The Latest Big Cheating Scandal to Rock the Poker World: Robbi Jade Lew vs. Garrett Adelstein
This hand between poker pro Garret “Gman” Adelstein and relative newcomer Robbie Jade Lew on the Hustler Casino Livestream is making big waves in the poker world, with some claiming that Robbie was clearly cheating while others think Garret is just salty after losing a monster pot to a less experienced woman player.
While we’re not going to do a deep-dive into the action here, the main point of contention happened on the turn. Neither player was holding much—Lew held J4o against Adelstein’s 87c—and the board was ThTc9c3h. With his straight-flush draw, Adelstein had 53% equity, while Lew held the best hand based on the current run-out.
Adelstein bet, Lew min-raised, and then Adelstein went all-in as a semi-bluff. Shockingly, Lew called his shove of $129,000 with nothing more than Jack high, a weak bluff catcher. They ran the river twice, and Lew won both.
Plenty of confusing “evidence”
With pros like Doug Polk claiming that he's 90% sure she was cheating, there’s been a full-blown investigation from armchair detectives on the internet as well as from the livestream’s show-runners. While nobody knows for certain what happened, the main reason that many believe she was cheating is that she made such an audacious hero call.
At the same time, if she did have perfect information, why would she call from behind? She would need to also know the exact run-out of both river cards, a heist that’s even more difficult to pull off.
There’s other evidence as well. For instance, off stage and in the heat of the moment, Lew returned the $135,000 to Adelston, explaining that she felt bad for winning, that she didn’t care about the money, and that she just didn’t want him to be upset or have any drama. Still, many people view this action as an admission of guilt.
Another curious bit that may or may not is related is the fact that the investigation revealed that a Hustler Casino Live employee stole $15,000 in chips off Lew's stack that evening. Some believe that he had organized the entire plot and that he was either taking his cut or seeking revenge because Lew gave back the money.
Ultimately, there is plenty of rumor swirling around this case, but no real evidence at this time that conclusively proves her guilt or innocence.
The Hot Takeaway
There’s many sides to this story, but the main contention always seems to come down to her “outlandish” play. It may not have been game theory optimized, it may not even be a good play, but maybe—just maybe—she was able to capitalize on the one thing that makes live poker so unique. Maybe she read her opponent!
We can’t forget that he was bluffing. It’s certainly possible that she’s rich enough to not care a ton about the money, wasn’t thinking about the draws, and decided to call because she knew he didn’t have anything. Maybe that’s a generous interpretation, but it seems like a lot of the criticism comes from the fact that people look at this situation, think “what would I have done?”, and fail to understand how someone can act and think differently. Maybe she even just wanted to gamble a bit.
The biggest takeaway from this entire scandal, however, is that its a reminder of what makes poker great in the first place. This game is inherently ambiguous. We never have complete information, and it’s just as much about psychology as it is about math and statistics. This case just reminds us that it’s very difficult to make any claims to certainty in the poker world.