It’s safe to say poker players like to gamble a bit here and there. Some do it on the felt, some do it off, but in the end they all like the thrill of putting all their money on the line. Someone who’s put lots of money on the line, over his highly successful career, is avid poker fan Marc Lasry, who will become the new co-owner of the NBA franchise Milwaukee Bucks, but not without raising some eyebrows along the way.
Lasry, and his business partner and friend Wesley Edens, look to become owners of the struggling NBA franchise, before the end of the current season, after completing a $500 million deal, plus investing an additional $100 million into building a new arena.
Edens is the co-founder and co-chairman of the board of Fortress Investment Group LLC, of which he owns 63.1 million shares worth $467.5 million plus many other assets. Lasry trumps his colleague, as he is chairman and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group, which puts him on the Forbes billionaire's list with an estimate wealth of about $1.7 billion.
Now let’s go back to poker, as Lasry was named in the New York City underground high stakes poker game bust back in May 2013. This ongoing case is fascinating, as it seemed like Lasry turned down a position as French ambassador because of his alleged involvement in this case. Lasry has always denied being a part of the game, ran by Vadim Trincher and art mogul Hillel ‘Helly’ Nahmad, but in interviews the billionaire investor has never hidden the fact he’s a big poker fan.
While Trincher copped a plea back in November 2013, for being a part of a $100 million gambling ring that also served the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and baseball star Alex Rodriguez, it seems like Lasry’s involvement slowly ebbs out of the general public’s memory.
In an article by the New York Post a source was quoted by The Post saying, ““Marc Lasry is a big-time gambler, in golf and poker”. “He’s a ‘master of the universe’ type, and he was friends with the kid Trincher.”
Another source told the Post "I can't believe that Obama admits in a book that he snorted cocaine and yet Marc Lasry can't be named ambassador to France because he played cards,” which makes Lasry’s involvement as just a player at least questionable.
The trail however stops here, as he was never indicted nor questioned in the case with ties to one of Russia’s biggest mobsters, Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov.
The position of French ambassador was turned down just days after Trincher was arrested. The Post also reported that turning down the position raised eyebrows, as Lasry allegedly wanted the position of ambassador really badly. A move to France already seemed to have been in the works by the Moroccan immigrant who’s mother taught French in a private school, but now just a year later it seems like he’s heading to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to run this year’s worst NBA franchise.
So Lasry picks the third coldest big city in the United States over one of cultural capitals of the world in Paris. At least running away from his dream job involves him getting a large stake in a team in a league that arguably has the biggest potential of any in the world.
Lasry’s poker playing days might be numbered beacause of his need in the GMs office, and it’s safe to assume he won’t be stepping into the spotlight during this year’s million-dollar tournament, The Big One for One Drop, at the World Series of Poker. The question remains though, is the latter a result of the former or is he folding a little quicker to avoid further speculation on his involvement with Trincher?