José Girah Macedo - A fraude do poker nacional
No que toca a casos fraudulentos no poker, ninguém tem sido mais diligente que os membros do fórum twoplustwo. Durante os últimos dias, surgiu outro caso, desta vez envolvendo o português José Girah Macedo, anteriormente conhecido como o "prodígio do poker".
De acordo com MossBoss, membro do fórum que joga na iPoker som o nick jajay1963, ele e outros jogadores começaram a suspeitar de algo quando Macedo os pressionou para entrarem num grupo privado de estratégia para jogar contra "sauron1989". Apesar de Macedo ter assegurado que este jogador era um fish, sauron1989 acabou por ganhar $30.000 ao grupo. Juntamente com "TooCuriousso1", MossBoss começou a vasculhar conversas de Skype, histórico de mãos e a recolher outras provas circunstanciais. Até repararem que os skypes de Macedo e sauron1989 ficavam online ao mesmo tempo em várias situações.
Pouco depois, Macedo confessou em público a fraude:
“I’m going to be taking a break for a while. There is no right or wrong way to say any of this, so I’m just going to say what happened.
“A while ago, I did something stupid. A friend of mine, whom I introduced to poker, made a suggestion to me which was, I’m not going to sugar coat it, cheating. I had introduced this friend to poker, and he was losing money — badly. He asked to play some of my poker friends and said 'why don’t you sweat them and we’ll see their hands.' I don’t know why I agreed. I don’t know why I did it. I guess it was a mixture of guilt and stupidity and feeling shitty for getting him involved in something which seemed to be bad for him.
“This went on for a short while but I felt so bad, I had to say something. I confessed. I told the guys involved what I had done, I told my friends and the people who I respect and who respected me.
“I told my Mum, confessed everything to her. I could see the disappointment moving across her face as she told me she was not proud of me despite all my success in poker; she was not proud of her son. She said how she hadn’t raised me this way and what had poker done to me. That's when it hit me, how badly I had let people down. I felt ashamed, I had no explanation; explanations don’t cut it in situations like this and often come across as excuses.
“There is a quote on the wall in my school which I always see as I pass the nurse’s office. It says that the real mistake is not tripping up, but staying down. I thought of that and that’s why I’m writing this.
“I’m holding my hands up and taking whatever consequences come. I realize the severity of this, but I also realize that I have to take responsibility for my actions and so I’m paying back everyone involved and in addition paying them compensation of $30,000. I’ve also told my sponsor, etc., and whatever happens there I will take the consequences too. They have been really amazing to me and I’ve enjoyed every minute of working with them. Representing Lock and being part of their amazing team, witnessing the incredible growth, was a pleasure and an honor.
“I’m young, I made a mistake and I hope that this doesn’t define me; I hope that how I deal with this and move forward is the thing that does. And people will say I have no excuse and I know and understand that. I agree. I just want to let everyone know, I’m sorry. I apologize to the guys who lost their money, the people who I love and care about and [whom] I have disappointed and the guys in the poker world who have supported me for letting them down. I wish I had something to say to you all, to say to my parents and my friends and all of those who thought I could do no wrong. Again I’m really sorry.”
Apesar de todas as provas reunidas serem circunstanciais, a confissão de Macedo veio eliminar qualquer dúvida que ainda possa ter restado. O primeiro resultado imediato foi a rescisão da Lock Poker do contrato de patrocínio que mantinha com Macedo. A parceria com a Poker Strategy também foi terminada e as redes sociais foram invadidas por membros da comunidade revoltados com a situação, tal como Andrew Lichtenberger, Peter Jetten, Ashton Griffin, e Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky.
Seria de esperar que a confissão de Macedo desse a discussão por terminada, mas deu-se o contrário e a trama continua a desenrolar-se. Aparentemente, durante as suas investigações, as vítimas da fraude estiveram em contacto com Daniel “jungleman12” Cates and Haseeb “Dogishead” Qureshi, conhecidos apoiantes e amigos de José Macedo. Aliás, quando esta bomba rebentou, ambos os jogadores estariam a caminho de Lisboa para viver com Macedo, para continuarem a jogar poker online. Ambos os jogadores já tinham patrocinado Macido, sendo que Qureshi é o backer que acabou por desqualificar José Macedo do Bluff Pro Challenge.
Quando confrontado com esta situação, Qureshi admitiu que Macedo tinha confessado e que as suas vítimas seriam reembolsadas, assegurando que mesmo que Macedo não pagasse, Cates se encarregaria disso. Dada as suas relações com Macedo, a questão que se impõe é até que ponto estarão Cates e Qureshi envolvidos em toda esta situação?
