Mike Postle, a regular at the Stones Gambling Hall poker room in Northern California, was accused by Veronica Brill (aka “Angry Polak”) of cheating during live-streamed cash game sessions at the casino. Is there a solid basis to her allegations? Or, is she just jealous that someone else at the poker room is having more success than her? Let’s dive on into this potential scandal.
Brill, a regular in the poker room, made the accusations on Twitter. In a lengthy thread, she laid out her evidence, which included numerous video clips of hands Postle played.
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 Brill (@Angry_Polak) September 28, 2019
In the thread, Brill admits she isn’t “sure this player is cheating.” But, she claims there is a good chance he is, and also said that “numerous professional poker players” voiced their concerns about Postle to her, although she didn’t mention the names of those individuals.
In my opinion, based on the evidence I’ve seen, I’m not quite sure who to believe. I’ll disclose that evidence later on in the article, and you can make your own conclusions. I will say, however, that I find it irresponsible for anyone to make such strong, public accusations against a poker player without definitive proof.
To get to the bottom of this, I spoke with Chris Moneymaker. The 2003 WSOP Main Event champion has a lengthy history playing against Postle, including numerous sessions on the “Stones Live” live-stream show. He gave me some insight into the quality of Mike’s play, and I found his answers in regards to the accusations quite interesting. I also watched Joey Ingram’s five-hour investigative YouTube videos. So, let’s dive right into this.
What’s Going on at Stones Gambling Hall?
Stones Gambling Hall is considered one of the top poker rooms in California, at least in the northern part of the state. Many of the top pros in the area compete in cash games and tournaments at that casino, along with a heavy dose of fish, apparently.
The poker room hosts a regular live-stream cash game show called “Stones Live.” The show is similar to “Live at the Bike,” perhaps the most popular live-streamed cash game series on YouTube.
Postle is a regular on “Stones Live”, and has been quite successful in the game. Some viewers have said on social media that he’s competed in 30-plus streams, and has rarely lost. So, it’s clear he’s a winning player, at least on “Stones Live.” But, is he a winning player when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Unfortunately, there is no way to verify non-streamed cash game results. But, there are many players who have vouched for him on social media. He does have $536,542 in recorded live tournament cashes on Hendon Mob, but it’s impossible to verify total profit as the site only discloses cashes, and not total buy-ins.
Still, with 120 total cashes to his name, he can’t possibly be a complete donkey. That said, his Hendon Mob resume isn’t proof that he hasn’t been cheating on “Stones Live” either.
Poker Room Denies Accusations
Shortly after Brill made the accusations against Postle, the casino released a statement. The Stones Gambling Hall poker stream show denies the allegations and claims to have “conducted a full investigation.”
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
Neither the casino, nor its poker room manager, Justin Kuraitis, have yet released the specific details about what the investigation entailed. That, right there, bothers me a bit. The Stones Twitter post isn’t a good enough response because it is making myself, and others on social media, wonder why they won’t immediately release the methods used to come to the conclusion no cheating occurred.
Stones Live Veteran Chris Moneymaker Chimes In
Moneymaker has a lengthy history with Postle. The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame inductee has played against Postle numerous times on Stones Live, and also competed against the alleged cheater for years in various casinos. So, I reached out to Chris to get his take on the situation.
One hand that raised some eyebrows amongst the conspiracy theorists on Twitter was a hand played between Moneymaker and Postle. In the hand, Postle called an all-in bet with 5-4 preflop. Moneymaker and another player each held A-K. Postle went on to win the hand, scooping an $11,000 pot.
Technically, Postle was the favorite because his opponents were sharing unpaired cards. He had a 42 percent chance to win. So, he made the correct play. But how could he have possibly known both of his opponents had the exact same hand?
“We had been joking around prior to the hand about me winning the World Series of Poker with the 5-4,” Moneymaker told me over the phone. “We were joking around and drinking on the stream, which you don’t see in the videos. So, it wasn’t that crazy of a play.”
Many poker players have questioned if Postle can win off-stream. Moneymaker vouched for the quality of his play.
“He’s a really good f*****g player,” he said. “Back in the day, we’d play heads-up $2/$5 in Tunica (Mississippi), and we’d battle back and forth.”
How Can He Win So Much at Such Low Stakes?
Moneymaker said he played with Postle “12 times or so” on Stones Live. He told me it’s “been a while” since he’s faced the alleged cheater off-stream, however.
