15 Biggest Poker Cheating Scandals

Table of Contents

It is said that the love of money is the root of all evil. Whenever money is involved, a lot could go wrong there, and that is why the games of poker, though beautiful, have attracted the good, the bad, and the worse.

There is hardly anyone betting on the poker table who doesn't want to have a piece of the cake, and some can go to any length to cheat to have a share of the money. In this modern time, it is even worst. Back in the day, casinos were not as worried about cheating as we are today.

They were worried about how many heads would roll. The cheater, then, took a more violent approach. Whatever the case may be, whether violet or soft cheating, they are all bad for the game, and every hand should be on the deck to ride poker against the cancer-called cheaters.

To discuss the biggest poker cheating scandal, one of the things we will be considering is the account involved.

Follow us as we share the 15 biggest Poker cheating scandals that have previously marred poker. 

Biggest Poker Cheating Scandals

1. The Black Friday

One of the biggest cheating scandals ever hit the poker industry in modern times is what was later known as the Black Friday Poker Cheating Scandal. To tell you how big this was, it was between the United States government and some poker-big wings.

Out of the blue, on the 15th of April, 2011, poker players using Cereus Network, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker could not have access to their funds, and these were among the biggest poker sites in the US then.

Eleven big players in the industry were also charged with crimes bordering on bank fraud and illegal online gambling, with $3 billion in civil suits against some online casinos.

PokerStars alone had to pay over $730 million in penalties and fines. Up to that point, the online poker industry had not recovered from the shock of the Black Friday event.

2. Brynn Kenney Staking Group Poker

As of 2022, Brynn Kenney is the most successful poker player in terms of winning. He has won almost $60 million. But, all these winnings did come with some questioning. Martin Zamani accused Kenney of running a poker-cheating cult. Zamani claimed Kenney recruited many players to play online games and worked according to his instructions.

Zamani made these claims on a podcast, and as soon as it came out, it spread like wildfire on X, other social media platforms, poker forums, and news houses. Since this scandal, many people in many quarters have questioned his earnings. People will always have suspicions of whether Kenney made his money without cheating.

3. Russ Hamilton Poker Cheating Allegations

Russ Hamilton

Russ Hamilton is one of the big names when it comes to poker cheating. He was an infamous cheat who reigned from 2004 to 2008. During this period, Hamilton cheated people of their hard-earned money to $22 million.

His tactic was using a superuser account that made it difficult to beat him, even for the best poker player. Hamilton was one of the best poker players. He won the 1994 World Series of Poker Main Event, where he won $1 million, but greed set in, and today, only a few people remember him for achieving that feat in poker.

Many people, including his friends and family members, were disappointed in him. He was stripped of all his titles, reputations, and winnings. 

4. Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker Scandal

Joe Norton owned Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker when this scandal happened. The scandal started in August of 2007 when poker players suspected an unusual betting pattern and reported this to the manager of Absolute Poker, but the manager swept it to the carpet.

The player pushed further, and the management acknowledged a breach in their system. The company paid $1.6 in funds in October of the same year and $ 500,000 in fines the next year.  In 2008, a sister company, Ultimate Bet, had a similar incident and was investigated.

They paid $ 6.1 million in refunds. It was discovered that users lost $20 million, and the investigator recommended suspension.  But instead, they were fined $1.5 million. The people or persons involved in the system bridge were never named, but the company paid $9.7 million in refunds and fines. 

5. Lock Poker Cheating Scandal

When Lock Poker came in 2008, it relieved many poker players that they finally could find a place to play their game after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. But little did many users know that they were about to be duped.

The site grew since it was one of the few sites that accepted US players. Their first issue was cashout, which made them unable to pay players. They finally closed after some months with over $15 million of people’s funds. Luck Poker is one of many poker sites that started but closed, with many customers losing their money.

6. Peter Jepsen Malware Poker Cheating

This poker cheating scandal made this list for multiple reasons. For one, it is one of the longer cheating strick. For 6 years, Peter Jopsen was busy cheating on other poker players. He installed malware on poker players' computers and could read their hands when playing them online. In that six years of cheating, Jepsen was believed to have stolen $4 million.

He was later found guilty of the crime after five years of investigation. He was fined $3.8 million and sentenced to two and a half years. In addition, $3.9 million was seized by the Danish government, which they used to compensate players he cheated. 

7. Fake Borgata Tournament Chips

Christian Lusardi was 43 years old when he got himself involved in one of the biggest poker cheating scandals. In 2015, he came to the Borgata Winter Open Big Stack tournament with fake chips discovered to be valued at $3.6 million, although these chips had no actual cash value.

He was fined $463,540 to compensate the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and another $9,455 to Harrah’s Casino Hotel for damaging their plumbing while trying to flush the chips down the drain. In addition, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his crime. 

