Pro Poker Player Dan Shak Pays $750K in Spoofing Case Settlement

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High stakes held no fear for professional poker player, Dan Shak, but a haze of legal allegations has proven to be a different story. In a recent negotiation, Shak agreed to fork over a steep settlement sum of $750K to federal regulators. The payment is his response to an accusation that he ‘spoofed’—or manipulated—the gold and silver markets within the relentless churn of the Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX).

Shak faced condemnation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), who initiated a civil lawsuit against him in August 2022. The CFTC argued that his actions were deceptive, even manipulative, pointing to a pattern of activity between February 2015 and March 2018. Shak, they claimed, lodged hefty orders for gold and silver futures knowing full well he had no intention of following through with those orders. His real game, they argued, was on the opposite side of the market selling genuine orders. The CFTC contends that Shak recklessly, perhaps knowingly, unleashed false signals of supply and demand into the marketplace. The consequence? A distortion of the truth that deceived other market participants.

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The settlement defines its terms clearly. While Shak is permitted to neither admit nor deny the allegations, it handcuffs him from any future involvement in commodity interests trading. He is also prohibited from soliciting, receiving, or accepting funds for selling commodities.

Never one to shy away from a balanced bluff, Shak voiced his stance before retreating from the legal tangle. “While I am confident I could have prevailed at trial, I have concluded the right decision for my family is to resolve this matter with no admission of wrongdoing, and without the cost, delay, and distraction of protracted litigation.”

Shak was no stranger to the CFTC’s scrutiny, having previously paid a $400k fine for attempting to manipulate the price of light sweet crude oil futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). This violation resulted in a two-year trade ban. However, less than two years later, Shak was hit with a $100k fine for breaching the ban’s conditions.

Shak’s portfolio is a mixed bag of achievements, scandals, and excess. Besides his poker panache that has seen him amass around $11.7 million in gross tournament earnings according to the Hendon Mob Database, Shak remains infamous for a 2012 feud with his ex-wife. Dan Shak claimed Beth Shak hid a $1 million shoe collection during their divorce proceedings, possibly in a secret room within their former $7.5 million Manhattan apartment. The squabble added a layer of expensive leather and secrecy to Shak’s tumultuous history as he claimed this hidden luxury might have saved him a pretty penny in their divorce settlement.

Shak’s story proves the gamble doesn’t end at the poker table. It seems that, for better or worse, high stakes have followed Shak from the glimmering lights of the casino to the chilly machinations of the legal world.