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Mike Postle & Stones Cheating Case Dismissed by Judge

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Veronica “Angry_Polak” Brill may have been the first individual to bring claims against of cheating against fellow poker player Mike Postle, but a judge has pretty much given the last word. The cheating scandal that Brill brought to light in September 2019 saw her unite with 24 other colleagues and the VerStandig Law firm in a bid to tackle various causes for action against Postle and the Stones Gambling Hall.

Yet, on Wednesday, June 3, motions were granted by United States District Judge William B. Shubb to dismiss the majority of complaints put against Postle, cardroom manager Justin Kuraitis, and King’s Casino – the parent company of Stones Gambling Hall where the cheating allegedly took place. This is the largest development in the cheating case laid out against Postle, in which it is said he illicitly gained around $250,000.

Postle Cheating Case Dismissed

The Story So Far

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Mike Postle has been linked with the Stones Gambling Hall since January of 2018, regularly participating in games held at the venue in Sacramento, California. Though these games took place in a live setting rather than at online poker sites, the internet is involved in this case because the action was streamed live on both Twitch and YouTube.

While it was always clear that Postle was a good player, becoming quite the solid winner since his first appearances back in early 2018, his game seemed to improve dramatically in June 2018. From then onward, he would win in the overwhelming majority of the sessions he was partaking in and often be the table’s biggest winner for several sessions in a row.

Mike PostleSuspected Poker Cheater Mike Postle

Now, many people might put this down to him receiving stellar cards or being an exceptional bluffer, but rather than that, Postle seemed to display a sense of the cards in a most uncanny way. He would fold when his opponents had very well-hidden monster hands, raised bets with mediocre hands of his own when he seemed to sense weakness in other players, and perform other feats of apparently miraculous opponent reading. This style of play was described by Postle as just being due to his 16 years of experience in playing poker. However, it didn’t take long for others to start circulating rumors of cheating taking place.

Veronica Aims First Shot Straight at Postle

The whole saga surrounding the cheating scandal first erupted when Veronica Brill sent out a series of Tweets on Sept. 28 2019, highlighting the evidence that she had compiled against Postle. This included multiple video clips, displaying hole cards in some of the hands that he had participated in, and while Brill did state that she couldn’t be sure that Postle was cheating, there was a high chance that he was.

It didn’t end there either. Ms. Brill went on to claim that several other professional poker players had warned her about playing against him. This led to an investigation by various respected members of the community, and from this, it looked quite evident that something underhanded was taking place to allow Postle to garner so many victories. The most-accepted theory claimed that someone from Stones was present in the streaming control room and was receiving transmissions that showed other players’ hands, which he then relayed to Postle's phone in real time.

Veronica BrillVeronica Brill Alerted the Poker Community to Postle's Doings

Lawsuit Arises with 25 Individuals Against Postle and Stones

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A Complaint and Demand for Trial by Jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California was then filed on Oct. 8, 2019 by Brill and 24 other individuals who had played against Postle. Within that document, the other affected players are named who include:

Brill and the other 24 individuals joined forces with Verstandig Law and proceeded forward with suing three defendants. Those were Michael L. Postle himself, King’s Casino (which owns Stones Gambling Hall), and the tournament director at Stones, Justin F. Kuraitis. Within the filed document, there are nine causes for action noted, including RICO violations, negligent misrepresentation, fraud (which is listed twice), negligence per se, and unjust enrichment. Since the time the lawsuit was originally filed, additional people joined it, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 88.

Various dates were listed in the document, which are when the alleged fraud took place at Stones. The group of plaintiffs had the document for Complaint and Summons served up to King’s Casino on Oct. 15, and while it should have been responded to within 28 days, an extension was granted for this until Dec. 3 of the same year. At the same time, Kuraitis agreed to waive service of the Complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the plaintiffs agreed to extend his time to respond by 28 days too.

What Outcome Were the Plaintiff’s Looking For?

