I am not one to ride the gossip train, so while I read about Bill Perkins accusing some unnamed poker pro of cheating in an online home game and then Dan Bilzerian calling someone out by name, I decided not to write about it because the whole thing still felt very “rumory” to me. Just didn’t feel good. But now we at least have some confirmation of what went on, so let’s take a quick look.
Bill Perkins pulls the pin
It started with a tweet by high stakes amateur and well-respected poker player, Bill Perkins on Saturday, May 23. He wrote that there was a “Cheating scandal in poker going on that would make the Mike Postle scandal look like a church service.”
(Coincidentally, I just told my daughter about the UltimateBet/Absolute Poker superuser scandal yesterday. I wonder what this looks like compared to what Perkins is talking about.)
People gave Perkins flack for lobbing that grenade out into the world only to leave everyone hanging. He eventually said that he agreed with one of the game’s participants to not reveal the name unless they “lied during questions.” He added that it was a private game played via an app and that there were multiple poker pros playing on a “fish” account. In other words, top-flight players were either directly playing on a recreational player’s account or “ghosting,” which is advising/instructing someone on how to play their hands.
Later, Dan Bilzerian tweeted that it was Dan “Jungleman” Cates who “cheated me, @bp22 [Perkins] and others outta money on Fun Ocean poker app” by playing on someone named Sina Taleb’s account.
Bilzerian later deleted the tweet and that’s where things had stood since the weekend.
Cates comes clean
Then, on Wednesday, Cates copped to ghosting. In a statement posted on Google Docs, he said he delayed responding for legal and financial reasons before going on to admit that he played “with” Sina (Taleb is apparently not his last name) on May 8 for “very few sessions.” He added that Bilzerian was not in the games in question.
I played very few hands against Bill Perkins, who sat in a game I understood was rampant with professionals who were ghosting. I thought since many on the site were using pros to play for them (which was clear by the uniquely high level of play) at the time it felt acceptable for me to be playing. Unfortunately Bill got caught in the crossfire and I’m very sorry for that.
Cates did not appreciate being “singled out” for something that others were also doing, but that he accepts “that as a role model for the poker community my punishment should be disproportionate compared to a normal player.”
He stated that he will do his best to “behave better in the future.”
Cates concluded the message thanking the friends that have stood by him, specifically thanking Nick Schulman, and saying that he hopes that he won’t continue to be “lambasted” over the internet for this.