5 of the Biggest Poker Cheating Scandals Ever

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In 2022, the entire poker scene was absolutely rocked by a single poker hand that took place on Hustler Casino Live (HCL) between Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein, who immediately accused her of cheating.

Unfortunately, this is just one of a number of alleged poker cheating scandals that have taken place over the years. In fact, we’ve already seen new poker cheating scandals arise here in 2024, making the Robbi Jade Lew incident feel as if it took place in the distant past.

Keep reading to learn more about the five of the biggest poker cheating scandals ever.

1. Black Friday

Black Friday
Image: Department of Justice

You just cannot talk about a poker cheating scandal without talking about Black Friday, which took place on April 15, 2011. This is when online poker in the United States perished, though there has been a minor revival in the last few years.

On that particular Friday, the United States Department of Justice unsealed indictments against the three largest online poker sites that were operating in the country: PokerStars, Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet, and Full Tilt. The sites were immediately shut down, accounts frozen, and poker pros who depended on that income were now left without a job.

Tens of thousands of poker players, including the writer of this article, were unsure if they would ever have access to their account balances ever again.

Fortunately, PokerStars paid out within a few months of Black Friday. It was discovered that Full Tilt Poker was essentially running a Ponzi scheme and did not have the money to pay back players so Full Tilt had to sell to PokerStars, who paid those balances off as well a few months later. Russ Hamilton, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer, the faces of Full Tilt, have never recovered their reputations.

Unfortunately for those on Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet, players did not get their money back until 2017, long after the damage had already been inflicted. In fact, they only received their money back because there was money leftover from the Full Tilt repayment fund.

Thousands of people continue to be affected by Black Friday to this day, either having to alter their lives completely after the event and/or never playing poker for a living ever again.

At the very least, there was a distrust of online poker on websites and mobile poker sites that seemingly has never gone away, especially given more recent events.

2. Robbi Jade Lew and the Jack-Four

Robbi Jade Lew, Garrett Adelstein
Image: Hustler Casino Live

Let’s set the stage (or you can watch for yourself): Hustler Casino Live is hosting a high-stakes cash stream playing $100/$200/$400 with a $400 big blind ante with some of the biggest names in cash game poker. This includes Garrett Adelstein, widely regarded as one of, if not the best high-stakes cash game player in the world.

There’s an $800 under-the-gun straddle on and action folds to Adelstein in the third blind who makes it $3,000 with 8♣️7♣️. Robbi Jade Lew is next and last to act, on the other side of the dealer, with J♣️4❤️in the UTG/straddle position.

Now, the hand Robbi Jade Lew had is a pretty standard fold, regardless of the pot odds. Calling $2,200 with $4,500 already in the pot with a suboptimal hand when playing super-deep is not great poker strategy. Despite having $133,000 behind, Lew makes the call and the two go to a flop.

The flop comes T❤️T♣️9♣️, giving “G-Man” the open-ended straight flush draw while Lew only had a backdoor straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. Adelstein put in a $2,500 continuation bet and Robbi Jade Lew, who should fold most of the time, decided to call and float the turn.

The turn brought the 3❤️ which really should have stopped Lew in her tracks completely. With $11,700 in the pot, Adelstein put in a bet of $10,000, about 85% of the pot. Despite having a hand worthy of a snap-fold, Lew opted to min-click to $20,000, shocking fans and commentators alike. After some deliberation, Adelstein moved all in, covering Robbi Jade Lew, who had about $110,000 more behind.

While Lew is debating whether or not to call, she asks if a three is no good, which made people wonder whether or not she misread her hand and genuinely thought she had a pair of threes. After using a time bank, she somehow makes the call with only jack high.

With their hands still face down, they decide to run the river twice. The first river was the 9♦️ and the second river was the A♠️, giving Robbi Jade Lew the scoop and a $135,000 profit despite only having a 47% chance to win once.

As soon as Lew turned her cards over, you can see Adelstein immediately become suspicious and, after about a minute, he begins to question her about her logic and legitimately so.

In reality, even if Adelstein was bluffing, he barely has any bluffs that Lew can beat. Adelstein then accuses her of wrongdoing and, a few minutes later, Adelstein left the stream with Lew. While they were on the casino floor, she continued to deny that she cheated but decided to refund Adelstein the $135,000 in casino chips, which many took as an admission of guilt.

