Poker news | Nov 15, 2019
Mike Postle Battling $30m Lawsuit Over Poker Cheating Accusations
By RTR Dennis
Mike Postle gained notoriety for his amazing ability to win in a streamed cash game. In fact, those commentating on the game, which is streamed live from California’s Stones Gambling Hall, thought that he had some divine power. It turns out that his only power may have been to cheat and get away with it — until now anyways.
Postle is facing a $30 million lawsuit from 25 plaintiffs. Based in a Sacramento federal courtroom, the lawsuit includes allegations on everything from fraud to racketeering. Postle is believed to have won around $250,0000 in profits from the game.
Filed by Maurice ‘Mac’ VerStandig, the 34-page lawsuit claims that Postle “has won more money than any other participant” and that he’s “oftentimes been the winningest player on the show.”
Here’s an excerpt from court papers:
“Mr. Postle’s winnings on the Stones Live Poker broadcast, and his correlative play of poker, have been so exceptionally outstanding as to lead the commentator to note his seemingly mystical abilities on numerous occasions.
And to lead Stones (Live) Poker to produce various graphics portraying Mr. Postle as a deity-like individual imbued with omniscient powers (with one such graphic conflating an image of Mr. Postle and an image of Jesus Christ).”
Postle’s Attorney Claims that “Such Streaks Are Possible”
Postle hasn’t commented on the case against him. However, his attorney, William Portanova, has defended his client to the media.
“I guess he wins a lot of hands of poker,” said Portanova. “I don’t gamble, because that’s how many hands I lose.
“But we don’t know what the facts are. I can just say this: When I play poker, I lose almost every hand, so I know such streaks are possible.”
What Does VerStandig’s Lawsuit Allege?
VerStandig’s court filings claim that Postle cheated in at least 68 cash game sessions from July 18, 2018 to September 21, 2019. The lawsuit alleges that he had help from unnamed co-conspirators.
The papers surmise that he cheated through a “communications device” that was hidden in his baseball cap and a mobile phone that he held under the table.
The Stones Gambling Hall games are streamed on a 15 to 30-minute delay. The cards feature radio frequency identification equipment, which transmits players’ hole cards to the control room. This information is then “utilized to produce a broadcast of the subject poker game to the public at large.”
Of course, none of the accusations guarantee that Postle was cheating. However, the videotape evidence does seem pretty suspicious.
For example, Postle is “seen repeatedly looking at his cellular telephone under the table” in one hand. He also won profits in over 94% of the games that he played.
The lawsuit states that this win rate isn’t “known to have been achieved by any other poker player – professional or amateur – over a significant period of time.”
Stones continued to run the streamed cash games right up until the lawsuit was filed. Court papers claim that the poker room did little to remedy the situation after players alleged cheating. As a result, Justin Kuraitis, Stones’ live poker director, is named as a defendant.
The lawsuit notes, “Mr. Kuraitis repeatedly told multiple persons Mr. Postle was not cheating but, to the contrary, Mr. Postle’s play is simply ’on a different level’ or he is ‘just on a heater’ and his play is not something that can be explained."
Stones Spending “A Lot of Money” Getting to the Bottom of This
Stones Gambling Hall has suspended their online poker stream. They’ve also hired former federal prosecutor Michael Lipman, a noted white-collar criminal defense attorney from San Diego. They hope that Lipman can help in their efforts to sort out the truth and protect the streamed show’s integrity.
“Stones is very serious about finding out what, if anything, has happened with regard to this situation,” said Lipman. “We are doing what in my experience is a serious investigation in order to determine what happened.
“We are aware of the comments and analysis that’s been done by the poker community and have taken all of that into consideration as part of our inquiry.
“Most of what they’ve said is circumstantial evidence as to what may have happened. However, we believe that the definitive evidence will be found by forensically examining the computer systems used to broadcast the stream.”
Lipman added that Stones has even gone as far as to hire Stroz Friedberg, a computer forensics company that works for the federal government. He also points out that Stones is pouring “a lot of money” into this matter.
“Stroz has flown employees to Sacramento from the East Coast,” Lipman explained. “We have imaged what we believe to be the relevant computers and components and Stroz had begun their analysis.
“I believe that it will be the computer forensics that will give us the definitive evidence needed to reach the ultimate conclusion. We have been and will continue to totally cooperate with the Bureau of Gambling Control from day one.”
Biggest Poker Cheating Scandal in Years
Poker hasn’t seen a cheating scandal to this magnitude in years. This incident has drawn plenty of mainstream headlines and has a number of players trying to figure out how if/how Postle is cheating.
Prior to filing his lawsuit, VerStandig said through an interview that such a scandal seriously challenges poker’s integrity.
“These allegations rock the poker community because they challenge the core assumptions of integrity that drive the game we all know, love and play for a living,” said VerStandig. “It is difficult to conceive of something that would outrage the poker community on a higher level. This cannot be natural, human play.”
Poker is no stranger to cheating incidents. Russ Hamilton famously bilked UltimateBet players through a “god mode” program where he could see opponents’ hole cards. Ali Tekintamgac was sentenced to three years in prison after using fake photographers to gain information on players’ hole cards.
Postle has a chance to go down in infamy with these same scoundrels if he’s indeed found out to be cheating.