A recent game of Texas Hold ’em at California’s Hustler Casino has sent shockwaves through the professional poker community. On September 29, player Robbi Jade Lew won a $269,000 pot against Garrett Adelstein, one of the most famous cash game players in the business. However, after cheating accusations, bullying accusations, a massive refund, and the looming possibility of polygraph tests, the controversy has only skyrocketed in the days since the competition. Let’s break down the divisive game.
‘Why Call With Jack High?’
If you’ve ever played poker, then you know that it’s so much more than a game of cards. It’s also a test of strategy and deception, something poker enthusiasts were reminded of last Thursday when Garrett Adelstein lost $269,000 in a game against player Robbi Jade Lew. However, a dark cloud moved over the Hustler Casino after the competition. The establishment shared a clip of the controversial game on its Twitter account.
Unless you’re well-versed in poker lingo, it probably feels like you’re trying to decipher a foreign language while watching the video. Here’s the rundown: Throughout the game, Lew had a poor hand with a Jack of clubs and a four of hearts. From the first deal, there was no chance she’d land more than a single pair. So, Lew repeatedly raised the stakes knowing the odds were against her. If you watch the clip, you’ll notice that the announcer is absolutely baffled by her decision to match Adelstein’s all-in bet.
Adelstein, on the other hand, had a better chance of victory throughout the game. He just needed any card of clubs to have a flush. If he got a Jack or six of any suit, he would have come out with a straight. If he was lucky enough to get a Jack of clubs or a six of clubs, he’d have a straight flush—the second-highest ranking five-card hand you can get. Those are pretty fair chances. Of course, it was still a big risk on Adelstein’s part, but his confidence makes a bit more sense considering he just needed one good card to pretty much seal the deal.
Adelstein Accused Lew Of Cheating
So, after going all-in, Adelstein and Lew agreed to “run it twice,” meaning the dealer would deal out two more community cards, giving both players two chances to sweeten their hands. Lew didn’t benefit from the community cards. Adelstein also had poor luck, and he failed to fill out a hand. That means that the ruling would have to be made on each player’s “high card,” so, essentially, the player with the highest valued card wins. By sheer luck, Lew’s Jack high bested Adelstein’s eight high, meaning she took the pot.
Immediately, Adelstein thought something felt off. Even the announcer pointed out that Adelstein isn’t usually a sore winner. However, the pro quickly accused Lew of cheating. The proof? Well, his own intuition mostly. The only thing going for Adelstein is the sheer unlikelihood that an experienced player would bet so high on such a poor hand, though Lew is still technically an amateur.
After the game, Adelstein apparently confronted Lew. The players have provided contradictory statements on what exactly transpired—all we know is that Lew returned Adelstein’s chips, effectively erasing her victory. Adelstein insists he didn’t ask for the money back, and her returning it was as good as admitting guilt. Lew, on the other hand, has a different story.
According to her Twitter feed, Adelstein was extremely threatening. He allegedly cornered her while she was alone and demanded the money back. Essentially, she’s accusing Adelstein of bullying her.
In response to the controversy, the Hustler Casino has launched an investigation into the events. “We are in the process of hiring a law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation, which will include staff and player interviews, a review of relevant records, and possibly the use of polygraph testing,” a statement from the establishment read.
A Problematic Accusation
Here’s the deal: There’s absolutely no evidence available to the public that would suggest Lew cheated. The most likely scenario here is that she got in over her head on a bluff, and, despite the unlikelihood, it worked out in her favor. This seems to be supported by her behavior at the table. She was noticeably flustered at the end, giving nonsensical explanations for her gameplay. She said as much afterwards.
However, the findings of the investigation are sure to be enlightening. If Lew hadn’t returned the money, most people probably would have dismissed Adelstein’s behavior. Yet, Lew did return the money. As a consequence, the players have opened a can of worms much larger than their individual game.
How much power does a high-roller in a male-dominated industry have over a newer player like Lew? Would any other woman have the confidence to stick to her guns in that situation, even if you played a risky—possibly even ill-advised—game? Lew wouldn’t be the first woman to compromise in order to avoid conflict. If the investigation comes out in Lew’s favor, it will certainly speak to a larger problem that transcends the poker industry.