Back in the middle of the twentieth century, no one would be too surprised to hear there was cheating going on at the poker tables. In fact, cheating was quite the norm in most poker games of the time.
Yet, poker has evolved quite a bit since the times it was mostly played by outlaws and into a modern game in which people from all walks of life come together to compare their wits.
Today, cheating in poker is rare, especially in official games played in casinos.
This is exactly why the entire poker community was shocked by the accusations made against a poker player named Mike Postle in March 2019, and NVG poker forums, as well as the rest of the poker world, exploded after that.
The scandal came as a product of a game that was streamed live to thousands of viewers from the Stones Gambling Hall in California.
If you have never heard of Mike Postle or have heard about the scandal and want to know more, you are in the right place.
I will go through the history of the Mike Postle poker cheating scandal and give you all the details you could possibly want to know.
Who is Mike Postle?
Poker players worldwide love to track the progress of their favorite players and those who have achieved great success in the game. If you are one of them and have never heard of Mike Postle, don’t be too surprised.
Unlike famous names like Phil Hellmuth or Antonio Esfandiari, Mike Postle was never a popular poker player. In fact, before the scandal in question, practically no information on his private life was available anywhere.
We know that:
- Mike Postle is around 40 years old, and his poker career dates back to at least 2005 when his first Hendon Mob entry was registered.
- The poker tournament in question was a $340 buy-in, and his buyins remained in that range throughout the years, with the biggest ones being around $1.000 and an occasional bigger event.
- Mike played mostly at the Stones, where he was also a regular in the cash games.
- His biggest tournament poker score came back in 2007 when he won over $118.000 in a single $1.500 event.
Along with numerous other cashes during the 15 years his scores appeared on the Hendon Mob website, Mike proved himself to be a decent player, who played a reasonable Texas Holdem strategy that was probably a winning one in the long run.
That said, Mike never made it to the high stakes tournaments or cash games or even crushed the local games for too much.
In all imaginable ways, Mike Postle was average until the Stones live-streamed game came along.
Mike Postle Cheating Scandal Begins
The Stones Poker Hall in California is a relatively small time poker room, but one of the bigger and more attractive in the particular area.
The poker room started streaming some of its $1/3 and $5/5 games live on the internet in a show called Stones Live.
The show achieved reasonable popularity over time and was quite fun to watch.
A mix of semi-professional and casual players came on to the show and played with varying levels of poker skills and many different playing styles, some of which were very fun to watch, but certainly not the winning strategy.
No player stood out more than Mike Postle, who quickly became the centerpiece of the entire show.
Mike was pulling off plays that seemed to make literally no sense all the time and were getting it right with unusual frequency.
Looked back, Mike’s strategy and insanely high VPIP could hardly be approved by a single top-level player in the world. In fact, some of the pre-flop and post-flop plays he was making could only make sense if he could… see his opponents’ cards.
In the early sessions, the commentators and the spectators were amazed by Mike’s winnings and plays, and his popularity quickly grew.
The show’s producers used this and gave Mike nicknames such as The Apostle, making him somewhat of an icon for Stones Live.
Yet, as time went by, things became more and more curious, and one person would have no more of it.
Mike Postle Accused of Cheating
Many names changed at the tables of Stones Live, but also in the commentating booth. One of them was Veronica Brill, who also hosted her own game at Stones on occasion.
While Veronica certainly isn’t a top-level pro poker player, she knows the game and mathematics behind it and the plays Mike was making made her question what was going on.
In early 2019, she decided to go the subtler first and went up to Justin Kuraitis, the poker room manager who was organizing the games.
However, her allegations were dismissed, and she was even told she does not understand poker and that the security at the Stones was impeccable, leaving no room for Mike Postle to cheat.
After this, she took a bolder step and went to her Twitter account.
The original tweet was there to raise awareness, and she did say that she was not 100% sure there was cheating, only that he had her suspicions.
