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Found 15 results

  1. You can say you hate poker’s petty drama all you want, but numbers don’t lie. When something in the poker community sparks a heated debate, the clicks go up as people are eager to read all about the latest scandal and have their say. Even here in 2020, a year fraught with incredibly real drama that affected millions of people around the world, the game of poker managed to have a few stories of its own which scratched that drama itch for the poker community. From temper tantrums to TOC's, here are some of the stories that kept the conversation going in 2020. Daniel Does Drama When you are the biggest name in the game, you don’t need to court drama - drama comes to you. Then again, perhaps you do bring it on yourself when you threaten to knock out someone’s teeth and feed it back to them somewhere other than their mouth. This is the defining moment of Daniel Negreanu's year. Negreanu, like all of the poker community, was looking to make the best of a bad situation by streaming some online poker for the fans from his Las Vegas home during the 2020 WSOP Online series. When someone in the chat said something regrettable to the six-time bracelet winner, ‘DNegs’ went supernova on them. “Come f***ing step to me and say that and I will knock you the f**k out. How about that? I’m not f**king around. I will break your f**king teeth if you step to me and I will feed them to you anally. How about that?” Negreanu said (off the top of his head.) Perhaps for any other regular streamer or player, this would blow over pretty quickly. But as one of the most recognizable faces in the game of poker, members of the poker community were quick to take sides. As the clip made the rounds on social media, those who hold a grudge against the GGPoker ambassador were quick to attack, while his defenders were in support of him being himself and defending his family. In the end, Twitch banned Negreanu from the platform stating, “Acts of threats of violence will be taken seriously and are considered zero-tolerance violations.” The Twitch ban turned out to be temporary, but the ripple effects from Negreanu’s rant will have a longer-lasting effect on poker. In the aftermath of this particular rant (Negreanu’s had a few this year, like this one, or this), Negreanu’s biggest rival of the past 10 years, Doug Polk, peaked his head back into poker. Polk, who had recently entered poker retirement reemerged and used the rant to take a couple of shots at his old foe. It was just days later that Polk issued the high-stakes, heads-up challenge that, to the surprise of nearly everyone, Negreanu accepted. Still very much underway, the challenge has turned into one of the most entertaining and engaging grudge matches in recent poker history. Fans are getting nearly everything that could have hoped for including massive six-figure swings, a regular playing schedule, and candid conversations after the sessions with both Negreanu and Polk. Love him or hate him, Negreanu knows how to keep people talking about him. And when it comes to dealing and creating poker drama, perhaps no one in the game does it better. Postle Seeks A Payday The biggest story of 2019 continued to play out in the courts as the Mike Postle cheating scandal had its day in court. The lawsuit, which alleged that Postle cheated during the live-streamed cash games at Stones Gambling Hall was, essentially, dismissed by Judge William B. Shubb shuddering the prospects of the plaintiffs to find any real relief in the scandal that rocked 2019. Rather than proceed with an appeal, based on the initial judgment, plaintiffs’ lawyer Mac VerStandig negotiated a settlement with Stones Gambling Hall and tournament director Justin Kuraitis. Sixty-two of the plaintiffs allegedly received a one-time joint payment of $40,000, which, if true, broke down to roughly $645 per player. In addition, those who accepted the deal were also restricted from talking about the settlement. Read: Behind the Scenes of WIRED Magazine’s Mike Postle Scandal Deep Dive Soon after, an emboldened Kuraitis took an ugly victory lap on Twitter, calling out nearly everyone who had believed him to be a potential conspirator with Postle. While Postle himself was excluded from anything having to do with the settlement, he tried to turn the tables. In the wake of the case being dismissed, Postle filed a $330 million defamation lawsuit against nearly a dozen defendants including Veronica Brill, Daniel Negreanu, and Joey Ingram. As the year draws to a close, it looks like Postle’s lawsuit also nearing an end as it has been reported that his lawyers are seeking to be taken off the from the case after nearly all communication between their firm and Postle have ceased. Matusow Opens His Mouth Again When four-time gold bracelet winner Mike "The Mouth" Matusow entered Event #5 of the 2020 WSOP on WSOP.com he likely thought he was in for a long day of grinding. However, when he busted just two hands into the freezeout