The group of plaintiffs requested that the court see them being made whole for losses they incurred after what they contended were “unfair games.” They also looked to financially penalize Postle, Kuraitis, and King’s Casino by seeking out $30 million for fraud and damages. That money would then be divided up amongst the group of plaintiffs, split up proportionately depending on the number of minutes each of them played on the Stones Live Poker stream.

Court Sides with Postle and King’s Casino

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It wasn’t to be, though, as the court ruling saw the judge side with the argument that was put forth by King’s Casino. That argument stated that the various claims made by the group of plaintiffs 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.”

Although some of the charges were dismissed with prejudice, which means that they were settled without any possibility of refiling them, the door has actually been left ajar in regard to a few of them. This means that the plaintiffs still have the opportunity to file an amended complaint. The alleged cheating by Postle actually fell into the former category though, meaning that he has pretty much escaped without any punishment.

Speaking of the outcome, Mac VerStandig, who is attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was “disappointed.” He said that he and his team are “in the process of reviewing the judge’s orders…” He did make mention of the fact that he believes his own disappointment pales in comparison to that of Stones Gambling Hall, “which made the arguments that permitted Mr. Postle to exit the case.”

[UPDATE: Sept. 12, 2020]

On Sept. 9, court documents were filed that made it clear that 60 of the 88 persons who joined the Mike Postle cheating lawsuit have agreed to a settlement, the details of which were not revealed. None of the settlement money came from Postle himself because he was cleared of the charges against him. Rather, this agreement was reached between Stones Gambling Hall, tournament manager Justin Kuraitis, and the litigants.

The 28 plaintiffs who did not accept the settlement, which includes whistleblower Veronica Brill, do have the opportunity to continue the lawsuit by submitting an amended complaint. However, they will have to do so without the services of Mac VerStandig's law firm because he has announced that he intends to file a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel.

More About the Decision

It appears that Postle will escape any sort of persecution for cheating due to the current laws in California that specifically and outrightly address losses suffered through gambling. Judge Shubb wrote that the monies lost to Postle by the plaintiffs are classed as “quintessential gambling losses that are barred for recovery by California public policy.” “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,” Shubb went on to explain. Postle’s other alleged indiscretions were dismissed by Shubb out of hand within the same session.

While it’s true that California has not passed any regulation of online poker, this does not make it illegal for land-based establishments to host games. Therefore, the games that took place within Stones Gambling Hall were completely legal. Combining this with the aforementioned argument brought forth by King’s Casino, Judge Shubb found no reason to impose any sort of sanctions against Postle, King’s Casino, or Kuraitis.

The allegations of fraud against the venue and the tournament director supposedly lacked the necessary specifics. Each of the causes for action noted in the original document were pretty much systematically dismissed one after the other. This included Ms. Brill’s libel claim regarding the tweets sent out by Stones about her accusations, claiming that they were “completely fabricated.”

Potential for Case to Proceed

There is the potential for this case to continue though. Judge Shubb left the possibility open on hearing an amended complaint on several of the charges brought against King’s Casino, et al. In specific, the fraud and negligent misrepresentation by Stones and negligence by Kuraitis have been pointed out as potential routes for the plaintiffs to pursue.

Unfortunately, Brill didn’t react well to the news of Postle and co. being let off by the judge. She sent out another tweet, expressing her disgust at the cheating scandal:

Veronica Brill Tweet About Postle Case Dismissal

While it is thought that the case will continue to play out via an amended complaint, that will only pertain to Stones and Kuraitis. In the case of Postle, he has evaded any sort of legal action being effectively taken against him.

Playing Poker in California Online Legally

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You don’t need to visit a brick-and-mortar establishment in California to be able to participate in poker. While online poker isn’t specifically regulated within the state, various offshore platforms exist for Californians to sign up to and enjoy the game. You can read more about them in our California offshore poker page.

Alternatively, if you live somewhere in the United States outside California, we can recommend that you check out our guide to online poker for Americans. Within this resource, you can learn about top-rated, reliable internet poker destinations that serve U.S. residents.