A poker pro is being accused of cheating after an improbable $250,000-estimated winning streak and some head-scratching plays on a live-streamed poker cash game in Northern California left many in the poker community doubting whether or not the wins came fair and square.
It all started when Veronica Brill, formerly a regular commentator on Stones Live Poker at Stones Gambling Hall, and host of a $1-$3 no-limit hold’em game dubbed ‘Veronica and Friends,’ accused poker player Mike Postle of cheating after more than a year of winning with unorthodox plays.
You take that player off the stream while you launch a proper, objective, investigation done by a third-party. Once it’s shown that the player has not been cheating you make your investigation public and let the player back onto the stream.
— Veronica 2.0 (@Angry_Polak) September 28, 2019
In one of her tweets about the situation, she posted a link to a YouTube compilation of hands that Postle played over several different sessions. In a very deep stacked $1-$3 game, Postle raised and four-bet to $5,000 (yes, $5,000) with A-2 on a Q-Q-4-5 board after four players checked the flop.
The videos and tweets have sparked a long debate on both Twitter and poker forums with several players weighing in on Postle’s play. One incident many viewers flagged was a hand where Postle managed to just check-call a river bet with 8-8 against his opponent’s 10-10 on a 9-9-3-10-8 board.
However, later on in the broadcast, Postle told commentators that the RFID technology used to read the hole cards had malfunctioned, and that he really held 8-7, and not a full house. The same excuse was also used was when he said he had 6-6 and not 9-6 after check-calling the flop and turn, and then bet-three-betting the river on a K-6-4-A-A board where his opponent had just nine-high.
High-stakes poker pro Matt Berkey took to Twitter and said that he owns RFID technology and that graphics ‘almost NEVER misread a hand.’
If that happened there’s no way to communicate to the graphic operator what the correct hand is w/o PHYSICALLY LOOKING at “misread hand.” In @Joeingram1 short review Mike has done something RIDICULOUSLY clairvoyant 3x & each time the graphics are said to be wrong, giving an alibi
— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) October 1, 2019
Internet sleuths have uncovered countless other examples that either point to some form of cheating, or one of the best poker performances ever broadcast. Brill’s allegations came in part because of Postle’s seemingly-perfect balance between a loose-aggressive cannon when his opponents are weak, and a more conservative, tight strategy when his opponents are strong.
“I feel that with such a high vpip and play style, if we run the SIM a hundred times with players of equal competency he’s running in the 95th percentile of results,” tweeted Brill.
After a couple days of debate, poker personality Joe Ingram decided to broadcast a live stream where he broke down hours of hands Postle played from sessions on Stones Live.
That was the most NL I’ve watched consecutively for years. Very very interesting stream, many hands we went over.
Stones seems like a very fun place to play.
Mike is a God at Texas Hold’em.
This entire situation is shitty
Some of these hands are suspect
— Joey Ingram (@Joeingram1) October 1, 2019
Some in the poker community believe that Postle’s work history may have given him a way to gain access to the contents of hole cards. His two LinkedIn accounts were recently deleted, however one detailed that he was, at one point, involved in producing a project called “Dream Seat Poker Show.” Almost all poker shows use RFID technology and some believe that with his knowledge of how streaming works, he may have found a way to know his opponent’s hole cards during play, either with help from a device, and/or an accomplice working on the production team.
Postle is also listed as the owner of an internet marketing company which offers “text message marketing and other services such as QR codes, mobile apps, and social network integration.”
After watching the footage, Ingram estimated that Postle won more than six figures in these streamed games, despite rarely playing above stakes of $5-$5. He also observed that Postle racks up as soon as each stream ends and hadn’t booked a loss. Local players reported that Postle doesn’t play very often if the game isn’t streamed.
The Wisconsin native has slightly more than $500,000 in career live tournament earnings, but has also worked day jobs in the casino industry. He was a former dealer and supervisor at St. Croix Casino in Wisconsin before moving on to the Grand Casino, and Fitz Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.
After seeing some of the evidence, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Scott Seiver doesn’t think that there’s any question that Postle has been cheating the game somehow.
Got alerted to this Stones cheater, watched hands from
Joeingram1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/haralabob?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">haralabob , Q isn’t if he cheats, it’s how you could possibly play at the casino that claims there was no cheating ever again. Anyone playing there deserves their fate.
— Scott Seiver (@scott_seiver) October 1, 2019
Some poker players, however, have decided to back Postle. Recent Poker Hall of Fame inductee and 2003 WSOP main event champion Chris Moneymaker initially vouched that Postle was a winner long before he made his way to Sacramento and recounted seeing Postle as a consistent winner in non-streamed games in Mississippi.
He has since backed off that defense and clarified that he wasn’t talking about anything that happened on stream. Poker pro Shawn Rice also came to Postle’s defense in the forum thread on the subject.
I have played with mike longer than anyone. Back in tunica days and this has always been his style. He was one of the biggest winners online for years. He is just simply a better player. Sad you attack him with zero proof because you don’t understand. 1/2
— Chris Moneymaker (@CMONEYMAKER) September 29, 2019
Stones Gambling Hall also stood behind Postle in a statement. The Stones Live Poker account tweeted that the establishment conducted an investigation when the concerns were initially raised and they concluded that there was no evidence that any cheating took place, calling the allegations “completely fabricated.”
It is unfortunate that these allegations were made public w/ absolutely no evidence
The reputation of my team & an exciting/fun player are now being publicly mobbed
We have taken every step to ensure game integrity including consulting w/ respected streamers & I.T. firms https://t.co/kZjXs1be6E
— Justin Kuraitis (@JFKPokerTD) September 29, 2019
Postle denied the accusations in a flurry of Twitter posts, even offering his followers $10 each to find video evidence in the stream archives of him losing.
Its a shame I need to dig thru my 16 year past to prove that I’ve played this style of poker the entire 16 years. Anyone who’s played more than a cpl sessions with me knows it too. Along with that is nothing but people/accounts who can verify me winning that entire time.
— Mike Postle (@Mike_Postle) September 30, 2019
Card Player has reached out to Stones Gambling Hall, but has not yet received any additional statements about the allegations.
Despite getting some heat on social media, Stones opted to run their live stream again on Tuesday evening, albeit without commentators. Postle’s brother was playing in the game, and at one point even discussed the scandal with the rest of the table. Moderators on the Stones Twitch channel were less willing to talk about it, deleting comments and banning any viewers who brought up Postle’s suspicious play.
Historically, it has been the poker community who has policed itself and uncovered massive cheating scandals. In 2007, a couple of forum posts about inconsistencies in a player’s style led to the uncovering of the biggest cheating scandal in online poker history.
Playing under the name ‘PotRipper’ on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, a former consultant from the company was able to hack the software and see his opponent’s hole cards in real-time. He won millions over the course of playing online in the highest-stakes games offered which ultimately resulted in $20 million being refunded to players.
UPDATE: In the early afternoon of Oct. 2 Stones Gambling Hall announced via Twitter that they will be halting their live streaming broadcast operations pending a further investigation. The statement indicated that the findings of this new look into the allegations of cheating will be announced at a later date.
.@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.
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) October 2, 2019