event, Matusow, who was streaming live on YouTube at the time, had a full-on on-air meltdown. “This motherf**ker, ‘wolverine17’…I’m going to f**k him right in his f**king ass man, right in his f**king ass. Mark that name down, ‘wolverine17’,” Matusow said. ”I’ve got this guy’s name written down. I’m going to find out who he is. I’ll see him in person, I’ll f**king knock him the f**k out. Think I won’t? Watch,” he continued.”I am going to find out who this motherf**ker is and I swear to you I’m going to throw him up against the f**king wall and tell him, ‘you f**king ever slow roll me again, I’m going to beat your f**king ass.'” Matusow then offered his fans in his chat some extra money if they could supply him the identity of ’wolverine17’. Someone in the chat supplied Matusow the player’s real name, Megan Milburn, who he promptly tweeted at and stating “do you enjoy acting like a fucking c*** by slowrolling people online where nobody can see you?” Milburn took it all in stride, and even though there was some pressure put on the World Series of Poker to issue some kind of penalty, they opted not to as they determined a YouTube live stream was not under their purview. Respect The TOCs After a lengthy investigation from PokerStars, the 2018 World Championship of Online Poker Main Event champion ‘wann2play’ was removed as the winner, and the $1.35 million first-place prize he won was redistributed to the rest of the player pool. Shortly after ‘wann2play’s victory suspicions arose about their play. PokerStars quickly froze the account to take a closer look and after a year and a half long investigation, it was announced in March that ‘wann2play’ violated their terms of service and was disqualified. “Our players deserve a safe place to play online poker, said Rebecca McAdam, Associate Director, Group Public Relations for PokerStars. “That’s why we invest millions of dollars every year and have a large Game Integrity team working round the clock.” Argentina’s ‘Eze88888’ was officially installed in the history books as the winner and had their earnings credited with the original first-place prize of $1.529 million. GGPoker also clawed back some money that was earned by breaking the rules this year when German cash game pro Fedor Kruse was outed by his roommates as using Real-Time Assistance software in some of the online operator's high-stakes cash games. This led to GGPoker banning 40 different accounts and confiscating more than $1.175 million in funds that were reimbursed to the affected players. “While there will always be deceitful individuals trying to cheat the game and steal from their fellow players, our Security Team continues to be on the cutting edge with regards to detection and protection and maintains a zero-tolerance policy to Real-Time Assistance.” He Took It Like A Champ When the World Series of Poker announced that the successor to Hossein Ensan as the WSOP World Champion would be crowned this December, many in the poker community were left asking - Um, but what about Stoyan Madanzhiev? Just three months earlier, the 29-year old Madanzhiev battled through a field of 5,802 entrants to capture the $3.9 million first-place prize of the 2020 WSOP Online Main Event. An event that turned into a Guinness World Record-setting tournament. Madanzhiev received a certificate and a special WSOP bracelet and, at least for a little bit, the perceived title of WSOP Main Event winner. And he was...kind of. He was the ONLINE Main Event winner and in the eyes of the WSOP itself, not the same banner-worthy achievement as the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker, or Jerry Yang. While many advocated for Madanzhiev to be recognized as the 2020 Main Event champion, the plan to crown a more official Main Event champion moved forward and Madanzhiev was left to be called A Main Event champion rather than THE Main Event Champion.
  2. For every fantastic poker movie of the past 25 years (Rounders, Mississippi Grind), there’s been another which missed the mark. But the poker world (for better and for worse) isn’t lacking in incredible storylines, interesting characters, and dramatic tension. From epic biopics and romantic melodramas to buddy comedies and political thrillers, the poker world should be a screenwriter’s goldmine. Imagine cast sheets packed with poker’s biggest names (Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Stu Ungar) and the A-list Hollywood stars who would portray them. Here are five of the best real-life poker plot lines that could be - and should be - made into movies. Lights, camera, ACTION! TEXAS DOLLY Director: Martin Scorcese Starring: Russell Crowe (Doyle Brunson) Christopher Plummer (older Doyle) Armie Hammer (younger Doyle) Tom Hanks (Johnny Moss) Owen Wilson (Amarillo Slim) David Koechner (Puggy Pearson) Timothee Chalamet (Stu Ungar) Matt Damon (Chip Reese) Danny McBride (Todd Brunson) Synopsis: In the early 1950s, a devastating leg injury crushes the NBA dreams of prodigious college athlete Doyle Brunson. He turns to