The poker world has been rocked by another scandal from the Hustler casino, and this time it has nothing to do with everyone’s favorite hero call.
Nik Airball and Wesley Fay accused a player who played on streams under the nickname Mars of cheating. According to them, he cheated in closed games where millions of dollars were up for grabs.
Let's try to figure out what really happened.
It all started with a tweet that Airball wrote a few days ago :
Just found out that someone who I thought was a close friend of mine cheated me out of $1m in a series of poker games. Very hurt and upset for obvious reasons, more details soon.
When I saw this tweet, something immediately confused me. It seems that Nik and Matt Berkey never called themselves friends. It turned out that we were talking about another lost million.
A couple of hours later, Airball wrote a new message:
– Okay, I can’t stand it anymore. That guy was Ye Shen, also known as Tony Mars. Here is his Twitter – https://twitter.com/Marsback2earth (Ed. – at the height of the showdown, this account was deleted, probably by the author himself ).
More details will come soon, but in short – they brought their dealers and used special decks that can be “see through” with special glasses.
Who is this Mars? According to the Trackingpoker website, he won more than $500,000 at Hustler Casino alone. Over the two-year history of the show, he ranks 15th in profit. Not a bad result, although it’s far from me – I’m in the top 10! True, on the minus side.
Apart from his play on Hustler streams, almost nothing else is known about him. Only that he often played in expensive indoor games.
Another Hustler regular, Wesley Fay, was recently the hero of a loud scandal. But then I didn’t even record a video about this story, everything was so confusing. As far as I understand, Blankcheckben – another regular participant in the Hustler games – wanted to destroy Wesley's reputation. He sincerely believed in the veracity of his story, but then it turned out that he himself had been fooled and scammed out of several tens of thousands of dollars.
Now Wesley again finds himself at the epicenter of a scandal. In an interview with PokerNews, he said that Mars brought his decks to closed games and could see the cards through special lenses. Over the course of a year, he won about $3 million there.
It has already been confirmed that there really was a marked deck, but there is no information on how often it was used. But we understand perfectly well that they unlikely discovered it on the very first day; most likely, they managed to play it several times.
Here another participant in the story comes onto the stage – Zeo. This is the organizer of closed games in California.
In the same interview, Wesley emphasized that he was confident that Zeo was not involved. He also revealed some details about how everything was organized – the game met 2-3 times a week in the town of Yorba Linda, they played mainly $25/$50 and $50/$100, among the participants were amateurs and famous regulars from Hustler, for example, Nik Airball. Wesley lost $1 million, and Mars and two of his friends – a certain Peter and Bruce from Australia – won $3.1 million.
My first thought is why did all this even happen in some Yorba Linda? I’ve never even heard of this place; from the pictures it’s beautiful, but it seems quite dangerous.
I was able to contact Zeo. Here's what he said:
– I’ve been playing in expensive games for several years, and this summer I started organizing them. A couple of months ago, Mars offered me a collaboration, which I agreed to. We organized our first joint session on October 14th. Mars asked if I would like to bring my decks and start looking for dealers. I replied that these questions were not important, and then he offered to take everything upon himself. When I arrived at the game, Mars was already there, and his girlfriend asked the dealer to show him how to deal the cards. It was as if she wanted to learn this.
After the session, players complained that some of the hands seemed very strange to them. They submitted several cards for examination, which confirmed that they were marked. The players immediately reported their suspicions to Tony, but he told them that I was the one who brought the cards. At the time, I didn’t know anything about it at all, only a couple of weeks ago Wesley wrote to me about meeting. I easily proved that I had nothing to do with the cards by simply showing the players our correspondence with Mars.
Do Wesley and Airball have any evidence of cheating?
According to Wesley, the decks were of very high quality, the marks cannot be detected with the naked eye, but in the dark, when illuminated by ultraviolet light, the value of the cards becomes visible on the back.
PokerNews published screenshots of the correspondence where Mars confirms that the decks are his.
And Wesley sent me a video where the marks are visible (ed. – 7:00 in Doug’s video).
Someone might ask – where is the evidence that this particular deck was in the game?
Mars himself contacted PokerNews and confirmed that marked cards were indeed played in that game. But he denies that he brought them.
I even have the results of one of the sessions.
