Accusations of cheating, threats to name and shame parties and the possibility of a poker ‘blacklist’ being made public – the Easter weekend was never going to be a quiet one for poker players.
This weekend saw Alex Foxen – himself a controversial figure at times in the past two years – openly state that Ali Imsirovic is a ‘known’ cheater on the high stakes elite circuit. In shocking revelations on Twitter, Foxen went into detail about one specific hand in the recent $250,000-entry Super High Roller Series Europe Main Event in Cyprus, then added details of the Bosnian’s alleged use of RTAs in online games.
What Did Alex Foxen Accuse of Ali Imsirovic?
In an explosive post that went viral in minutes, Foxen’s words about his fellow poker player have shocked many to the core. Seldom has a current elite poker player been so openly accusatory of another who plays in the same nosebleed tournaments or cash games. As a result, the blowback from what Foxen has said is likely to be felt for months.
The Twitter thread put out by Foxen covers a specific hand which Foxen believes is proof that Imsirovic is cheating in live poker games. In it, the Bosnian is accused of looking at or in the direction of Paul Phua’s cards at the recent final table in Cyprus. It also alleges irregularities relating to the Bosnian’s play online, stating that he is banned by GGPoker for multi-accounting and using RTA (Real-Time Assistance) during games.
“Ali is known as a cheater to almost all in the high roller community.” Foxen says. That sensational opinion, however, is backed up by others in the industry. Here’s the original thread made by Foxen.
Poker black-list can't come soon enough.
Ali is banned from GG for Multi-accounting and RTA. I have witnessed numerous chip dumps to horses, and many suspicious changes in play from people known to be his horses when deep in online MTTs.
— Alex Foxen (@WAFoxen) April 18, 2022
Poker Players Line Up to Comment
Foxen’s comments could easily come across as inflammatory, especially given the American’s polarizing opinions on vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic overall. Foxen could be seen as the worst whistleblower to step forward with his reputation among some for being that of a chaos theorist. But his staunch defense of his thoughts on the topic, along with his follow-up that he has 100% proof he is ‘unable to release’ suggests others agree with him.
Ryan Leng said: “I’ve known for a while about high stakes cheating but never been in the position to officially out someone. Long before “Covid” I was hearing rumors of Ali (and others) cheating. These “rumors” were coming from extremely reputable sources.”
Jason Wheeler was one player who leapt into the debate to suggest that the time has come for poker to put together an independent ‘advisory board’.
“[We] need a group above the sites for it to work. A players council or poker advisory board consisting of players and industry and site exes…almost like a union for the players in a sense. leaving it to each site simply doesn’t work. i.e. [GGPoker] is not one site. It’s a bunch of agents, affiliates and skins. i.e. [you] get banned on one skin under one agent, [you] pop up under new account under another agent/skin. also ban from one site not enough of deterrent to the offenders. still other sites, live venues etc. any framework would need to apply across, so what is realistic?”
Wheeler wasn’t the only player who had more questions than answers. Chase Bianchi queried Foxen’s own actions in a final table where he was playing against his then-fiancée and now wife Kristen Foxen (nee Bicknell). Others were happy to put up a popcorn GIF and sit back to watch the fireworks.
Ian Simpson, who was a long-term sponsored player for Unibet until recently, expressed his thoughts at agreeing with Foxen. “Nice to be able to agree with someone who I’ve otherwise had some animosity with,” he said. “One potential problem however would be if someone got banned for a nonsense reason, or imagine if someone in poker security had a grudge against someone. They could cause big problems for them.”
Radio Silence from Imsirovic
While there has, as yet, been no comment at all from the 2021 PGT Player of the Year Ali Imsirovic, others who have been speaking of him for much of the last two years stepped in to comment. PokerGO’s commentary team of Brent Hanks and GPA award winner Jeff Platt have consistently praised Imsirovic for his above the rim plays. But while there is no categorical condemnation of the Bosnian, both men’s replies to the topic do not suggest the claims are entirely baseless. Hanks quipped a reference to his own commentary of Imsirovic in recent years.
I mean, I’ve been calling him the Bosnian Bandit for 4 years.
— Hanks 🐺 (@BuffaloHanks) April 18, 2022
Jeff Platt credited Foxen for bringing the subject up and announced his disappointment.
First reaction: extremely disappointed to hear/see, to say the very least. Props to Alex for bringing this up. https://t.co/42DJPtb4EH
— Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) April 18, 2022
He’s not the only one. Justin Bonomo, who has played plenty of High Roller and Super High Roller events over recent years, decided to risk the reactions of poker players by posting a thread on the subject. In it, he says that “someone whose first name starts with the letters ‘Ja’ was the biggest offender online and that he’s been told that “the evidence goes far beyond hand histories and is completely irrefutable.”
Foxen’s worldview is very different from mine, and I strongly disagree with some things he’s done and said
But I have respect for people who knowingly risk putting themselves through shit storms, seeking no personal gain, for the good of the community
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) April 18, 2022
On a subject that clearly has a lot more to it than the surface information already gathered, the initial dive into the murky waters of high stakes poker looks likely to leave few at the rail dry.