illegal poker games to fuel his competitiveness and soon finds himself on the road with a motley crew of Texan card sharks. Over the next 60 years, Brunson writes the book on poker, wins 10 World Series bracelets, and navigates the online poker boom while becoming the greatest player of all time. At 87, Brunson decides to step away from the tables, but one final high stakes game brings the Godfather of poker out of retirement. This is a no brainer. A three-hour biopic of the legendary Doyle Brunson directed by the equally legendary Martin Scorcese? Yes, please. In fact, why hasn’t this film been made already? Texas Dolly would make such an awesome movie. Brunson has sixty-plus years worth of stories to cherry-pick from a lifetime of playing the highest stakes poker games in the world. Imagine the backroom poker scenes, gunpoint robberies, tender family moments, and busto-to-robusto drama that Scorcese could reimagine on the big screen. He’s made plenty of big, bold biopics before (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, to name just a few) so Brunson’s story will be in the safest of hands. Instead of going down the digital de-aging route like Scorcese did in 2019’s The Irishman, cast different actors to play Brunson at the different stages of his life. Have Armie Hammer as the young NBA-ready Doyle for the first 45 minutes of the film, followed by Oscar winner Russell Crowe as Brunson for the next 90 minutes. Finally, Oscar winner Christopher Plummer bringing things home as Brunson today. Then just look at that merry band of Texan road gamblers in the supporting cast. A bald Tom Hanks with thick-rimmed glasses and a cardigan would make for an amazing Johnny Moss (Brunson’s mentor) and seeing the late Amarillo Slim reimagined by his fellow-Texan Owen Wilson would be superb. Anchorman’s David Koechner taking on Puggy Pearson, young superstar Timothee Chalamet bringing Stu 'the Kid' Ungar to life, and poker-movie royalty Matt Damon becoming one of the game’s all-time greats in Chip Reese (Brunson's best friend before Reese’s death at the young age of 56). Oh, and let’s not forget Danny McBride bringing some light comedy to proceedings as Brunson’s son Todd, also a successful high-stakes poker player in his own right. It’s actually ludicrous that the Godfather of Poker’s story hasn’t already been told on the silver screen, because the rounder lifestyle of poker’s pioneers is just so damn romantic. It feels like this film would resonate with a large audience, whether the majority are poker players or not. But then maybe the lack of biopic is Brunson’s doing. Perhaps he wants to keep his life story close to his chest, just as he has with cards throughout most of it. But with his blessing, then please, someone please write the script (*cough* Brian Koppelman and David Levien *cough*) and make this movie happen. BLACK FRIDAY Director: Adam McKay Starring: Jeff Daniels (Howard Lederer) David Krumholtz (Ray Bitar) Billy Bob Thornton (Chris Ferguson) Mandy Patinkin (Isai Scheinberg) Michael B. Jordan (Phil Ivey) Michael Fassbender (Gus Hansen) Sam Rockwell (George W. Bush) Synopsis: It’s 2011 and the poker boom comes to a crashing end when the United States Department of Justice issues an indictment against the three largest online poker websites in the country: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Popular PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is among those indicted, but things are about to get even worse for the poker community when it’s revealed that Full Tilt Poker--run by Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and shady businessman Ray Bitar--has been defrauding poker players out of more than $300 million and doesn’t have the funds to reimburse them. A brutally honest telling of online poker’s darkest day could make for the most important poker movie ever made. The pros of a Black Friday film? It’s a story that has everything. Rags-to-riches tales from online poker greats; government dealings and courtroom drama; the shock of the day itself; and both likable and downright unsavory characters for us to root for and against. The cons? It wouldn’t exactly paint online poker in the finest light. If there’s one filmmaker who could get across the importance of Black Friday and explain the difficult concepts involved in an entertaining, educational way, it’s Adam McKay. While he cut his teeth making some of the best comedies of the past two decades alongside Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Other Guys) it’s McKay’s 2015 film The Big Short--about the investors who made a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America in 2008--where he knocked it out of the park and booked the Black Friday writer/director gig. As for the cast, Jeff Daniels would make an excellent Howard Lederer. Daniels has carved a niche for himself lately playing powerful, unlikeable characters, and when it comes to Lederer...well, you can make of that what you will. Joining him at Full Tilt Poker would be the great