One of the red flags the poker community has found in Postle’s game is his on-stream results. Joey Ingram has viewed numerous Stones Live streams, and posted Postle’s results in those streams. They are, to understate things, impressive.
But Moneymaker doesn’t think an $800 hourly wage in those games is all that crazy. He said the games play much bigger than a typical $1/$3 or $2/$5 game. Some on Twitter even said they play as big as $10/$20, or even higher, and buy-ins are uncapped. So, winning large amounts of money in such games is possible.
Moneymaker also admits most of the players in the Stones Live streams aren’t exactly of Phil Ivey’s caliber. But does the 2003 world champion believe Postle is a cheater?
“I have no reason to believe I’ve been cheated,” he said in reference to the aforementioned massive all-in hand he lost. “He doesn’t have any access, to my knowledge, to the back room. They’ve had Jason Somerville and his crew come in in the past to make sure all their stuff is secure. I don’t see how he could possibly be cheating. The only thing that (Veronica) has are some outlandish plays. But that isn’t real evidence.”
Moneymaker, however, conceded that he hasn’t seen many of the videos surfacing of hands Postle played. And he also said that it isn’t impossible for Postle to have cheated, he just isn’t aware of how he could be cheating.
Accused Cheater Responds
Postle went on the defense on Twitter. He shared some clips of hands he played and lost to show his doubters that he doesn’t win all the time. But the videos he released didn’t seem to help his case much. I contacted Mike to get his side of the story. He refused to share details, but I learned a few things about the poker player and his potential defense.
“I’m transparent and have third parties already examining,” he said. “What isn’t mentioned is that both the stream and myself were investigated more than once over the past year.”
Many have called for Postle to release proof of his success as a poker player. He told me that, in response to the allegations, he will be “releasing things of my 16-year poker career where I crushed even more than I do at Stones.”
He also said that he believes jealousy from “losing players” at Stones is likely the reason for the cheating accusation being made public.
“This comes down to a couple local players who don’t like me,” he claims. “(They) hate the attention I get, and can’t stand that I’m mentioned as the best player in the area.”
Postle believes a small group of Stones regulars envy his success, and refers to them as “notorious jealous douchebags.”
“I’m having a third party compile a large amount of hands disproving this. I play reckless, high-variance poker. While most decisions are correct, I’m wrong often too.”
As for his relationship with Brill, Postle said, “we are somewhat close.” He claims she is a “long-time losing player, and I think it finally hit her though, and her close friends hate the attention I get.”
Top Pros Not Buying His Story
If you’ve been following Twitter the past few days, you’re probably aware this story has overtaken the conversation. Many of the best players in the world, such as Scott Seiver and 2013 world champion, Ryan Riess, have chimed in with their two cents. And, it appears few, if any, of the top pros have Postle’s back.
Got alerted to this Stones cheater, watched hands from @Joeingram1 and @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
I get more and more tilted looking at these hands as I go along. Not just because of how ridiculous these Postle decisions are, but how the commentators are just like
"OH THATS POSTLE HE ALWAYS WINSS LOL YUP"
Then the stream inserts some dumb Postle meme. Is this real life?
— Doug Polk (@DougPolkVids) October 1, 2019
It’s so obvious that this Mike guy was cheating. I hope they throw the book at him
— Ryan Riess (@RyanRiess1) October 1, 2019
Imaging being a 700BB/100 winner for 16 years and somehow not having moved past 5/5
— Mike McDonald (@MikeMcDonald89) October 2, 2019
So, Where’s the Evidence?
Thus far, I’ve shared with you the news aspect of this story, and provided quotes from a player who has competed against Postle (Moneymaker), and Postle himself. Now it’s time to dig into the actual evidence being used by Joey Ingram and others in an attempt to prove he is a cheater.
The main evidence centers around numerous hands Mike has played on the Stones Gambling Hall live-stream show. Others point to the fact he rarely has a losing session, if ever, on stream, and few examples of him making an incorrect decision in a hand have been found. So, many poker players find it strange that he takes massive risks, but is almost never wrong, at least based on the hand histories we’ve viewed.
If you’re on the fence as to whether Postle is a cheater or just a great player, I encourage you to watch two, five-hour, YouTube videos on Ingram’s YouTube channel.
There are 20-30 hands that have me questioning the legitimacy of Postle’s play. But the one hand that boggles my mind most is where he had A-K in a four-way pot on a K-8-4 board with two hearts, following a preflop three-bet.