Among those who finished in the black were Mars and his friend Sun, whom he blamed in a statement to PokerNews.
The dealers are also a dark story. Allegedly, someone named Vicky, a manager from Commerce, was looking for them. Then it turned out that Vicky was a fake, and the cards were handed out by some Mike with a dubious reputation. But here I don’t have any facts, I’m just passing on the words of Wesley and Zeo.
In a statement to PokerNews, Mars wrote:
– I want to refute false accusations against me that harm my reputation. I have won and lost huge amounts of money in my career, but I have never cheated and always paid. The accusations about dealers are completely unfounded; I had nothing to do with hiring staff at all. Wesley accuses me only because he has been bankrupt for a long time and cannot pay me back a large debt. He is trying to fool everyone, and this is a confirmed fact, not unfounded accusations.
I would like to see some evidence of these words, but we must give Mars credit for not being afraid to speak publicly. True, to his regret, the testimony of other players does not testify in his favor.
For example, here’s what one of the most successful regulars, Lodge Keyboard Monkey, wrote:
– A few months ago in Los Angeles I played with Mars and some random Asians who won all the money. I lost one big and very suspicious pot to Mars. I will never play a closed game again in my life. I don't trust anyone in the poker world, only licensed casinos.
And here is the story of Brownballa:
– I once lost $100k and only later realized that I most likely got screwed. We played with an $800 straddle. One player opened with a raise of $3k, the so-called “whale” called, I squeezed $14k with kings on the button, the raiser folded, the whale paid. On a Q82r flop he bottomed for $12k and called my $35k shove. Showed 82hh and took the pot. Then he just gave away a $200k stack to Mars in a completely crazy hand. I thought he just didn't know how to play and didn't understand what he was doing. Then it didn’t even occur to me that they could be together. Later I was told that this whale usually plays very tight.
I asked Ryan Feldman if he would like to make a statement on behalf of the owners of Hustler. He refused but said that Mars would no longer be able to play with them.
Since the release of Doug's video, Wesley has been bombarding Twitter with new details every day. First, he reported that his life was in danger:
– Mars called me and confessed everything. He said that their gang syndicate also includes Arno Mattern, and they are all mad right now. This whole gang is leaving the US in a hurry, and he advised me to quickly delete the tweets, otherwise they will hire a hitman to kill me. Mars said he was calling me to save my life. Arnaud Mattern most recently worked as a dealer at the baccarat tables at the Wynn Casino. Other members of their group also worked there. They defrauded me and my friends out of $3.1 million, and now they are making threats. But I’m not afraid of them and go to the police, all conversations are recorded. Justice will prevail in any case.
Update : One of Mars' friends, whom he brought into the game and introduced as Peter, is actually named Shane Hennen. This is a well-known cheater in the United States with a criminal past. It seems that I became a participant in some serious fraudulent scheme, organized by very dangerous people. They have been involved in dark deeds for a long time, and “our close friend” Mars brought them to us.
Arnaud Mattern won the EPT in Prague in the mid-2000s and was a PokerStars ambassador for some time. We haven’t heard anything about him in recent years; he hasn’t written anything on Twitter since 2013, but then he immediately denied all the accusations.
– On October 14, the day of that session, I was not in the USA at all. All other accusations are also completely groundless; they have no evidence. These people calmly take money when they win, but they don’t want to return their losses. I can assure everyone that I did nothing wrong and will defend my good name in court.
Then Wesley remembered the names of other players who had ended up with a big advantage in the dishonest game:
– Not sure if Aaron Zhang and Xia were part of the Mars scam group. I only know that Sia and Mars dated for 5 years and broke up quite recently. She won $308k in these games, and Aaron won $286k. Moreover, having won this money, Aaron declared that he was bankrupt and remained working as an accountant in the same closed game. They continued to defend Mars to the last, until he himself admitted everything. Just two days ago, Aaron called me a moron with no brains for my attacks on their boss.
Aaron Zhang also rushed to issue a refutation:
– First, I have never cheated either in poker or in other games. Mars brought me to Yorba Linda and offered me a 20% freeroll, only because of debts I had to give him 50% of the profit, that is, in fact, I had a 10% freeroll. My personal profit ended up being $28k-31k. I have already shown Wesley my correspondence with Mars, now he believes that I have nothing to do with cheating in that game.