Billy Bob Thornton as Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson--an ambiguous character whose involvement in the disgracefulness remains unclear--and David Krumholtz as Ray Bitar. The film would also feature top actors portraying some of poker’s biggest names for the first time on screen. Michael B. Jordan would provide the coolness Phil Ivey deserves, while Michael Fassbender as Gus Hansen would just be a joy to see. As for PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, give Mandy Patinkin from Homeland the role, while Sam Rockwell who played President George W. Bush in McKay’s 2018 film Vice, could revive the role here for a few government scenes. SUITED CONNECTORS Director: Greta Gerwig Starring: Anna Kendrick (Kristen Bicknell) Channing Tatum (Alex Foxen) Cameron Diaz (Jennifer Harman) Will Poulter (Kahle Burns) Synopsis: Inspired by her poker-playing hero Jennifer Harman, Kristen Bicknell works her way to the top of a male-dominated game and becomes one of the best poker players around. When she falls in love with another top player, Alex Foxen, it feels like a match made in heaven. But complications arise when the two fierce competitors both wind up at the same final table of a major poker tournament and then get three-handed with Kahle Burns. In just about every poker movie, female characters are simply used as props to either annoy or inspire the leading man. Screw that. It’s about time there was a poker film with a woman crushing the game instead of just organizing it (Molly’s Game), and while there still aren’t enough women playing poker, there are plenty of world-class players who are as feared at the tables as any dude. As the No.1 ranked GPI female player in the world for the past three years running, Kristen Bicknell is undisputedly one of them. Like many other poker couples, Bicknell and Alex Foxen’s relationship was once just a lovely inconsequence to the poker community. But in 2018 it was suggested that they had gone easy on each other during the final table of the $5,000 MSPT Venetian, particularly when they got three-handed against Kahle Burns. The question is: can two competitive players really put their loving feelings aside and play coldblooded versus one another when deep down they both want to see each other succeed? It’s just a tricky situation and one ripe for some melodrama. Unlike other “road to the final table” poker films (looking at you, Lucky You), the conflict in this romantic dramedy doesn’t come from characters hating each other but rather characters loving each other, to the point where their game integrity is called into question. It’s also about what happens after the game is over. Greta Gerwig would be an incredible choice to direct Suited Connectors, a story largely based on a successful woman striving for greatness, who falls in love with someone completely different and yet perfectly similar to her. Gerwig’s two films so far (2017’s Ladybird and 2019’s Little Women) are both female-led stories, and she writes and directs with honesty and style. Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick has been brilliant in films like Up in the Air and The Voices and could pull off Bicknell’s dauntless determination, while Channing Tatum (aside from the fact he’s big and athletic like Foxen) has proven himself a fine (and funny) actor in films like Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, and The Hateful Eight. As for Jennifer Harman--the player who inspired the real-life Bicknell--coaxingh the great Cameron Diaz out of retirement for the role seems like a win. THE WEIGHTING GAME Director: Paul Feig Kevin Hart (Bill Perkins) Jaime Staples (himself) Matt Staples (himself) Mike Vacanti (Zac Efron) Synopsis: Two professional poker playing brothers find themselves in a high stakes game on the yacht of an eccentric billionaire, with who they make a large bet: Brothers Jaime (304lbs) and Matt (134lbs) have to weigh within 1lb of each other in exactly a year’s time. If they can do it, they’ll win big. With the help of a strict personal trainer, they’re going all in. But life on the road makes losing and gaining both weight and money harder than they thought. Let’s lighten the mood a little with a road-trip buddy movie. The Staples brothers (Jaime and Matt) had the entire poker community rooting for them in 2017/2018 when they bet Bill Perkins that they couldn’t weigh within one pound of each other in 12 months’ time, all the while streaming poker online and traveling to live events. They did it, of course, in a great story of perseverance and hard work paying off. For the sake of the film, however, instead of the brothers streaming online poker, have them playing poker on the road. And make the Perkins character wilder and more erratic than Perkins is in real life, just to spice things up. There's no better pick to play the brothers themselves, so they'll both have to get some acting lessons prior to filming. But for Perkins, let’s throw his real-life friend and poker enthusiast Kevin Hart