The poker world has been rocked over the last couple of weeks after cheating allegations surfaced against pro player Mike Postle. Postle is accused of cheating during live-streamed cash games at Stones Gambling Hall located in Citrus Heights, California.
Since the start of the Poker Boom, all major cheating scandals have been related to online gambling. This is the first significant case of cheating in live casino poker. Due to the nature of the alleged cheating, it has become a bit of a global scandal and has even been covered by mainstream media.
Mike Postle Accused of Using Electronic Devices in Cash Games
If you are unfamiliar with live-streamed poker, the broadcasts are generally on a 30-minute delay. This prevents players from being able to watch the action in real-time. However, suspicions have peaked in recent weeks after Stones regular Mike Postle continuous came out ahead in the games.
This isn’t just a case where Postle happened to come out a winner. If he happened to eek out a small profit in a long streak of sessions, that would be looked at as extremely positive variance. However, the way he was winning was the subject of controversy.
Postle was making incredible folds and calls in situations that simply are not feasible in an honest game. For example, the following video is an example of a hand where Postle has the nut flush against a straight flush and loses the absolute minimum in the hand.
Things came to a head on September 28th when former Stones live stream broadcaster Veronica Brill started tweeting about the situation.
If someone is displaying a probability of cheating on a live stream you don't make the entire room not be able to use their cellphones in an attempt to reduce everyone's anxiety and then still promote the player as one of the best.
The allegations by Brill prompted various people to start investigating, including poker sleuth and internet streamer Joe Ingram. Below is an insane five-hour stream of the initial investigation.
Doug Polk and others jumped into the fray and soon it was clear that something was amiss. Ingram and others have produced what they think is evidence of cheating. Most of it centers around what appears to be the use of a cell phone by Mike Postle at the table. Others claim that he has stuffed a monitoring device in his hat at the table.
Regardless, the general consensus is that Postle is cheating in some form in the games. This situation was made worse when it was revealed that one of the alleged victims in the case was Kevin Roster, the poker player made famous this summer after spending most of his remaining weeks playing live poker at various venues, including the World Series of Poker.
Stones Suspends Live Stream and Launches Investigation
A day after the initial claims made by Veronica Brill surfaced, Stones tweeted the following:
Earlier this year an accusation was made that a player was cheating in our game
We conducted a full investigation & found no evidence that any cheating had occurred
Stones Live stream remains a secure poker streaming platform
As video evidence began to mount against Postle and the poker world began berating Stones for a lack of action, the casino changed course and announced that they were suspending live poker streams and starting a new investigation.
.@StonesGambling is suspending all broadcast of poker play, including live streaming, while we expand our multifaceted investigation with outside experts. This investigation will be thorough & detailed. We will report the outcomes when they are available.
In a follow-up tweet, the casino said that an independent investigation team is working the case. Its leader is former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of California Michael Lipman. The announcement of the new investigation is receiving jeers from the poker community. It seems that the casino only launched the new investigation because they were backed into a corner.
$10 Lawsuit Filed
On Tuesday, various sources reported that a $10 million lawsuit has been filed against Mike Postle and various defendants. According to the lawsuit, the scandal “represents the largest known cheating scandal in the history of broadcast poker.”
Among the plaintiffs in the case is the head whistleblower Veronica Brill. The lawsuit spells out nine counts that include fraud, unjust enrichment, constructive fraud, and libel. Per the lawsuit, the $10 million will be paid amongst the victims of the fraud. Players will receive funds in proration based on how long they played in the games.
The lawsuit covers a span of 68 cash game sessions ranging from July 18, 2018, through September 21, 2019. Other defendants in the case include Stones Gambling Hall and Tournament Director Justin Kuraitis.
Will This Scandal Force Changes to How Live Streams Operate?
One question that live casinos will have to answer now is how to avoid this type of scenario for the future. Clearly, this proves that live streams are vulnerable and players can receive information about the game.
If anything, this should prompt a strict ban on all electronic devices during poker live streams. Some venues, such as the World Series of Poker, allow for online casino play at the poker tables. This is something that will likely stop at venues offering live streams.
The poker world remembers the cheating scandals of the past involving Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. Players and fans are swift to ostracize anyone involved in such a scandal. Regardless of the outcome of various investigations, changes are certainly on the horizon for live poker streams.