Los Angeles Venue At Center Of Poker Cheat Storm

Los Angeles has a reputation for many things. The boom in Korean food across the rest of the country? Los Angeles had the Olympic Market half a century ago, and Koreatown celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first official neighborhood sign going up this year. Atlanta might fancy itself as the ‘Hollywood of the South’, but the OG Hollywood is very much ours. However, the rep that Atlantic City got for potential shadiness and Florida’s (not undeserved) tagging as being just plain weird? They’ve been paying the City of Angels a visit.

We’re fairly used to sporting scandals in the Los Angeles area. Mark McGwire is a native of Pomona, and while he was never a Dodger, Barry Bonds is from 50 miles down the road in Riverside. We’re learning that boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon might be excluded from the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games due to worries over potential doping and issues with governing bodies. This fall, though, brought a new one – potential poker perfidy.

The game

The story starts on September 29th at the high roller table in one of the top Los Angeles poker rooms, the Hustler Casino in Gardena. A big fish in the poker world – ten-time World Series Of Poker winner Phil Ivey – is at the table. This represents a bit of a coup for the poker room, who are streaming the game live on their YouTube channel. Phil’s not frequently spotted in local poker rooms, although he does travel up from his Vegas home relatively often to support his beloved Lakers.

Two pretty well-known local players, Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein, are in a heads-up situation whereby everyone else has folded, and they’re going mano a mano. Adelstein’s holding the seven and eight of clubs, giving him a potential straight, flush, and straight flush draws. Lew has an offsuit Jack four. After three communal cards, the nine and ten of clubs and the ten of hearts have been revealed, putting Adelstein in a very strong position. He’s about 70/30 to win at this stage. By contrast, Lew only has the pair of tens on the table, with a Jack as a high card kicker. The three of hearts offers neither any help. Adelstein moves all in. She calls him for $269k. The ace of spades gives Lew the win.

The fallout

So far, so strange. While Lew is a newer player than Adelstein, she has had professional coaching sessions, and it’s a really odd call. Accusations fly around, with Adelstein immediately accusing Lew of cheating. The night after the game, she offers to repay him the pot, which he accepts. Social media wars ensue, with theories that she has a buzzing device in her jewelry or in her pocket. On October 7th, casino employee Bryan Sagbigsal is fired after it’s discovered on camera footage he took three $5k chips from Lew’s stack after play was completed, leading to accusations that he’s taking a ‘commission’ for somehow being in on a plot. Lew is offered the chance to press police charges for theft; however, she declines. Lew offers to take a polygraph test and releases her results, saying she passed on October 13th.

For her part, Lew has hinted at misogyny being the reason for the accusations. Adelstein has fired back on poker forums, alleging Lew has a close relationship with known scammers. The poker community is split as to who to believe. On one hand, it could be sour grapes from Adelstein. On the other, polygraphs are the preserve of The Steve Wilkos Show and likely shouldn’t be given too much credence. This house of cards hasn’t yet fallen.

Keep an eye on Mobangeles for updates on this farce, as well as all your other Los Angeles comedy.

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