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The ‘Mike Postle’ cheating scandal hit the poker grapevine back in September 2019. Setting the ball rolling was Veronica Brill, a former commentator at Stones Live Poker, who accused Postle of cheating during the live-streamed cash games at the Stones Gambling Hall.
On October 8 last year, poker player and lawyer, Maurice VerStandig, filed a lawsuit at U.S. District Court representing Brill and 24 other plaintiffs allegedly affected by the cheating. King’s Casino (parent company to Stones Gambling Hall) and former Stones Live production manager Justin Kuraitis were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Nine months later, on June 3, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb granted the motions to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the three defendants.
The Postlegate scandal was one of the most significant talking points of the poker community last year. The scandal soon blew over to gigantic proportions. So much so that poker vlogger Joe Ingram went through every single hand that Postle played on live-stream at the Stones Gambling Hall and studied his entire play versus hand histories that had been posted. In fact, Ingram went on to win the Global Poker Awards (GPA) Journalist of the Year and Content of the Year – Video Awards for his videos on the Postle cheating investigations.
The saga continued for nine whole months with multiple motions for dismissals and rebuttals being filed by both sides. Eventually, the number of plaintiffs accusing Postle, Kuraitis, and Stones of cheating increased to 88.
The plaintiffs had filed the case seeking $10 Million in damages each from all three defendants.
“Cards used for the games contained RFID chips to allow the cardroom to post the players’ hole cards on the screen for the online broadcast, which was shown on a delayed basis. The suit alleges Postle received hole card information, possibly on his cell phone. Armed with that information, plaintiffs alleged it allowed him to win at a rate considerably higher than the world’s top poker players.”
Postle is believed to have won about $250,000 in the games. The plaintiffs claimed Postle only played the games that were streamed and that too only at Stones. They also said he received this information from one or more unnamed accomplices.
According to PokerNews that was able to obtain court documents via Pacer, the judge agreed with the defendants that the plaintiff`s claims were “not cognizable under California law because California public policy bars judicial intervention in gambling disputes, in part because the asserted damages are inherently speculative,” as settled in the case of Kelly v. First Astri Corp.
As mentioned by PokerNews, Shubb wrote that “monies lost to Mr. Postle” and “the loss of opportunity to earn monies through honest games of poker” are “quintessential gambling losses that are barred for recovery by California public policy.”
“Accordingly, California’s strong public policy against judicial resolution of civil claims arising out of gambling disputes mandates the dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff’s claims against Postle for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence per se, and unjust enrichment.”
“Today, the California state legislature still has not created a statutory right to permit individuals to recover their gambling losses, although other states have done so,” the judge stated.
A request for sanctions for Postle was also dismissed by the judge. The four-page ruling explained, “Regardless of whether Postle had his ghostwritten by that attorney or cut and pasted from the brief his attorney filed in that prior case, the court sees no reason to impose sanctions here. It is therefore ordered that plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions be, and the same hereby is, denied.”
It is unknown whether an appeal will be filed in the decisions. If not, Postle will not face any civil penalties from the cheating allegations. An amended complaint may also be filed, but only charges pertaining to Stones Gambling Hall and Kuraitis would be involved.
This effectively means that Postle, the one primarily accused of cheating, has gotten away scot-free. However, Shubb has given plaintiffs 20 days to resubmit an amended claim against Stones Gambling Hall and Kuraitis, as the judge indicates the rake is considered a fee paid to ensure a fair game is played.
The plaintiff’s lawyer VerStandig expressed his displeasure with the decision. “While I am of course disappointed Mr. Postle has been let out of this litigation, I trust that disappointment pales compared to that of Stones Gambling Hall, which made the arguments that permitted Mr. Postle to exit the case.”
VerStandig also told PokerNews, “In 1851, California established a precedent of not permitting litigation related to claims stemming from card games. It is a policy with which I do not agree in this day and age of legalized gaming, and one I am disappointed a legal gaming parlor would rely upon. But I am also heartened the court has acknowledged that our claims to recover the rake collected by Stones potentially fall outside the contours of that policy.”
He also said, “The court has given us leave to amend, and I anticipate we will avail ourselves of that right. The court’s opinion acknowledges the core viability of certain claims (obviously without making any judgment as to facts), and we look forward to restating those claims in a manner that will comport with the court’s order.”
Brill, who was the one who brought this entire saga in the public eye, also took to Twitter to express her resentment towards the decision.
Just letting the poker community know that if you decide to cheat on a live stream you are free to do so. There will be no accountability for your actions and you are free to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. The casino, and employees who might help you, are not accountable
— Veronica BLM (@Angry_Polak) June 3, 2020
In an emailed statement to Casino.org, VerStandig further stated, “I respect and appreciate the judge’s ruling, but am also pained – as a lawyer and as a poker player – that Mr. Postle was able to rely on an antiquated doctrine, from antebellum California, to escape liability in this suit for the time being. The poker industry has come a long way from its grittier roots, and it is difficult to comprehend that a major industrial state, with legal casinos, would continue to deny its citizenry access to the courts for adjudication of their grievances.”
VerStandig said his office was still reviewing the ruling and added that it was “reasonable” to refile based on the judge’s guidelines outlined in Wednesday’s order.