The world of poker has seen its fair proportion of
scandals through the years. Some have had a big impact on the sport, whereas others
simply briefly grabbed our consideration.
Whereas it’s enjoyable to put in writing concerning the newest massive
match winner or to interrupt down huge money recreation pots, nothing beats an excellent
The media loves a controversial story. It will get the group going and might create a type of traction that no story concerning the Primary Occasion winner ever may (save for Chris Moneymaker, perhaps).
It’s price mentioning that this record of the most important
poker scandals isn’t numbered by magnitude, as relying on how they affectected
somebody, each participant could have an opinion on which is probably the most important.
1. Black Friday
Though it’s been coated extensively in
numerous blogs, articles, and op-eds, you’ll be able to’t write about main poker
scandals with out mentioning Black Friday.
In my view, that is simply the most important
scandal the poker group has ever witnessed, and it affected numerous
gamers all around the globe. Its aftermath additionally had large implications on the
general growth of the sport.
Most of you might have most likely not less than heard the
story if not skilled it first hand.
On April 11, 2011, the US Division of Justice unsealed indictments towards three of the most important poker websites on the time: PokerStars, Absolute Poker / Final Wager, and Full Tilt.
Accusing them of violating the UIGEA, the DoJ seized the websites’ domains, leaving all the poker world in a state of shock.
Gamers have been reduce off from their funds, and the
weeks and months to comply with have been a really troublesome interval for a lot of skilled
gamers who had their bankrolls caught on certainly one of these websites.
Robbed of their cash and with out entry to the
video games, the longer term seemed bleak.
PokerStars was the primary and, because it turned out,
the one room to truly get better from this blow. The remainder of the world gamers
have been quickly capable of entry the location and their funds, and it was enterprise as
Nevertheless, US gamers needed to wait fairly a while
to get their a refund, however PokerStars made everybody complete in the long run.
For Full Tilt, as soon as the foremost model was backed
by among the largest names within the business, this was the top of the street as
it turned out the room didn’t even have cash available to
The DoJ investigation found that the location
was working a type of Ponzi scheme that got here to a sudden halt with Black
Key individuals behind the operation, Russ Hamilton, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer, as soon as revered members of the group, grew to become symbols for every part that’s mistaken with on-line poker.
Though all gamers have been ultimately repaid
when PokerStars bought the Full Tilt model, the poker group by no means
forgave the Full Tilt honchos for every part they put them by.
Absolute Poker was a complete fiasco.
They by no means recovered from Black Friday, and
gamers stored ready for his or her funds to no avail. Lastly, in 2017, the
compensation course of started utilizing cash left over from the Full Tilt compensation
Some fortunate gamers managed to get a few of their
cash however this has been a particularly sluggish course of, and evidently lots of
the AP victims won’t ever see the day when their cash is paid again.
To today, Black Friday stays the most important
and most impactful poker scandal of all time.
Along with all of the monetary points, it
successfully reduce the US from the remainder of the world participant pool, pushing out
three of the most important rooms.
This has endlessly modified the web poker
panorama, and never a lot has improved since.
Though some US states have legalized on-line
poker, gamers from the States are unable to play with anybody exterior of the
USA borders, or not less than they’ll’t achieve this legally.
There are some smaller rooms that also cater
to the US market, however they’ll’t examine in measurement or significance to PokerStars
and what was Full Tilt Poker.
2. Lock Poker Demise
Though it might not have been almost as large as
Black Friday, the Lock Poker scandal is just about a direct consequence of
happenings in 2011.
As soon as main rooms have been pressured to depart the US
market, many smaller shops noticed their alternative.
For smaller rooms like Lock Poker, this was
definitely worth the threat because it was a superb strategy to improve their liquidity by
catering to poker-deprived US prospects.
To kick issues off, they launched a collection of nice promotions, providing heaps of further worth for the gamers who determined to take their motion there.
With options being scarce and guarantees sounding too good to refuse, many US gamers and the remainder of the world alike flocked to Lock Poker.
The room managed to maintain issues collectively for a
few years, nevertheless it wasn’t lengthy earlier than issues began to come up.
First, the room began going again on their
promotional guarantees, retroactively including phrases and circumstances that
successfully prevented gamers from truly cashing out their further funds.
Many gamers tried to get their funds out whereas
they nonetheless may, though only a few managed to money out in full.
Then, in April of 2015, the entire thing got here to
a crushing finish.
Gamers hadn’t been capable of get their cash out
since April of 2014 by this level, and it was solely a matter of time earlier than Lock
Poker would throw within the towel.
When the location lastly shut down, visitors was at
its all-time low, with Poker Scout reporting a 7-day common of 10 ring recreation
It’s unclear simply how a lot cash disappeared
along with Lock Poker, however the estimate appears to be round $15 million.