Any cheating accusation quickly gets the poker community together, and one where the whole thing is recorded on tape was certain to get tons of attention.
Mike’s initial reaction, as well as that of Stones, was one of shock and disbelief. But was all of this just pretending while something was really going on? The poker world decided to find out!
Extensive Analysis of Mike Postle Poker Play
The initial tweet by Brill got the entire poker community riled up. Multiple members of the popular poker forums and streamers went into the case in detail and tried to find out what was happening.
Fortunately, there were dozens of hours of live footage of Mike playing at the Stones, and it was all available for analysis.
While many took it upon themselves to find out what was happening, none were as vigorous about it as the YouTube streamer and PLO player “Chicago” Joey Ingram.
Joey spent hours upon hours analyzing the footage, talking to peers, and putting up videos on YouTube explaining the incident. After a while, there was no doubt in his mind… Mike Postle was a cheater!
The videos that Joey put up painted a condemning image of Postle. Among the many hours of gameplay, Ingram found hands that defied all logic and in which the player seemed to play a variety of poker unknown to humankind.
Don’t get me wrong, playing hands in a funny way is common, but players who do it always end up losing in the long run. Postle, on the other hand, was winning, and he was winning BIG!
According to Chicago Joey, Postle had won close to a quarter of a million dollars over the 69 recorded sessions he played on. This, at the stakes they were playing, was a statistical anomaly of incredible proportions.
Mixed with the fact that Postle was playing a strange and incomprehensible strategy, Joey and the likes of Doug Polk and Scott Seiver all believed that there was no doubt Postle was doing something dodgy.
You may be asking yourself, what exactly was Mike doing that was so out of the ordinary, so here are a few hands that will show just how ridiculous some of his plays were.
Mike Postle Wins Huge with Rags
One of the most talked-about hands that Postle played on the Stones stream started with Mike opening up to $60 after a $10 straddle.
The raise is pretty standard, but Mike’s is not holding pocket aces or other premium holdings, he is doing this with 9h 5d, one of the worst hands in poker.
A couple of players call with very strong hands, Ac Qc and Ad Jd, respectively, and Bryan makes it $260 with 6s 4s.
Every decent poker player in the world understands that this is a pure fold for Postle, but he decides to keep going with his rags, and two players still left to act.
Postle’s decision to flat call with 95o seems to backfire rather quickly as Derick, holding the Ac Qc, decides to come over the top for $950.
Porter’s Ad Jd goes into the muck, and Bryan decides that there is enough money in the pot for him to get his $1.195 in there.
Surely Mike must now fold for close to $1.000 more? Not quite!
Postle is not pot committed in any way, but he somehow finds a call with one of the worst possible hands in the deck, one that should not even be opening, to begin with. Derick comes along for the small raise, and we see the flop.
Jh 9d 3h rolls off on the flop, and Mike now has the best hand. Even so, continuing with the middle pair in such a bloated pot should be difficult.
However, Mike goes all in first to act, as he would if he was aware his opponent did not have a big hand.
The AQ gets out of the way, and Mike ends up winning one of the biggest pots of the night after playing the hand in pretty much the worst possible way.
The Apostle Loses the Minimum with Virtual Nuts
Having a full house in Hold’em is not very easy, and when two full houses clash in a no-limit hand, chips usually tend to fly into the middle.
That didn’t quite happen in this hand played by Mike Postle, who seems to be able to dodge bullets better than Phil Hellmuth himself.
A raise and two calls get us to the flop in this hand, with $100 in the middle. The flop comes 9h 9d 4s, and Postle is holding a pair of eights, which is behind Bryan’s pocket tens.
This alone would hardly stir up any drama; however, it was played, but the action does not end there.
Mike leads out for $55, and Bryan calls it. The Ts gives Bryan a full house, and both players check their options.
The whole while, Postle continues staring at his phone, located under the table in his lap. As played, the 8d on the river gives him the virtual nuts and a hand he must be feeling good about.
