– General Introduction –
Leon Tsoukernik is a Czech casino owner, antique and furniture dealer, and recreational poker player. He was born on November 7th, 1973.
In the poker world, he’s best known for running the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, which has been the venue of many high profile poker events – such as the WSOP Europe or World Poker Tour events – every year. Tsoukernik’s casino opened in the small village near the German border in 2003.
He likes to like to play super high buy-in live cash games and tournaments for recreation. His live tournament winnings exceed $4.9 million, as of writing this article. In 2019, he won a WSOP Europe gold bracelet. He took down the €100,000 No Limit Short Deck Hold’em event in his own casino.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2003: Kings Casino Rozvadov opens in Rozvadov, Czech Republic under his management.
- 2014: He receives the Industry Person of the Year award at the European Poker Awards.
- 2017: He comes in 4th in the $300K Aria Super High Roller Bowl for $1.8 million. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
- 2019: He wins his first WSOP Europe gold bracelet after finishing first in the €100,000 No Limit Hold’em Short Deck event for €1.102 million.
– Leon Tsoukernik’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Tsoukernik originally built his massive wealth by dealing antiquities and furniture. His career began in Canada in 1991, then he moved back to his home country, Czech Republic, after the Communist regime ended and the Czechs separated from Slovakia in 1993.
In 1996, he met Adam Brown. Together, they founded the Antik New York antique dealership (which later got renamed Iliad).
In 2002, he decided to venture into the gambling industry. He bought some land in the small village of Rozvadov of just 800 people, and started building his brand new luxury casino. The project soon came to fruition and King’s Casino Rozvadov had its grand opening on June 26th, 2003.
As a successful casino owner, it wasn’t a big step for him to start playing high buy-in poker events for recreation. His earliest recorded live tourney score is from 2011.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Tsoukernik’s Hendon page shows $4.936 million in live tournament earnings. That sum is the product of just 16 different ITM finishes over the course of 8 years.
His high career winnings with a low number of cashes can be explained by the fact that as an extremely wealthy casino owner, he could jump into high buy-in events for fun from the moment he felt like playing some poker.
His first recorded cash is from May 2011. He finished 2nd for €33,020 in the €2,000 Main Event at the Casino Austria Poker Tour in Innsbruck.
The first time he made a tournament score for over $100K was in December 2016. He won the €50,000 NLHE Super High Roller at EPT Prague for €741,100 (which equaled $782,453 at the time). He beat British poker pro Charlie Carell heads-up for the title.
In May 2017, he took 3rd place in the $300K Aria Super High Roller Bowl for $1.8 million in Las Vegas. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
In July 2018, he took down the €25K NLHE Super High Roller championship at the Poker EM in Velden. He earned €370,000 with that victory. This annual poker series in Casino Austria, Velden is colloquially known as “the European Championship of poker”.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Leon Tsoukernik hasn’t won any bracelets so far in the summer WSOP in Las Vegas.
In fact, he only has one cash in those events. In 2019, he came in 75th place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $8,659.
However, he does have a gold bracelet from the 2019 WSOP Europe. That year, the WSOPE events were held in his own casino at King’s Casino Rozvadov. He took down the €100,000 No Limit Hold’em Short Deck – King’s Super High Roller event for €1.102 million. He beat none other than 10-time WSOP champion poker legend Phil Ivey heads-up for the title.
He also cashed in another WSOPE Short Deck event that year – he finished 14th in the €25,500 NLHE Short Deck event for €37,446 this time.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Tsoukernik enjoys playing some nosebleed stakes cash games from time to time – both live and online.
As for live, he has been captured playing in Bobby’s Room in a video on Gus Hansen’s Instagram page. Bobby’s Room is the world’s most famous super high stakes cash game room – it’s named after Bobby Baldwin and located inside the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
When partypoker LIVE’s Insta page shared this picture of his private PLO cash game in his casino, rumors started in the online poker community that the blinds may have been as high as €20K/€40K…
Luckily, Tsoukernik is also willing to play quite a lot of cash games on camera as well. He played on partypoker LIVE’s streams multiple times.
In April 2019, he played €200/€400 No Limit Hold’em against a fellow casino owner from the UK, Rob Yong, and Phil Hellmuth, among others. In that game, he ran a memorable pre-flop all-in bluff with the old 7-2 off-suit.
A year earlier, in April 2018, the Czech gambling mogul played in the $100/$200/$400 Pot Limit Omaha partypoker Big Game. It was one of the craziest televised cash games sessions of all time – with Sam Trickett, Rob Yong and Matt Kirk, the straddles went up to $8,000 at times… This was the night when Aussie Matt lost an esteemed $3.5 million in one sitting.
→ Online Poker ←
Tsoukernik plays under the screen name “KingsOfLeon” on partypoker.
In September 2017, he appeared on a live stream where he played a session of $100/$200 Pot Limit Omaha against Trickett, Patrik Antonius and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom. You can watch the game with the commentary of famed online PLO cash expert Joe Ingram below.
In 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic forced all World Series of Poker events to be played online, he cashed in 4 WSOP tournaments on Natural8 – GGNetwork. His biggest score out of the four was $88,412, which he got for finishing 4th on the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event.
→ As a Casino Executive ←
As we mentioned above, Leon Tsoukernik bought the land and ordered the construction of King’s Casino Rozvadov, one of the biggest luxury casinos in Europe, in 2002. He’s still the CEO of Vestar Group, the casino’s parent company.
Now, they have 3 additional venues: another one in Rozvadov, one in the Czech town of Mariánské Lázně, and one in Prague.
→ Scandals ←
His alleged debt to “Aussie” Matt Kirk
In May 2017, Tsoukernik played a session of high stakes heads-up cash game against “Aussie” Matt Kirk at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas – whether it was Hold’em or PLO, remains unspecified.
However, that night, Tsoukernik was playing “on credit”. Allegedly, he racked up $3 million in debt, but only paid back $1 million.
In June 2017, Kirk decided to file a lawsuit to recover the remainder of his loan from the Czech man. In that lawsuit, we learnt that Tsoukernik started texting messages like “Not valid” and “0 now“, in order to make Kirk’s debt non-binding legally after he lost the money.
However, Kirk hoped that prior text messages, plus the security camera footage of Aria would be enough to convince a Clark County judge to rule in favor of him in this civil suit.
Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t. The suit was dismissed a year later, in June 2018.
Since then, Tsoukernik and Aussie Matt have played against each other in cash games many times, sometimes even on public streams. From these occasions, it seems there isn’t any bad blood between the two anymore.