Imediatamente surgiu no fórum a primeira reacção de Cates:
“Hey all, this has been about as weird and surprising to me and the other high-stakes guys who know Jose as it has been for everyone else. I was told he was 100 percent trustworthy and he seemed like the type to be so, so I never questioned his integrity. I still don't really understand why he not only scammed people in one of the scummiest ways possible, but also decided to risk his whole career for a seemingly small amount. Clearly I made a mistake in trusting him, and now question our relationship as a whole.
“Haseeb and I are in Europe still trying to get settled in to play online once again, we have talked about the situation and we can't abide by what he did, so we can't live with him in Portugal and I can no longer consider him my student.
“Again this is all really ridiculous, I and the high-stakes players who supported him in the past never would have imagined he would do this. GL to all those who got scammed.”
“Right now it's very difficult for me to spend a lot of time on TwoPlusTwo, but as I've heard that the rumors and speculation are running rampant, I will say this and I will say it as emphatically and clearly as I can. None of us who supported Jose had any idea about any of this. None of us. We supported Jose and believed in him single-mindedly, I will admit that. I personally had a very strong relationship with the kid. I don't know why, but none of us who believed in him ever imagined he had it in him to be so greedy and dishonest to do something like this. Clearly, we were wrong, and as was I to place our faith in him. What he did was really ****ed up and inexcusable. I may be able to write more once Jungle and I secure a place to live and lay our heads, but for the moment we are very all over the place. But for everyone who thinks that there is some huge conspiracy or that Jose is a puppet for some high-stakes scamming ring - get a ****ing grip, ffs.”
Desde reacções nas redes sociais, blogs, a questões (im)pertinentes, o que parece certo é que este assunto não ficará por aqui. Mais tarde, Quershi escreveu um longo post com a sua versão dos acontecimentos, por ordem cronológica. É longo, ponham-se confortáveis:
Needless to say, this has been a pretty fucking absurd week. TwoPlusTwo has exploded since the scam involving Girah has gone public. Jungle and I have just arrived in a friend's flat in London and have finally managed to grab hold of internet (our phones don't get data outside of the US) and read over the shit in the thread. We've been without sleep and have barely put our shit down before looking over the thread and seeing how it's exploded. Of course, given things have evolved the way they have (and against the advice of my friends), I'm going to write as much as I can explaining the entire story about Girah and my relationship with him before I go to bed. I'm going to start from the very beginning - so read closely NVG. This is all the fodder you're going to get. This is going to be long as hell and as thorough as can be, and I'm probably not going to try to edit this for continuity or fluidity, so brace yourself and enjoy the drama.
How I met Jose
Jose came to me a long time ago, sometime last year when I was taking a break from poker after getting hacked in January. He had seen my videos and read my forum posts and told me he was a big fan of mine and wanted coaching. At the time I wasn't coaching any poker and was just going to school and had distanced myself from the poker world, so I told him he should contact Jungleman if he wanted some NL coaching. He told me his story about his meteoric rise in poker - about going from nothing to several hundred thousand dollars in only 6 months (or something like that, I don't remember the exact details). I remember talking to Sauce and a few other people, saying that I couldn't believe in this day and age that somebody could do that - back in 2006 it would've been exceptional, but in 2010 it was downright amazing.
Jose talked to me a lot after that, though we didn't talk much poker. He mostly spoke to me about his life and about more general things relating to poker. I taught him the importance of having a good poker network to learn from and talk strategy with - I told him that was an important part of growing as a player, since when I met him the only players he was discussing poker with were worse than him. He would complain to me about 10 buyin downswings - I told him those were nothing, and as he moved up he would start facing some real and difficult downswings that would challenge his confidence. He revealed to me that he'd never had more than 15bi downswing in his entire career, which blew me away. I told him once he stops running so hot, he was in for a shock. I heard about these shocks when his shots at 200/400 went poorly. He often asked me for advice about issues in his real life, about his personal relationship with money and with poker, about ego and aspirations as they related to his poker game. He seemed like a burgeoning young poker player, and nobody I know who spoke to him regularly (quite a few people at the time) thought otherwise. Everybody was amazed by this kid. He would sometimes send me hands as well and I'd comment on them as best I could, but my 6-max NL game is pretty rusty, as I play almost exclusively heads up. But I could tell he was a very sharp and fastidious thinker.
I was honestly inspired by his work ethic, his drive, and his studiousness. I have no problem saying that even now. I took a strong liking to the kid. And when he told me about how he his uncle offered to help him invest money into a house (since he was 17 at the time and couldn't do much with the money he had made), I advised him to be very careful who he trusted outside of his immediate family. He said he trusted his uncle like a father. And a couple of months later, I talked him through his feelings when he learned that his uncle had taken the 300k (or whatever it was) and skipped town.
