You are here

Hustler Casino Live SCANDAL: Cheating in Streamed Games?

Exclamation Mark

Here at ProfessionalRakeback, we're committed to bringing you the latest and most accurate information about online poker sites. However, sometimes events in the brick-and-mortar poker world assume an outsized level of importance and force online news to take a back seat.

This is true with regard to the allegations of cheating stemming from a big heads-up poker hand streamed on Hustler Casino Live (HCL) on Sept. 29. Instagram personality Robbi Jade Lew made a big hero call on the turn with J-high after facing an all-in bet from respected cash game grinder Garrett Adelstein. Lew won the hand and $269,000, leading to accusations from Adelstein that she was cheating.

Garrett Adelstein has accused Robbi Jade Lew of cheating on the Hustler Casino Live stream

The Fateful Hand

VCR Play Button

The action unfolded on a three-blind NL Hold'em cash game with stakes at $100/$200/$400 and a $400 bb ante. Robbi Jade Lew straddled for $800 under the gun, and it folded around to Garrett Adelstein in the third blind. He raised to $3,000, and Lew made the call.

The flop came down T T♣️ 9♣️. Garrett made a c-bet of $2,500, and Robbi called. The turn was the innocuous-looking 3.

Garrett led the turn for $10,000, but Robbi min-raised to $20,000. After thinking for a while, Adelstein went all-in over the top for approximately another $109,000. Lew looked at her cards several times, made comments like, “Three's no good?” and then finally made the call.

The fateful hand came after about an hour and a half of playRobbi Jade Lew Thought for a While Before Making the All-in Call

The two competitors elected to run it twice. The first river was the 9♦️ and the second was the A♠️. They revealed their hole cards:

Adelstein: 8♣️ 7♣️
Lew: J♣️ 4

Robbi Jade Lew's J-high was good enough to scoop both pots. Upon seeing the hands, the live commentators and the other players at the table were incredulous and astounded. Robbi Lew's all-in call came when she had a respectable 47% equity in the hand, but it was impossible for her to know that she was in such good shape. Even against some of Adelstein's weaker possible hands, like KQ and QJ, she was in trouble. It was as though she knew his exact hand.

You can view the hand in question for yourself by clicking on this link.

About the Two Players

Blue Info Button

Before we go any further into our analysis of the situation, perhaps it would be a good idea to familiarize ourselves with the two key individuals in this cheating scandal.

Garrett Adelstein

Born in 1986, Garrett Adelstein, originally from Tucson, Arizona, is one of the most well-respected no limit Hold'em cash game players in the world. He was a coach for RunItOnce and has frequently appeared on broadcasted poker games, like “Live at the Bike” and “Poker After Dark.” In 2013, Adelstein was a contestant on “Survivor: Cagayan” although he did not last long before being voted off.

Garrett Adelstein, poker pro and “Survivor” contestantGarrett Adelstein Is One of the Top Cash Grinders in California

Robbi Jade Lew

Robbi Jade Lew has said that she is from Saudi Arabia, but her family relocated to California when she was young. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara and married Charles Lew, a lawyer and businessman. She took up poker during the pandemic and has more than a dozen recorded live tournament cashes since October 2021. While Lew used to hold a senior position at pharmaceutical giant Bayer, she has in recent years devoted herself to her Instagram account, which has more than 18,000 followers.

Robbi Jade Lew, Instagram sensation and former pharmaceutical account managerRobbi Jade Lew Is an Instagram Model and Amateur Poker Player

Immediate Reactions

Man Pointing Finger

After the incredible hand concluded, Garrett Adelstein sat in silence for about a minute. He then started questioning Robbi Jade Lew about her thought process. Her explanations didn't seem to make sense and involved having a blocker with the J♣️, being able to read Adelstein, and having been the target of bluffs from him before. After a few more minutes, Garrett walked away from the table.

In an interview later on in the same stream, Lew explained that she had misread her hand, thinking that she had J3 for a pair of threes on the turn rather than J4 for Jack-high. She also revealed that she had returned the $135,000 she had won from Garrett back to him, which is a very unusual outcome and not one that is often seen in the world of poker. She said that she did it because she didn't like drama and wanted everyone at the table to feel comfortable.

