Garrett Adelstein is by far the biggest winner on Hustler Casino’s live stream, having banked more than $1.5 million since the show began airing in the summer of 2020.
On Thursday night, however, the cash game specialist and former Survivor contestant took a beat that he just couldn’t believe. As it turns out, there are many others in the poker world that can’t believe it either.
Adelstein was competing in the huge no-limit hold’em game, which had blinds of $100-$200-$400 with a $400 big blind ante, along with high-stakes newcomer Robbi Jade Lew. The Los Angeles game also featured casino owner Eric Persson, Andy ‘Stacks’ Tsai, and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey, putting more eyes than usual on the broadcast.
After Lew straddled to $800 from under-the-gun, Adelstein raised to $3,000 from the third blind holding 8 7. Lew defended her straddle with J 4, and the two players saw a flop of 10 10 9.
Holding the bottom end of a straight flush draw, Adelstein bet $2,500. Despite holding just jack high, Lew opted to call, and the turn was the 3.
Adelstein bet again, this time $10,000. Lew decided to minraise, making it $20,000 to go and leaving herself with $109,000 behind. Adelstein moved all-in, and Lew went into the tank with her jack high with no draw.
At first, it looked like a Hollywood job, someone trying to save face after an ill-timed move. But then, Lew stunned the entire viewing audience and even commentator Bart Hanson by making the call.
Watch the hand below.
Without knowing Lew’s cards, Adelstein still knew he needed help on the two river card runouts, which he didn’t get with the 9 or the A.
It was a six-figure loss, but nothing Adelstein hasn’t experienced many times before, including the night before. He had seemingly readily accepted his fate in the hand, that is until he saw Lew’s cards.
“Whoah! Look at Garrett’s face,” noted Hanson in the commentary booth. “That is super strange, and you can see his reaction.”
“You look like you want to kill me,” Lew said to Adelstein. She continued with a few more jabs while Adelstein sat silently, trying to make sense of the situation. It wasn’t until Lew tried to justify her play that he jumped back in.
“I thought you had ace-high,” said Lew.
“So then why call with jack-high?” asked Adelstein.
Lew then doubled down by replying, “Because you don’t have shit.”
Adelstein played a few more hands before walking away from the table. Lew met him just outside the broadcast area for a discussion, where Adelstein accused her of knowing his cards. Eventually, Lew paid Adelstein back the chips he lost in the hand.
Adelstein returned to the game with the chips, upsetting another player known as RIP, and confusing the rest of the table in the process.
After some heated words with RIP, who had a reported 50 percent of Lew’s action, Adelstein racked up his chips, including his refund, and went home.
Lew told the table she refunded Adelstein to diffuse the tense situation, but the others felt she shouldn’t pay back anything unless she somehow did cheat.
“She never should have given the money back,” said Persson. “It makes you look guilty.”
Tsai added that while the hand looked incredibly suspicious, he couldn’t see how there was any cheating going on, and wondered why Lew would pay if she was innocent.
Many felt that Lew had perhaps been bullied or intimidated into giving back the money, but Adelstein later said on social media that he never asked for the money, and only accepted it after Lew offered.
Adelstein clarified his version while giving his reasoning for why he believes he was cheated.
“After the hand, her body language and word salad explanations on why she called the turn are also extremely suspicious, wrote Adelstein. “After giving [me] a couple jabs about how she outplayed me, she immediately becomes very defensive with nervous chatter. Putting it all together, I immediately felt very concerned about foul play.”
“I then said, ‘Robbi, this is likely to be viewed by millions of people.’ Her face clearly melted once I said this, fully realizing for the first time what she had gotten herself into. And then I continued, ’I think you know now, you f***ed up.”
“Knowing this was likely the closest I would get to a confession, and how impossible it is to get refunded in these cheating scandals (Mike Postle being the best example), I took her up on her offer.”