Jose is real. His story is real. He really did make a fuckton of money, he came to all of these high stakes players before any of this shit happened, and it's really clear that he ran exceptionally hot to make so much money in such a short amount of time, but also that he is a very good poker player etc. etc. He is not the best, and I'm sure that his skill was built up by all of the hype to be larger than it actually was, but he is undoubtedly a very good poker player. Any and all conspiracy theories of Jose being completely invented as a puppet account are not only utterly false, but completely fucking ridiculous on many levels.
Anyway, that leads me to the next part of my involvement with Jose.
When the thread came out on 2p2 about some guy looking for a Portuguese Poker Prodigy kid, etc. etc., my initial thought was that he was referring to Jose. When I read all of the thread, although some of the details seemed a little off, I couldn't imagine that there were two people with the exact same story. And soon enough, I had Jose blowing up my my Skype saying that he had become famous, that somebody had made a thread about him, etc.
I told him that this was an amazing turn of events for him - the way this guy was building hype about searching for this young Portuguese prodigy, I told him that if you play your cards right, you can launch a pretty amazing career out of this, especially since the European market is growing and has a shortage of poker pros, he was positioned perfectly for a big break. He didn't have much know-how when it came to the poker world, so I told him to get an agent, reference the thread looking for him, and try to build his career using that as a launching pad. I remember him being extremely excited. I think the idea of becoming famous in some way was probably more valuable to him than the money he had already won.
This is where I start to get more deeply involved with Jose. When Jose contacted the big poker agencies, I told him to grill his prospective agents as hard as he could on what exactly they would be able to offer him and what strategy they would take in building his career. But in the end after talking to a number of big poker agents, he came to me and told me that he wanted me to be his agent instead, because he told me that I had a sharper mind and a better grasp on the poker world than the other people he spoke to. I was very flattered by the offer, but at first I told him I couldn't agree to that - I had my own career and responsibilities to worry about, but I told him I'd have no problem offering him advice from the sidelines. But after reconsidering it and talking it over with some friends, I decided to accept on the caveat that I would only help him out on the online end of his career. I told him, I can't really be your agent - I don't think I have the credentials, connections, experience, or time to commit to something like that. I can't in good faith say that it's a good idea for you to take me on in that capacity. But as I've never done something like this, I like you and want to help you, and I think I'll learn a lot from working with you - I told him I'd be willing to help you get your foot in the door and advise you through the start of your career.
We were intending to work out payment, but we never really agreed on anything specific. At times it was suggested that I'd receive a cut of his coaching winnings as he always told me he was very excited about becoming a poker coach. But again, we never agreed on anything exact, just randomly he'd let me know that he'd give me 1k for doing this or 2k for doing that (usually helping him write stuff). I've not received any money from him as of yet. I was never worried about it.
Working with Jose
Anyway, I told Jose the first thing to do was to come out and tell his story for all to see. I knew it'd be amazing enough that he would be able to make a lot happen, but I never imagined it would blow up as a big as it did. I was amazed when it even got 30,000 views, much less 300,000.
Jose had always told me that he was a big fan of my writing. He used to say that my writing reminded him of F. Scott Fitzgerald (which I thought was ridiculous) and say that he had always wanted me to write about him as well. He saw this as a chance to indulge I think. He was always something of a narcissist - but at 18, that's not surprising. Most poker players are. He asked me to write his story for him, he said he wanted it to be a sweeping and amazing tale about a young man creating his own legacy, blah blah blah. I told him, haha, no. I'm not going to write your damn story for you. He pleaded and pleaded, and finally I said, alright, you write your story, give me all of the details you want to include, and I'll spruce it up and make it nice and fluid.
He sent me his rough copy of his OP, which was okay but could be rearranged and improved quite a bit. I worked with him over a few days (he was a very meticulous complainer about the little things he didn't like or thought weren't quite perfect) and interviewed him for more content until I thought the story was nicely fleshed out, and then I sent him the final version of my draft. I told him - once you create this story, you're going to become known as the new big poker player on the block, so you'll need to have one online monicker for people to know you by. What screenname do you want to use? He said that he didn't want to use any of his screennames, as his lawyer instructed him to keep his underage screennames out of the public light. I asked him, then what do you want to go by? Jose? Macedo?
He thought about it for some time. After a couple of days, he told me he wanted to be known as Girah. I asked him what it was, but he wouldn't tell me, just that it was an inside joke. A couple weeks later I remember he ended up telling me - Girah was something that he and his teammates would say in the locker room. I can't remember what the hell it was about, only that it was really gay sounding and that he was embarrassed to admit it because he knew I'd make fun of him for it (and of course I did). Btw, as to those people who say that I know that "girah" is some ancient Indian word for some obscure unit of measurement - get a grip. I'm Pakistani, not Indian, and I can barely speak conversational Urdu.
