5 Minutes Read
On September 29, Veronica Brill, a former commentator on Stones Live Poker at Stones Gambling Hall, shocked the poker community by accusing poker pro Mike Postle of cheating during the live cash games hosted at the establishment. The accusations led to a barrage of comments both in defense of Postle and against, leading to quite a few of the poker players and experts turning into sleuths to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Leading the investigation was popular poker vlogger Joey Ingram who watched hours of the live-streamed footage, eventually coming to the conclusion that while he couldn’t call Postle a cheater outright, there was no doubt that the latter did play quite a few hands that Ingram claimed were “suspect.”
So, if you’re entirely unaware of the scandal that has rocked the poker world, let us quickly get you up to speed.
On Sunday, Brill lambasted Postle through a series of tweets accusing him of cheating.
You take that player off the stream while you launch a proper, objective, investigation done by a third-party. Once it’s shown that the player has not been cheating you make your investigation public and let the player back onto the stream.
— Veronica 2.0 (@Angry_Polak) September 28, 2019
Postle is a regular at the streamed cash games at Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights, California. In fact, he is considered one of the biggest winners of the game.
The allegations got the poker detectives going. A TwoPlusTwo thread was started soon afterward, which has snowballed with many subscribers bringing several different points to light.
PokerNews too published a report on October 2 titled ’10 Suspicious Hands Played by Mike Postle on Livestream’ which discusses in detail how some of the hands played by Postle aroused suspicion.
Taking it a step further, Ingram painstakingly went through several hours of live-streamed footage, eventually presenting a five-hour-long video, pinpointing the exact hands and moments where Postle looks to be doing things quite shadily.
Since the accusations levied against Postle came to light, many high stakes poker players have conducted their own investigations.
High-stakes cash game and tournament specialist Scott Seiver’s interest was spiked when he came across a particular hand which featured an incredible bet-three-bet on the river with on the board against a missed backdoor flush.
“Holy sh*t I didn’t see this one,” Seiver wrote. “Anyone that doesn’t understand the clear cheat that happens here should switch games they play.”
Even high-stakes player Haralabos Voulgaris thought the situation was suspicious at best.
What I am witnessing is either a time traveling wizard, a cheat or the greatest poker player of all time that can’t seem to get his head above 1-3NL
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) October 1, 2019
Postle defended himself by stating that he had been playing poker for nearly 16 years and has always been a winning player since he had “very good instincts.” He called those questioning his ethics “jealous hating ones who have it out for me.”
He even shared a series of hands in his own defense, that he felt exonerate him from the accusations. As an example, he shared a hand in which he folds a superior hand against a player bluffing with four-high on the turn.
Many viewers took note of another hand wherein Postle just check-called a river bet with 8-8 against his opponent’s 10-10 on a 9-9-3-10-8 board. However, later on in the broadcast, Postle told commentators that the RFID technology used to read the hole cards had malfunctioned and that he really held 8-7, and not a full house. The same excuse was given when he said he had 6-6 and not 9-6 after check-calling the flop and turn and then bet-three-betting the river on a K-6-4-A-A board where his opponent had just nine-high.
Matt Berkey, who owns RFID technology, took to Twitter to state that graphics’ almost NEVER misread a hand.’
If that happened there’s no way to communicate to the graphic operator what the correct hand is w/o PHYSICALLY LOOKING at “misread hand.” In @Joeingram1 short review Mike has done something RIDICULOUSLY clairvoyant 3x & each time the graphics are said to be wrong, giving an alibi
— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) October 1, 2019
Even Live at the Bike’s Ryan Feldman, who is very familiar with technicalities of using RFID technology in his role at The Bike, pointed out it would be impossible for the graphics person to know the cards were being shown incorrectly live as the action unfolded.
This just occurred to me so I have to speak up
Shows are produced live & air on delay, so the booth can never know that someone’s cards are wrong. Unless a player says so later, which would be 15/30 min later after it airs. How can the graphics person know cards are wrong live?
— Ryan Feldman (@TheRyanFeldman) October 3, 2019
Another poker pro Doug Polk conducted his own investigation, which he presented on his YouTube channel, offering several potential clues to help with the case.
