Tiffany Michelle (24) may have earned applause for her performance in finishing 17th and the only woman in the World Series of Poker Main Event, but her sponsorship deals have come under the spotlight, with Poker News issuing a statement and indicating that it is considering legal action.
Justin Robert Huxley, the PokerNews Ltd Vice President, issued a statement on the dispute, revealing that his company had sponsored the poker-playing Los Angeles actressand broadcaster into several buy-in events at this year's World Series including the Main Event.
However, a few days into the Main Event, several media outlets published reports and images showing Michelle donning an UltimateBet.net logo during her play at the ESPN feature table.
"It was later confirmed that without any consultation with PokerNews, Tiffany went ahead and signed a sponsorship deal with Ultimate Bet," Huxley claims. "While we welcome such sponsorship deals between online gaming operators and players, as a company we could see no reason as to why we were left out of such negotiations, especially considering the relationships that PokerNews has with all such entities.
"Tiffany was bought into the event by PokerNews and had a signed player contract with PokerNews Ltd. We believe that, based on advice from her agent that the contract may have loopholes; she went and made a deal with an online gaming operator that completely contradicted the trust that we had put in her, both as an employee and as a sponsored player. As an organization we felt completely sabotaged by Tiffany, her agent and Ultimate Bet," he added.
Huxley said that PokerNews was looking forward to and expected a large number of sponsorship offers from the world's biggest poker rooms.
"Tiffany's career was about to explode and we could not have been more proud for her. Therefore, we are incredibly disappointed with Tiffany and her agent's lack of respect and professionalism. We are currently seeking legal council on this entire situation and potential damages to PokerNews," Huxley revealed.
The Poker News executive went on to take a jab at UltimateBet as well, saying: "In regard to the Ultimate Bet and PokerNews relationship, Ultimate Bet has come under considerable scrutiny from the Poker Community for several scandals involving high-ranking employees and the use of defective software that allowed these users to see their opponent's hole cards. As a result of such breaches in the online communities trust, PokerNews has decided that it will no longer promote this site within its network."