Nearly a year after an alleged cheating scheme at Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights rocked the poker world and spawned a $30 million lawsuit, the case has been settled for an undisclosed amount and lawyers in the case agree Stones was not involved in any cheating.
Stones Gambling Hall settles poker lawsuit; lawyer says no cheating by casino found By Sam Stanton, The Sacramento Bee 9/15/2020 Md. Launches central system to find beds. Remote Caller Bingo Information. NOTE: The California Gambling Control Commission (Commission) is not responsible for regulating the play of 'traditional' bingo. According to the California Constitution (Article IV, Section 19) and section 326.5 of the California Penal Code, the regulation of bingo is the responsibility of local jurisdictions, such as cities and counties. Stones Gambling Hall - 6510 Antelope Rd, Citrus Heights, CA 95621 - Rated 4.4 based on 76 Reviews 'Hands down the best poker room around.
“A number of my clients chose to settle the case with the casino,” attorney Maurice “Mac” VerStandig said in a telephone interview Monday. “It’s an amicable settlement that we’re happy to enter into.”
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, although a Stones source said the payment amount is “nominal” and being made to “show good will.”
The lawyer for Justin Kuraitis, Stones’ live poker manager who also was sued and accused of not taking other players’ complaints about the alleged cheating seriously, went even further.
“I would characterize the settlement as a complete vindication,” attorney Richard Pachter said.
And, in an unusual twist, VerStandig provided a statement as part of the settlement that says flat-out that neither Stones nor Kuraitis were involved in any sort of cheating.
“After reviewing evidence with the cooperation of Stones, my co-counsel and I have found no evidence supporting the plaintiffs’ claims against Stones, Stones Live Poker, or Justin Kuraitis,” the statement says. “My co-counsel and I have found no forensic evidence that there was cheating at Stones or that Stones, Mr. Kuraitis, the Stones Live team, or any dealers were involved in any cheating scheme.
“Based on our investigation, we are satisfied that Stones and Mr. Kuraitis were not involved in any cheating that may have occurred. While Stones has not spoken publicly regarding the details of their investigation during its pendency, its counsel and Mr. Kuraitis’ counsel have been immensely cooperative behind-the-scenes.”
The statement does not mention the main player in the casino drama — poker player Michael Postle — whose winning streak at Stones drew accusations of cheating by other players and led to the lawsuit.
But Postle broke his silence for the first time late Monday, proclaiming his innocence in a text message sent to The Sacramento Bee.
“As much as I’d like to say, all I can really say right now is that I have my side of this entire fiasco to tell,” Postle wrote. “It won’t just shock the poker and gambling industries, but the entire world.
“This all goes way beyond just my innocence, but includes an entire incredible 17+ year story along with it, and what’s happened since the allegations. In fact, it’s such a mind blowing story, that it’s being told to Dave Broome at 25/7 Productions who will be producing a wild documentary for the world to see on it!
“I’ve been waiting for many, many months on this and I’m anxious for it to finally come out. So to all the detractors and accusers who have asked, ‘Why hasn’t he spoken or provided his evidence of innocence and explanations?’
“Well guess what? ... Now you know.”
Postle declined to be interviewed beyond the statement he provided.
A federal judge in Sacramento earlier dismissed the lawsuit against the casino, Kuraitis and Postle on the grounds that California law does not allow for lawsuits to recover gambling losses, but the judge agreed to allow for a refiling of an amended lawsuit against the casino.
Instead, court papers say the case has been settled on behalf of most of the plaintiffs, who alleged that Postle racked up an astounding series of hands that amounted to him winning 94% of his poker games and collecting $250,000 while playing at Stones from July 2018 through September 2019.
VerStandig said 61 of the 88 poker playing plaintiffs have signed settlement agreements in the case and that some others have indicated no desire to pursue the matter further.
The original lawsuit alleged that Postle had a communications device hidden inside his ball cap and had his cellphone under the table during web broadcasts of poker games that somehow allowed him to see opponents’ hole cards.
“While playing in Stones Live Poker games, Mr. Postle has won more money than any other participant, in total, and had oftentimes been the winningest player on the show on any given night in which he is a participant,” the lawsuit claimed. “Mr. Postle’s winnings on the Stones Live Poker broadcast, and his correlative play of poker, have been so exceptionally outstanding as to lead the commentator to note his seemingly mystical abilities on numerous occasions, and to lead Stones (Live) Poker to produce various graphics portraying Mr. Postle as a deity-like individual imbued with omniscient powers (with one such graphic conflating an image of Mr. Postle and an image of Jesus Christ).”
The accusations created an international uproar online in the poker community, which analyzed videos of Postle’s poker play, and led to poker websites such as cardschat.com and pokernews.com calling it one of the biggest poker stories of last year.
The allegations also led to Stones and state regulators launching their own investigations, and to Kuraitis being tarred online as somehow involved.
