A famous professional Arizona poker player found himself at the center of some controversy within the last few days.
Garrett Adelstein, a Tucson native, competed in a poker competition at the Hustler Casino in Los Angeles. One of his opponents, Robbi Jade Lew, played an odd hand, which sparked Adelstein to accuse her of cheating.
Adelstein boasted an eight and seven of clubs. Lew had a jack of clubs and a four of hearts.
Lew called on Adelstein’s bets, but then when it came to the turn, he went all in. He had the strongest hand at that time. But Lew called on his semi-bluff, which ruffled some feathers.
The Arizona native aimed for the straight flush, but after the river, his hand busted. Lew won with a jack high, leaving Adelstein — and others at the casino — in disbelief.
Poker is big in Arizona and has been legally available to residents for years. Maybe the most popular event is the annual Arizona State Poker Championship, which had a $1 million prize pool earlier this year.
What happened between Adelstein and Lew?
When Lew called, the announcers couldn’t believe it, thinking maybe there was an issue with their display.
“Oh my God. What is going on here?” one asked. “Is it possible her hand might be misread in the card graphics or something?” The other asked.
Adelstein sat with a straight face, scanning the room with his eyes when Lew revealed her cards. “Look at Garrett’s face,” one announcer said. “That is super, super strange. You can see his reaction.”
Adelstein continued to sit in silence as the announcers and other players at the table buzzed about the surprise win. According to the announcers, this wasn’t like Adelstein to take a loss like that.
The announcers continued to speculate as to what happened. Because just like Adelstein, they had no idea and were still trying to process what unfolded.
Adelstein brought up his concerns with Lew later in the broadcast. He asked her to clarify her comments, still wondering what happened, and Lew had answers.
“You know you let me do this to you several times now,” she said. “I’m just testing it.”
The two went back and forth discussing her strategy, which led to Lew saying she ultimately stuck with it because she didn’t believe he had the cards to compete.
Arizona poker star, Adelstein accused Lew of cheating
The professional poker player wrote a statement in his Notes app and tweeted screenshots of his words on Sept. 30.
“Poker is an extremely complicated and nuanced game,” he wrote. “I don’t fault anyone who watched the hand and doesn’t conceptually understand how it’s impossible to call on the turn there.”
After reviewing the footage from multiple streams involving Lew, he said she’s never considered making a call like that. Adelstein claims she folds bluff catchers into river bets, only calling when she had a strong hand. He wrote:
“I’m well aware the scariest/easiest way for someone to cheat a livestream is to have a device hidden that simply vibrates to indicate you have the best hand. I’m sure the plan was to min-raise the turn and win the hand on the river when I don’t improve.
But that all changed when I read her for extremely weak on the turn and made an unorthodox play by raising all in. At that point, she would know she still has the best hand if she had such a hidden device…”
Adelstein further theorized that Lew cheated by potentially hacking the card reader. He said he felt as though her body language and jumbled answers to his questions were suspicious.
Lew ended up giving Adelstein a refund for his hand
Adelstein went on to state that off camera, Hustler Casino co-owner Ryan Feldman pulled them aside for a conversation.
Then, Adenstein wrote, Lew offered to pay back what he lost on that hand. He took her up on the offer.
“To be clear, I never asked for a refund,” he wrote. “I never even considered asking as it would be such an obvious admission of guilt on her end. But once she offered, of course, I am going to accept my money back after being clearly cheated.”
Lew, however, said that’s not the full story. “Garrett blocked me,” she tweeted on Sept. 30. She continued:
“Guilty as charged. What an honest man. He cornered me & threatened me. If he has the audacity to give me the death stare ON camera, picture what it’s like OFF camera. I was pulled out of the game & forced to speak to him in a dark hallway. Full details to come.”
A new twist in the scandal from High Stakes Poker Productions
An employee’s termination from High Stakes Poker Productions on Thursday added to the already murky situation.
The production company, which broadcasted the poker match and is in the middle of conducting its investigation, found that one of its employees stole chips from Lew.
According to a statement by the company, High Stakes Poker Productions terminated its employment with Bryan Sagbigsal after he was observed taking $15,000 in chips from Lew. The release states this action took place after the broadcast.
Lew told the production company and the Gardena Police that she won’t press criminal charges. In turn, the police told High Stakes Poker Productions that they don’t intend to pursue any criminal charges.
Once posted, the release sparked conversation from Twitter users claiming this fired employee was taking his cut in the cheating scandal. There is no official word on if his actions and Lew’s head-scratching win are connected.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to get to the truth,” High Stakes Poker Productions’ release states. “We promise this will be a transparent investigation.”