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Found 5 results

  1. When Veronica Brill first went public a year ago with her accusations that Mike Postle had been cheating in the Stones Live games, Brendan I. Koerner, a contributing editor for WIRED, was completely oblivious to the poker world. Over the 10 months that followed, following a phone call from a source from a previous gambling story he had written, Koerner immersed himself in the scandal that had taken a small live-streamed game in Northern California and put it front and center. The fruits of his labor hit newsstands and the web this week under the title “The Cheating Scandal That Ripped the Poker World Apart”. The article includes all kinds of details, some of which the poker community learned for the first time as they scrolled their way down the online article or turned the pages of the magazine, but not everything Koerner learned made it to print. Some were left out for legal reasons while others were edited out for brevity. Everything started with that phone call from a Las Vegas-based casino security consultant pointing him in the direction of Brill and Postle for the first time. “I started looking into it and at first, I thought it’d be a pretty black and white, pretty straightforward story about this person was cheating and someone called him out and that it would be pretty cut and dried,” Koerner said. “The more I looked at it and the more I talked to people, I realized there were really shades of gray in the story and a lot of nuance and detail that made it really compelling as a sprawling narrative and really a story about two characters. It’s what we call in the business, a two-hander - which is basically a two-character drama.” Koerner thought there was enough intrigue and drama that he took the story to his editors at WIRED, where he has been writing for the better part of 18 years. Knowing that the poker community was putting together a case against Postle using data was a good enough hook for the WIRED team to give Koerner the greenlight to pursue the story. “The fact that there’s such a strong analytics component to it and that basically there’s no accomplice that has come forward to say, “I helped Mike Postle do this”, it’s really based on the circumstantial evidence of analytics and looking at the math and people asking, “Does this make sense? What’s within the realm of the possible when it comes to the plays being done here?” I feel that really taps into the same kind of mindset that a lot of WIRED readers have (which) is viewing the world through data can provide to us all kinds of information that can give us a view from a distance,” Koerner said. Since Thanksgiving of last year, Koerner has been chasing down every angle of this story and talking to as many people involved as possible, including Brill, Postle, Justin Kuraitis, and others. He also had to learn as much as he could about poker in a short time frame. “Because I am a poker neophyte, I really had to spend a lot of time getting up to speed. A lot of times that just meant after putting my kids to bed at night, going to my desk and just watching a couple hours of hands just to understand what’s going on,” said Koerner. Writing for an audience that may not be well versed in poker also gave Koerner a challenge. He needed to explain some of the basics - as simple as the rules of Hold’em - while also introducing Game Theory Optimal and making it make sense in one or two paragraphs. Learning and simplifying some of the more complex parts of poker were just a small part of the story and the more time Koerner spent learning, the more the story changed. “What I originally conceived was pretty different than I think what it ended up being. I think that I, especially as I did have more conversations with Mike Postle in particular to get to know his character a little bit better, my conception of how to structure the piece changed,” Koerner said. While Postle seemed to have gone into hiding following his appearance on Mike Matusow’s podcast last October, Koerner was able to stay in contact with him and spoke with him multiple times. “He kind of faded in and out of my life between March and August, essentially. We had some very extended, sometimes contentious conversations. There were certainly aspects of my reporting he did not appreciate, that he was actually pretty fired up about. There were times when he was incredibly cordial,” Koerner said. At multiple points throughout the process, Postle promised Koerner that he would provide evidence that would exonerate him and show details of a conspiracy he claimed was created by his enemies. That evidence was never made available. “In the end, he not only didn’t provide that evidence but, as I say in the story, he did not even answer the detailed fact-checking questions we sent to him. That is, in my experience having done this for 20 years, highly unusual for someone to not even respond to fact-checking questions,” Koerner said. While any scandal is going to provide salacious details, Koerner was intrigued and his writing was driven by the two main characters, Postle and Brill, and the destruction of what was once a fairly strong friendship was an important piece of the narrative. “I don’t think I’ve ever come across or rarely come across two people who genuinely loathe each other as much as these two. There’s just such bad blood between them,” Koerner said. “So I feel like the dynamic between them, these former friends who actually have life stories that share some similarities, that for there to be such toxicity in their relationship now, to me, is really interesting.” While Koerner went into great detail about those two main characters and some of the other players on either side of the scandal, there was one key figure that he wasn’t able to