Just a little light reading
High stakes poker player and 2018 World Series of Poker bracelet winner Gal Yifrach seems to be in quite a bit of trouble. In a case that dates back to 2022, the federal government has nearly 143,000 pages of evidence that Yifrach and four co-defendants operated an illegal gambling business and laundered money generated from said business.
According to federal attorneys, Yifrach operated unlicensed slot machines from March 2018 to July 2020. He then laundered the money, that is, ran the cash through other, legitimate businesses to conceal the source of the income.
For instance, the feds allege that Yifrach would use cash from the slots business to buy chips from people at a casino in Bell Gardens, California, which the indictment labels “Casino 1” (possibly The Bike, but obviously we don’t know for sure – Yifrach had appeared on the “Live at the Bike” livestream multiple times). He would then exchange the chips at Casino 1 for checks, which he would, in turn, deposit into his bank account. Money laundered – it now looks like it came from legal gambling at a casino.
In one example, authorities say that Yifrach discussed swapping $150,000 for chips with somebody and then swapped $200,000 in chips for checks at Casino 1 a few days later. He often used the money to buy real estate.
Yifrach would also structure the transactions so that they came in under the $10,000 threshold at which casinos are required to report them to the government. Federal prosecutors have messages in which Yifrach tells a confidant that he could “change only ‘10’ in each bank without having a report.”
In another communication, he talked to co-defendant Shalom Ifrah about “cleaning the cash.”
“Ifrah responded that it would be best to continue registering as an employee of a company and giving cash for checks,” the indictment added.
Success on the felt
Law enforcement collected many of Yifrach’s conversations by monitoring his cell phone communications after they were tipped off that he might be up to something illegal.
Despite the legal trouble, Yifrach has been active in the poker world. He did not record any live tournament cashes in 2022, the year he was indicted (though of course, that doesn’t mean he didn’t play in any), but according to his profile on TheHendonMob.com, he has seven cashes since. One of those was a final table appearance in the 2023 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship Event, where he finished 9th for $111,500. All told, he has just over $2.25 million in live tournament earnings.
He is also a high stakes cash game player, with appearances on “Live at the Bike,” as mentioned, and “Hustler Casino Live.”