My thoughts on the hand in question from today’s livestream, screenshots 1-4 (of 6) pic.twitter.com/gWQOI6sg4o
— Garrett Adelstein (@GmanPoker) September 30, 2022
My thoughts on the hand in question from today’s livestream, screenshots 5-6 pic.twitter.com/Hb1Kh6xuFd
— Garrett Adelstein (@GmanPoker) September 30, 2022
Lew has maintained her innocence, but her explanation for what happened has only caused more confusion. During the stream, she said that the J in her hand was a blocker to flush and straight draws, which doesn’t really support her argument for calling.
Later on, she said that she misread her hand, and actually thought she was holding J-3 for bottom pair. However, when Adelstein asked her if she had a small pair, she said no, and that she had a “pure bluff catcher.” Hanson also wondered why she wouldn’t just admit that she had misread her hand if that was indeed the case.
“I read the man and made a hero call after he shoved on a turned brick card. Get over it,” wrote Lew on Twitter.
“I’ll say it again like I’ve said it before. I’m not playing nice in the sandbox anymore,” she added. “Make it right [Garrett], or don’t. I’ve already moved on. I’ll make it back either way.”
I read the man and make a hero call after he shoves on a turned brick card. Get over it.
I’ll say it again like I’ve said it before: “I’m not playing nice in the sandbox anymore.”
Make it right @GmanPoker
Or don’t. #IDGAF
I’ve already moved on. I’ll make it back either way.
— Robbi Jade Lew (@RobbiJadeLew) September 30, 2022
Garrett blocked me. 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
— Robbi Jade Lew (@RobbiJadeLew) September 30, 2022
How Could She Have Cheated?
Although Adelstein feels Lew somehow knew her cards were the winner, he doesn’t suspect an inside job.
“There is zero chance HCL ownership is involved. They are my friends, I trust them completely, and they would never be a part of this. I would never play on any stream at all if I thought there was even a very small chance ownership/production was involved in me being cheated.”
Hustler Casino Live co-owner Nick Vertucci then confirmed in an interview with Joey Ingram that the stream was secure. Players are not allowed to have any phones at the table, and neither are the commentators in the booth. The live stream is also broadcast on a delay, which would negate any help a viewer could provide to a player at the table.
So how could Lew have cheated? One hypothesis has poker fans, and even Adelstein himself, turning to the world of chess.
The chess world has been rocked by a cheating scandal of their own in recent months, with world no. 1 grandmaster (and poker enthusiast) Magnus Carlsen accusing an opponent of getting outside help during a match.
The method? An accomplice who knows the cards, and… perhaps a vibrating anal plug!
“I’m well aware [that] the scariest and easiest way for someone to cheat a livestream is to have a device hidden that simply vibrates to indicate you have the best hand,” Adelstein said.
The idea is that an accomplice could send a signal to the vibrator that gives different pulses for different actions. Perhaps one pulse for a fold, two pulses for call, and three pulses for a raise.
“I’m sure the plan was to minraise the turn and win the hand on the river when I don’t improve. But that all changed when I… 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.”
That doesn’t explain how someone could know Adelstein’s cards, however, unless they were able to hack into the feed as it was being filmed.
HCL has since responded, saying that both players will not compete on the stream until an investigation is conducted. In typical poker player fashion, Lew has since challenged Adelstein to a heads-up match.
Our statement on tonight’s show pic.twitter.com/gzKZOBZsy9
— Hustler Casino Live (@HCLPokerShow) September 30, 2022
The Poker World Reacts
This isn’t the first time that a player has been accused on cheating while on a live stream, but it is the first time that the poker world has been so divided on the issue.
Back in 2019, cash game pro Mike Postle was accused of cheating the Stones Live Poker game out of six figures. Despite winning in court, the overwhelming majority of the poker community believes Postle is guilty.
But in this situation with Lew and Adelstein, there are arguments to be made on each side. There are many top players who have reviewed the hand history and believe that Adelstein was somehow cheated, but there are also many who think that Lew was just flustered in the moment, and was simply doing a poor job of rationalizing a wild play.
