Validity of Brunson’s bid a mystery

Jul 19, 2005 4:15 AM


A week after Doyle Brunson’s unsolicited bid to purchase the World Poker Tour, the question remains: Was it real or simply a bluff?

No one seems to know.

Not even Doyle Brunson.

As reported by GamingToday last week, World Poker Tour Enterprises received an offer via Federal Express from Brunson and a team of financial backers to purchase WPTE for $700 million.

The offer was sent from a lawyer, Chaka Henry, of the Las Vegas law firm of Goodman & Chesnoff.

But efforts by WPTE officials to confirm the validity and terms of the offer failed to produce any answers. So they did nothing, which effectively killed the offer because it had a self-expiration clause.

There’s no question that the offer was made — Brunson confirmed to a -GamingToday columnist and others that the bid was in fact submitted.

But beyond that, virtually nothing else has been revealed — the financial backers, terms of the offer, and so forth.

"We have to be careful ”¦ we’ve never called the offer a bluff," WPT President Steve Lipscomb said in an interview with "Doyle Brunson in all ways is a man of substance, and he has many relationships with people who have that kind of money."

Lipscomb said he was obligated to verify the offer after it was received.

"After we received the offer, I had a fiduciary duty to respond appropriately," Lipscomb said. "We called the law firm and asked for discussion points, but we were told they were no longer representing Mr. Brunson."

While observers can only speculate on the reasons behind the "phantom" offer, it did have a very real and measurable effect after it was publicized last week.

WPTE’s stock soared from about $18 to more than $28 initially, but began to fall back to earth when substantiation of the bid could not be confirmed.

Moreover, some Wall Street analysts said stock prices should have climbed to $34 — which would more accurately reflect the $700 million cap price.

One Wall Street analyst questioned whether the offer was genuine or part of a "pump and dump" scheme to manipulate stock prices upward.

The answers are all probably still hidden under Doyle Brunson’s Stetson hat.

"There’s no question that Doyle wanted to own the World Poker Tour, and somehow integrate it with his own online poker network," said a Las Vegas poker room operator who asked not to be identified. "But it looks like someone — or a group of ”˜someones’ — acted too hastily or independently when they sent out that offer to purchase."

Whatever happened, something doesn’t add up. And there won’t be any solid answers until Texas Dolly breaks his silence.