Breaking Poker’s Code of Silence: The Stones Gambling Hall Scandal

As a poker player and creator of “Live at the Bike,” the first live stream of cash games on the internet, I am appalled at the cheating scandal currently rocking the poker world. If the allegations are true, this will be the worst scandal to hit broadcast poker.

Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights, Calif., broadcast cash games on their “Stones Live” poker stream. The games were broadcast with a 30-minute delay. But something wasn’t right. 

Mike Postle, a regular player on the stream, won at an extraordinary rate according to game theory. There’s an old saying in poker that says he made plays that would wake the dead. It seems Postle had help from the inside.

The case is so sensational it even made the mainstream news as Scott Van Pelt reported the story on ESPN. Van Pelt hit the nail on the head when he wondered how could someone play poker so accurately for so long making all the right decisions without knowing the hole cards of his opponents. I wondered the same thing.

Stones Suspends Poker Broadcast

The stream used RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, which transmits players’ hole cards to a computer. So how did Mike Postle allegedly get the information in real time? That’s the question at the center of a $20 million lawsuit filed by attorney Maurice “Mac” VerStandig on behalf of 24 plaintiffs who were allegedly cheated when they played on “Stones Live.”

“Allegations of cheating in a streamed game violate the core integrity that binds the poker industry. Players may all be trained to bluff when appropriate, but the line between representing an over pair and viewing other players’ hole cards is as well established as it is sacred. We look forward to pursuing this case on behalf of our clients, and have confidence in the judicial system,” VerStandig said in a statement.

I reached out to multiple people at Stones and have not received a response. The last statement they have on Twitter said, “@StonesGambling is committed to the integrity of our games. We have been alarmed by allegations of unfair play occurring during the streamed broadcasts of our “Stones Live” games and have acted quickly to investigate.”

I asked David Tuchman, one of the original commentators on “Live at the Bike,” for his thoughts on the Postle scandal. He said, “I believe in math so much, and I am a fanatic about stats.  This does not look right at all.”

Poker Community Comes Together

A dedicated group of poker players went to great lengths to expose the scandal. Veronica Brill, one of the commentators on the stream, put her reputation on the line by bringing her suspicions first to Stone’s management then to the attention of Joey Ingram, who did an extensive investigation. Doug Polk, Matt Berkey and David Tuchman are all to be commended for investigating these cheating allegations.

Bart Hanson, another original commentator on “Live at the Bike,” said it best, “I hope the entire poker community can learn from this situation, and it will strengthen the security of live poker streams across the country.” I couldn’t agree more.

As technology has advanced in poker so has cheating. I have seen many things in my poker playing days from the south to California and everywhere in between. I could write an entire book.

There has been an unspoken code of silence in poker for far too long, and it is time for it to be broken. 

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.

Live at the Bike Set to Premiere on Poker Central

Poker Central

“Live at the Bike” is set to premiere on Poker Central on April 20 at 10 p.m. ET. “Live at the Bike” will be the poker network’s first live show with commentary provided by Nichoel Jurgens and Abe “Limon” Hepner.

“Poker Central is excited to add ‘Live at the Bike’ to our lineup of original programing,” said Dan Russell, SVP of Programming for Poker Central. “The live series will feature real cash games, with talented amateurs and pros facing off every week in one of the most iconic card rooms in L.A.”

“Live at the Bike” launched in 2005 as the first cash games lived streamed directly from the casino floor. The original broadcast team of “Live at the Bike” has found great success in the poker and broadcasting fields.

I spoke with David Tuchman last week, and we discussed how working on “Live at the Bike” gave him the broadcast experience that launched his career.

Born in New York, Tuchman studied theatre and journalism in college. In Los Angeles, he crossed paths with Robert Turner, who was the executive host of the Bicycle Casino at the time.

Turner remembers hiring Tuchman as a house player because of his outgoing personality and passion for poker. When Turner was putting together the broadcast team for “Live at the Bike,” Tuchman was a natural choice.

Live at the Bike Becomes First Live Stream of Cash Games

Athena

Another of Turner’s hires, Bart Hanson, had mentioned that he wanted to be a sports broadcaster, so when Turner was casting for “Live at the Bike,” Hanson immediately came to mind. To round out his team, Turner hired two other prop players, Nichoel Jurgens, an aspiring actress, and Shirley Rosario, an Omaha and mixed-game specialist.

“Live at the Bike” owes its decade-long success not only to its on-air talent but to the hardworking team behind-the-scenes: casino operations director Eveliene Dullaart and Kelley O’Hara, director of marketing.

Along with Rick Cloward, who at the time was director of poker operations, Joker Gaming was created to produce “Live at the Bike.”

After securing seed money for the broadcast from a friend of Turner’s and using the technical expertise of iStreamPlanet, “Live at the Bike” was streamed to the world, and the rest is history.

Visit https://www.pokercentral.com/find-us to see if Poker Central is available in your area.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.