Top Stories of 2023, #10: High-Stakes Player Allegedly Cheated Private Game Out of Millions

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Mars Cheating Scandal

2023 was not nan twelvemonth of poker cheating scandals that 2022 proved to be pinch aggregate high-stakes pros being accused of cheating and nan infamous Garrett-Robbi manus connected Hustler Casino Live. However, nan twelvemonth ended pinch a ungraded involving backstage games, marked cards and millions of dollars.

Earlier this month, HCL regulars Nikhil "Nik Airball" Arcot and Wesley Fei accused Tony Mars (who has besides appeared connected HCL) of cheating a Southern California backstage crippled retired of millions, allegations that Mars later denied.

The California backstage crippled cheating ungraded is PokerNews' tenth biggest communicative of 2023. The ungraded was nan taxable of a caller episode of nan PokerNews Podcast, which is disposable to perceive to below:

Marked Cards In California Private Game

The cheating accusations came to ray connected Dec. 3 erstwhile Nik Airball tweeted that "someone who I thought was a adjacent friend of excavation cheating maine retired of $1m successful a bid of poker games." In a follow-up tweet, he identified Mars arsenic nan accused cheater and alleged he "brought a mechanic trader and typical cards that are 'see through' pinch typical contacts."

Wesley shared pinch PokerNews further specifications astir nan alleged cheating successful backstage $25/$50 and $50/$100 games successful Yorba Linda and different parts of Southern California betwixt March and October. According to Wesley, Mars offered to bring his ain platform and brought 2 players to nan crippled who near up a fewer million, while Mars himself walked distant up $1.6 million.

"We asked Mars, 'why did you inquire to bring nan deck?'" Wesley told PokerNews. "After a crippled we recovered a cheating deck. The platform is simply a very bully cheating platform that you can't find. But we went to a very acheronian room and we utilized a bluish ray and past you tin spot nan numbers connected nan backmost of nan deck."

Tony MarsTony Mars

Wesley confronted Mars complete nan telephone and matter and said nan accused cheater admitted nan platform was marked erstwhile confronted pinch nan evidence.

"Mars said, 'maybe you're losing and you don't want to salary truthful you're changing nan deck,'" Wesley said of an relationship pinch Mars. "If we are cheating, really tin we lose?"

Cheating allegations

Wesley further alleged that others were progressive successful Mars' cheating ring, including French pro Arnaud Mattern, who dealt nether nan sanction "Mike," and Shane Hennen, a convicted felon from Pennsylvania who apparently utilized nan sanction "Bruce." Mattern denied immoderate engagement successful a post connected nan Two Plus Two forum.

"I Didn't Bring Any Cards Anywhere"

Soon aft being accused of cheating, Mars denied nan allegations that he brought a typical UV-marked platform to decipher face-down cards.

"I'm penning this connection to group nan grounds consecutive connected immoderate mendacious accusations that personally damaged my reputation," Mars wrote successful a connection to PokerNews. "I person won and mislaid immense amounts galore times successful my poker career, but I person ne'er cheated successful a game, and I person ever paid erstwhile I lost."

Statement from MarsStatement from Mars

Mars said he "didn't bring immoderate cards anywhere" and went connected nan violative by attacking Wesley's reputation, calling him "close to broke" and saying he "lies to everyone to represent a definite image."

"He's trying to poison nan mind of anybody that will listen," Mars said. "All of these are confirmed facts, and not baseless accusations."

Wesley FeiWesley Fei

Both players agreed that marked cards had been spotted successful a backstage crippled they some regularly played in, but Mars denied having thing to do pinch nan marked deck.

Threats Of Violence During Phone Call

More specifications astir nan alleged cheating emerged from a phone call betwixt Wesley and Mars aft nan allegations were made. The less-than-friendly chat, obtained by PokerNews, included threats of "blood shed" and harm to Wesley's mother.

"It’s not astir really to discuss, conscionable that I don’t understand. There’s nary request to escalate this immoderate further. You… because I can’t power it now. I can’t power nan leader anymore. Tonight, I’ll travel backmost and meet you to talk nan remaining issues," Mars said successful Mandarin during nan call.

"I don't attraction astir this matter anymore, whether this telephone is recorded aliases not," Mars said. "This matter is now astir you losing, you winning, whether I cheated aliases not, whether I admitted it aliases not. I really don't attraction anymore. I don't want this matter to escalate further."

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