Anyway, the story breaks and I advise Jose throughout all of it. How to deal with the media, what to tell people, how to carry himself, to ignore the NVGtards and the haters and to just keep doing his own thing and respecting his own success. Jungle, Sauce and I all ended up posting in the thread vouching for him, or more specifically, congratulating him on his success, as we all really wanted to see him succeed and build a career and name for himself. We all had a ton of faith in the kid. It made me really happy to see him getting so much success.
Of course a common question among all of this has been on the veracity of his results. His results were not fake. They were all real, and I made sure of that when I agreed to write his post and include with it the stats he showed. He told me that he could prove that he had 1+ million in winnings but spread over many different computers and accounts. I told him that if he had that, then not to write the blog post until he could include with it an HEM screenshot of all of his winnings, otherwise no one would believe him. I told him how to export databases, how to upload screenshots, etc. I certainly wouldn't have allowed him to publish something like that if it weren't true. I believed it then and I believe it now.
So, I did a lot of odds and ends in helping the kid's career move forward. I set him up a website domain and helped him find a web designer to create his website, I edited his blog posts and always encouraged him to tweet, blog, post on 2p2 etc. regularly to keep his fans happy. I never wrote anything from scratch for him although he often asked me to, but I told him if it doesn't come from your voice it's going to sound fake or contrived. But almost everything that he wrote he asked me to tidy up or for advice on things to add or subtract. I was more actively taking on a role as a big brother / mentor, giving him advice in his life, in career, and in poker.
Around the same time as all of this was happening, he was running really bad in poker. After getting scammed by his uncle, he panicked and cashed out a lot of money to purchase a big house and didn't keep much money online. He started to ask around with some high stakes people he really respected if they'd be willing to stake and coach him. This is actually not uncommon - I've seen a lot of really good players do this for a while when they downswing and lose confidence, and then quit the stake once they are feeling better about themselves or about poker. I thought it was a really good opportunity, as I knew Jose was crushing 6-max with a huge winrate, and figured he was only going to improve his game more and more. I asked several people if they'd be interested in staking him, and eventually Jungle and I decided to go ahead and stake him. He asked that the stake be kept private, and we agreed and intended to keep it that way. This is obviously a very common request and we intended to honor it.
Now, I've been trying my best to ignore some of the conspiracy theories on 2p2, but it seems I have to respond to this one because it's been so prevalent. People seem to think that either Jungle or I were using Jose's account to play poker on. The answer is emphatically, no we didn't.
1) Neither he nor I are 6-max players, we both play heads up, whereas Jose plays primarily 6-max
2) Majority of Jose's play on our stake was at 5/10
3) There were obviously TONS of times that both he, I, and Jungle were playing online poker simultaneously
4) Numerous people, including EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO GOT SCAMMED will testify that Jose is a real person, really plays poker, is good enough to beat the stakes he plays, etc.
That being said, over the next few months Jose began issuing more and more big challenges. He wanted to play the Isildur challenge, the Durrrr challenge, and so on. I told him that he could play them if he wanted to, but we certainly wouldn't be taking his action on those. But I remember telling him - asking to play the Durrrr challenge is whatever, because there's no way Durrrr will play you anyway until he wraps up his other challenges. But if you're going to ask to play the Isildur challenge, it may be worth the -EV for you, just because of how much hype it will build for you. I told him if he could scrounge up the cash, it'd be worth it in career EV. But none of us thought that Jose had an edge on Isildur. And for those of you who think that we were going to somehow conspire with Jose on that count - Jose offered in his Isildur thread (look it up) that when he played the Isildur challenge, to do so ON WEBCAM. So there'd obviously be no way he could cheat once he made that offer. A lot of idiots are suggesting this, so I wanted to put that to rest.
Jose's disqualification and my iPoker account
I got Jose disqualified from the Bluff Challenge. I was bored after Black Friday and hadn't played any poker in a while. I didn't have a Merge account and couldn't play any poker at all, so I asked Jose to let me onto his Lock account (I didn't have one myself) to play some PLO and assured him that I was taking all of the losses for myself. He said this was fine, and sometime when he was sleeping I played some 25/50 and lost some several buyins pretty quickly. I didn't at the time perceive it as a big deal, since I figured if I took the time and went through the process of making a new account on Lock myself, probably even more people would've been willing to play me at PLO than would be willing to play Jose's account. In fact, I didn't really know anything about the Bluff Challenge that was going on at the time. I lost several buyins pretty quickly on some flips and then quit.
