Feel-good turns feel-bad
Every year at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), there are feel-good stories about players who overcame difficult situations to be there and live their dream of competing on poker’s biggest stage. Rob Mercer looked like he might have been one of those, having accepted around $40,000 in donations from the poker community after claiming he had stage 4 colon cancer and really wanted to play in the WSOP. But now he has admitted it was all a lie.
I did lie about having colon cancer. I don’t have colon cancer.”
In a phone interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mercer confessed: “I did lie about having colon cancer. I don’t have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation. What I did was wrong. I shouldn’t have told people I have colon cancer. I did that just as a spur-of-the-moment thing when someone asked me what kind of cancer I had.”
“I’m sorry for not being honest about what my situation was. If I would have done that from Day 1, who knows what would have happened,” he added.
There were suspicions about the veracity of Mercer’s story a month ago, but it wasn’t until this week that Mercer himself confirmed that he made up the diagnosis. He originally got the attention of poker influencer Doug Parscal, Jr., who goes by “SnoopDoug” online, via a post on X in February asking for assistance because he had cancer.
Fast forward to June and Parscal, who had offered to buy Mercer into tournaments, got Hustler Casino Live producer Nick Vertucci to help out. Vertucci got the word out and Mercer raised $12,000 on a GoFundMe, accepted additional private donations, and was given a suite at the Bellagio for he and his father.
acted ungrateful for the Bellagio stay
In Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event – he was eliminated on Day 1 – Mercer gave off bad vibes to people involved in the fundraising. Vertucci said Mercer acted ungrateful for the Bellagio stay and saw him playing casino pit games. His father also got into an incident that required the involvement of security.
And then there was Cody Daniels, a poker player who actually does have a terminal illness and was just released from another stint in the hospital a couple days ago. He met Mercer through Vertucci and got together with him in person at the WSOP. After a short conversation, he came away with an uneasy feeling, saying: “It was fishy to us, and obviously we weren’t the only ones.”
has not gone to a doctor
Yesterday, Parscal posted screenshots of a lengthy text message from Mercer to Daniels, apologizing for lying about having colon cancer. Mercer said he has been sick for over a year with symptoms that have led him to believe that he has breast cancer, but has not gone to a doctor out of fear that he would get the cancer diagnosis and it would become real. Mercer also said he has suffered from depression, which has possibly contributed to not seeking medical treatment.
Mercer said he told people he had colon cancer out of embarrassment that, as a male, he could have breast cancer. And then he kept going with the lie, accepting donations and Las Vegas comps.
He added that he has accepted being shunned by the poker community and that “I brought a lot of it on myself.” Despite the apology, Mercer said he is not repaying the money because he is actually sick, regardless of the truthfulness of what illness he said he has.
On his YouTube show, Vertucci said: “He’s still a human being and you need to care about every person on the planet regardless of what a big piece of cheese they could be. I don’t want the kid to have cancer. Ultimately, I’d rather him just be a bad person.”