in the mix. Hart is one of the biggest movie stars in the world and anyone who has observed his spontaneous antics at the poker tables knows he would make this thing hilarious, as would Zac Efron as a fictional draconian version of the Staples’ personal trainer Mike Vacanti. In the director’s chair would be Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat), one of the reigning kings of comedy movies. The whole thing could be like the section of Rounders where Mike and Worm go on the road to run up a stake, only instead of trying not to get caught base dealing, the brothers are trying not to eat the wrong things. THE BLIND STEAL Director: Aaron Sorkin Starring: Emma Stone (Veronica Brill) Ben Foster (Mike Postle) Jonah Hill (Justin Kuraitis) Pete Davidson (Joe Ingram) Synopsis: Poker player and commentator Veronica Brill grows suspicious that a successful player in her game, Mike Postle, has been cheating for months on a live-streamed Sacramento cash game with the help of cardroom manager Justin Kuraitis. They deny the allegations and will do anything to discredit Brill, so she turns to someone she hopes can help expose the suspected charlatans: popular YouTuber Joe Ingram. There have been some incredible films with ambiguous endings over the years. You don’t get to know whether the robbers’ gold-laden bus teeters over the cliff edge in The Italian Job; you don’t get to know who the Zodiac killer is in Zodiac; and by the end of The Blind Steal--this telling of the Mike Postle cheating scandal which took place at Stones Casino, Sacramento from July 2018 through September 2019--you won’t know with absolute certainty whether Mike Postle was cheating or not. The viewers will have enough information to make an informed decision though, and that’s all thanks to writer and director Aaron Sorkin. In his screenplays for The Social Network, Moneyball, and his 2017 directorial debut Molly’s Game, Sorkin has been able to enlighten audiences on some dense subject matter (from computer algorithms and data analysis to how a game poker works) in just a few pages of the script. And thanks to Molly’s Game, it's clear he understands poker and the severity of the Postle allegations against many players, not just Veronica Brill (who brought the allegations to light). So, with Sorkin at the helm, who would he cast? For Brill, possibly Emma Stone. In films such as Zombieland, The Favourite, and Battle of the Sexes, she’s shown herself to be tough and determined with no sign of intimidation. As for Joey Ingram, Pete Davidson could sling on a tank top and blazer and showcase Ingram’s dogged resolve. Ben Foster would be perfect for Postle. Anyone who saw Foster as Lance Armstrong knows he’s a master of playing manipulative, conniving schemers looking to get ahead at any means necessary, even at the expense of others. He could handle Postle too. Justin Kuraitis is harder to cast as, frankly, there isn't all that much to go on aside from some post-settlement tweets. But based on those tweets, the character in the film is going to be stubborn, goofy, and a bit corrupt. Jonah Hill is a great actor who has been nominated for an Oscar twice (The Wolf of Wall Street and Moneyball). He’s got that down. The ambiguous ending of The Blind Steal mentioned earlier? It will be a bit like the ending of The Social Network, Sorkin’s Facebook origin story. Just like Facebook is an ongoing thing, so too is the Postle lawsuits and investigation. But maybe a film like this will inspire more people to seek the truth of what went on during those live streams.
  3. 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.”
  4. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Listen in to an all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast as Lance and Donnie return with all of the latest news from this week in the world of poker. It was a busy week when it came to legal procedures in poker including an end to three prominent cases. First, Phil Ivey's long battle with the Borgata in the multi-million dollar edge sorting case has finally been resolved out of court. At the same time, nearly a decade after Black Friday, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is in the clear from his charges and free to travel in the U.S. once again. Also, there was a settlement in the Mike Postle cheating allegations case which looks to put one of the biggest stories of 2019 to rest. Plus, WIRED Magazine took a deep dive into the Postle scandal which brings up some additional questions surrounding the case. So download and listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  5. Over the last 72 hours, California poker room Stones Gambling Hall has found itself as the epicenter of cheating allegations based around the live-streamed cash game action hosted by the casino. The allegations of cheating in the game first came to light after Veronica Brill, who has played in and worked as a commentator for the game, tweeted the following:
  6. 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."