However, Stones’ tournament director, social media manager, and sometimes commentator on the Stones live stream, Justin Kuraitis came out in support of Postle, stating, “It is unfortunate that these allegations were made public with absolutely no evidence. The reputation of my team and an exciting/fun player are now being publicly mobbed.”
When contacted by PokerNews, the establishment’s response did nothing to address the specific situation.
“At Stones, we value the customer experience and integrity of all our games,” a spokesperson said. “We evaluate all complaints and take corrective action when appropriate to ensure a fair and fun playing environment for all.”
They later released a more aggressive response on Twitter.
Earlier this year an accusation was made that a player was cheating in our game
We conducted a full investigation & found no evidence that any cheating had occurred
Stones Live stream remains a secure poker streaming platform
The recent allegations are completely fabricated
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) September 29, 2019
In the face of continued criticism from the poker community, Stones Gambling Hall was compelled to reopen the investigation. The first step was to suspend all “Stones Live” broadcasts, for the time being.
(2/4) Yesterday, we temporarily halted all broadcasts from Stones. We have also, as a result, halted the use of RFID playing cards. We have taken these steps proactively while we conduct a multifaceted and thorough investigation into every element of these games.
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) October 3, 2019
Stones also announced that the casino had hired Michael Lipman, a former US Assistant Attorney for the Southern District of California. Lipman, a partner in Duane Morris LLP’s trial practice group, has over 40 years of experience trying criminal and civil cases in state and federal cases. He has extensive experience handling fraud cases, as well.
But despite reopening the investigation, Stones is still taking heat from some poker players. That includes Polk, who was critical of the casino saying on Twitter that, “Stones continues to conduct this investigation and share outcomes with transparency.”
— Doug Polk (@DougPolkPoker) October 3, 2019
Ingram had even pleaded with Stones to not let the same team who initially investigated claims of cheating, conduct this latest investigation, saying, “Please don’t let this be the same “team” that investigated the last allegations. They might be the worst investigation team in the history of investigations for finding 0 evidence. I found greater than 0%> possible evidence in 20 minutes w/a bottle of water & my laptop.”
Ingram then gave Stones some pointers into how the investigation should unfold, including looking into which member of the live stream team was absent on June 17 when Postle apparently ran “like a regular player.”
Mac VerStandig of The VerStandig Law Firm, who represents poker players in civil and criminal cases, discovered a potential conflict of interest concerning Lipman’s connection to Stones Gambling Hall.
Maybe worth sharing the head of the independent investigation team is your former counsel? No doubt a qualified and well-respected man (genuinely and seriously), but not exactly the truly “independent” optic the public might desire here. https://t.co/vl4KCOZdAG https://t.co/hdxpJAgO5s pic.twitter.com/0XON1iyMED
— Mac VerStandig (@mac_verstandig) October 3, 2019
VerStandig also stated that he is on the lookout for players affected with plans to get legal action underway.
Regarding the @StonesLivePoker situation, @VerStandigLaw & I have been engaged to bring suit to address these wrongs on behalf of victimized players. If you played on a stream & would be willing to discuss your experience, pls DM me. We look forward to pursuing our case in court.
— Mac VerStandig (@mac_verstandig) October 2, 2019
Amid all this chaos, it has also been brought that if the cheating allegations are found to be accurate, that Postle could have potentially cheated one of the poker community’s heroes Kevin ‘Racks’ Roster during one of the live streams.
A terminally ill poker fan who was given mere weeks to live this summer when he decided to spend the last of his days at the WSOP and among fellow poker players, Roster passed away on July 26 via the use of medical aid in ending his life.
A member of TwoPlusTwo, ‘DonWon’ pointed out that in one of the several sessions reviewed by Ingram, Racks was seen playing against Postle. Poker commentator Jamie Kerstetter reached out on Twitter asking for the contact of Roster’s family so that they could be allowed to be a part of the class-action lawsuit that VerStandig would be filing.
— Jamie Kerstetter (@JamieKerstetter) October 4, 2019
Whether Lipman’s investigation will find Postle guilty is yet to be seen, but it is heartening to see the poker world stand side by side to eradicate this menace of cheating and create a safe playing environment for all.