A High Stakes Poker Productions investigation took place for three months but found no evidence of foul play. While Adelstein accused Lew of colluding with at least one player at the table and with a member of the production staff, Lew has continued to plead her innocence and still plays poker. She wants the $135,000 back but has yet to receive it.

Adelstein, meanwhile, left the poker scene entirely for over a year and only recently came back to play in December 2023 on Bally Live Poker in a $200/$400 game with Patrik Antonius, Eric Persson, and many others. He symbolically bought in for $135,000 and walked away with a $132,000 profit.

3. Mike Postle Allegedly Cheating at Stones

Mike Postle Playing a Poker Tournament
Image: Picasa

Mike Postle had gained some notoriety during the “early days” of live-stream poker mostly playing $1/$3 and $5/$5 cash games at Stones Gambling Hall near Sacramento, California. While the games themselves were far from high stakes, these games were played with super-deep stacks of up to 1,000 big blinds.

Postle had started to procure some popularity for being just about unbeatable on these streams for a lengthy stretch in 2018 and 2019. According to various TwoPlusTwo forum threads, Postle won 62 out of 69 sessions on stream, winning $253,300 in 277 hours of time over roughly a year of streaming.

Simply put: it’s mathematically impossible to win at such a clip (100-200 big blinds per hour) for such a long period of time without some sort of foul play.

It was around this time that Veronica Brill, a frequent commentator on the games who occasionally played, dropped the below Twitter thread making strong accusations that a poker cheating scandal was going on without specifically mentioning Postle by name.

It didn’t take much time before the poker community’s internet sleuths and several top poker pros got to the bottom of it. Eventually popular YouTube streamer Joey Ingram got involved and made a five-hour YouTube video investigating several Postle hands considered to be “very suspect” in the poker world. The evidence was so damning that the allegations were even reported by Scott Van Pelt on ESPN’s Sportscenter in October 2019.

Postle was alleged to be cheating because he somehow found perfect and incredibly unusual and out-of-line spots to bluff, bluff-catch, make huge folds with seemingly unfoldable hands, and to just call when having hands as strong as the second nuts.

Plenty of video evidence shows Postle continuously staring into his lap at his cell phone, allegedly seeing his opponents cards using RFID technology, during hands while he barely looked at or used his phone when he wasn’t involved. There were also times where he allegedly cheated that it’s suspected Postle received some sort of electronic communication in his hat.

Prior to Postle’s year-long heater, it was the policy of Stones to place cell phones on the rail in view of everybody. In addition, Postle’s results were pretty mediocre while that policy was in place and nobody considered him to be a rather great player by any means. Why Stones decided to take a more lenient approach to the policy, even after allegations were mounting, is still puzzling to this day.

It’s suspected that Postle was working this scheme with Stones’ poker and livestream manager Justin “JRK” Kuraitis. This allegation was made even stronger when the data showed that Postle’s losing/slightly-winning streams basically only took place when Kuraitis had the night off. Postle was almost never seen playing off stream, which is quite unbelievable given the winning streak he was on.

Several lawsuits were filed against Mike Postle and Stones Gambling Hall but, much like the Robbi Jade Lew alleged poker cheating scandal, it was virtually impossible to prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt. While Postle and Stones never faced criminal action, 60 out of 88 plaintiffs accepted a settlement from King’s Casino LLC (owner of Stones) and Kuraitis for an unknown amount.

In response to the allegations, Postle filed a $330 million defamation lawsuit against a dozen individuals as well as ESPN but it was eventually dropped and he was countersued. As a result, Postle was also forced to pay $27,000 each in legal fees to Brill and Todd Witteles after they each filed anti-SLAPP motions.

While Postle claimed bankruptcy and has never paid Brill or Witteles their $27,000, he appeared out of nowhere at a final table in a $500,000 GTD tournament at Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi and finished 7th, winning $32,703.

Despite Brill’s attorney attempting to get his winnings frozen, the Beau Rivage were compelled to pay out under the Mississippi Gaming Law. He has not been seen in the poker world ever since.

4. 2024 GGPoker Superuser Scandal

MoneyTaker69 Wins the $150 GGMasters
Image: TwoPlusTwo

2024 has only just started but we have a pair of poker cheating scandals that has shaken up the online poker world, creating even more distrust throughout the poker community.