Not like the Black Friday scandal, although, the place
a majority of gamers bought paid in full or not less than partially in the long run, this
$15 million disappeared into skinny air.
Those that had funds on the location have had no
luck in getting any of it again, and with a lot time handed by already, this
is unlikely to alter.
3. Absolute Poker And Final Wager Tremendous-Consumer Scandals
One other poker scandal that shook the very core
of the group happened a number of years earlier than Black Friday and, not
surprisingly, it concerned two rooms that have been first to hit the muck after April
In fact, the rooms in query are Absolute
Poker (AP) and Final Wager (UB).
In September of 2007, accusations from gamers began to emerge that somebody enjoying on Absolute Poker had entry to a super-user account and will see different gamers’ gap playing cards.
after, in January of 2008, related accusations have been made regarding Final
Within the AP incident, gamers carried out a
detailed evaluation of the arms of the participant going underneath the now-infamous
After reviewing hand histories, it grew to become very
clear that “POTRIPPER” may someway see “by” the playing cards as his choices
in lots of spots simply didn’t appear regular or pure.
He at all times knew when to bluff, when to throw away a hand, and when to guess massive when their opponents had robust however second-best holdings.
Ultimately, Absolute Poker admitted the
existence of super-user accounts and ended up repaying gamers $1.6 million.
It was a giant quantity to make sure however nothing
in comparison with what surfaced a short time later.
At the beginning of 2008, gamers raised related
purple flags for a participant enjoying as “NioNio” – this time over at Final Wager.
The quantity of proof was adequate to set off an investigation by the Kahnawake Gaming Fee, and their discovery was fairly surprising.
The Fee concluded that there was certainly
dishonest occurring, and it was occurring for fairly a while – since January of
It was additionally decided that the person behind the
complete super-user scheme at UB was Russ Hamilton, and the harm accomplished by
these actions was estimated to be over $20 million.
In a while, a recording of a telephone dialog
emerged, through which Hamilton admitted that he was the one behind the entire
This gorgeous a lot marked the top of his profession
within the poker world and he by no means made any try to repay any of the cash that
was stolen from the gamers.
The AP and UB scandals created a giant uproar in
the group and critically shook participant religion in on-line poker.
If it was that simple for somebody to steal so
a lot cash from the tables and nearly get away with it, how may you ever be
certain you’re enjoying in a good on-line recreation?
What occurred on AP and UB was undoubtedly a giant
setback for on-line poker.
4. Epic Poker League Fiasco
The Epic Poker League was envisioned as the last word competitors for the perfect of the perfect and was created by Annie Duke, Howard Lederer’s sister, and Jeffrey Pollack.
The league was set to be a mixture of paid occasions
culminating in a $1 million freeroll.
On the time the Epic League was born early in
2011, this appeared like a possible thought, however then Black Friday struck.
Ultimately, solely three of the 4 scheduled
occasions happened, and the promised $1 million freeroll by no means occurred.
The group filed for chapter in
February of 2012, and it was just about the top of the street for the Epic
League. On the time of the submitting, the EPL had an excellent debt of over $5
million, so issues clearly didn’t go as deliberate.
Many in the neighborhood blamed Pollack and Duke
for this flip of occasions, though it should be admitted they have been victims of
circumstances not less than to a point.
Previous to Black Friday, televised poker was
going robust, with many corporations fascinated by sponsoring TV exhibits with poker
As soon as the US market was just about reduce off, the
curiosity out of the blue disappeared, so discovering sponsors should have been an actual
Ultimately, it was a pleasant thought, nevertheless it got here at
the mistaken time, and as a substitute of being epic, it become one of many greater and
better-known poker scandals.
Though gamers didn’t lose any of their very own
cash within the course of, many felt scammed as a result of they by no means bought an opportunity to play
for the share of the promised $1 million prize pool.
5. Jamie Gold Backing Scandal
There’s hardly a poker fan on the market who doesn’t know who Jamie Gold is.
Loud, assured, and generally annoying, Gold
managed to search out his strategy to the WSOP Primary Occasion gold bracelet in 2006, profitable
It was an enormous sum of money, however because it turned
out, not all of it was Jamie’s to maintain.
After the match was over, it got here to mild
that he had an settlement with Crispin Leyser, who truly put him within the
In alternate for this, Gold promised half of his
winnings to Leyser, most likely not even dreaming that the half would prove to
be $6 million.
When he refused to pay, Leyser took issues to
court docket and was capable of block Gold from receiving $6 million.
One of many key items of proof was a
voicemail despatched to Leyser on the ultimate day of the Primary Occasion, through which he
promised him his half of the winnings.
