Investigation into cheating at top poker game reveals staff member stole $15,000 in chips

An investigation into cheating allegations in the world of high-stakes poker has led to an employee getting fired for stealing $15,000 in chips.

The development in the cheating scandal comes days after Garrett Adelstein, who is considered one of the best high-stakes cash game players in the world, claimed he was “clearly cheated” by his opponent Robbi Jade Lew after she went all-in on an underwhelming hand. Ms Lew called the bet with just a jack high, growing the pot to $269,000.

The game at the Hustler Casino Live (HCL) in Los Angeles on 29 September was livestreamed, and High Stakes Poker Productions conducted an investigation after the claims were raised. The firm found that staff member Bryan Sagbigsal took three $5,000 chips from Ms Lew’s stack.

Although it is unclear what position he held at HCL, Mr Sagbisgal has since been terminated, owners Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman said in a statement.

Ms Lew, who has venhemently denied cheating, said she returned the large sum she won after claiming that she was “cornered and threatened” by Mr Adelstein, Kotaku reported. Mr Adelstein has denied the allegations.

Ms Lew initially chose not to file charges againt Mr Sagbisgal, who “remov[ed] chips from Robbi’s stack after the broadcast had concluded and while Robbi was away from the table,” according to the statement.

She later said that upon learning Mr Sagbisgal allegedly has previous criminal history, she planned to press charges. The main investigation into the cheating allegations continues, High Stakes Poker Productions said.

The company has retained tech and security experts Gaming Laboratory International’s Bulletproof and law firm Sheppard Mullin to conduct the review.

Meanwhile, HLC initially said there was “no proof either way or any indication of any wrongdoing besides the accusations of parties involved,” but later added they could conduct a lie detector test.

 (Hustler Casino Live)
(Hustler Casino Live)

During the televised, high-stakes game at the Hustler Casino, Mr Adelstein had seven and eight of clubs while Ms Lew played wider with the jack of clubs and four of hearts.

After the flop revealed the 10 of hearts, 10 of clubs and nine of clubs, Mr Adelstein bet high given his chances of a straight, a flush or even a straight flush on the river.

But Ms Lew stunned her opponents and the commentators when she called the bet, growing the pot to $269,000.

They agreed to play the river twice but it brought nothing to either side and Ms Lew won the full $269,000 pot with jack-high. It sparked commotion at the table with Mr Adelstein saying: “I don’t understand what’s happening right now.”

After a brief exchange, Mr Adelstein gave Ms Lew what she called a “death stare”. The two exchanged words on and off camera, with both players accusing each other and later giving conflicting accounts of what was said.

In a lengthy statement, Mr Adelstein said he has been “clearly cheated”, without providing evidence of any wrongdoing. He went on to speculate that Ms Lew might have been wearing a vibrating device that was used to signal her but said it was impossible to know.

Ms Lew has denied any wrongdoing and challenged her opponent for a head-to-head rematch: “After I’m vindicated, let’s go heads up. The whole world can watch me read you all day.”