The under-the-gun player shoves all-in with a relatively small stack. Action is folded around to Postle, who had a big stack and easily had his opponent covered. This is a snap-call every time. I’ve played poker for 16 years, and have done quite well for myself in Las Vegas cash games. So, I’ve faced situations like this numerous times.
You have to call here because the all-in player’s range includes K-Q, K-J, flush draws, possibly K-10 or K-9, and even pocket 10’s or jacks. So, with A-K, Postle is beating a large portion of his opponent’s range. Mike, however, is either a mind-reader or something fishy is going on, because he folded and his opponent held 8-8 for a set.
It’s Not Just One or Two Crazy Hands
Postle folding A-K in that spot proves nothing, other than he made a tight, but correct lay down. It doesn’t prove that he’s a cheater. However, Ingram and others have shown videos of many additional hands that play out in a similar fashion.
That still doesn’t prove he’s a cheater, but it means that either he’s just about the best player ever, or he is cheating. Twitch streamer Kevin Martin shared another interesting hand.
Check this one out Joey.
Cold calls 63ss after open-3bet-4bet.
Not surprisingly 3-bet & 4-bet are AQo and AKss.
Proceeds to magically play every street perfectly.
— KMart (@KevinRobMartin) October 1, 2019
Postle, whether he’s cheating or otherwise, plays an unconventional style. Many of the top pros, such as Seiver and Matt Berkey, don’t believe someone could possibly win at such a high rate playing high-variance poker.
Postle often calls three and even four-bets, or is the initial raiser, preflop with some of the weakest hands, such as 9-5 and 6-3. Or, as I mentioned earlier, he got involved in an $11,000 pot preflop against Moneymaker with 5-4. But somehow, despite playing that loose-aggressive strategy, he doesn’t seem to lose many pots.
Is He a Cheater or Not? My Two Cents
After speaking with Ingram and Moneymaker, reading comments from the top pros on Twitter, chatting briefly with Postle, and reviewing many hours worth of his hand history on stream over the past few days, I have come to a conclusion.
I think there is certainly a strong possibility that Postle has been cheating at Stones Gambling Hall, but I don’t believe we have any hard evidence to prove it. I’ll admit this all seems fishy, but I need hard evidence to flat out call the man a cheater.
What makes me question Postle the most, actually, aren’t the rare losses or misreads. I’m most concerned with something he told me.
“I play reckless, high-variance poker.”
It’s obvious from the 10 hours worth of hands Ingram showed on his YouTube channel, Postle plays a reckless style of poker. He takes numerous big risks every time he’s on stream.
But when you play that style of poker, you’re going to have losses. I know, because that’s similar to how I play. I get away with more bluffs than most, but because I take so many risks, I also sometimes run into the nuts or a player who is fed up with my constant betting and raising, and decides to call me down with bottom pair out of spite.
After watching hours of Postle’s action, I have yet to once see him run into a monster when he’s bluffing. Maybe there are examples out there that no one has been able to find yet. Postle claims he’s been stacked on stream before, or was caught bluffing. We just haven’t found those examples yet, which makes me suspicious.
One Last Thing…
In defense of Postle against Seiver and the other poker stars who have piled on, I think their viewpoints might be a little blinded by the talent level of the competition they face.
Moneymaker even said that the players on Stones Live are, in most cases, weak. And after watching hours worth of videos from that stream, I’d have to agree.
Players like Seiver don’t regularly face such weak competition. I follow the high-roller cash game streams and tournaments religiously. I’m not saying there aren’t any weak players at that level, and I’m sure there are some fish in “Bobby’s Room” at Bellagio. But there’s rarely, if ever, a player as incompetent as most of the players I’ve seen on these Stones streams.
So, it’s possible that the high rollers who have watched clips of Postle’s play and then came to the conclusion he’s a cheater may not realize a skilled player likely has a much higher edge over the competition in the Stones stream games than, say, Stephen Chidwick does over a recreational player, such as Bill Klein.
Postle’s win rate on stream might be due to the gap in competition. Or, maybe he is a cheater. I don’t have any hard evidence to claim that he’s been cheating, but I also don’t have any evidence to prove he isn’t. And there’s no doubt it’s suspicious, given he plays such high-variance poker and appears to rarely runs into the nuts when he bluffs.
So, yes, he could be cheating. He could also be a skilled, winning player who got greedy and found an illegal way of winning even bigger. Or, he just might be the sickest low to mid-stakes poker player ever. I’ll let you be the judge.