New Defense Briefs and Alleged Victims Lawsuits Filed as Postlegate Continues5 months ago
Accused poker cheat Mike Postle has filed his initial defense brief in response to the $10 million lawsuit brought by dozens of his former opponents on the Stones Gambling Hall’s “Stones Live!” poker live-streamed cash game shows.
Postle, of greater Sacramento, is the central figure in the case, which alleges that he cheated his opponents out of several hundreds of thousands of dollars during dozens of the streamed games. That lawsuit also names King’s Casino, LLC (the corporate parent of Stones Gambling Hall) and Stones employee Justin Kuraitis as co-defendants. Both of those parties have already filed their own initial briefs in the case.
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Postle, who formally represents himself in the case, filed his initial response on March 25, with the filing not docketed until the following day. Unofficial versions of the filing circulated a day or two prior. Though a pro se (self-defending) litigant at this time, the filing was prepared for Postle by Sacramento-area criminal defense attorney William Portanova. Portanova has been associated with Postle’s defense efforts since late 2019, though he has represented to local news outlets that he was only Postle’s criminal-defense counsel.
Portanova may yet resurface in the Postle matter in a more formal way. Anecdotal reports suggest California authorities may be conducting a separate criminal investigation into the alleged cheating during the “Stones Live!” live-streamed games, which were suspended when the cheating accusations first surfaced.
Postle’s filing comes at the end of the second of two 28-day filing extensions granted by the US District Court where the case will be heard, should it go to trial. Those two extensions followed several weeks’ delay while plaintiffs’ counsel made numerous fruitless attempts to serve Postle with a formal summons, notifying him of the case. The second formal extension was granted only after Postle agreed not to seek further extensions.
As with the similar defense responses already filed by the two other defendants, Stones Gambling Hall and Kuraitis, Postle’s initial response includes a motion to dismiss the action, asserting, among other items, a lack of sufficiency for the claims being made. However, the 13-page filing is largely boilerplate and contains significant swaths of text copy-pasted from another Portanova-defended case. The filing was also notable for its corrections of most, but not all, errors that existed in the previously circulated and unsigned versions.
No formal dates have been established for the next stage of the trial. Barring an early settlement, the case will likely feature several more rounds of dismissal motions and an extended discovery period before reaching any actual trial.
Alleged Victims File Expanded Complaint
Plaintiffs in the $10 million lawsuit brought against Postle, King’s Casino, LLC, and Kuraitis have filed an amended complaint in the ongoing action alleging cheating by Postle during dozens of live-streamed poker cash games.
The expanded complaint was filed within a day of Postle filing his own initial defense response. Among other developments, the amended complaint more than tripled the number of victims of Postle’s alleged cheating. Each of the 88 plaintiffs now listed played against Postle in one or more of the games in which the cheating is alleged to have occurred. The 88 total plaintiffs does not, however, include all players who participated in the live-streamed “Stones Live!” games. For example, 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker, who played in one of the alleged cheating streams featuring Postle, is not among the listed plaintiffs.
Besides the three already-named defendants, the expanded plaintiffs’ complaint suggests a fourth defendant will be added at a future date. The initial complaint allowed for the addition of “John Doe 1-10” and “Jane Doe 1-10” as additional defendants, and the amended filing by plaintiffs’ counsel, Maurice “Mac” Verstandig, offers this:
“The Plaintiffs have a good faith basis upon which to allege the identity of the person who is John Doe 1, being an individual who directly aided Mr. Postle in cheating by aiding in the concealment of such behavior with knowledge and scienter, and have directed a litigation hold letter to such person. The Plaintiffs, however, are cognizantly refraining from making such [an] allegation against this particular Defendant herein until greater information can be gleaned through the discovery process, in recognition of the sensitivity of making such an allegation.”
The filing goes on to note that this would-be fourth defendant will be officially added to the complaint if required by court rules, even before the discovery phase of the legal action gets underway.
While multiple methods of cheating have been suggested or inferred by public investigation of recorded “Stones Live!” webcasts, the updated complaint focuses on the most likely method used by Postle, if the claims are true:
“Specifically, Mr. Postle used a cellular telephone, lodged between his legs so as to have its screen beyond the view of the Plaintiffs herein, to access the identity of the Hole Cards of other players, in real time, while playing in Stones Live Poker games.”
The amended complaint notes that the exact software and other details remain to be discovered, but that such information remains solely in the hands of the plaintiffs. Stones Gambling Hall broadly announced an investigation into the cheating allegations in late 2019. However, the so-called “independent investigator” turned out to be the longstanding attorney of one of the cardroom’s primary owners, and no results of any investigation were ever released.
Elsewhere, the amended filing notes the immense statistically unlikelihood of Postle being able to win the amounts alleged -- up to $300,000 in total -- given the number of hands and size of the pots being played. While Postle’s defense is likely to offer rationales for how he played any given hand, no matter how unlikely a “line” he took, the case will likely hinge on higher statistical analyses.
As the amended complaint notes:
“A detailed review of Mr. Postle’s play reveals not only statistics unfathomable in the world of professional poker but, too, situation-specific decision making in which almost every so-called ‘guess’ to be made by Mr. Postle is done so in a manner that optimally benefits his monetary interest.”
The defendants’ next step will be to file responses to the amended complaint, which will also likely include another round of motions to dismiss. Assuming such motions are denied, the case would then move forward into the discovery phase.
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