Obviously, it was very wrong of me to do that, on several levels. It's one of those things that happens and that everybody does and has been guilty of at one time or another, but yes, I acknowledge that it was wrong. But when Jose got disqualified from the Bluff Challenge, it exploded on a whole other level. I felt really ashamed of doing this and possibly fucking up Jose's career, and in the proceeding few days I did what I could to help him deal with the public response and the explosion of outrage. I think he felt very indebted to me despite the fact that I had screwed things up for him, and told me that he would do what he could to protect me because he didn't think I really had done anything wrong. I felt his compassion towards me and it made me feel very comfortable with him.
Regarding the Toshisan account in Canada - this is indeed my account. I set this up a while ago using a P.O.Box in Canada, but had stopped playing on it for a long time. It was mostly sitting inactive. When Jose asked me to help him get an iPoker account funded because Lock was having liquidity/cashout issues (where he had almost all of his online money at the time), I told him I'd try to get somebody to get funds onto my old Toshisan account and he could use that until he could cashout and get money onto iPoker for himself (among other sites; I always told him, being a European, he should be playing as many sites as he possibly can for game selection). As a staker/stakee relationship, yes, it's somewhat shady, but again not uncommon. Toshisan was not an account with any profile or reputation, so I figured it was fine for him to use it under our stake.
As far as us living together, me, Jungle, and Jose had always been planning to live together for some time. He was originally supposed to come hang out with us while we were in Vegas since we both wanted to meet him in person, but those plans ended up falling through since he was busy with his final exams. So when we decided we were going to move to Portugal, I thought since Jose was a local, it would be really good for us on many levels. First, he knew Lisbon well and knew lots of people there and of course could help us get set up, settled in, and knew the language. Second, I thought Jose would grow up a lot if he left his mother and was living out on his own, and of course he would learn a lot from both of us in terms of his poker game. Third, I figured it'd be really good for Jungle to have somebody to mentor who looked up to him as Jose did. And I thought that Jose's rigor and raw studiousness would be good for me to help keep my nose to the grindstone and spend more time studying and working on my poker game. It seemed like a perfect fit, and I always imagined it would be a lot of fun. (The whole Canada/Brazil/Portugal thing if you follow my blog you'll know all the details)
How the Scam Unfolded
Well, I guess technically the first I heard of this scam was when Jungle told me in passing that he heard from someone (KJemmy) that Jose might be scamming people. I totally ignored it, because it sounded ridiculous, and 2p2 and whatnot were so rampant with conspiracy theories and utter stupidity that I thought it was just an offshoot of that crap. And the second time that I unwittingly brushed against it was when Jose messaged me on Skype, telling me that there was this fish at 50/100 who had a huge VPIP and 3-bet but played decent postflop, asking if we wanted his action against him. I said yeah sure, of course we do. And a couple days later, he tells us that he lost a couple buyins to this fish at 25/50. I say it's fine, don't worry about it, just no more 25/50 for a while - I tell him just grind some more 5/10 and try to run good for once.
But my end of the story really begins 4 days ago, the night before I left on my flight for London. I was procrastinating on packing all of my stuff and planning to stay awake all night for my flight that was departing at 10AM, so I'd be able to sleep through my 10 hour flight. I had spent some time dealing with the goodbyes with my family (my mother bawls her eyes out every time I tell her I'm going away for a while). I remember very clearly as I was heading back upstairs, I got an e-mail on my phone which read as follows:
Subj: im quitting poker and giving my money away to charity
just wrote the statement, im quitting poker, i hate the fame. i helped my degen rich best friend get setup on sites and i sweated ppl while he played them and he lost against some won vs others, broke about even net but everyone thinks i was superusing them. i played him myself cuz hes such a degen and lost but no one believes me. everyone thinks im some kinda fucking scammer, i dont know what to do but i know i dont want to be involved in poker anymore or ever again
I read this, and my only reaction was "lolwtf". So I went upstairs and called him on Skype to see what the fuck this was all about. This wasn't the first time that Jose had sort of flipped out like this about quitting poker. Actually, Jose was in makeup to Jungle and I by quite a bit - over 50k iirc. He always showed us his EV graphs which showed him running way under EV, and every time we cleared him to take higher stakes shots they seemed to go poorly. So I remember another time previously while I was in San Francisco, I randomly got a message from him saying he was quitting poker because he hates it and he runs so bad, and that time too I had to talk him down and reassure him that it was ok, he was still good, and that we were still happy to stake him and that we weren't worried about it. It always seemed to bother him tremendously to be in makeup to us.
Well, anyway, back to the story. So I call him up on Skype and say "Ok Jose, this better be good because I'm in the process of packing up my entire life and I have to drive to the airport in 5-6 hours and the A/C is broken and I'm exhausted. Tell me what's going on." Strangely, he refuses to speak to me. We talk on Skype all the time, but when I tell him to call me on Skype, he says no, just chat. I finally say, "ok, dude, just let me call you and I'll talk via Skype and you type to me ok? You don't have to say anything." He lets a call through and I ask him what's going on.
