The controversy surrounding the Hustler Club Live cash game took another turn on Thursday. The property’s investigation revealed an employee with the production crew stole chips from Robbi Jade Law’s stack after the Sept. 29 stream concluded and while she was away from the table.
The new information added a twist in a situation that continues to play out with some players charging cheating and others defending her controversial play against Garrett Adelstein in the game.
Hustler has hired a law firm and tech firm to review the situation and determine if cheating took place. The chip removal has now become another strange event regarding the game. The club has stressed its goal of transparency throughout the process.
“During a review of the Sept. 29 hand between Robbi and Garrett, our investigators observed an employee of High Stakes Poker Productions removing chips from Robbi’s stack after the broadcast had concluded and while Robbi was away from the table,” a statement from the property noted. “Today during our investigation, the employee Bryan Salbigsal, admitted taking $15,000 in chips from Robbi’s stack. We immediately terminated Salbigsal’s employment and contacted Robbia and the Gardena Police Department to file a criminal report.”
The statement went on to explain that Robbi chose not to pursue charges against the employee. That caused authorities to drop the issue.
“Without a victim, Gardena police told us they do not intend to pursue a criminal prosecution at this time,” the statement says.
Not pursuing charges
This latest twist in the case left many players and poker fans scratching their heads even more. Why would Law not pursue criminal charges against some who stole five figures in cash from her?
Law told PokerNews that she did not recall meeting Salbigsal, 24, and had no knowledge of the situation prior to being contacted by the club. She chose not to pursue the issue because of concern criminal charges might hinder his future and that she learned he was struggling financially.
“Upon learning that the employee was relatively young, with minimal funds, and no history of prior offenses, I came to the conclusion that pressing charges was unnecessary to damage a young man’s life that would already be negatively impacted by the news of his wrongdoing and termination of his employment,” she told PokerNews. “I was further notified that the employee had already spent the $15,000, at which point moving forward with a criminal charge made even less sense to me.”
Despite her statement, PokerNews noted that Salbigsal has a criminal past that allegedly included robbery, a prison escape in 2017, and a battery charge. Those came when he was age 18, the site notes, and Law says police told her he didn’t have a record.
A look at the hand in question
The hand at the Hustler Club created a massive buzz in the poker world over the last week. Like many properties in recent years, Hustler regularly streams live cash games.
The hand in question saw Adelstein raise the action preflop with 7♣8♣ and Law made the call with J♣4♥. The flop brough 10♥10♣9♣ and Adelstein fired $2,500, which Law called. The river brought the 3♥, bringing a bet of $10,000 from Adelstein. She then added a $10,000 raise and Adelstein moved all in.
Law was left with few outs despite being ahead. Adelstein had a massive straight flush draw however. Most believe Law’s only legitimate action was to easily fold the hand.
However, after a bit of thought she eventually called. Hustler commentators were stunned as were other players at the table.
— Hustler Casino Live (@HCLPokerShow) September 30, 2022
Law described her hand as a “pure bluff catcher” and the players agreed to run the river twice. After staying ahead on both river cards, she scored a $269,000 pot. Adelstein stared stunned at his opponent and the bizarre hand.
“You look like you want to kill me,” Law noted after the hand.
Speculation quickly began online as to whether Law had cheated in some manner. The bizarre incident gained media attention outside the poker world as well.
Cheating charges versus a truly strange call
In general, players initially lined up into two camps regarding the hand. Some believed cheating had to occur for Law to make a call with no real hand and no legitimate draw – and for so much money.
Podcasts and videos analyzing the entire hand followed with some players believing there is no logical reason for Law to play the hand the way she did.
Oh man this is wild, Doug convinced me that she's cheating (I think, my opinion, don't sue me) https://t.co/TFvL3lepqy
— Ryan Fee (@RyanFeePoker) October 1, 2022
Adelstein believes there was no reason for her to call based on previous hands as well.
“I’ve played and reviewed the stream from two other prior sessions and this player,” he noted on Twitter. “Not only did she never consider making a call anywhere close to this before, but she instead very often folded bluff catchers to river bets, only calling when her hand was quite strong.
“Now all of a sudden she is playing a 10x stack size compared to before and is calling a huge over-shove with no pair (and) no draw.”
Recent events involving Salbigsal have added to the accusations that Robbi had inside information from the technical crew. Several well-known players have even offered cash for anyone involved to reveal the alleged scheme.
— Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) October 7, 2022
New player, bad call theory
Those in the camp that believe the call was simply an odd play point to the fact that Law is fairly new to the game. Players like Daniel Negreanu argue she may have misread her hand and believed she had a 3♥. He believes Law may have simply made an ill-advised call in a high-pressure situation in front of the cameras.
Negreanu and many others also noted that she later gave back the money she won in the hand. They say that this doesn’t seem like the actions of a cheater.
“A scumbag cheat out to rob people isn’t giving the money back,” Negreanu Tweeted. “A rich, female noob, under pressure in a dark back room who doesn’t want to deal with conflict might.”
Others note that Law ran the river card out twice, winning both. They argue a player who knew ahead of time that she faced so many draws surely wouldn’t agree to that.
Some players believe the fact that Law is a woman played into the scenario. They argue her integrity would never be questioned had she been a male player.
Todd Witteles, who runs PokerFraudAlert, believes there is no evidence that Law cheated. He notes that she made some suspect calls earlier on the stream as well.
“She called a turn bet earlier in the show while drawing dead,” Witteles noted, “and made some pretty bad calls just torching money.”
Giving the money back
The fact that Adelstein received his money back also didn’t sit well with some players as well. They argued that he did indeed lose the hand and wasn’t entitled to get his money back. Others didn’t like the fact he asked to meet with her one on one after the hand.
Adelstein later announced he’d give the winnings to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Los Angeles. Witteles also doesn’t believe Adelstein shouldn’t have taken the money back after losing the hand.
“When you take someone’s money which doesn’t rightfully belong to you, donating it to charity doesn’t make you a good person.” he Tweeted. “Either give it back, or have it held in escrow pending some sort of reasonable condition for return.”
Poker podcaster Joey Ingram also noted that Law played Adelstein well in an earlier cash game streamed from the property. She may have
— Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) October 4, 2022
The Hustler investigation will continue in the coming weeks. Many poker players will be awaiting the results as the debate rages on.