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HomeNews10 Biggest Poker Scandals of 2023

10 Biggest Poker Scandals of 2023

Mistakes by dealers, scammed players, million-dollar frauds by groups of individuals, and just plain foolish actions by players — gathered the top ten most resonant stories from the world of poker in the past year.

The player busted out of the Main Event WSOP Circuit in a hand where he was supposed to chop

During the final table of the $1,700 Main Event WSOP Circuit in January, Pierre Kauert on the BTN went all-in with 8.5 BBs with JTo and received a call from a player named Lupo in the BB with KJo. The board came AQ6J6 — a split (as indicated on the graphic). However, Pierre Kauert stood up from his seat, bid farewell to all opponents, and went to the cashier to claim €58,350 for the fifth place.

This story might have been less resonant, but during the stream, the broadcast was interrupted, and all footage until 4-max disappeared. Anyone mentioning this hand in the chat was banned.

In the end, Kauert received no compensation, as all claims regarding a hand are accepted either before the start of the next hand or within one minute after the conclusion of the hand if it ended before a break.

WSOP dealer error costs player $116,000

Daniel Neilson in а hаwаiian shirt

The hand took place in the 3-max $5K Main Event WSOP Paradise in the Bahamas in December.

With an effective stack of 54 BBs, Stanislav Tsegal opened from the BTN with K♦️Q♦️. Daniel Neilson three-bet all-in with A♠️K♣️. Tsegal called. The pot was 17 BBs.

The flop came K♥️Q♥️5♦️. Neilson bet 8.5 BBs, and Tsegal called. The pot was now 34 BBs.

The turn was 9♦️. Neilson bet 38 BBs, and Tsegal snap-called.

The river was a blank.

According to the graphic, Neilson should have had 15.2 BBs remaining after this hand. However, due to a dealer error, only 5.2 BBs were left in Neilson’s stack.

Neilson commented on the situation:

“It’s a crappy situation, I’m disappointed. When the dealer announced the pot size, I doubted it. I was sure my opponent had 37 or 38 BBs. But I assumed she was correct: after all, it’s a 3-max event of such magnitude, all under cameras, plus behind the scenes, directors monitor the graphics and communicate with the dealer through a headset. I didn’t think such an error was even possible.

Before this all-in, the tournament manager double-checked the dealer’s counts. I have no idea why there wasn’t a double-check this time.

Furthermore, incorrect information about the size of my stack was displayed on the stream after the hand, so my play looked terrible. I received over 100 questions about my final hands, like why I played so strangely.”

Like in Kauert’s case, Neilson did not receive any compensation.

Martin Kabrhel was accused of cheating at the WSOP, but he managed to defend himself

The scandalous Kabrhel stirred up controversy on Twitter during the $250K WSOP Super High Roller, where he finished 3rd ($2,279,038). Kabrhel was accused of marking cards by leaving nail marks on the edges. Robl, Martirosyan, Smith — everyone rallied against Kabrhel.

In the end, WSOP organizers conducted an investigation and found no evidence of cheating. Kabrhel later appeared on a podcast with Doug Polk and stated that he had never cheated.

Rob Mercer scammed poker players for $40K by launching his own charity fundraiser

In June 2023, Rob Mercer launched a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe, where he wrote a very pitiful (but fictional) story.

“Hello, everyone! My name is Rob. I’m 37 years old. I am a semi-professional poker player with terminal cancer. I’m asking for your help. My dream has always been to play in the Main Event WSOP, but I’ve never had enough bankroll for it. I doubted if I would ever be able to participate in this tournament.

But last August, I was diagnosed with incurable cancer and was told that I have 6 to 18 months to live, depending on how the disease progresses.”

Other poker players picked up on this story. It started being talked about on podcasts. Mercer collected the money, played in the Main Event (without cashing), and hung out in Vegas.