Mike checks, presumably to check-raise and get his opponent to bluff at him. With $370 in the pot, Bryan bets $200 and has about $550 behind.
Surely, Postle must raise his full house and try to get all his opponent’s chips? Wrong again!
Somehow, the wild Mike who likes getting it in with one pair for thousands of dollars decides just to call the $200 with a full house and lose the bare minimum in the biggest poker cooler of the night.
Did Mike Postle Cheat?
Mike Postle’s cheating was never fully proven, and despite the overwhelming amount of data pointing to him being a cheat, it was never shown how exactly he cheated.
After long and extensive analysis, Joey Ingram and others discovered that Mike exhibited many unusual behaviors in various episodes of the show.
His behavior changed drastically over time, as did his results, from mediocre to insanely good.
According to their opinions, Mike could have been using his phone and later another type of device to receive some data.
But what kind of data could it have been? Considering that the game was streamed live, the cards had RFID chips installed in them. This means one of the people in the production could have possibly been feeding Mike with all the info he needed.
Whether this is true or not was never proven, and Mike or anyone else involved with the show never admitted to any of the allegations.
This is why the players decided to take the whole thing to the courts, convinced they were in the right.
Mike Postle Poker Drama Goes to Court
Since Stones and Postle were refusing to admit to any wrongdoing, a number of players who believed the scam damaged them decided to take legal action against those involved.
The initial lawsuit included over 90 plaintiffs and was submitted against Stones manager Justin Kuraitis and Mike Postle himself.
This lawsuit, which was made in October 2019, stated that Stones allowed for the fraud to happen on their watch even if they didn’t directly condone it.
As such, players sought financial reparations in the millions of dollars.
However, the evidence that the players had collected was far from enough to prove guilt in the court of law. The circumstantial evidence such as the statistical analysis simply isn’t enough for the courts, even if pretty much everyone believed that Postle was guilty.
The “Postlegate” affair, as it had come to be known, came before a Nevada judge in June 2020 after a California judge decided to throw the case out altogether.
The Nevada court decided that there wasn’t enough evidence against Postle either and dismissed the case with prejudice.
Mike was in the clear and can no longer be sued on this matter. For legal intents and purposes, the Mike Postle cheating scandal never happened.
An additional Nevada suit against Postle that was filed by Marle Cordeiro was also thrown out.
The player claimed that she was lured to come to California by the online stream that featured Mike Postle. Yet, the court decided that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove this either.
Players Get Some Satisfaction, but Postle is Taking Initiative
The players involved in the case finally got some satisfaction in their final lawsuit. This one related to Stones paying back the rake paid in the game and was finally settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
The results of the lawsuit did little to change anyone’s mind inside the poker community. The lack of concrete evidence that the court would accept does not mean that cheating never happened, and many very public personas remained convinced that Mike Postle’s poker cheating occurred.
The likes of Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu continued to mention the scandal in their tweets and interviews, and Kuaritis decided he should say something about it as well.
In a series of tweets, he accused the entire poker world of bashing him and Postle, and the poker community once again rallied and continued to bash the pair.
Finally, Mike Postle decided it was time he took some action himself.
Mike filed a defamation lawsuit against numerous plaintiffs that include Negreanu, Ingram, Brill, and others.
The trial date for this particular lawsuit remains to be decided, but Postle is asking for a jury trial and is claiming defamation, slander, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
Did Mike Postle Cheating Actually Happen?
According to the US courts, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that Mike Postle has ever cheated at Stones, but the poker community is fairly certain it happened.
We may never know what actually happened.
Yet, Postle’s name was smeared forever, and it is hard to see him accepted by the poker world ever again. While we don’t have the likes of Poker Tracker 4 to analyze live hands, statistics, and circumstantial evidence collected by the likes of Ingram certainly paint a very damning image.
When and how the Postlegate scandal will be concluded remains to be seen, but it is likely to remain one of the biggest poker cheating scandals for many years to come.