He tells me the story about his friend who's some rich fish who he's been helping out and blah blah blah, people think it's him and his friend has actually scammed HIM too, etc. etc. Basically the same story he told other people. To me all of this sounds pretty bizarre as you can imagine, but I have 100% trust in Jose, so I know it has to be some really weird misunderstanding. Jose is still typing and is getting pretty anxious, typing stuff like "if they think I scammed them then I'm going to lose my career, I would rather quit poker than let that happen." I finally get annoyed with him typing and tell him to knock it off and speak back to me, which he finally does. He is very quiet and reserved - I can tell he's very jostled. I ask him on the details of who's accusing him and what their evidence is, but he doesn't tell me much specifically. I tell him okay, if you didn't do anything wrong then this can be cleared up no problem, you just need to calm the fuck down and rest assured that everything is going to be alright.
I tell him to invite me into a group chat with whoever's accusing him so I can get their side of the situation. He invites me into a conversation with Nick (I don't know his 2p2 name, but he's the first guy who basically confronted Jose and who Jose sort of slipped up with). Nick, Jose and I all get on a call together and start talking. I, as calmly and objectively as I can be, ask for Nick's side of the story, what the evidence is against Jose, so on and so forth. I point out that Jose has no incentive whatever to scam people for such a small amount of money, that he has too much to lose, that he's too smart to do something like that for such a small amount of money, especially in such an obvious way, etc. Nick agrees completely. But then he starts telling me all sorts of shit - Jose trying to get people to play against Dollarman and Sauron, the simultaneous timeouts, the uncannily perfect play in some hands, etc. I am pretty surprised by how solid it is, so I ask him to show me all of the suspicious hands that he has against Dollarman or Sauron. He shows us a few where Dollarman checks back KQ vs AK on KJxx9 (in a spot where QT was extremely unlikely) and a spot where Dollarman folds to a river shove on KJ9Q9 where Dollarman pots river, hero (spew)shoves ace high and Dollarman folds in a spot where Dollarman seemingly would've had to have total air that floated the flop to play that way. I point out that 88, QJ or AJ are also plausible hands to play that way and say although some of these hands look fishy, they're definitely inconclusive.
Jose assures us that this is all his friend's doing and his friend can get hand histories from Lock that show everything, and that he'll even fly his friend out to go visit his accusers to prove he's real, and so on and so forth. He demonstrates the utmost confidence that he will exonerate himself. But the point at which I start to become unsure is while I am speaking to Nick and basically telling him that once we get Jose to send us the hands (I say they have to be forwarded from Lock support to ensure there's no tampering), we will be able to see very clearly whether or not there was any foul play. It will be clear as day with the full hand histories.
Around this time, Jose is very quiet, and interjects sheepishly... "you guys are going to post this on 2p2 to punish me right? That's the reason for putting it on 2p2 isn't it?" Nick replies "Well... I don't know Jose... we don't know if we're going to do it yet..." "Well then why won't you just let me quit? If I just quit poker and promise to never play again, then that's enough punishment isn't it? Why do you want to punish me more?" Nick is dumbfounded and doesn't know how to reply. I tell him "Well, we're not even at that stage yet. First we need to look at the hand histories and see what's going on." But at this point, I have a really bad feeling in my gut. Ironically, by the end of the conversation Nick seems to have largely turned around and doesn't think that Jose could possibly have had any incentive to do this or cheat anyone. He seems to now believe that Jose will be exonerated and that things will turn out okay - "we won't post anything on 2p2 unless we're absolutely 100% sure about everything", he assures Jose. As we hang up the call, my casual confidence was replaced with a sinking feeling that Jose was guilty.
I called him immediately afterwards, and was very careful with my words at first. He kept asking me if they would let him just quit poker instead, why not, why not, he'd say. And after a minute of this, I asked him point-blank, "Jose, did you cheat?" "No," he said emphatically. "Because if you did, you need to tell me now. All of this will be a whole lot better for you if you tell me now than if you try to hide this." "What, do you think I cheated? Do you not believe me?" "Well Jose, the evidence that he gave was pretty fucking strong. And I could tell by your voice and the way you were talking that something was wrong. I know you Jose. Tell me the truth. You did it, didn't you."
He was silent.
"Are you going to tell me?" I said.
"Yes what?" I said. "Yes you're going to tell me or yes you did it?"
"Yes, I did it."
"Jesus fucking Christ."
What went on after that was a long and arduous interrogation where I tried to get all of the facts out of him. I wanted to know all of the truth of what went on and exactly what he did, and I kept telling him that he needed to tell me absolutely EVERYTHING. I remember asking him.
"Why did you do it Jose?"
He paused, and said "I don't know."