  7. The cheating allegations against California professional poker player Mike Postle while playing on the Stones Gambling Hall live-streamed cash game is attracting the attention of news outlets outside of the poker world. Last Update: Sunday, October 6, 2019 On Thursday night, Scott Van Pelt, one of ESPN's most popular personalities, highlighted the story during the midnight (ET) edition of SportsCenter on his ‘1 Big Thing’ segment. “If a guy were able to cheat his way to six-figure gains playing cards and it goes solved by a bunch of poker sleuths on the internet, is that a story that interests you? Because it did me,” Van Pelt said. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Over the next three minutes, Van Pelt masterfully summarized the current state of the Mike Postle controversy. He starts from the very beginning of the initial suspicions by Veronica Brill and into Joey Ingram’s in-depth hand breakdowns on his YouTube channel. “Accusations of cheating are taken very seriously in the poker community, and I credit Ingram for taking great caution to give a guy, who is apparently very well-liked, the benefit of the doubt. But the more than Ingram and others combed through the video, the harder that has become to do.” Van Pelt hits all the major points of the story from theories about Postle having a man-on-the-inside partnership with someone who runs the stream, a possible listening device being stuffed into Postle’s hat, and Stones, after issuing a statement that they had already investigated, being forced to re-investigate as the story got bigger. Van Pelt wrapped up the segment with this analogy. “If you’re the equivalent of a guy who shows up to play pick-up basketball and you never, ever missed a shot for a couple of years…wouldn’t you go play in the NBA? If you’re some kind of poker god who almost never lost, who made the right call or fold virtually every single time - if you were this good - why would you be playing in games only with a video feed and a 1-3 table at Stones Poker Room. Why wouldn’t you be in Vegas winning all the money in the world?” The Ringer Finds Fascination In Postle Controversy Bill Simmons’ sport/pop culture website The Ringer published a headline story on Friday entitled ‘The Cheating Scandal Rocking the Poker World’ as writer David Hill not only breaks down the fundamentals of the story but finds himself “trapped in the wormhole this week, unable to focus on anything else.” The article summarizes the facts but while capturing the feelings of a poker community gripped with the biggest story of 2019. Hill injects himself into the story wondering how so many missed the signs for so long. “But then I start to see things that seem so obvious, but I wonder whether they aren’t just paranoia after hours and hours of digging into the mystery, Like the fact that he starts wearing a hat that has a strange bulge around the brim - one that vanishes after the game when he’s doing an interview in the booth. Is it a bone-conducting headset, as some online have suggested, sending him messages directly into his inner ear by vibrating on his skull? Of course it is! How could it be anything else? It’s so obvious!” CNBC Reaches Out For Comment On October 5, financial news network CNBC published a story on their website which also summarized the entire situation. The story was updated after Postle appeared on Mike Matusow’s podcast where he voiced his side of the argument. "Postle has not yet responded to CNBC’s request for comment. He has defended himself on Twitter as well as on a poker podcast, ‘The Mouthpiece with Mike Matusow,’ saying 'it is absolutely impossible for me to be doing what they’re claiming. It is 1000% impossible.'" The article also pulled from information provided by Matt Berkey on the nature of RFID playing cards. "Berkey said Postle made plays no pro would ever make, and he did them often, and they worked. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Berkey said Postle played ‘as if he had perfect information.’" Local Television Jumps On Story While Joey Ingram was name-checked on the ESPN national broadcast, Doug Polk’s investigation of the allegations was highlighted in Sacramento’s FOX40 televised coverage of the incident. “It’s really hypothetical at this point, it’s just the most logical conclusion,” Polk told Fox40 reporter Eric Rucker.” Somebody in the back was working with one of the players to transmit that information in the middle of the hand to a player at the table so that he knew the exact two cards you would have.” Another local news broadcast, KCRA3 (NBC affiliate) also touched on the news giving a broad overview of the current state of the situation without going into too much detail. The report mentioned that the station had reached out to the California Bureau of Gambling Control for comment, but had not heard back by airtime.
  8. As the evidence against Mike Postle, the California poker pro accused of cheating on the Stones Poker Live live-streamed cash games continues to mount, the host casino has suspended all of their live-streaming and are promising a new independent investigation. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] In a statement, released over the course of four tweets on the live-stream Twitter account @StonesLivePoker on Thursday, Stones Gambling Hall promised the poker community that the allegations of wrongdoing are being taken seriously. "(Stones Gambling) is committed to the integrity of our games. We have been alarmed by allegations of unfair play occurring during the streamed broadcasts of our “Stones Live” games and have acted quickly to investigate. 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. To that end, we are today announcing the creation of an independent investigation team. The team will be led by Michael Lipman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, and Chief of that office’s fraud unit. He is assembling other members who will be announced in due course. Stones intends to conduct this investigation and share outcomes with transparency. We will provide updates as appropriate." This statement represents an about-face by the company just five days after the same Twitter account attempted to assure the poker community that an investigation had already been completed and that there was nothing to the allegations first raised by Veronica Brill. VerStandig represents Brill and is working to put together a much larger class action lawsuit.
  9. 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.
