FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
High Stakes Poker Productions Announces Results of Investigation Into ‘Hustler Casino Live’ Hand
- Cybersecurity, Private Investigation Firms and Hustler Casino Found No Evidence of Wrongdoing in Controversial J4 Hand
- HSPP Announces Numerous Improvements to Stream Security
GARDENA, Calif., December 14, 2022 – High Stakes Poker Productions, LLC, which owns and produces the popular poker stream, “Hustler Casino Live,” announced today that it has completed a detailed investigation into the Sept. 29 hand involving Robbi Lew and Garrett Adelstein.
The investigation found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing in the J4 hand, or any other hand played that night.
The investigation was conducted by cybersecurity firm Bulletproof, a GLI Company, which specializes in the gaming sector; The Solution Group, a legal and private investigations firm; and Hustler Casino with legal support from law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Findings of the investigation were documented in a detailed report, which can be viewed here.
Among the key findings, the cybersecurity experts concluded 1) The Deckmate shuffling machine is secure and cannot be compromised; 2) It’s extremely unlikely that any card-reading device stored in a water bottle, jewelry or object on the table could have intercepted a card signal; 3) RFID technology used by “Hustler Casino Live” is safe. Any device that intercepted a signal would receive a serial number, not the actual card; 4) Radio communication to the on-floor camera operator was not an issue in the Lew-Adelstein hand; 5) The PokerGFX system was free and clear of malware, installed programs or systems that could intercept hands.
While the investigation did not uncover conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, HSPP is taking further steps in its continuous efforts to improve game security and reduce the chance of wrongdoing in the future, including:
- HSPP reconfigured the production room so that only one monitor can display hole cards, and it can only be viewed by the director.
- A wall and door were installed to the production room; the door is kept closed and locked throughout the stream. Only HSPP has the key to the room.
- Production room employees must surrender mobile telephones and other electronic devices, which are kept in signal-blocking Faraday bags, before entering the production room.
- Pre-employment background checks will be performed on all prospective employees.
- All players must surrender their telephones, smart watches and other electronic devices before playing in the game. Other personal items are stored in signal-blocking Faraday bags and kept away from the table.
- Players are required to sign waivers agreeing that they have no financial investment in any other players in the game.
- Security personnel use a metal-detecting wand to screen players each time they enter the stage area. Players who leave the stage for any reason are re-screened before re-entering the stage.
- Remote camera operator is no longer on open-production channel; the only way director can communicate with that person is to press a button to communicate directly with them.
- Security video camera systems record all employees in production room from multiple angles. Security cameras will not view hole cards on director’s monitor.
“The investigation we conducted was extremely thorough and we found no evidence of wrongdoing in the September 29 hand. We cannot say with 100% certainty that no wrongdoing happened, just that we found no evidence of it,” said Nick Vertucci, co-owner of High Stakes Poker Productions. “We promised to conduct a thorough investigation and that we would release the findings publicly, no matter what is found. That is what we are doing today.”
Vertucci added: “Our cybersecurity team found a number of areas we could improve – and we have followed that guidance to significantly improve the security of our stream. We are confident with the measures now in place that our stream is among the most secure in the industry. Players and fans of ‘Hustler Casino Live’ should be extremely confident that our games are safe and secure.”
During the course of the investigation, HSPP and Hustler Casino staff reviewed dozens of hours of video, including hands played on the livestream as well as video taken inside the casino and parking lots. The video contained no evidence of inappropriate communication between any players, employees or third parties. No suspicious activity that could be relevant to the investigation was found.
Investigators from The Solution Group conducted more than a dozen interviews of players, employees, managers and other people with information about the Sept. 29 livestream game, including Ms. Lew, Jacob “RIP” Chavez, and others.
As HSPP previously disclosed, during the course of the investigation, Hustler Casino uncovered video evidence that HSPP employee Bryan Sagbigsal stole $15,000 in chips from the stack of Ms. Lew after play had concluded on Sept. 29 while Ms. Lew was away from the table. HSPP terminated the employment of Mr. Sagbigsal after discovering the theft and contacted the Gardena Police Department.
During an interview with HSPP and its attorney, Mr. Sagbigsal admitted that he stole the chips and apologized. He said he acted on his own out of financial desperation and repeatedly denied that he was involved in cheating or that he collaborated with any players.
At the direction of Ms. Lew, Gardena police detectives investigated the theft of her chips and eventually obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Sagbigsal. On November 22, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Sagbigsal with two counts of felony grand theft (Los Angeles County Superior Court Case Number YA106932). A copy of the DA complaint can be viewed here.
The investigation also confirmed that Mr. Sagbigsal had a prior criminal record, including a conviction for robbery. High Stakes Poker Productions did not conduct a pre-employment screening of Mr. Sagbigsal, something that could have identified his past criminal record. In the future, HSPP will pay a professional agency to search databases to determine whether any applicants have criminal records. HSPP will also conduct periodic financial background checks on employees.
In October, Mr. Adelstein published a series of allegations on the Two Plus Two poker forum that he said proved that Ms. Lew “was very likely part of a cheating ring of at least three members, including her, RIP, Bryan and potentially others.”
Our investigators reviewed these allegations, including Mr. Adelstein’s claims that video evidence showed “RIP and Robbi allegedly working together to cheat during these games,” and that Mr. Chavez had provided Ms. Lew money to gamble with that night in exchange for a share of her winnings – without disclosing that arrangement to the rest of the players or the show’s producers.
While Mr. Chavez and Ms. Lew appeared to communicate with each other at the table on Sept. 29, our investigation found no evidence that they shared information during a hand about their own hands or other players’ hands. Further, our investigation failed to uncover evidence of any inappropriate communication between Ms. Lew and Mr. Sagbigsal before, during or after the Sept. 29 hand.
The undisclosed financial relationship between Ms. Lew and Mr. Chavez could have created the appearance of possible collusion between the two players. Such conduct is widely considered unethical in the poker community and is prohibited in “Hustler Casino Live” games. In order to clarify that point, all players are now required to sign a waiver agreeing that they do not have arrangements to share their profit with other players in the game. The waiver can be viewed here.
With the improvements outlined in this release and the full investigative report, HSPP is extremely confident in the safety and security of “Hustler Casino Live” and looks forward to continuing to produce the most popular livestream poker content in the world.