Professional poker player Mike Postle's abilities have become the stuff of local legend.
During an online broadcast of a cash game at Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights last November, announcer Kasey Mills believed Postle, who lives in Rancho Cordova, had no choice but to fold his hand after another player made a significant raise.
"If anyone can like pick this off, it would be Mike P — and it would be his magical wizard power,” Mills said.
Postle didn't fold. Instead, he went all in. The other player, identified as Bryan on the live stream, folded. Postle won the hand. The announcers were astounded.
"It's Mike P's world and we're just living in it,” said fellow announcer Chris Glasgow.
By one estimate on the poker forum page Two Plus Two, Postle has won $250,000 while playing at Stones Gambling Hall. But he is being accused by other poker players of cheating: either by watching Stones’ live streams on Twitch and YouTube feeds while playing, which would allow him to know the other players’ cards; or by somehow being fed information about the other players' hands.
Stones Gambling Hall says it has hired a former U.S. attorney to investigate the accusations. The California Gambling Control Board is investigating, as well, according to Stones, but the agency declined to confirm or comment.
Veronica Brill, a fellow professional player who has been Tweeting about Postle’s winnings, pointed out that he consistently — and awkwardly — looked down between the table and his stomach after the first cards of a hand were dealt.
She also noted that his winning percentage is too high to be believed. Once she posted her suspicions on Twitter at the end of September, other poker players took a second look.
Matt Berkey is a pro who has played some of the same tables as Postle, and says he has been winning at a rate 10-times higher than even the most successful poker players.
"Mike is winning about $1,000 an hour where the [minimum initial bet] is $7 to $10. An elite level win rate at that blind level, you'd be looking at $100, maybe if you're next level, $150. He's winning almost 10-times that over a pretty substantial sample size,” Berkey said.
He says Postle’s long-term success belies statistical anomaly. "When we go back and examine the hands that he's played and the nature in which he's played them, they all just seem to represent that he had perfect information," he said.
Postle has said previously that Stones’ live stream, which is on a 30-minute delay, incorrectly reported the cards in his hand, due to an error with radio frequency identification cards, or RFID, a technology that reads the cards and relays them onto the live-stream viewers can see what hands each player was dealt.
Berkey runs a training academy for aspiring professional poker players and says he uses the RFID, and that he rarely had a problem with the cards. He doubts that one player would have a malfunction happen to him on three separate occasions.
Stones says it has suspended all poker play broadcasts and the use of RFID.