8. WCOOP Winner Stripped Of Their Title

In 2007, the World Championship of Online Poker winner was stripped of his title, with a price tag above $1.2 million due to cheating. The online poker site that hosted the tournament was PokerStars. They refused to disclose the person involved in the cheating for privacy reasons.

But following the event, they adjusted the winners and the prize money, i.e., the 1st runner-up became the winner. To date, the event of the WCOOP remains a mystery, but trust the media. The news went viral. 

9. Robbi Lew Poker Cheating Scandal

Only male poker players do not monopolize cheating scandals. In this case, a female poker player named Robi Lew was accused by Garrett Adelstein of cheating during a 2022  $269,000 pot. Adelstein, a pro player, was suspicious of Lew, a relatively new hand in the high-stakes, no-limit games.

Lew was said to offer Adelstein money back, which was an admission of guilt to Adelstein, but after investigation, nothing was found against Lew. However, people did not stop talking about what transpired during the game because she was already an Instagram celebrity with many followers. 

10. The Mike Postle Cheating Scandal

Mike Postle was another big name, doing almost perfectly well in games. This perfect play raised an eyebrow, and in 2019, he was called out by Veronica Brill, who had played with him in one of Postel's most featured events called “Stone Live.” It was estimated that Postel had won more than $250,000 in the hours played in stake games.

Although Postled denied all allegations, no real wrongdoing was found against him, and what Brill had against him was just a hunch, but as soon as she spilled that hunch, it became a big scandal in the betting world. 

11. Martin Kabrhel Poker Cheating Scandal

Martin Kabrhel was accused in 2023 of cheating during the Word Series Tournament (WST). Many players during this tournament had suspicions, but Dan Smith voiced out after Kabrhel eliminated him in the games worth $250,0000. Smith claimed that Kabrhel's cheating tactics during the games included card marking and attempting to look at other people’s cards.

Meanwhile, Karrhel, from the Czech Republic, debunked all the accusations using his X handle. Of course, before he debunked the claim, the news was in all the places that mattered, and for months, people kept talking about it. 

12. Pitbull Poker Controversy 

Pitbull Poker started in 2004 as a promising poker site, but due to poor software, their online presence lasted for 5 years. One of the selling points of this website was that it gives new users $10 just for registering. In addition, a lot of cheaters prey on the site.

Since the site offered a welcome bonus, many people opened multiple accounts as the site didn't have any software but was in Java. At the same time, the case for this site is even worse because the site was accused of having a superuser.

One night in September of 2009, the site closed down with players' money, and nothing was ever heard about them. Although the amount lost by players is unknown, some believe it will be under $100k.

13. Fedor Kruse Poker Cheating Scandal

Fedor Kruse was accused by his colleagues in 2020 of using Real Time Assistance to access pre-solved cash game information. Before exposing him, they confronted him and asked him to stop cheating, but he refused; hence, he was reported to PokerStars.

Kruse used two computers set up to cheat, and his roommates share the screen shorts of their chat and cheating as evidence. He had earned over $92,000 before exposure. Kruse didn't comment on the cheating allegations, and the press and bloggers had a filled day with the scandal. 

14. Jose Macedo Poker Cheating Scandal

The news of the Jose Macedo poker cheating scandal surprised many poker followers as he was considered one of the best minds in poker in his reigning time. Many upcoming poker players looked up to him but were left disappointed when the news broke out.  He admitted that he had been involved in the Sweating of other players because of $30k.

Although the money involved is relatively small compared to others to make this list, Macedo is a big name and made over $2 million when this happened. His guilt cut up with him, and he decided to confess, but his confession came with consequences to his name and career. He lost many endorsement deals and could not play poker in many places. 

15. Ali Imsirovic and Jake Schindler Poker Cheating Allegations

In 2022, other pro players accused Imsirovic and Schindler of cheating during live games. They accused them of colluding during games, using multiple accounts, and using real-time software for assistance. Imsirovic later admitted to some of the claims and said in his X handle that the cheating started five months before the whole thing was exposed. Before he was caught, he had made over $18 million.

On the other hand, his partner in crime had made $35 million. They were banned from all PokerGO events for that year and didn't participate in the Poker Master high roller series held in 2022.  

Conclusion

Many poker cheating scandals have rocked the game of poker. While the game of poker is moving to the next level with a step forward, these scandals draw it backward with two steps. The biggest poker cheating scandal remains the Black Friday event of 2011, which came with a claim of 3 billion dollars and an eventual settlement of almost $800,000.

When his alleged poker cult scandal started, poker superstar Kenney's 60 million dollars in earnings was questioned.  Another scandal that shocked the poker world was the Russ Hamilton scandal, a legend many expected more from. Other scandals are online poker sites like Lock Poker Cheating Scandals closing without refunding people’s money. 

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