"What the fuck do you mean you don't know?"
"I don't know..." He sounded very scared.
I searched my understanding of this kid, who he was and how I knew him, and tried to imagine what could make him do something so stupid and despicable as scamming his friends and lying about it. I asked him "was it just that you were tired of losing? That you wanted to finally win something? Is that why?"
"I don't know... I think so. Maybe." He sounded very unsure, as though he just wanted me to stop asking him questions.
"Well you know, you fucked up really bad man. I don't know why you did this, and you're a fucking idiot to do this, but you can't undo it now. You've fucked up and need to acknowledge that.""I know, I know. What do I do?" he asked eagerly. I didn't believe his "I know"s, but I still had compassion for the kid. I knew he had made a colossal mistake, and he needed to know how to face up to it, to stare it in the eye and admit that it was his. I've made enough mistakes in my life to know how difficult that is.
"Look, what you told me you told me in confidence. But you need to own up to this now Jose. You've fucked up, and you need to come to them and tell them the truth. You need to be a man about this, and admit to everything. And it's not easy, I know it's not easy, and you're going to be in for a long road after this, but that's part of being a man and facing the music when you fuck up."
He denied this immediately. He insisted that there was some way out.
"No Jose. There is nothing. You've painted yourself into a corner with all of these lies you've been telling these people."
"There has to be something. If I tell them I'm going to quit poker, then they will let me go won't they? I know they will. I know them Dog, they care about me, they're my friends, they don't want to hurt me."
I told him then as I told him several times during that conversation - "Jose, shut the fuck up."He began getting more and more anxious and desperate. I told him he needed to come clean about everything, that he needed to tell everyone the truth. As I started gathering more details about the specifics of what he did and to whom, I caught him in a few more minor lies which made me really angry. I told him - if you're going to lie to me too, then I'm done with this shit Jose. He apologized hurriedly and claimed that his memory about certain things were hazy. Writing all this, it baffles me that it took me as long to stop feeling compassion for him as I did. But although I knew he was frantic and full of shit, I also knew I was still on his side. I believed that deep down he was a good kid who had lost his way, and making this mistake was part of what it would take for him to grow up and learn. At that point, he was still just a stupid kid who had stolen some candy from the store. I couldn't yet wrap my mind around the entirety of it - of the fact that he had arranged an elaborate method to scam his friends, that he was lying to them and me and building lie after lie, that he'd been planning and perpetuating all of this for weeks - it was too hard to understand Jose as someone who would do that. I don't honestly think it sunk in that he could really do something like that until a few days later.
He started to make suggestions about killing himself - nothing outright, but dropping obvious references to it, saying things like maybe he should just drive his bike off a cliff and go out in a blaze of glory. I told him not to joke about it and got really angry. He started to become resigned to this becoming public and was talking more and more as though his career was already over. I told him he needs to not say another word to anyone until he's ready to confess and say everything. But the last I heard of him before he logged off Skype, he was still vehemently insisting that there was some other way out of this, that I didn't see everything. The last thing he said before he logged off Skype was that he was going for a bike ride. It was still 3:30 AM and I had yet to pack for my flight.
Breaking his Scam to the Group
At this point, I didn't believe that Jose would have the balls to own up to this. And the more he thrashed and made excuses, the more I was convinced that I had to tell them myself rather than wait in vain for him to confess. After I had spoken to Nick, he invited me into a group chat with all of his HU group sans Jose, since I asked him to keep me posted about the investigation before I left. I steeled myself, and started talking to the group and telling them everything I knew - the contents of which have for the most part already been posted on 2p2, so you can read them there. Obviously those logs were intended to be private, but now that they've been posted in a public forum I'm going to do what I can to explain the breadth of them. The remainder of this blog will be in point format replying to specific remarks related to what has gone on on 2p2 as far as I've read it.
1. The first and most obvious thing is that as soon as this scam was uncovered, I did what I could to inform everyone within the group of what was going on. I relayed to them everything that Jose had told me and as I was flying around from Austin to Dallas to London to Malaga, I repeatedly logged into Skype when I could to keep tabs with the group and kept calling Jose's phone to try to get back into contact with him (he disappeared for a while after that first conversation). By intervening as I did, I figured that I had taken it on this debacle as my responsibility, since the people in the group trusted me and saw me as somebody with control over Jose when he had distanced himself from them, and Jose trusted me and would (sometimes) do what I told him to.I was also in contact with Jose and advising him as strongly as I could to contact his sponsors and let them know that this scandal was going to break, to tell his mother and girlfriend what he had done, and to prepare a public statement.
