The Muck: Denise Roasts Dan Shak; Poker Massage Therapists Sue

The Muck: Denise Roasts Dan Shak; Poker Massage Therapists Sue

Denise Pratt and Dan Shak

Table Of Contents

  • Twitter Meets Denise Pratt
  • Water Under the Bridge
  • Poker Massage Therapists Out of Work Before WPT Five Diamond

In this edition of The Muck, we highlight some drama that has unfolded in Las Vegas over the past week, including Denise Pratt calling out Dan Shak for an uncouth reaction after a hand, and a class action lawsuit involving poker massage therapists at the Bellagio. Read on to get the scoop.

Twitter Meets Denise Pratt

Many who have played in mid-stakes tours in the U.S. and bigger buy-in events elsewhere have encountered Denise Pratt. The outspoken CEO of a Pharmacy-related company in Tennessee is relatively new to the tournament poker scene with her first recorded cash coming in June 2016. Despite her novelty, she’s racked up $165K in tournament winnings including her best cash of $70,262 for taking fourth in the 2017 WSOP Circuit Milwaukee Main Event, and lately, she’s been playing a bit bigger.

A recent video posted on Twitter by poker player Sam DeSilva has expanded Pratt’s fanbase. The video captured Pratt recounting Shak’s reaction to losing a big pot to her in the Caribbean Poker Party $5,300 Main Event – plus some tangential discussion of shoes related to Shak’s divorce.

Judging by the Twitter responses, poker fans want to see more of Pratt in the game. Daniel Negreanu was an instant fan, pleading with PokerGO to get Pratt on their streamed Friday Night Poker game.

Shak joined the conversation, admitting the error of his ways in his reaction to Pratt cracking his pocket kings, and welcomed a PokerGO grudge match.

Negreanu praised Shak for being a good sport, and others, including Danielle "dmoongirl" Andersen seconded Negreanu’s request for more Pratt.

It’s a small world, and soon enough, the two rivals found themselves playing in the same casino. Sorel Mizzi took it upon himself to get some video footage of the across-the-room interaction that ensued.

While not all words in the conversation are clear, it’s obvious that Shak denies calling Pratt the name she had accused him of calling her, and though he admits to being upset after the hand, he explains to Pratt, "That’s poker me, not personal me."

Water Under the Bridge

The bad blood between Pratt and Shak did not last too long, as by Sunday, they were friends.

Poker Massage Therapists Out of Work Before WPT Five Diamond

In other Las Vegas drama, several of the regular poker massage therapists at the Bellagio were absent during one of the busiest times of the year, WPT Five Diamond – but it was not by choice. More than ten massage therapists working for third party company Intu lost their regular gigs at Bellagio when the company’s contract with the casino ended on Dec. 7, 2018. But to make matters worse, they were also blacklisted from working for the new third party company taking over massage services, Professional Massage Inc. (PMI).

The complaint, filed by Mac Verstandig on behalf of The Verstandig Lawfirm, makes the claim that Intu is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. According to the class action lawsuit, the employment agreements between Intu and the massage therapists included a non-compete clause that would keep the therapists from working for the same venue for another company in the period of one year following the termination of the agreement. This clause has resulted in the masseuses being prevented from providing services at Bellagio for PMI.

"The Covenant Not to Compete… imposes an undue hardship upon [the plaintiffs]."

Furthermore, while the employment agreements that plaintiffs Krystal Johnson and Shannon DeLelle had with Intu were "putatively styled as an independent contractor agreement, [the plaintiffs’] work with [Intu] has been in the nature of an employee/employer relationship at all times relevant," the complaint reads.

Intu treated the contractors as employees in actions such as dictating precise hours of work and vacation time, location of work, nature of services rendered, as well as rate and method of collecting revenue. However, Intu did not provide the physical therapists an hourly minimum wage, overtime wages, or other benefits that would be expected in an employer-employee relationship, hence alleged violation of the labor law.

According to the complaint, "the Covenant Not to Compete is null and void as a matter of law, and has been at all times relevant, as it is greater than is required for the protection of [Intu] and imposes an undue hardship upon [the plaintiffs]," largely because the massage therapists pose no "competitive threat" to the defendant, Intu.

PokerNews will provide an update on the litigation as it becomes available.

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  • Players at the Bellagio may have noticed a sudden turnover in massage therapists, which has prompted a lawsuit.

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