In a story which has snowballed very quickly over the last day or two, allegations of cheating have been levelled at a regular on the televised cash game at Stones Gambling Hall in California. There is currently no conclusive proof, but if clear evidence is found it could fracture the trust players have in televised poker games.
Former commentator and player in the game Veronica Brill was the first to raise suspicions by tweeting that the team behind the scenes could not use mobile phones during live streaming due to concerns about a player. She added that the same player was still publicly being promoted as one of the best.
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.
— Veronica 2.0 (@Angry_Polak) September 28, 2019
Closer examination of that live game by the poker world then ensued. It was soon made clear that Mike Postle was the subject of the tweet, with the live stream featuring many hands in which he made perfect plays in situations where they would be abnormal. Viewers then went through all the live streams to compile a list of his wins and losses, finding that he had an exceptionally high winrate despite regularly making plays which would clearly be very -EV in most instances.
From there, Joey Ingram picked up the story and began his own analysis of key hands, concluding that Postle’s plays and winrates just didn’t add up. Additionally, some of things Postle says at the table also seemed suspicious.
Mike's 2018 results found so far on stream
— Joey Ingram #CTO 🤙🏻🤙🏻 (@Joeingram1) October 1, 2019
How would Postle be able to cheat?
With any televised cash game, there is a delay between the cards being dealt and seen by people behind the scenes, and the cards being aired to the public. This is to stop hole card information being passed to a player at the table by any means, but it is not an infallible system. An accomplice within the television team could get information to Postle, or he could have an electronic device which can read the RFID chips in the cards which are used to tell the television team what cards are being held by each player.
It has been suggested that a certain custom phone app could be created to accomplish such a cheat, and in fact, Postle has run a company which produces custom phone apps in the past. Also, as with most poker tables, players can use their phones while playing at the table. Despite these possibilities and the suspicious plays made by Postle, Stones Live Poker maintain that a full investigation has been conducted and that no cheating has taken place.
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
The recent allegations are completely fabricated
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) September 29, 2019
The online backlash
With detailed analysis of Postle’s hands now in the public domain, the number of perfect river folds and bluffs and complete lack of mistakes on the river by Postle seems to tell a strong story. Poker pros who have seen the footage all appear to agree, with Scott Seiver and Haralabos Voulgaris voicing clear opinions on Postle’s play.
What I am witnessing is either a time traveling wizard, a cheat or the greatest poker player of all time that can't seem to get his head above 1-3NL
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) October 1, 2019
Mike Postle defended himself online as the Twitter storm gathered strength, stating that he had always made money everywhere he played in a 16-year career and was being forced to now gloat in order to defend himself. Oddly, he also said the card graphics shown on screen were sometimes inaccurate, and so the analysis of his hands was also not accurate. This claim was quickly dismissed as impossible by Matt Berkey, who owns RFID technology.
There is so much I want to say and now so much that I am forced to say which involves gloating about my 16 year poker career. One that involves me being so successful everywhere I’ve played including online, that I’ve been accused of having an unfair advantage by a handful of 1/2
— Mike Postle (@Mike_Postle) September 30, 2019
Whatever the truth behind the accusations, a few things seem clear. Firstly, Stones Live should have removed the player from the stream while the situation was investigated, and the results and methods of the investigation should then be made public. Secondly, the overwhelming consensus among professional players who have watched and analysed the sessions is that Postle is cheating. This may not be conclusive, but it is compelling. Thirdly, televised poker aired with delays is likely to now experience an erosion of trust among players which could yet spread far beyond the boundaries of Stones Live Poker.
More: The five cheating scandals that shocked the live tournament world
Article by Craig Bradshaw