Racked up costs in anti-SLAPP motion
Though the Mike Postle legal saga is just about concluded, there are still some loose ends to tie up. On Tuesday, the attorney for Todd Witteles, one of the 12 named defendants in Postle’s $330m defamation lawsuit, filed a motion to have Postle pay $43,314.50 of Witteles’s attorney’s fees and court costs.
The motion stems from the anti-SLAPP motion brought by Witteles against Postle in January. SLAPP, which stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” is a tactic often used to intimidate people against speaking out against wrongdoing, lest they have to deal with the financial and emotional burden of litigation. When Postle dropped the defamation case last week, he effectively admitted that Witteles’s and Veronica Brill’s anti-SLAPP motions were valid.
Eric Bensamochan, Witteles’s attorney, directly connected Postle’s lawsuit to the expenses his client incurred.
it is critical that Defendant Witteles be fully compensated”
“As a matter of public policy,” Bensamochan wrote, “and in order to effectuate the intent and purpose of the SLAPP statute, it is critical that Defendant Witteles be fully compensated for his decision to present a defense to Plaintiff’s claims in this action and vindicate his right to speak openly about controversial topics.”
Postle’s legal road has been bumpy
Postle’s defamation lawsuit dates back to October 2020. The suit made seven claims against a dozen named entities and people, plus other unnamed defendants, for their roles in reporting on and publicly discussing the allegations of poker cheating made against him. The named defendants included ESPN, PokerNews, Upswing Poker, PokerNews via iBus Media, Crush Live Poker, Poker Coaching, Run It Once, Joey Ingram, Haralabos Voulgaris, Daniel Negreanu, Todd Witteles, and Veronica Brill.
In December 2020, Postle’s attorney, Steven Lowe, filed a motion to be relieved of his role as legal counsel. In the motion, he explained his reasoning: “Client has failed to comply with the written agreement between the firm and the client, and communication has otherwise ceased between client and attorney.”
A judge granted the motion on January 14. Losing his attorney may have been a contributing factor in Postle filing a motion to dismiss his $330m defamation lawsuit on April 1. In a March 18 hearing, Postle said he was having trouble finding new representation.
His dropping of his own case, however, has put Postle in another pickle, as he gave much more credence to Witteles’s and Brill’s anti-SLAPP motions against him. If the judge grants their motions on April 20, Postel will most likely be on the hook for their legal fees.
Postle’s poker success was otherworldly
The drama surrounding Mike Postle started in September 2019 when Brill advanced the idea that someone might be cheating in the “Stones Live” cash game streams from Stones Gambling Hall in the Sacramento area. She later confirmed Postle as the suspect after other pros named him.
With the accusation out there, the poker community combed through publicly available “Stones Live” videos to find that Postle essentially ran like a poker god in just about every stream on which he appeared. In 21 streamed sessions at $5/$5 No-Limit Hold’em in 2018, he profited $93,200, having just two losing sessions. In $1/$3 games, he made $36,120 over 13 sessions, winning every single one.
Postle made every correct decision almost every time
Numbers aside, it appeared that Postle made every correct decision almost every time, even when he made bizarre plays with weak holdings. It looked like he was in superuser mode.
While it was never proven that Postle cheated, the theory was that he had some sort of camera feed from the livestream production or knowledge of the RFID data. People who analyzed the videos thought a bulge in his baseball cap looked suspicious and he looked down to his lap frequently, something that is unusual during a poker game. The thought was that he was looking at a feed on his smartphone and perhaps the bulge in his hat was some sort of receiver.