The official investigation by Hustler Casino Live’s parent company into the allegations of cheating made against Robbi Jade Lew by Garrett Adelstein has found no evidence of foul play.
A High Stakes Poker Productions (HSPP) statement read: ““The investigation found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing in the J4 hand, or any other hand played that night.”
Show producer Nick Vertucci stated: “We cannot say with 100% certainty that no wrongdoing happened, just that we found no evidence of it.”
Meanwhile, the cybersecurity company brought in to investigate revealed: “While no direct evidence of cheating was found, Bulletproof found that cheating with the Sept. 29 setup was possible.”
The BackgroundThe investigation was launched after a Hustler Casino Live (HCL) livestreamed show erupted in acrimony when poker newbie Robbi Jade Lew called a bluff from HCL reg and crusher Garrett Adelstein, with only jack-high.
Adelstein stormed off the show following Lew’s suspicious play and later levelled multiple accusations against Lew and other players.
“I can again say with great confidence that Robbi was very likely part of a cheating ring of at least three members, including her, RIP [a reg on the show], Bryan [production staffer Bryan Sagbigsal, now wanted by the police for stealing $15k of Lew’s chips from the table] and potentially others.”
“Although I have strong suspicions of many hands that were cheated and the specific methodology and roles of each member of the cheating ring, my legal team has advised me to leave this information out of this initial report.”
Amidst Lew’s public but confusing refutations, and the poker community taking sides in what has become the biggest potential scandal of 2022, HCL’s parent company, High Stakes Poker Productions LLC, decided to launch their own investigation.
HCL Investigation Report ReleasedA Press Release on the HCL website revealed that “Cybersecurity, Private Investigation Firms and Hustler Casino Found No Evidence of Wrongdoing in Controversial J4 Hand.”
In addition, they announced numerous improvements to stream security in the wake of the very public incident.
Nick Vertucci, co-owner of High Stakes Poker Productions, stated: “The investigation we conducted was extremely thorough and we found no evidence of wrongdoing in the September 29 hand. We cannot say with 100% certainty that no wrongdoing happened, just that we found no evidence of it.”
“We promised to conduct a thorough investigation and that we would release the findings publicly, no matter what is found. That is what we are doing today.”
Vertucci added: “Our cybersecurity team found a number of areas we could improve – and we have followed that guidance to significantly improve the security of our stream. We are confident with the measures now in place that our stream is among the most secure in the industry. Players and fans of ‘Hustler Casino Live’ should be extremely confident that our games are safe and secure.”
Bulletproof InvestigationThe investigation was conducted by cybersecurity firm Bulletproof, which specialises in the gaming sector, with backup from The Solution Group, a legal and private investigations firm, as well as Hustler Casino with legal support from law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Bulletproof reported back that they were given “complete access to “Hustler Casino Live” facilities, including its production room, the poker table, stage, and all equipment used in producing the show.”
They also state that, “A Bulletproof employee was allowed to observe the production of two episodes of the show as part of its investigation,” while they also interviewed HSPP owners, Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman.
BULLETPROOF’s conclusionThe key findings of Bulletproof’s “J4 report”:
- The Deckmate shuffling machine is secure and cannot be compromised;
- It’s extremely unlikely that any card-reading device could have been stored in a water bottle or other object on the table;
- RFID technology used by “Hustler Casino Live” is safe. Any device that intercepted a signal would receive a serial number, not the actual card;
- Radio communication to the on-floor camera operator is not an issue;
- The PokerGFX system was free and clear of malware, installed programs or systems that could intercept hands.
They conclude: “While no direct evidence of cheating was found, Bulletproof found that cheating with the Sept. 29 setup was possible.”
They pointed out, however, that, “Most methods of cheating the system can be avoided by tightening security in the broadcast booth, which HSPP has done.”
Interviews, Failures, and ImprovementsMeanwhile, investigators from The Solution Group interviewed multiple players and others involved in the September 19th livestream, including Robbi Jade Lew.
HSPP and Hustler Casino also conducted an investigation, reviewing videos, hand histories and CCTV, and concluded no suspicious activity was found, other than the Sagbigsal theft.
That element of the story is ongoing, with Sagbigsal being charged this week with two counts of Grand Theft. The investigation found that HSPP did not conduct a pre-employment screening of Mr. Sagbigsal, who had a prior criminal record, including for theft.
HSPP states that, going forward, they will hire a professional agency to perform background checks on prospective employees, as well as periodic financial background checks.
Added Security protocolsGiven the report highlighted possible deficiencies in the security surrounding the HCL show, ten enhancements and protocols have been introduced:
- HSPP reconfigured the production room so that only one monitor can display hole cards, and it can only be viewed by the director.
- A wall and door were installed to the production room; the door is kept closed and locked throughout the stream. Only HSPP has the key to the room.
- Production room employees must surrender mobile telephones and other electronic devices, which are kept in signal-blocking Faraday bags, before entering the production room.
- Pre-employment background checks will be performed on all prospective employees.
- All players must surrender their telephones, smart watches and other electronic devices before playing in the game. Other personal items are stored in signal-blocking Faraday bags and kept away from the table.
- Players are required to sign waivers agreeing that they have no financial investment in any other players in the game.
- Security personnel use a metal-detecting wand to screen players each time they enter the stage area. Players who leave the stage for any reason are re-screened before re-entering the stage.
- Remote camera operator is no longer on open-production channel; the only way a director can communicate with that person is to press a button to communicate directly with them.
- Security video camera systems record all employees in the production room from multiple angles. Security cameras will not view hole cards on the director's monitor.
We will bring you responses from the poker community to this breaking story shortly.