track down or even identify that left him wanting more. John - or Jane - Doe, named as such in the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Brill and more than 80 others. “If there was an accomplice, who was it? I was definitely given some names of people and just cold-called. There was one person in particular I was given a name by some former Stones Live people that they thought it was this one particular person. I just went through an online directory and called every single person with that name in the 916 area code trying to find them. It’s frustrating that I couldn’t do that,“ Koerner admitted. That frustration was so strong for Koerner, that earlier drafts detailed his pursuit of the potential John Doe accomplice. That part of the story didn’t make his final cut and Koerner thinks that the recent settlement of the lawsuit means that person’s identity will likely remain hidden forever. Getting Justin Kuraitis, the Stones tournament director who was also responsible for the Stones Live livestream, to talk also proved to be a difficult task for Koerner. During his reporting, Koerner learned that after allegations surfaced, Kuraitis called Andrew Milner, the creator of the graphics system used to display hole cards on the livestream, to ask if he was aware of any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by Postle or others. “If he was in on it, I don’t know if he would have made that phone call. It’s possible, but I just found that curious,” Koerner said. “I also heard from someone else in the poker community that there was some soul searching on Justin’s part, but Justin basically didn’t comment to me, just sent me a link to a RounderLife story, which basically accused Veronica of concocting the whole thing to make herself famous.” Speaking with Milner gave Koerner a crash course in the security protocols for livestreamed poker games. The technology angle of the story was another reason why WIRED pursued the story. He had a very different outlook once he saw Stones in person. “It was interesting to see, just on the ground, how little security that they had. It really reminds me that security is only as strong as its weakest link in the chain. So you could have signals that are encrypted and so no one can pick them up and de-encrypt them in real time, but if anyone can walk into the control room and look at it i real time and us text the information, that kind of subverts the whole rationale for having strong encryptions,” Koerner said. Once the settlement, which included the statement from Mac Verstandig, the lawyer representing Brill and 80 others, which said they found no evidence of cheating by Stones or Kuraitis, became public, Kuraitis went on a social media victory lap and Koerner could only watch and wonder exactly what the strategy was. “I would say that if I was a PR person at Stones or wherever handles Stones’ communications or legal policy, I would be tearing my hair out. It was not a good communication strategy for him to basically get on Twitter and just invite more attention,” Koerner said. The timing was also something that Koerner found suspicious. “(Kuraitis) did it on September 15 and Mike Postle had reached out to me several days before and asked me when the story was going to run. I didn’t know at that time what the run date was, but I told him “on or around September 15”. So a big piece of me wonders if he did that to get ahead of the story,” Koerner said. The WIRED story isn’t the only non-poker media coverage that this story will be getting. An independent production company based out of Los Angeles headed by Dave Broome, 257 Productions, is working on a documentary. The poker community has been skeptical about the project and it appears they’re not alone. “(Broome) is a guy who’s very accomplished in the world of Hollywood. I had some questions about the documentary that I’ve not necessarily gotten satisfactory answers about,” Koerner said. “Myself having recently helped produce a documentary, I know that the way that was done and I’m curious to see how this is going to be done. I would like to have another conversation with Dave Broome to clarify some of the questions I have about it.” The recently announced settlement and the statement that accompanied it came as a surprise to many in the poker world, but Koerner was aware that the lawsuit was heading in that direction as far back as mid-summer. “Clearly, those who defend Postle and say no cheating goes on, to them it’s vindication. To others, it doesn’t change the equation at all and I think does raise some questions about whether the filing of the lawsuit may have actually complicated the pursuit of truth in the first place,” Koerner said. Whether or not that documentary ends up streaming on Netflix, as Broome has told people, or not, the future of the case remains murky. A group of poker players, led by Phil Galfond, are attempting to transcribe and catalogue every hand Postle played on the stream in hopes of showing that the likelihood he didn’t cheat is just a few decimal places away from zero. “The plaintiffs who did not sign the settlement, they would have to go out and find a new lawyer and refile. It’s tough to foresee that happening, to be honest. There’s a lot of expense that goes into that,” Koerner said. “Clearly, California gaming laws are not very amenable to this kind of civil action, which is probably something that the plaintiff’s attorney should have known about before filing. So it’s tough to see a civil remedy here.” It’s also unlikely that any sort of criminal action is going to come from this, according to Koerner. While rumors of a grand jury have never been confirmed by anybody, Koerner learned that the California DOJ did look into the case - but not necessarily the complaints against Postle or even Stones. “From what I gathered from those who spoke to the California DOJ, the California DOJ was most interested in ‘did anyone defraud Stones?’ So with that not being the issue, their interest seemed to wane,” Koerner said. “At the same time, I was told the investigation is ongoing and that’s why I was not able to use public information requests to get investigative files.” “So, it’s possible there is still an open case on this, but I would say that the DOJ looking at defrauding of other players, that’s a tricky investigation and probably ultimately too little money involved to really make it worth their while. The proverbial bigger fish to fry,” Koerner said. The story is now on newsstands now and while Koerner believes the potential for any sort of actual justice appears to be fading away, doesn’t mean that he is done with the story. He hopes to follow up over the coming months in particular detailing more about Postle and, hopefully, John or Jane Doe. The initial reaction to the story has shown both Koerner and WIRED that there’s an appetite for more. “I would assume very few of our readers are really experienced poker players, I mean some of the mare, but it’s probably a pretty small percentage,” Koerner said. “But the story’s been getting a lot of readership. We can see the metrics online. It’s been really gratifying to see it be the most popular story right now on the site for the second day running.”
  2. Less than 10 days after allegations that Mike Postle had been cheating on the Stones Live Poker stream first came to light, the California poker pro is being named in a lawsuit requesting more than $30 million in restitution from his victims. In addition to Postle, King's Casino, the owner of the Stones Gambling Hall, and Justin Kuraitis, the Stones Tournament Director who was also responsible for the management of the streaming operation, have also been named in the suit that alleges Postle, Kuraitis, and Stones were involved in racketeering, fraud, negligence, and libel. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court's Eastern District of California by Maurice B. VerStandig of The VerStandig Law Firm, alleges that Postle, along with an as-yet identified number of co-conspirators used "one or more electronic devices for the purposes of cheating, while playing in broadcast games of poker, to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from fellow player." [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] [ptable zone="GG Poker"] The lawsuit names Veronica Brill, the former Stones employee who was the first to make the allegations public, as one of 25 total plaintiffs seeking damages from Postle, Kuraitis, Stones Gambling Hall and, any unidentified parties labeled in the lawsuit as John Does 1-10 and Jane Does 1-10. "As extrapolated upon infra, this case represents the single largest known cheating scandal in the history of broadcast poker, emanates from a series of events that have rocked the poker community…" The complaint then details much of the information that was uncovered by Joey Ingram, Matt Berkey, posters on the Two Plus Two forums, and the poker community at large. Allegations of cheating by Postle claims that he "has won more money than any other participant, in total, and has often times been the winningest player on the show on any given night which he is a participant." It proceeds to examine the manner in which Postle was treated by Stones and the commentary crew. "Mr. Postle's winnings on the Stones Live Poker broadcast, and his correlative play of poker, have been so exceptionally outstanding as to lead the Commentator to note his seemingly musical abilities on numerous occasions, and to lead Stones Live Poker to produce various graphics portraying Mr. Postle as a deity-like individual imbued with omniscient powers (with one such graphic conflating an image of Mr. Postle and an image of Jesus Christ)." The document continues to allege that Postle committed acts of wire fraud by using mechanisms, including Postle’s own cell phone, that helped him generate winnings that would represent "a quality of play multiple degrees higher than that achieved by the best poker players in the world." The complaint alleges that when notified of suspicions of cheating, Stones Tournament Director Justin Kuraitis and Stones began a cover-up, one that started with the initial statement that a "full investigation" had already been conducted and concluding with the current fact that the current "independent investigation team" is being headed up by Michael Lipman, an attorney who has represented Stones in the past. In total, the lawsuit alleges that the cheating and fraud took place on no fewer than 69 different days, dating back to July 18, 2018. The plaintiffs are asking for restitution on nine different counts including racketeering, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. In addition to the funds lost by the players to Postle in the game, they are seeking damages of $10,000,000 against Postle and his a yet unnamed ‘confederates’ for fraud based on the allegations of cheating. The plaintiffs are also seeking damages of $10,000,000 against Stones Gambling Hall as an entity for constructive fraud as "Stones has a legal duty to monitor the Stones Live Poker game for cheating and take reasonable steps and measure to prevent the occurrence of cheating therein." They claim that Stones did not meet the industry standard for security. The complaint is seeking another punitive $10,000,000 sum against Stones and Kuraitis on a count of fraud based on Kuraitis' alleged dismissing of the initial allegations and potential cover-up. Finally, there is a request for the sum of $1,000 sought by Veronica Brill for libel against Stones for when they tweeted that her initial concern was "completely fabricated."
