On Wednesday night, on the Hustler Casino Live poker stream, a player going by the name ‘Skillsrocks’ rubber-necked his way to an $11,430 profit. Time and time again, he appeared to look at his opponent’s poorly protected hole cards, following those sneaky-peeks up with some perfectly timed bluffs.
The chat was quick to spot the shenanigans and alert the commentators who asked for specific time-stamps at the end of the stream, pledging to follow up with an investigation. Due to the stream’s long delay and the sequestered commentators earlier intervention was not possible.
supposedly acknowledged his unethical behavior
To be fair to Hustler Casino, it took the allegations seriously, conducted its own investigation, and ultimately followed this with decisive action. The casino banned Skillsrocks, who supposedly acknowledged his unethical behavior.
Obnoxious and dishonest
Skillsrocks’ unfortunate opponent was Barry Wallace, a popular Los Angeles regular who often plays on Hustler Casino’s poker livestream. The pair battled all night in a loose $10/$20/$40 game, both men voluntarily putting money into the pot in two-thirds of the hands.
Skillsrocks was loud, brash, and obnoxious, deploying plenty of speech-play in an effort to tilt his opponents. Unpleasant as that behavior might be, it is sometimes part of the game. What isn’t however is a blatant attempt to gain an advantage by spying on your opponent’s holding:
This incident sparked debate on social media with some taking the view that Barry should have protected his cards better. It is absolutely the player’s responsibility to do so but that does not make it any less disgusting when somebody intentionally misdirects by peeling their own cards while staring directly at those of their unwitting opponent.
If you want to see for yourself, some of the relevant timestamps are 4:14:12, 4:15:53, and 4:17:58:
There were several hands between Skillsrocks and Barry that furrowed the brow. An audacious river 3bet re-re-bluff in a 3-way pot caught the eye when Skillsrocks bet $1,500 into a $1,930 pot on A♦️J♦️8♣️7♣️Q♥️ with 5♠️2♦️. Barry raised to $4,000 with 7♦️6♠️. With all this action before her, the third player Candie folded her K♥️K♣️ and with the action back on Skillsrocks, he jammed for effectively $20,650 total.
The hand I want to break down though came just over four hours into the stream. Antonio on the button straddles to $100, Skillsrocks straddles to $200 in the small blind, and Barry straddles to $400 in the big blind. With $740 in the pot, action folds to Antonio who makes it $1,200 with A♠️4♣️. Skillsrocks, not for the first or last time, appears to spy Barry’s cards before tossing in a call with 9♣️7♣️. Barry calls with T♠️8♦️.
Skillsrocks appears to kick Antonio’s foot under the table
After the action-flop of A♣️7♦️9♥️, it is checked to Antonio who c-bets $1,000 into a pot of $3,640. Skillsrocks and Barry both called. The turn came the 6♠️, making Barry a straight. Again, the action checks to Antonio, and here’s where it gets weird. Skillsrocks appears to kick Antonio’s foot under the table who reacts audibly confused. Undeterred, he bets $2,400 into a pot of $6,640.
Skillsrocks gets very animated and Barry becomes suspicious. “Are you all kicking each other?”, he asks. “No, no, I’m just moving my fucking foot,” replies Skillsrocks, who has a pretty easy call but makes it clear to the table that he is considering a ‘big fold.’
After some more talk about under-the-table kicks, Skillsrocks does indeed find the unlikely fold. The hand then plays out with Barry continuing to slow play and ultimately stacking Antonio for a $19,440 pot. Perhaps shamelessly but more likely as an attempt at misdirection because he is on a livestream, Skillsrocks even makes a big deal about showing Barry what he folded.
Despite this chunky pot (that should have been chunkier) going his way, Barry finished the stream down $4,570 mostly because of some more suspicious hands. To watch a ‘Joe Ingram style investigation’ video of all the suspicious hands, check out this video by poker player Alex Duvall:
Kevin Martin did and it blew his mind:
Hustler Casino reacts
Unsurprisingly, people have drawn comparisons to the Mike Postle Scandal. As serious an infraction and big a breach of ethics as this appears to be, it is not at all the same. Postle’s alleged crimes required an inside job. Meanwhile, this appears to be an example of an unscrupulous cheater taking advantage of a trusting player. It is also an example of swift action by the casino.
On Thursday, Hustler Casino Live issued a statement via Twitter with co-owners Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman making it clear how seriously they have taken the alleged cheating incident:
Barry took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the support shown to him.
Poker needed another cheating scandal like a hole in the head. It’s depressing when flagrant incidents like this make it very likely that bad actors in our world are profiting from deceit and duplicity. Some people understandably despair but most important is how the community reacts.
there should be no rationalizing or equivocating
If people think that everyone else is cheating, then some will feel the need to cheat too. Therefore, there should be no rationalizing or equivocating of what Skillsrocks appears to have done. It is fine to point out that Barry was careless but that should not rise to the level of victim-blaming.
There should be an absolute rejection of those who seek to find an edge through nefarious means because to fail to do so only feeds a culture of dishonesty and a vicious, downward cycle.