The first one has to do with GGPoker and a player who used the username “MoneyTaker69” who was deemed a superuser. A superuser, by definition in the poker lexicon, is a player with access to tools within a poker client like seeing other players’ cards or other useful information.

In this case, the GGPoker security team claimed that MoneyTaker69 had access to their all-in equity and was able to make moves based on the percentage chance that they would win a hand.

In cash games, MoneyTaker69 won at an impossible rate of 90 big blinds per 100 hands over the course of 8,900 hands for around $15,400 in profit while having a VPIP (voluntarily put chips in pot) of 53%. While their tournament profits are not known, he won the prestigious $150 GGMasters tournament for $47,586.

MoneyTaker69 was banned from GGPoker and $29,795 in “unfair winnings” was distributed to affected players. After some outrage across social media platforms, GGPoker caved and decided to redistribute the $47,586 that was won in the GGMasters to the affected players.

The website also claimed that they issued security patches to prevent further attacks and that they would be hiring additional members to their security team in the first few months of 2024.

5. 2024 ACR Poker $10,000,000 Bot Farm Allegations and Fallout

Ebony Kenney and Chris Moneymaker issue the $100,00 ACR Poker bot challenge.
Image: ACR Poker

Less than a week after the GGPoker Superuser scandal dropped, major allegations surfaced on TwoPlusTwo by a user named “Tyler64” claiming, with data, that a bot farm running on ACR Poker has taken at least $10,000,000 out of the player pool. This user claims that this singular bot farm constitutes anywhere from 5% to 15% of the player field for any given tournament.

Tyler64 also supplied graphs and a list of hundreds of account names paired with obscure hand histories for each of the accounts for both cash and tournaments, claiming that this activity has occurred for at least three-and-a-half years.

He also states that he has attempted to reach out to the Winning Poker Network (WPN) security team on several occasions to address the issues at hand but to no avail.

In response to the allegations, many players vowed to withdraw their funds from ACR Poker immediately and reportedly required more time than usual to receive their winnings. In addition, ACR Poker came out with an aggressive $100,000 bot challenge, which bizarrely challenged players to create their own bot and run in for 5,000 in exchange for $100,000 and a full-time job on the WPN security team.

This caused further uproar in the poker community as ACR Poker was literally giving players permission to cheat and break their terms of service. Players also pointed out that it was a pointless gimmick as someone could make far more than $100,000 if they could run a bot undetected on the gaming platform.

The $100,000 challenge completely blew up in ACR Poker’s faces as people all across the internet, including Matt McElligott, claimed that they had built a working bot less than 12 hours after the challenge was issued.

 

Within 24 hours of the challenge, ACR Poker moved the goalposts entirely, changing the rules of the challenge. The backlash was immediate and even more players were stating how the site was digging themselves an even deeper hole.

In a matter of hours, people across the world were able to build new bots adhering to the new rules of the challenge but yet the $100,000 had not been paid and ACR Poker was radio silent.

Then, 16 hours after the new rules were put in place, ACR Poker released a statement canceling the challenge. They never paid anyone $100,000.

Prior to the bot challenge, ACR Poker’s reputation was already pretty low due to lengthy late registration periods of up to 5+ hours, alleged bot activity, repeated website shutdowns, and continuous lagging. Now, they may never recover.

Conclusion

Poker has always had a bit of a sketchy history to it and where there’s money to be made, someone will try to get it using unsavory means. While the poker community as a whole has been demanding higher security measures for both live and real money online poker sites, it appears that these calls have mostly gone unanswered in the name of profit margins.

As a player, I will continue to play on sites and in games I trust and you should do your due diligence before you ante up.

Blaise Bourgeois
Poker and Gambling Expert
Blaise Bourgeois
Poker and Gambling Expert

Blaise is an Expert Gambling Writer and a professional poker player in Brazil. He has played and traveled throughout Latin America for the last four-and-a-half years and recently won his first WSOP Circuit ring! He received his Master's in Sport Management and Sports Analytics from St. John's University. Blaise also holds a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from SUNY Purchase, where he still holds the school's Men's Soccer record for goals in a season. Blaise has worked for Catena Media, OddsSeeker, WSOP, PokerNews, and Poker.Org in various capacities. He has a passion for extensive research and aims to provide accurate…