  10. King's Casino LLC, the parent company of the Stones Gambling Hall, filed a motion this week to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Veronica Brill and 24 others in relation to the Mike Postle cheating scandal. "This lawsuit reflects the oldest complaint of gamblers - that their lack of success means they were cheated," the motion reads. The lawsuit was filed in October 2019, sought $30 million in restitution for Postle's victims and named Postle, King’s Casino, the owner of the Stones Gambling Hall, and Justin Kuraitis, the Stones Tournament Director, who was oversaw the live streaming operation, as defendants. The motion, which cites 55 other cases as precedent, asks for the court to throw out all five claims against Stones in part because the "plaintiffs make no credible allegations of wrongdoing by Stones" and "gambling losses are not cognizable as damages under California law and public policy". The motion to dismiss is only relevant to the accusations against Stones and not those against Postle and Kuraitis, who would remain as defendants. Stones' lawyers have also asked the court to dismiss the libel complaint brought by Brill in relation to the tweet below, claiming "the alleged statement did not refer to her expressly or by clear implication and she fails to plead the require economic damages to the type of libel that she alleges." Stones makes no attempt to deny or confirm that they believe any cheating occurred, but make the case that Stones Casino simply provided a venue for a poker game to occur and are not responsible for the alleged actions of any players involved. "Plaintiffs decided whether they wanted to play, for how long, how much to bet, and in which hands to participate," the motion reads, while citing a lawsuit related to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao broadcast in 2017 in which unhappy boxing fans sued the fight promoters after learning that Pacquiao entered the match injured. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. Stones' legal team also pointed to decisions made by some of the plaintiffs to continue playing on Stones Live Poker with Postle even after allegations of cheating had been raised as a reason for dismissal. "Plaintiffs concede that they continued to play with Mr. Postle despite their own beliefs about what was allegedly going on, suggesting that even Plaintiffs thought that Mr. Postle could have just been playing excellent poker," the motion states. The case is set to be heard April 16, 2020.
  11. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance and Donnie are back from the 2nd Annual Global Poker Awards to bring you all of the latest news from the world of poker in the latest episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast. In addition to discussing the GPAs, the guys take a look at how the poker industry is dealing with the global effects of the coronavirus outbreak. They discuss all of the major poker events that have been canceled or postponed for public safety and look ahead to what may be on the horizon. Plus, there have been some new developments in the Mike Postle cheating allegation lawsuit. Download and listen wherever you get your favorite podcasts! Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  12. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Get all caught up with the latest news from the world of poker on another all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast! This week Lance and Donnie are talking about the seemingly endless number of events taking place in online poker this week. Plus, popular poker player/vlogger/personality Marle Cordeiro has filed her own lawsuit in the state of Nevada against Mike Postle in connection with the alleged cheating that took place during the Stones Live cash games at the Stones Gambling Hall in California. Subscribe to The FIVES wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts to make sure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  13. 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".
  14. The legal battle in the ongoing cases against California-based poker player Mike Postle in connection with cheating allegations during the Stones Live cash games took another interesting turn this week. Postle is being accused of using a ghostwriter in his Motion to Dismiss the California case he faces against Veronica Brill and other named plaintiffs. Also, in an entirely separate matter, Postle is being accused of dodging service in the Nevada case brought by poker player Marle Cordeiro. On Tuesday, April 28 Maurice ‘Mac’ VerStandig, lead counsel for Veronica Brill and the other named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Mike Postle, filed a pair of motions in federal court of the Eastern District of California in opposition to a previously filed Motion to Dismiss by Postle in late March. In the 36-page Opposition Motion to Postle’s Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff’s counsel reinforced their arguments against Postle, bringing back the allegations of cheating while deconstructing Postle’s Motion to Dismiss in an effort to make sure the case will proceed. In a second California filing, VerStandig is asking for sanctions against Postle, accusing him of using a ghostwriter in filing his Motion to Dismiss. Alleged in VerStandig’s filed Motion for Sanctions, the Motion to Dismiss filing submitted and signed by Postle, who is not officially represented by a lawyer at this time, was “actively violating the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure” by either using a ghostwriter or, worse, plagiarizing another Motion to Dismiss filed by a lawyer known by Postle. While using ghostwriting in legal settings is not against the law, there are ethical concerns when a lawyer provides services without providing their name. “This case concern’s Mr. Postle’s