Nolan Dalla

Updating the Dewey Tomko Controversy — What (Apparently) Happened



Here’s the latest on the Dewey Tomko controversy.

Following multiple telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges I had with several key people on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, I have come closer to a viable explanation as to what really took place regarding Mr. Tomko’s (alleged) involvement with the controversial editorial which appeared in The Press of Atlantic City (newspaper and website), which was subsequently re-reported by other media.



After talking to Mr. Tomko (again), here’s what I now know to be accurate:

(1)  Over the last 48 hours, Mr. Tomko has been flooded with telephone calls and inquiries asking about the controversy.  Mr. Tomko says he has not responded to any of the questions (as of this time).  Mr. Tomko says from this point forward, if he chooses to comment, he intends to respond only through his attorney (Mr. Richard E. Straughn).  Mr. Tomko says that he values his privacy and now prefers to stay out of what he calls “a real mess.”

(2)  The Press of Atlantic City (newspaper) e-mailed me and requested contact information for Mr. Tomko, which I duly provided.  An editor at the newspaper called Mr. Tomko directly and left a voice message.  This was intended to verify the original authorship of the editorial, which they are now investigating.  So far, that phone call has not been returned by Mr. Tomko.  I urged Mr. Tomko to return the editor’s phone call personally and clarify what he knew and what had happened regarding the editorial.

(3)  Mr. Tomko once again denied knowing anything at all about the editorial (to me), until when it was first brought to his attention on Sunday, May 4, 2014 (more than six weeks after publication).  Once again, I asked Mr. Tomko repeatedly (emphasis mine) if he wrote or approved of the editorial.  Mr. Tomko unequivocally stated, “no.”

(4)  Mr. Tomko speculated that Jim Thackston (a poker activist, now engaged in software security and a consultant on the other side of the online poker debate) had something to do with original editorial (which was subsequently authored by “Dewey Tomko and Bill Byers”).  Mr. Tomko generally had very positive things to say about Mr. Thackston, insisting he was/is “a stand-up guy.”  Mr. Tomko stated, “Mr. Thackston is not an imposter and is a very good friend of mine.”

(5)  I urged Mr. Tomko to set the record straight.  He insisted, “I already have.”  He intends to make no further comments (unless it’s through his attorney).


This prompted a telephone call with Jim Thackston (a.k.a. James Thackston), who claims to have drafted the initial editorial which appeared.  Prior to this call, I had never spoken with, nor have I ever met Mr. Thackston (to my recollection).  Mr. Thackston called me directly.  I believe the following to be accurate:

(1)  Mr. Thackston and I had a cordial and respectful conversation that lasted about 15 minutes.

(2)  Based on Mr. Tomko’s earlier comments and my direct conversation with Mr. Thackston, I apologized to him.  I also now wish to retract a derogatory word I used to describe him in yesterday’s post (which was “seedy”).  Mr. Thackston did not bring this matter up to me.  However, I raised it and accordingly wish to correct any misunderstandings about Mr. Thackston, who impressed me as a reasonable person.  Moreover, even though we are now on different sides of the online poker debate, I hope we can have our debate in a civil manner.  He agreed.

(3)  Mr. Thackston recalled that he sat down and showed Mr. Tomko a draft of the editorial at some point when it was being written.  He said they “went through the piece” together.  After that initial meeting, Bill Byers (who co-authored the editorial), later sent the completed op-ed to The Press of Atlantic City, which published the piece on April 19, 2014.  Mr. Thackston agreed that Mr. Tomko never approved the final draft [Mr. Tomko corroborated this multiple times, also admitting that he “never checks (his) e-mails.”].  There is agreement among everyone that Mr. Tomko never saw, nor approved the final draft.

(4)  Together, we speculated that Mr. Tomko might have forgotten about the meeting with Mr. Thackston.  Admittedly, this is pure speculation (especially on my part).  Mr. Tomko stated he has no recollection of it.  However, Mr. Thackston insists that it happened.

(5)  Mr. Thackston informed me that he wanted to “issue a public statement,” to help clear up the controversy.  I agreed this is best and would help him present his side of the issue.  I stated that I would present his comments in an unbiased manner, without direct comment.  He stated he would later send the statement to me, which would then be released publicly.

Later in the day, Mr. Thackston put up a few comments on his Twitter account which were very similar to his statement (below).  He then provided the following statement to me, along with his permission to post the following:

Dear Mr. Dalla,

Here is the entirety of my statement:

I think Dewey may have simply forgotten details about the specifics of the op-ed.

I was with Dewey when he went over the edits.

Thank You and Regards,

Jim Thackston


Yesterday afternoon, I had a telephone conversation with Richard E. Straughn, who serves as Mr. Tomko’s attorney.  We discussed the controversy in some detail and agreed the most important issue presently was to clear Mr. Tomko’s name and deny association with the editorial, which he did not write nor approve.

Later in the day. Mr. Straughn emailed me the following, which was an e-mail that had been forwarded to the editor of The Press of Atlantic City this morning:

Mr. Perskie:

I am Mr. Dewey Tomko’s attorney.

He has asked that I contact you in regard to the March 19, 2014, OP-ED editorial titled “Dewey Tomko and Bill Byers / Poker pros: gambling sites for cheating.”

Please be advised that Mr. Tomko did not write or approve the editorial describe above.  Mr. Tomko requests that The Press of Atlantic City remove this editorial from its online edition … IMMEDIATELY.  Further, Mr. Tomko requests that any mention of Mr. Tomko with this editorial be discontinued. On behalf of Mr. Tomko thank you for your understanding in this matter.

If you have any questions please contact me.

Richard E. Straughn

Straughn and Turner, PA
255 Magnolia Ave
Winter Haven, Fl 33880

That sums up the very latest on the issue.

We are now awaiting a response by the editor and/or a retraction by The Press of Atlantic City.  (LATE NOTE: The site has now retracted the original editorial).

Meanwhile, there’s general agreement by everyone involved that Mr. Tomko did not actually write the editorial, nor did he approve of the final draft.  What remains open to question is Mr. Thackston’s account of the incident.  However, it’s also reasonable to take him at his word that Mr. Tomko was indeed present at one point when a draft was being written and simply forgot about the meeting.

This summation seems to settle the matter and explains what actually happened.

The bottom line is — Dewey Tomko has taken no position, nor has he made any statement other than sharing his love for the game of poker and always wanting to do what is best for the game, and its players.

Thanks to so many who have followed this closely, and worked on reporting this story accurately, and ultimately setting the record straight.

Note:  To read more on the controversy, uncovered by writer-reporter Steve Ruddock, read his article at ONLINE POKER REPORT

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