Failing to raise the restraining order on the
second half of his winnings, the 2006 WSOP champion determined one of the simplest ways to
resolve the matter was to settle with Leyser privately.
The settlement occurred in 2007, however there have been
no particulars pertaining to only how a lot Gold had to surrender in the long run.
As soon as the entire thing was resolved, Jamie Gold got here
out stating it was all a giant misunderstanding and that he had by no means meant to
return on his phrase.
6. Poker “Prodigy” Busted As A Cheater
The poker world has seen its fair proportion of
Gamers like Tom Dwan, Isildur1, or Annette Obrestad appear to come out of nowhere and wreak havoc on the tables, leaving their opponents scratching their heads.
So, when one other such prodigy emerged in 2010, the
poker world was intrigued however hardly shocked.
Nevertheless, for the younger Portuguese participant Jose “Girah” Macedo, the poker fame was of brief breath.
Macedo’s preliminary fame was largely because of the truth Dan “Jungleman” Cates, a well known high-stakes professional, had endorsed him and took him underneath his wing as certainly one of his college students.
Cates was satisfied that “Girah” was an precise
poker prodigy, and the 2 had seemingly constructed a really shut private
Macedo’s rise to poker fame began in 2010,
and he shortly progressed by the bounds. He began enjoying whereas he was
nonetheless underage, so his id was stored secret for some time.
Ultimately, although, when he lastly turned 18,
the younger Portuguese got here out together with his story, and it was a formidable one.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the primary murky
particulars surrounding Macedo began to floor.
The younger prodigy was a member of a number of
technique teams and had constructed relationships with members of the excessive stakes
group over time.
This was fairly regular and customary till Macedo
began to persuade different gamers in these teams to sit down down and play somebody
going underneath the alias “sauron1989”, and “Girah” insisted on sweating gamers
through Skype, which allowed him to see their complete playing cards.
At first, nobody was suspicious as excessive stakes
gamers sweat one another on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, as time progressed, increasingly eyebrows
began to rise. The “fish” appeared to play excellent poker on a regular basis and ended
up profitable towards everybody Macedo despatched their method.
Gamers began their investigation into the
matter, and so they shortly acknowledged sure uncommon patterns with reference to
“Girah” and “sauron1989” who would at all times go surfing and off their Skype accounts
on the similar time.
With the proof towards him build up,
Macedo determined to tug the plug and got here out clear in a weblog submit printed in
2011 through which he confessed he was colluding with “sauron1989,” giving him the
details about gap playing cards of the gamers he was sweating.
With this sort of data, even a fish
may simply beat the perfect on the earth.
Many have been perplexed as to why Macedo would do
such a factor as his profession was going the suitable method, and the quantity in query
wasn’t all that massive on the finish (round $30,000).
His solely clarification was that he launched
this buddy to poker, and he was actually horrible at it and stored shedding cash,
so he felt responsible and needed to make up for it.
Was this the entire fact? Who is aware of!
Shortly after, Macedo disappeared from the
poker world, and the introduced “prodigy” was gone. Why did he resolve to throw
away a promising profession in poker identical to that?
There’s a veil of thriller surrounding
every part round Jose “Girah” Macedo, nevertheless it doesn’t appear doubtless that the
group will get any additional solutions or clarifications.
7. Chris Ferguson Returns To WSOP
Black Friday and its aftermath left many
gamers in an unenviable scenario.
With out entry to their funds and never understanding
what tomorrow may convey, those that put their belief and cash with Full Tilt
Poker felt betrayed, dissatisfied, and indignant.
All of the whereas, these accountable, together with once-loved Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, have been nowhere to be seen.
Though Ferguson might not have been aware of
every part that was occurring, he needed to know not less than a few of it.
The group anticipated not less than an apology or
an expression of regrets of some type, nevertheless it by no means got here. Chris disappeared from
the general public eye, and nobody heard from him within the years to return.
Then, out of the blue, Ferguson made an
look for the 2016 World Sequence of Poker as if nothing had occurred.
He merely got here to play identical to different
1000’s of gamers in Las Vegas.
The response from the poker group was
something however constructive. Whereas there have been clearly some gamers who didn’t care,
lots of those that have been affected by the occasions of Black Friday, together with some
well-known names, have been outraged.
They have been calling for the WSOP officers to do
one thing and cease Ferguson from enjoying as they felt he had no place on the
Nevertheless, individuals working the Sequence felt that no matter
“Jesus” did or didn’t do had nothing to do with the WSOP, not less than from the
The outrage that ensued on Twitter didn’t appear
to trouble Ferguson, as he entered many occasions that 12 months and had fairly a number of
He prevented the media and their questions,
refusing to discuss the scenario from 2011 and targeted on the grind.