Adelstein has earned a stellar reputation in the past for his demeanor at the table. Earlier this year, he went viral in a clip for shrugging off a brutal slow roll in a $186,000 pot. But while his accusations do carry a lot of weight, he is also being criticized for taking the money back. After all, what would have happened had he hit his flush or straight on the river?
I’m just getting my phone back now (post stream) so haven’t seen any of the public discussion yet, including the Garrett tweet.
Just want to say that at this exact point, I don’t know what the hell happened last night
— Bart Hanson (@BartHanson) September 30, 2022
The fact that she gave him the money back isn’t an admission of guilt, but likely the contrary.
A money hungry scumbag cheat isn’t likely to give money back in that spot.
Felt like she didn’t want to deal with conflict and can afford it. https://t.co/EwGMujYRuI
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) September 30, 2022
There was just a robbery in LA.
I dont know how that happend.
I dont know what just happend.
But someone needs to holla at shorty on hustler bc she just robbed Garrett.
— Conrad Simpson (@conrads411) September 30, 2022
Hot take: @GmanPoker taking the money is def the right play for him. He loses all leverage and chance of getting paid if he doesn’t accept. If he later comes to the conclusion it’s fair play, he can return it. Ideally the casino should hold it until an investigation takes place.
— Chase Bianchi (@Chase_Bianchi) September 30, 2022
– low equity spot to take
– no other sus hands
– gets money in bad, and even dead in other hands
– would have to only be using the cheat in this one spot just to get it in on a flip (???)
– min raises turn instead of call/calling off on safe river
— Vanessa Kade (@VanessaKade) September 30, 2022
Agree with this. Normally recreational players lose their minds and press an aggressive button, much rarer to see a ‘no logic’ play that involves calling. Seems very very unlikely it’s cheating. https://t.co/9hOTnY5VPE
— Sam Grafton (@SquidPoker) September 30, 2022
Mike is now saying that Rip is her business partner which DEF changes things a lot. Watched it in real time & just assumed she somehow rubber necked & didn’t know what to do with perfect info. Now it feels like there’s a lot of layers to this.
— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) September 30, 2022
Y’all need to chill with this hate towards @GmanPoker for taking the money back. If I was certain I was being cheated (he seems to believe was the case) and the person cheating me now somehow offers me a refund, fuck yeah I’m taking it too thank you very much.
— Henrik Hecklen (@hhecklen) September 30, 2022
It’s very important we don’t jump to any conclusions without more information…
Anyway, here’s what definitely happened.
— Spraggy (@spraggy) September 30, 2022
“Sorry I played the hand poorly and got super lucky to scoop the full pot. Here, why don’t you take your money back”
— Martin Jacobson (@Martin_Jacobson) September 30, 2022
I’m less interested in whether she cheated or not and more interested in out of all the hobbies on earth why is playing j4 that way more enjoyable than reading a great book or joining a rec baseball league or what have you
— Mike McDonald (@MikeMcDonald89) September 30, 2022
If I called your ass off with J4o I ain’t giving you a penny back
— Nadya Magnus (@NadyaKGB) September 30, 2022
I don’t really see much poor treatment of Robbi on here, maybe I’m missing it? Lots of people saying Garrett is awful/a bully/lots of other pretty bad things based on this and it doesn’t make much sense to me why this would cause such a response for someone with such a good rep
— Gavin Griffin (@nhgg) September 30, 2022
This Garrett vs Robbi hand at hustler is so wild. 2 most logical answers:
A: Her business partner tipped her off in some way but didn’t realize she had literal nothing.
B: Shes just really bad and did the classic bad player “if they are bluffing and I call i win right?” Thing
— John George (@TheEsportsPlug) September 30, 2022
Couple things that I think are noteworthy Hustler should investigate are a camera angle on Robbi when Garrett peels his hand. I’ve noticed Garret peels his hand fairly high and doesn’t protect it with his other hand and could have made it possibly visible for Robbi to see.
— Len Ashby (@ZENofLEN) September 30, 2022