Dispute Moves to Twitter

Quote Box

Pretty soon, the poker foes took their argument to Twitter. Garrett accused Robbi of cheating and claimed that her refunding of his money was a “an admission of guilt.” However, Robbi related a different version of events:

Robbi Jade Lew disputed Garrett's version of events

This makes it seem that she was pressured into returning the money to Garrett rather than willingly offering to do so.

In a lengthy series of posts on Twitter, Garrett Adelstein explained more about what he thought had happened. He raised the possibility that Robbi was using a “device hidden that simply vibrates to indicate you have the best hand” and also speculated that she might have instead come up with a way of “hacking into the card reader” that's used to display players' hole cards to viewers of the stream. He contended that based upon her prior play, there was no way she could have legitimately made the turn call of his all-in.

HU4ROLLZ?

Perhaps inevitably, this fracas led to a heads-up challenge:

Robbi Lew challenged Adelstein to a heads-up grudge match

On a podcast dated Oct. 5, Lew revealed, “I've had…contact with him…he has agreed to do the heads-up challenge that I challenged him to on Twitter.” The stakes, format, structure, and schedule of any such challenge have yet to be publicly announced.

Legal Shots Fired

Charles Lew, the husband of Robbi Jade Lew, has a pinned tweet at the top of his Twitter feed:

Charles Lew rushed to the defense of his wife on Twitter

The line “Oh, and as far as the legal consequences…all I can say to that is buckle up” is very vague but seems to imply that the Lews have some kind of serious legal action in mind. The fact that Charles Lew is a lawyer lends additional credence to this reading of the tweet.

Hustler Casino Investigates

Magnifying Glass

On Oct. 1, Hustler Casino published a statement revealing that it was conducting an independent investigation. In addition to retaining a law firm to “conduct a comprehensive investigation, which will include staff and player interviews, a review of relevant records and possibly the use of polygraph testing,” Hustler was hiring an outside tech organization, which would review security procedures of the live stream.

Hustler Casino is where the Hustler Casino Live stream is filmedHustler Casino in Gardena, California

The investigation has already turned up some unexpected information even though it's not yet complete. While Robbi Lew was away from the table, an employee of the casino had taken $15,000 in chips from her stack. This employee, Bryan Sagbigsal, was fired and the money returned to Lew. She initially declined to pursue criminal charges, but on Oct. 8, Lew posted on Twitter saying, “I have since received new information that has caused me to reconsider my prior decision, and proceed to prosecute the crime of theft that has been perpetrated upon me.”

[UPDATE: Oct. 29, 2022]

Bryan Sagbigsal, the Hustler Casino employee who allegedly stole $15,000 in chips from Robbi Jade Lew, has evaded arrest. According to Gardena Police Department detective Hugo Gualotuna, the police searched for him all day Wednesday, Oct. 26 but were unable to locate him.

Gualotuna went on to state that he did not find any connection between Sagbigsal and Lew while reviewing the evidence apart from the fact that the suspect happened to be working on the day Lew was playing. However, it's not surprising that this would be the case as the detective was focused on the theft and was uninterested in the allegations of cheating.

The possibility remains open that Sagbigsal and Lew were somehow colluding together in a cheating operation as some believe, but any such conclusion is highly speculative at this time.

It also emerged that Robbi didn't have all of her own action. Instead, she was being backed by another individual who was a participant in the same streamed live game, a gentleman identified on the stream as “Rip” whose real name is Jacob Chavez.

Poker Community Weighs In

Crowd of People

Prominent poker players were not shy in expressing their takes on the situation. Opinions were divided with some coming to Robbi Lew's defense and others empathizing with Garrett Adelstein.

Daniel Negreanu opined that Lew was a relative newcomer to poker and as such, had not honed her thought process to the level of a dedicated grinder like Adelstein. That accounted for her extremely loose call in the first place and also why her explanation of her thought process was incoherent.