(Note: I did not write his last statement)
2. I originally did not want this to go public for several reasons. The first and foremost was that soon after all of this happened (not immediately), I realized that Jose had also involved us in the Dollarman scam. This occurred to me I think on my flight to Malaga that I remembered the messages he had sent me before about it. This is something that I never intended to air publicly or let anyone know other than me, Jungle, and Jose, for several reasons. First, if Jose immediately lost his Lock sponsorship, there was a distinct possibility that they would seize all of his funds (which were mostly ours). Second, if this goes public, Jose might pull a runner anyway and fuck us on our stake money. Third, I knew that the moment I brought up the fact that Jose had pulled this shit on us as well and brought into question the integrity of our relationship, I wouldn't be able to predict how he'd act towards me or Jungle and how much control we'd have over the situation. The point at which he stops cooperating with us is the point at which we lose the upper hand. So I wanted to be very careful when and how I brought it up.
This was a concern that I couldn't voice to the group, because I knew that they were in contact with Jose as well (and they would probably become even more bloodthirsty and pissed off if they knew Jose had done it to us as well). I knew if I spooked him both Jungle and I would be fucked. So I wanted them to hold off or possibly not go public at all so that Jungle and I could get our money back and make our way out of this situation. Now that things have reached this point, obviously I have to go out and say this to protect my reputation, which is worth more to me than the equity that we had in Jose's account. So, yes, this kinda sucks.
3. But those who are suggesting that I had an emotional attachment to Jose are right as well. You might ask why would you feel sorry for somebody who's so clearly done something scummy? Well, the last people I'm going to expect to understand some explanation of this are NVGers, so I'm not going to bother. But I also have enough self-respect to admit that yes, at least when I first heard his confession, I did genuinely feel compassion for Jose and didn't want his career/life ruined by his mistake, at least not permanently. That obviously went away the more I learned about all of this, but I won't say it wasn't there and motivating me initially. Make of that what you will, I don't really care.
4. Yes, Jungle and I wanted to cover our asses from the impending hurricane of NVG stupidity. While I was in the Dallas airport, I assured everyone involved that if Jose was still alive (an important contingency) then we would ensure that he paid out whatever was owed by the scammed individuals. He also promised this himself early on. Honestly, a lot of the reason that I promised this is because I knew that Jose would pay people out anyway, but also because I didn't want the people in the group to become hysterical that Jose would pull a runner and not pay anyone. I figured that if I committed myself to that promise, Jose wouldn't have the balls to pussy out and make me pay, and also that the group was more at rest. But yes, I think emotionally I was also still playing out the big brother role that I hadn't yet abandoned yet at that point.
When Jose's Lock account got locked once we reached Gibraltar and I spoke with Jungle in person, we agreed that we should pay via bank wire to ensure that everyone involved received their funds immediately without worry. We wanted to be as amenable as we could to those who got scammed, recognizing that we were in a position of authority, and spent most of that night cursing Jose for being so fucking stupid and working out the details with the group.
The group made several promises to us to be as vague as possible about our involvement in all of this. We knew given the stupidity that runs rampant on NVG that once this scandal broke we would have to deal with a huge shitstorm of accusations and conspiracy theories if our names were tied to this story. Well, turns out we probably made a pretty bad decision there, since the way our names leaked out ended up being a lot more sensational than the truth, so it caused this whole debacle. Figures.
5. I don't know why Jose did it. I really don't. I wish I knew, I wish I could make some sense of it, but I can't. He's a fucking idiot. My friends have warned me repeatedly not to throw him under the bus though for a number of reasons, but everything that has unfolded on 2p2 has left me with no choice. The person I knew 5 days ago seems totally different from the person I see Jose as now. To be honest, it wasn't until I heard about him running the same scam on Sauce that it hit me that this wasn't just a momentary lapse of judgment, but a calculated plan, and that Jose was just truly a piece of shit.
6. Oh, and anyone who's saying that I was trying to "muddy Sauce" - shut the fuck up.
7. Lastly, just wanted to say that Ashton tweeted all of that while we were on a plane to London from Malaga. He had not spoken to us and did not know most of the details of this story.
8. I suppose it's also worth mentioning that yes, we vouched for Jose. We made a mistake to do so. That was also part of the reason that we felt that we should make sure that everyone gets paid out and that this situation gets resolved, but there were more factors than that. We made a big mistake in trusting him and are obviously paying the cost.
9. Yes, Jungle and I are angry. We are very, very angry. You can probably tell from the tone of most of this blog actually, haha. Half of our conversations over the last four days have been interrupted with random "why did he do it?"s and "god, that stupid fucking kid"s. We have been in touch with Jose, we've been in touch with the people who were affected by the scam, and that's as far as our anger needs to go. We have no business airing it out on a public forum, so please stop trying to tell us that we're not angry.
So there. Now you know everything there is to know. Now calm the fuck down, pack up the drama, and let's call it a night.