  3. 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. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] 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.
  4. Already facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit in one state because of his alleged cheating in the Stones Live cash games, Mike Postle is now the subject of a federal lawsuit in another state. Marle Cordeiro filed a lawsuit against Postle this week in Nevada, seeking a quarter-million dollars in punitive damages plus three times the amount of money she lost to Postle in the live-streamed cash games at Stones Gambling Hall, as well as all legal fees. The first lawsuit, filed in California in October 2019 seeks $30 million on behalf of a number of poker players who were allegedly cheated by Postle. The latest lawsuit alleges Postle was in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, committed fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and negligence per se. [ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="Party Poker NJ"][ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"] The suit details one particular hand Cordeiro and Postle played together on the live stream as a means of demonstrating Postle's cheating. On September 21, 2019 Cordeiro was playing $10/$25/$50 NLHE and was dealt the [poker card="qs"][poker card="td"] and raised to $150. Postle defended his big blind with [poker card="qd"][poker card="jh"]. After the [poker card="jd"][poker card="9d"][poker card="8s"] flop, Postle check-called Cordeiro's bet of $200. The turn was the [poker card="4s"] and Postle check-folded to Cordeiro's bet of $600. The lawsuit points to the live stream commentator who "exclaimed, "It doesn't make sense!" and claims that Postle's fold in this spot "is only attributable to his tortious conduct." In total, the lawsuit mentions 68 sessions between July 2018 and September 2019 in which Postle played on the Stones Live live stream and is alleged to have cheated. The lawsuit points out Postle was a winner in 94% of the sessions he played and points out that "such a winning percentage, under these confined circumstances in a streamed environment, is not known to have ever been achieved by any other poker player...". The filing details the allegations against Postle that he used a cell phone placed in his lap, out of the view of other players, to receive information regarding the hole cards of other players from a "confederate" working on the live stream broadcast. Postle is the only defendant named in this filing, but the California lawsuit listed Postle, as well as King’s Casino, the owner of the Stones Gambling Hall, and Justin Kuraitis, the Stones Tournament Director who was also responsible for the management of the streaming operation, as defendants. Earlier this year, King's Casino filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the "lawsuit reflects the oldest complaint of gamblers – that their lack of success means they were cheated".
  5. The $30 million lawsuit brought against Mike Postle, Justin Kuraitis, and Stones Gambling Hall by Veronica Brill and more than 80 other poker players was dismissed on Wednesday. The lawsuit, which alleged Postle profited by cheating in poker games at Stones Gambling Hall in California on a live stream, alleged various claims of fraud, negligence, and libel against the three defendants. In a 24-page ruling released Wednesday afternoon, Judge William B. Shubb granted motions to dismiss brought by the three plaintiffs and effectively ruled against the 14 combined complaints. The ruling did leave open the possibility to revisit some of the complaints at a later date should Brill's legal team, lead by Mac Ver Standig, be willing to come forward with more information. Two issues that were common inside the complaint were California public policy against judicial resolution of civil claims arising out of gambling disputes and the fact that some of the complaints were tied to the rake collected by the host casino.
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