Vanessa Kade seemed to find it unlikely that Lew would cheat in this one spot especially without a history of other suspicious hands. If she had been cheating, according to Kade's reasoning, it's likely Robbi would have just called the turn and been prepared to call a brick river rather than taking an unusual minraise/call line.

Doug Polk, on the other hand, said on his YouTube channel, “I think it's something like 90% that she cheated” and pointed out a screencap of Lew's pants that he alleges shows some kind of mysterious device in her pockets. Chris Brewer similarly claimed, “Literal 0% chance hand is real. He got cheated…”

Ryan Leplante decided to put up a poll asking if the hand was “100% legit.” The results are below:

Ryan Leplante polled fellow Twitter users on the hand

57.4% of respondents answered “No” or “Not likely,” indicating that a small majority of voters thought that there was something shady going on. The other 42.6% answered “Probably” or “Yes.”

A poll on a Twoplustwo thread dedicated to the Adelstein-Lew hand recorded the following results:

Twoplustwoers as a whole seem to think cheating is less likely than the average twitterer

The Twoplustwo poll results were basically the inverse of Leplante's poll with a majority of the participants feeling that the hand was fine and a large minority who thought that cheating had occurred.

Adelstein Expands Allegations

Clipboard

On Oct. 7, Garrett Adelstein made a lengthy post on the Twoplustwo forums wherein he accused not only Robbi Jade Lew of wrongdoing but also several other individuals. Supposedly, Lew and Rip (a.k.a. Jacob Chavez) worked together to cheat during HCL games. Furthermore, Bryan Sagbigsal, who was caught removing chips from Lew's stack, was implicated by Adelstein in whatever cheating he thinks was happening.

Adelstein listed out a huge volume of evidence that he believes supports his case. This includes links to videos of HCL sessions with timestamps, various articles detailing background info on the alleged conspirators, and supposedly incriminating tweets. Robbi took the time to read Garrett's post. However, she dismissed it as being “full of inaccuracies and conjecture.”

[UPDATE: Oct. 15, 2022]

On Friday, Oct. 14, Robbi Lew posted the results of a lie detector test that she took in Las Vegas on Oct. 12. During the polygraph test, she was asked three questions related to cheating during Hustler Casino Live, and she answered “No” to all three of them.

According to the examiner's report, an analysis of the test yielded “statistically significant numerical scores that support a conclusion of 'no deception indicated…'” The report went on to declare: “The statistical probability that Mrs. Lew's test data was produced by a deceptive person is less than 1/10th of 1 percent (p-value < .001) or about 1 chance in 1000.”

Lew's defenders pointed to the polygraph outcome as strong evidence that she did not cheat. Her detractors, however, were not convinced and noted that polygraph tests are notoriously unreliable and are therefore generally not admissible in a court of law.

Mike Postle 2.0?

Mike Postle

The current situation is inevitably being compared to the Mike Postle saga from a few years ago. There are certainly resemblances between the two situations, including the fact that the incidents occurred on poker live streams, involved high-stakes cash games, attracted the attention of the broader poker community, and ultimately led to suspicions of cheating by multiple conspiring individuals.

Mike Postle was at the center of a previous cheating scandalMichael Postle Cheated in Live Streamed Poker Games at Stones Gambling Hall

The biggest difference between the Postle and the Lew scandals is the fact that opinion is largely divided on whether or not Lew actually cheated. In Postle's case, by contrast, the evidence was overwhelming that there was something suspicious going on, and therefore, a large majority of observers felt that he was cheating. We will probably have to wait until the Hustler Casino investigation is complete before we have enough evidence to decide firmly one way or the other.

Avoid Scandals – Play Online

Checkmark

Though you might get the contrary impression from reading wild allegations on certain internet forums, online poker is largely immune to the kinds of cheating shenanigans that sometimes plague live poker. If you're looking for a good, clean game, then you will find such being offered every day by the leading international poker sites.

It's perfectly legal for you to frequent these offshore poker destinations as you will realize if you read this page devoted to examining the legality of online poker in the United States. To find a place to play, check out this guide to U.S.A. internet poker.