representations he was honestly playing games of poker on his own when, in fact, he was cheating as such games with the help of one or more unidentified confederates. Unfortunately, it now appears his approach to this litigation is identical, as he purports to be a pro se litigant but is, in fact, having court papers ghostwritten by one or more unidentified attorneys.” The document alleges that the Motion to Dismiss the case submitted by Postle on March 25 was a “cleanly-drafted document, replete with citations to controlling law” in perfect format. That’s something VerStandig alleges Postle, who submitted the document under his own name, simply couldn’t do on his own without any legal background. The Motion for Sanctions then cites Postle’s relationship with attorney William Portanova who, while not formally representing Postle, was named as his attorney in an article in The Sacramento Bee. It compares the similarities between a Motion to Dismiss filed by Portanova in a totally unrelated case and Postle’s Motion to Dismiss, alleging that Postle either used Portanova as a ghostwriter or used it unauthorized. Citing numerous accounts of California courts discussing the ethics of ghostwriting, including a ruling that called it a “serious ethical breach”, the Plaintiffs counsel asked for the striking of Postle’s original filing and for him to essentially be instructed to file his own work or, if he has an attorney of record, to them be named and appear in court. At the same time, on Monday, VerStandig, representing poker player Marle Cordero in Nevada, filed a Motion for Alternative Service after alleging that Postle has “thus far avoided nine (9) separate efforts by a process server” as well as ignoring four emails and Twitter messages. In addition to direct contact, VerStandig reached out to and connected with Postle's mother to ask her to reach out to him to check his e-mail. Being unable to serve Postle through traditional means, VerStandig is looking for the court to serve Postle via FedEx to his home, via email and social media as a means that “will satisfy the rigors of governing law” and allow the case to proceed.
  15. The legal volleying in the Mike Postle cheating scandal continued this week as two of the defendants sent the ball back in the direction of Veronica Brill and the 87 other plaintiffs. On Monday, King’s Casino Management Corp., the owner of Stones Gambling Hall, and Justin Kuraitis each filed separate motions to dismiss the recently amended complaints filed by the Brill's legal team. This is the latest development in the case which began in October 2019 when Mike Postle, Kuraitis, and Stones Gambling Hall were the subjects of a lawsuit brought by Brill and what was then 25 other plaintiffs which sought $30 million in damages after allegations of cheating by Postle in the Stones Live cash games came to light. In March, Stones filed an initial motion to dismiss where they built their argument centered around the argument that the lawsuit "reflects the oldest complaint of gamblers – that their lack of success means they were cheated." In early April, Postle was sued in Nevada by Marle Cordeiro for $30 million in damages. Two weeks ago, Mac Ver Standig, counsel for the 88 plaintiffs in California and Cordeiro in Nevada, filed motions in both states accusing Postle of using a ghostwriter in California and dodging service in the Nevada case. In their latest motion to dismiss, Stones' legal team claims that Brill et al failed to "articulate facts or law to support their claims" in the amended complaint filed in late March. The motion points out three specific reasons to dismiss: gambling losses are not considered damages under California law, the plaintiffs failed to "identify facts to cure the defects" in the amended complaint, and that plaintiffs were unable to counter any arguments or citations made by Stones in their initial response. "Plaintiffs have already had an opportunity to amend to address the concerns raised by Stones. In 56 pages, Plaintiffs failed to identify additional allegations they could make that would state claims for relief. They should not be granted leave to amend," the motion reads. Stones claims the complexity of a single hand of poker makes it nearly impossible to determine whether a particular player would have won or lost a particular hand and that properly assigning damages is subsequently impossible. "Plaintiffs cannot provide an accurate picture of their likelihood of winning because of the multitude of independent factors influencing how a hand of poker unfolds. They do not describe even a single hand in any detail, and the act of describing such a hand would make clear the impossibility of assessing proximate causation." Stones continues to ask the court to dismiss the libel complaint brought by Brill regarding a tweet sent from the official Stones Live Poker account in the aftermath of initial allegations against Postle being made public. The motion asks the court to dismiss the libel charge because "Stones did not, as Plaintiffs suggest, make “a public statement – that Ms. Brill’s allegations about Mr. Postle were ‘completely fabricated.’” The tweet generically referred to “allegations.”" Lawyers for Kuraitis, the Stones Tournament Director who was also responsible for the management of the streaming operation, took a similar stance and also claim in their motion that California law prevents gamblers from seeking resolution in court to any dispute regarding losses suffered at a casino. His lawyers also took issue with Brill's legal team citing cases "from two centuries ago". "On hands that defendant Postle won; he was the person who was “damaged”, not plaintiffs. On hands that defendant Postle lost, plaintiffs would not suffer damages, and certainly not damages proximately caused by any alleged cheating."
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