As 2019 draws to a close, PocketFives takes a look back at the year that was in poker news, going month-by-month through the biggest and most important stories of the year. October brought us one of the biggest stories of 2019 when allegations of cheating by Californian poker pro Mike Postle captured the attention of the entire poker world.
Poker Pro Mike Postle Accused Of Cheating
California poker pro Mike Postle found himself at the center of one of the biggest poker stories of the year after he was accused of cheating in the live-streamed cash games of Stones Poker Live.
Accusations of cheating first came to light when Veronica Brill, a one-time player and commentator for Stones Poker Live, took to Twitter to voice her concerns. Soon after, clips of Postle playing in the game showed him routinely making correct river decisions in spots where it would be difficult to always be correct.
Stones Live Poker social media quickly attempted to shut down the concern, dismissing Brill’s allegations as ‘fabricated’ and also claimed that an internal investigation proved no wrongdoing.
That’s when popular podcaster Joey Ingram stepped in. He began pouring over hours and hours of Postle’s hands, providing hand-by-hand reviews of his play. The deeper Ingram looked, the more suspicious the play became and top-tier pros weighed in with their thoughts that there was indeed something to the allegations.
Postle was not without his defenders and Stones Gambling Hall Tournament Director Justin Kuraitis insisted there that the game was on the up-and-up. But in the end, pressure from the community and the uncovered evidence forced Stones to re-open an investigation and cease all streaming activities.
Postle Story Goes Mainstream
The details behind the Mike Postle cheating allegations story became so incredible that mainstream media picked up the story, including some of the biggest media outlets in the world.
Perhaps the biggest exposure the story received was from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt who highlighted the story on his ‘1 Big Thing’ segment during an episode of SportsCenter that took place right after Monday Night Football.
The three-minute national segment had Van Pelt breaking down the complicated story into an easy-to-understand narrative for his viewers.
“If a guy were able to cheat his way to six-figure gains playing cards and it gets solved by a bunch of poker sleuths on the interest, is that a story that interests you? Because it did me,” Van Pelt teased before hitting on all the major points of the story.
Van Pelt wasn’t the only news outlet to run with the Postle story as local news covered it extensively as did a feature article on The Ringer and CNBC.
Postle Gets Hit With Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit
It didn’t take long before the Mike Postle cheating allegations turned into a full-blown court case. Poker playing lawyer Maurice VerStandig of The VerStandig Law Firm, representing 25 total plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit requesting more than $30 million in restitution from the victims of the Stones Live cash games.
It seeks $10 million from Stones Gambling Hall for contrastive fraud for not monitoring the games to prevent cheating, another $10 million from Stones and Tournament Director Justin Kuritis for fraud for the potential cover-up and $10 million against Postle himself, as well as other as-yet-unnamed associates for fraud on the allegations of cheating.
This matter has not yet been resolved.
PokerStars Acquired By Flutter
While everyone was waiting for news of PokerStars to launch in Pennsylvania, news of another sort dropped in October as it was announced that The Stars Group, parent company to PokerStars, had been acquired by Flutter Entertainment, the owner of gaming brands Paddy Power, BetFair and FanDuel.
The merger created the world’s largest online gaming company with a total 2018 combined revenue of $4.66 billion.
“This exciting combination will allow us to enhance and accelerate our existing strategy. In recent years, we have transformed TSG from aa single product operator in poker to a diverse global leader with multiple product offerings across poker, gaming, and sports betting,” said The Stars Group CEO, Rafi Ashkenazi.
PokerStars Prepares To Go Live In Pennsylvania
At the very end of October the news came down that finally, after two years of waiting, online poker players in Pennsylvania were finally going to get to return to their online grind.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that PokerStars would be the first online operator to launch in PA and that the required two-day soft launch would happen on November 4.
“We are very excited to be bringing our most popular brands to Pennsylvania in the next week,” a PokerStars representative said just ahead of the launch.
At the time, the two-day launch was subject to regulatory approval and potential delays should there have been issues. However, the soft launch period was a resounding success with players flooding the lobbies and proving that not only was the PokerStars client ready for Pennsylvania, but the players were ready for PokerStars.
Johannes ‘Greenstone25’ Korsar Wins October PLB
Sweden’s Johannes ‘Greenstone25’ Korsar has already had a prolific online poker career, currently sitting at #6 on the PocketFives All-Time Online Money List. However, at the end of 2019, he began to achieve things he’d never done in the over four years since joining PocketFives.
The first of those achievements was taking down the October 2019 PLB title. He racked up 80 cashes and over $237,000 en route to earning the October honor. On top of that, Korsar used that momentum to become the #1-ranked player in the world for the first time in his career just weeks later.