Eventually, it turned out that Mercer completely fabricated his diagnosis. The GoFundMe platform refunded the deceived donors, and a police report was filed against Mercer for fraud.

Imsirovic’s repentant video

In June, Ali Imsirovic released a video confessing to multi-accounting in high-stakes online tournaments while denying all other allegations (such as cheating Paul Phua’s cards at the Triton tournament, ghosting, and soft-playing).

The reasons behind recording and releasing this video are unclear. Imsirovic did not fully return to the game. Offline, he only had one ITM at the WSOP in 2023.

However, after this video, Timothy “tcrames88” Kramer revealed 18 usernames allegedly used by Imsirovic. Among «scammed» usernames was “MultiAccount.”

Max Kruse and Jan-Peter Jachtmann fell victim to fraudsters in a private cash game

Max Kruse

Kruse and a finalist of the Main Event WSOP 2023 Jan-Peter Jachtmann were scammed in a private game. They were invited to play by footballer Ronnie Garbushevsky.

Garbushevsky organized cash games across Germany. Marked decks of cards were used at the tables, and information about the cards was transmitted via Bluetooth to an earpiece worn by the dealer. The dealer, knowing the winning hand, would signal the cheaters at the table.

Accusations were made regarding 29 incidents. The total damage was estimated to be at least €528,695. It’s known that Kruse lost €5K and Jachtmann lost €20K. The case ended with a plea deal, but details are unknown.

WSOP bracelet winner Rafael “BruxoR10” Caiaffa was banned from the LAPT BSOP Millions series

A scandal occurred during the $1.5K Mystery KO Latin American Poker Tour Brazilian Series of Poker in São Paulo in November.

Due to an error by the organizers during late registration on Day 2, some players received two stacks: one from the floor and another from the dealer during table seating. WSOP Online Limit Holdem 2022 bracelet winner Rafael Caiaffa also received an extra stack.

Instead of returning the extra chips, Caiaffa decided to take advantage of the situation. He had 10,000 chips left from the original 100,000 stack. During a redraw, Caiaffa simply introduced the extra stack into play. Another player noticed this and informed the tournament director. Caiaffa was subsequently banned from the LAPT BSOP Millions series.

Streamer Felipe Carmanhani was banned from PokerStars for using GTO Wizard during gameplay on his stream

During a stream, Brazilian player Felipe Carmanhani opened GTO Wizard to see how to correctly play K9s from the Small Blind against an open from UTG+1 in the deep stack Sunday Million. PokerStars initially banned Carmanhani for two weeks. However, after user reactions on Twitter, they reconsidered their decision and extended the ban to six months. Additionally, GTO Wizard banned Carmanhani’s account.

Hustler Casino regular Wenzhi “Wesley” Fei scammed people for $250K, but it turned out to be untrue

An anonymous individual created a blog revealing the “scam story” involving Wenzhi “Wesley” Fei . Allegedly, Fei proposed investing $250K in a cryptocurrency project but ultimately misappropriated the funds for himself. The anonymous writer also claimed that Fei’s thugs robbed his house, although fortunately, nobody was home at the time.

This anonymous person turned out to be Russell Timer (real name Vasile Timer), born on April 14, 1993. He was identified by Ben Lee, another regular at Hustler Casino. Lee hired a private detective to track Timer down.

Timer managed to coax £52.5K from Lee in exchange for providing irrefutable evidence of Fei’s fraudulent schemes. After receiving the money, Lee decided to confront Fei, with whom he had been in conflict. Eventually, Lee and Fei became friends. Timer was never found.

Hustler Casino regular Ye “Mars” Shen scammed players for $3.1M

The most talked-about scandal of 2023.

Ye “Mars” Shen was organizing private cash games in Los Angeles. He scammed players using marked decks, special lenses, and a colluding dealer. Over 8 months, Ye “Mars” Shen won approximately $3M. Among his victims were Nik Airball, Wesley Fei, and Charles Yu. The fraudsters were not caught.