Now, Kuraitis is speaking out for the first time about how the scandal affected him.
“In the fall of 2019, I watched as the ‘poker community’ and wanna-be ‘celebrity’ commentators on Twitter/YouTube falsely accused me of being a knowing participant in what was allegedly the ‘biggest poker cheating scandal in history,’ ” Kuraitis wrote in a four-page statement obtained by The Bee. “The allegations against me were false.
“However, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control still conducted an investigation with which I completely and voluntarily cooperated. Because of the investigation and then civil litigation, I was counseled to remain silent and let the process play out without making public comment. I did so, all the while wondering if the record would ever be set straight, if the poker community would ever take me back and if those that falsely accused me would ever apologize or if they would just go on to the next effort to collect clicks and followers.”
Kuraitis said he found himself facing an online “propaganda machine” that resulted in threats against him.
“The Twitter mob is real, it is ugly, and it has real life consequences,” he wrote. “I have never before experienced so much hatred, ignorance and even threats of violence.”
Kuraitis is still with Stones, but whether Postle is still playing poker is not clear.
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VerStandig said he had not heard of Postle playing anywhere.
“Courtesy of COVID, live poker has been virtually on hiatus,” VerStandig said. “I imagine that my phone would ring if he were seen playing somewhere.
“The poker world is small and insular. My phone has not rung.”
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Stones Gambling Hall doesn’t think highly of the poker community’s intelligence.
While the poker world overwhelmingly believes that Mike Postle cheated others out of their money on live-streamed cash games at the Sacramento-area cardroom, the room itself said that there was no wrongdoing.
The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday morning that Kings Casino LLC, owner of Stones Gambling Hall, submitted a motion to dismiss the $30 million lawsuit against Kings Casino, Mike Postle and Stones’ Tournament Director Justin Kuratis, who was in charge of the live stream.
“This lawsuit reflects the oldest complaints of gamblers – that their lack of success means they were cheated,” read the filing.
Stones’ lawyers are asking for a hearing on April 16 to hear arguments on their motion to dismiss the case. The casino’s legal team stated that under California law, damages are not awarded for gambling losses.
In 2018 and 2019, Postle had won roughly $250,000 in mostly $1-$3 no-limit hold’em cash games on Stones Live Poker. After more than a year of almost exclusively winning sessions on the stream, former Stones Live commentator Veronica Brill made her cheating concerns public.
According to an October interview with Brill, she had initially brought up her concerns privately to Kuraitis. Kuraitis assured her that there was no cheating involved and that an internal investigation cleared Postle of any suspected foul play.
When she made her concerns public, however, Stones announced publicly that it would run a third-party investigation. The last tweet from Stones Gambling Hall was on November 8, 2019, that said it would be shutting down its streaming operations while the investigation was conducted.
In a statement Wednesday, Stones once again said that it found no cheating.
“We have found no evidence that indicates there was cheating in the games in question,” read the statement. “Stones is confident that it will prevail in this unwarranted lawsuit.”
Brill’s allegations sparked the dissection of hundreds of hours of Postle’s live-streamed play by some of poker’s best players and brightest minds. After seeing Postle’s ability to nearly always make the right decision on every street combined, his astronomically high win-rate and his unorthodox strategy, the consensus from several high-stakes pros was that he was cheating.
Even though several top pros, including Scott Seiver, Matt Berkey and Doug Polk, believed he cheated, there was still a question of how, which wasn’t as easy to pin down.
There were several theories floated around, including the hole cards being streamed right to his phone or that he was receiving information from a bone conduction headphone located in his hat. Both of these theories were supported by video footage of Postle on stream constantly looking at his phone located in his lap or the appearance of a bulky device located in his hat that he would constantly touch during tough decisions.
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Since Kuraitis vehemently defended Postle to Brill and others in the community, it was widely believed that Kuraitis was the one behind the scenes that helped Postle cheat. After the allegations went public, Kuraitis made his Twitter account private and has been silent on the issue.
Card Player reached out to Stones Gambling Hall Thursday morning and they would not comment on the status of Kuraitis’ employment with the company.
According to court documents, Postle is representing himself in the matter, confirming what Mac Verstandig, the lawyer for the numerous plaintiffs, suspected when he was having trouble serving Postle legal notice of the suit earlier this year. Postle has until March 24 to file his response to the lawsuit.
Diving further into the filing by Stones, it is clear that while they are claiming that there was no cheating, the property is doing its best to distance itself from the accused cheater.
“Stones had no stake in who won money or lost money in the poker games,” the motion stated. “All Stones did was provide a venue for the poker game.
“Plaintiffs do not allege that Stones benefited from Mr. Postle’s alleged cheating. No Ill-gotten profits or sinister motivations are imputed to Stones. Plaintiffs even tacitly concede that cheating by players harms Stones’ business and reputation. It is confounding that Plaintiffs now sue Stones rather than seeking its assistance in their shared goal of preventing cheating in poker.”