Ferguson returned for the 2017 WSOP as properly and
truly proceeded to grab the Participant of the Yr title, which additional
infuriated part of the group, however there wasn’t a lot anybody may do about
No matter anybody may consider “Jesus” as a
individual, he’s at all times been a fairly good participant and it appeared he was again at it.
In 2018, Ferguson did add a brief apology
video directed on the group, which was obtained with combined reactions. Many
noticed it as too little, too late.
However in that video, “Jesus” did say that the
full story of Full Tilt will likely be informed someday, and he was trying ahead to it.
So who is aware of?
8. Pitbull Poker Controversy
These new to on-line poker have most likely by no means
heard of Pitbull Poker. This was a web-based room that was operational from 2004
to 2009 and supplied an instant-play web site.
Whereas very uncommon for the time, it helped the
room get some traction.
Pitbull was by no means a giant model identify within the
business, however that they had some good bonuses and the instant-play platform in an
setting the place the entire on-line poker factor was fairly new basically.
So, many gamers didn’t know what to search for
or anticipate and have been extra prepared to experiment than they’re at the moment.
It was most likely due to this that the room
may get away with what they have been doing for therefore lengthy.
Particularly, when the scheme was lastly found,
it turned on the market was “pot shaving” taking place at money tables.
What this implies is that the room collected the standard rake from the pots after which an arbitrary quantity on high of it.
Late in 2009, when the scandal bought out and
gamers grew to become massively conscious of the sham, Pitbull poker merely disappeared.
It occurred just about in a single day. Even the
workers at their workplace in Costa Rica had no thought what was occurring. They
have been despatched residence someday underneath false pretenses and got here again the subsequent day to an
Nobody is aware of for certain how a lot cash the room
stole from the gamers through the years, however whoever was behind the operation
clearly bought away with it.
One thing like this might hardly occur at the moment,
nevertheless it was a distinct time again then as gamers didn’t have entry to a lot
data, and the regulation was nothing like at the moment’s ranges.
9. WCOOP Winner Stripped Of Their Title
In on-line poker, the WCOOP Primary Occasion is fairly
a lot the equal of the WSOP Primary Occasion.
Successful is a fairly large deal, and the winners
don’t get to fly underneath the radar, which might be what bought Mark Teltscher in
hassle again in 2007.
Particularly, in that 2007 WCOOP Primary Occasion, a participant
going underneath an alias “TheVOid” went on to defeat the sphere of virtually 3,000
gamers, claiming the distinguished title and simply shy of $1.4 million in prize
Then it turned out that the participant behind this
alias was Natalie Teltscher, Mark’s sister, which raised an enormous purple flag.
PokerStars launched an investigation and their
conclusions have been fairly damning.
It turned out Teltscher had a number of accounts
registered underneath completely different names. Multi-accounting is a giant no-no in on-line
poker, and when PokerStars gathered sufficient proof to make sure of their
conclusion, they determined to disqualify him fully.
This was nice information for the remainder of the ultimate
desk as all people bought to maneuver up a spot, considerably rising their
10. The Postlegate
The final on this record of poker scandals
truly happened comparatively just lately, in 2019, and it was simply the most important
poker story of the 12 months (albeit for all of the mistaken causes).
The entire thing happened in a comparatively
unknown Stones Playing Corridor, which had bought with the occasions and began
streaming their video games dwell.
Within the group of many various gamers who
participated within the video games on the Stones, one identify stood out – Mike Postle.
Regardless of the setup, Postle was seemingly
at all times the perfect participant on the desk, making unbelievable reads, loopy (however
profitable) performs, and profitable just about on a regular basis.
Had all of this not been streamed dwell and
coated with commentary, maybe the entire story would have by no means surfaced.
However, it was there for all to see, and someday issues began to unravel.
It was Veronica Brill, a frequent visitor on the
Stones’ podcast, that got here out first along with her suspicions.
After her, a number of different group members bought
concerned, and so they began going by dozens of hours of dwell footage,
dissecting Postle’s arms.
The extra they did it, the extra obvious it
grew to become that one thing wasn’t including up.
Postle was enjoying like a super-human who
nearly at all times knew precisely the place he was in hand whatever the method the
Gamers accused Postle of dishonest, and the
working principle was that somebody on the within despatched the details about gap
playing cards to his telephone.
For the reason that playing cards are revealed on stream with
delay, somebody increased up may have probably despatched the knowledge to Postle
For the reason that Stones and Postle negated all of the accusations, all the matter ended up in court docket.
The Postlegate affair, because it got here to be recognized, went on for a few years earlier than Postle beat a $30 million civil lawsuit after almost 90 fellow gamers accused him of dishonest.
He then sued his accusers earlier than withdrawing the defamation swimsuit in 2021.