on top of the buy-in. So tournament organizers pivoted, saying they’d pay out players in “precious metals” instead.

Then, Terence Shiel of the state attorney general’s office visited, telling organizers that precious metals could not be exchanged for cash on site.

In another attempted workaround, organizers vowed to set players up with a buyer off-site. Unfortunately for the players, such a buyer did not exist — or at least, not one who was willing to pay full price for the metals.

Appraisers valued the metals at 60%-70% of the full price. Bekavac said he would make up the difference, and he has for some smaller amounts.

But he hasn’t fulfilled that promise for the biggest winners. Tournament champion Renato Spahiu is owed $16,038, while runner-up Satoshi Tanaka is owed $10,974.

Spahiu has said that a payout “is likely never to happen.”

Bekavac has reportedly been unresponsive to those who’ve yet to be paid yet still showed up at the Mid-States Poker Tour main event.

Bekavac deflected blame at the time

At the time, Bekavac said the “precious metals” plan was not his idea, releasing the following statement:

“I busted my ass trying to bring live poker back for the players. I spent upwards of $55k of my own money getting this set up with the charity 4 KIDS Sake.

“We were informed on Saturday that we could not have a gold buyer on property to buy gold prizes, I suggested paying the $1,600 maximum ‘cash’ payout and give a certificate to pick up gold the next day at a coin dealer. If players were from out of town, have it shipped to them securely the next day.

“This isn’t the option that was chosen. It was decided that silver would be purchased by a supplier at $35 per ounce or $11 overvalue per ounce. This was not my decision. Players are still being paid out. Just not as much as expected due to overpaying for precious metals.”


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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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