The story began with a tweet. Since then, countless hours of footage have been put under the microscope and forensic analysis of every movement made by Mike Postle at the table during livestreamed Stones cash games has been conducted. The poker world’s vast jury has deliberated, and its verdict is clear. Mike Postle has cheated with the complicity of one or more individuals running the stream. Latest developments suggest that their verdict may not be the only one forthcoming, with a multi-million dollar lawsuit having now been filed.
$10M lawsuit and legal fallout
The possibility of a lawsuit had increased in recent days with counsellor, legal columnist and poker player Mac VerStandig reaching out on Twitter to offer his legal help in pursuing the matter. It seems his offer was quickly taken up, as a $10 million lawsuit was filed by VerStandig yesterday. Within it, charges are listed relating to negligence, along with fraud, libel, racketeering and unjust enrichment.
This afternoon, @Angry_Polak and 24 of her colleagues took the next step in availing themselves of the American judicial system. We are proud to serve as their counsel and look forward to pursuing this matter in court. https://t.co/qcYs7WIAPp pic.twitter.com/cCaRpNCF2A
— Mac VerStandig (@mac_verstandig) October 8, 2019
There are 9 counts in total, and the subjects of the lawsuit are Mike Postle, Stones Gambling Hall, Tournament Director Justin Kuraitis and other currently unknown individuals.
On the court document, attorney for the plaintiffs Mac VerStandig added, “This case represents the largest known cheating scandal in the history of broadcast poker”.
This lawsuit comes despite Stones Live taking a more serious stance on the allegations in recent days.
Interestingly, the court filing pinpoints an individual referred to as John Doe 1 who it says, was a “chief confederate”. It is thought that this refers to the small number of sessions where Postle lost money, and that an individual behind the scenes was not working on those days. On other days when this individual was not working, Postle chose to deviate from his usual schedule and not play at all.
Evidence continues to emerge through the hard work of the poker community
The allegations levelled at Mike Postle began with a former commentator and player in the game tweeting about measures being taken behind the scenes in response to possible cheating. It was soon made clear that Mike Postle was the subject of the cheating comment, and detailed examination of video footage showed perfect river plays and unusual comments and behaviour from the player in question.
The following days saw the poker community conduct some thorough detective work to calculate Postles’s number of winnings sessions and total profits, along with providing many plausible theories about how Postle could have cheated.
Bulges in Postle‘s hat, coupled with persistent head rubbing and having keys always on the table, looking down at his lap frequently during big hands; all of these have been noted. Most tellingly, in all the video evidence examined by the poker community across 69 live sessions, Postle has made crazy hero calls on rivers dozens of times and never been wrong.
Stones Live had initially said the story was fabricated and that they had investigated and found no evidence of wrongdoing. With all the evidence that has been dredged up by keen-eyed players in the poker community however, it has become seemingly impossible for them to stick to this assertion. In the last few days, the situation has developed further.
Live stream suspended amid new investigation announcement
(2/4) 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.
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) October 3, 2019
Just a few days after its initial comment that no wrongdoing had taken place, Stones Live announced the cessation of live streamed cash games while a second investigation was carried out. Having seemingly decided to reverse its position in the wake of public outcry online, Stones Live has formerly announced its second, more detailed investigation. This investigation will be headed by former U.S District Attorney for the Southern District of California, Michael Lipman.
(3/4) 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.
— StonesLivePoker (@StonesLivePoker) October 3, 2019
While this looks like clear progress on the matter, there are issues people have with the way Stones Live has handled and continues to handle the case. Having initially stated that an investigation had taken place, it seems strange to announce three days later that a new multi-faceted investigation was underway. If the first investigation had been conducted properly, why would there be a need for a second one and why were the details of the first not made public? Furthermore, the person they have put in charge of the investigation is not quite everything he seems.
The appointment of Michael Lipman appeared at first glance, to be a strong step forward towards clearing up the matter of Mike Postle. What Stones Live didn’t say though, was that Lipman was once the company’s attorney. Considering one of the theories about Postle is that he has someone working with him on the inside, Stones Live’s decision to place an investigation in the hands of their former representative does not reflect well on them.
Investigations would normally be conducted independently, by someone who has no allegiances to anyone involved. Stones Live’s decision to do the opposite and try to keep Lipman’s ties to them quiet, while naming it an independent investigation looks shady. After all, if there was something to be swept under the rug, nobody would be better placed to clean it up quietly than the company’s former attorney.
Postle and Matusow
In one of the more bizarre podcast episodes available currently, Mike Matusow had Mike Postle speak on his podcast “The Mouthpiece”. Postle joined Matusow as a guest and openly spoke about the scandal, something he may come to regret if legal proceedings are ever brought against him. On the podcast, Matusow appeared to take Postle’s side, opening with “I just want you to know, I’m not like these other fucking jack-offs – I’m a real person”. He went on to declare he was stoned while struggling to string a sentence together, before asking Postle about the allegations
Predictably, Mike Postle claims his completely innocent and is scathing towards the poker community’s investigation of him, claiming many of the facts are way off. He also refers to the “goofy graphics”, suggesting that the RFID system is faulty.
Partially, his explanation also rests on the claim that he is an incredibly talented poker player. Postle claims to have made large amounts of money online and says he plays a special style which makes him unpredictable. This isn’t entirely convincing considering he is seen on camera making fundamentally terrible, massively losing plays frequently while being live streamed on the Stones Live cash game.
With cheaters and immoral characters having gone unpunished in many cases since poker’s boom, there appears to be a real appetite among poker players for criminal charges if Postle is proven guilty.
Article by Craig Bradshaw