Alleged poker cheat Mike Postle’s $330 million defamation lawsuit against several prominent members of the poker community hit a huge roadblock as he no longer has legal representation for the case and is now facing two anti-SLAPP lawsuits which would nix Postle’s countersuit.
Last month, Mac VerStandig, the attorney who represented the 88 plaintiffs in the original lawsuit surrounding the cheating allegations, brought to light the fact that Postle’s lawyer, Steven T. Lowe of the Beverly Hills law firm Lowe & Associates, filed paperwork in December to drop Postle as a client.
Judge Richard K Sueyoshi was scheduled to make a ruling on the motion Jan. 14. The following day, poker pro Todd Witteles, who is a defendant in Postle’s defamation lawsuit, tweeted that Sueyoshi granted Lowe’s motion to be relieved as counsel.
Based on the phrasing used by Lowe in the motion, Witteles’ attorney, Eric Bensomochan said that the likely reason for the move was a lack of payment. He was on Witteles’ podcast shortly after VerStandig tweeted the motion and said that with a lawsuit of this size, even a sizable retainer of $15,000-$20,000 could be used up within a couple of weeks.
This leaves Postle without representation for his nine-figure suit against many who spoke out on the topic of whether Postle cheated. He was accused of cheating in a low-stakes live-streamed poker game at Stones Gambling Hall in the Sacramento area. He reportedly won upwards of $250,000 playing almost exclusively in $1-$3 and $2-$5 no-limit hold’em cash games over roughly an 18-month time span between 2018 and 2019.
VerStandig filed a $30 million suit against Postle, the ownership group of Stones Gambling Hall and Stones’ Tournament Director Justin Kuraitis, who was also in charge of the livestream and who many believed to be Postle’s accomplice in the scheme. The charges against Postle were eventually dismissed and most plaintiffs accepted a settlement for the remaining charges against Kuraitis and Stones.
After Postle was free of the charges, he launched a countersuit against anyone who commented on the allegations. He filed a defamation and libel lawsuit against Witteles, whistleblower and former Stones employee Veronica Brill, six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, high-stakes gambler Haralabos Voulgaris, poker personality Joey Ingram, as well as ESPN, Poker News media, Upswing Poker, Run It Once, Crush Live Poker, Solve For Why and Poker Coaching, which are run by poker pros Doug Polk, Phil Galfond, Bart Hanson, Matt Berkey and Jonathan Little, respectively.
Brill And Witteles File Anti-SLAPP Suits
In the face of the libel suit, Witteles and Brill both filed anti-SLAPP motions against Postle, which will be difficult to fight without a legal team behind him.
SLAPP is an acronym for strategic lawsuits against public participation. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, SLAPPs have become a tool used by some to intimidate and silence criticism through an expensive and baseless legal process.
Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to protect people, who are simply exercising their right to free speech, from these proceedings. In most situations, the defendant of a case will move to dismiss it unless the plaintiff can prove that they will prevail in the suit. Postle would have to provide evidence to show that he could receive a verdict in his favor or the case would be dismissed and the plaintiff would be forced to pay attorney fees for the defendants.
Both Brill and Witteles are using Postle’s career as a professional poker player and his appearances on Stones’ livestream to argue that he became a public figure, which heightens the standards for Postle to prove libel as he would need to prove that the defendants acted in malice.
“Stones Hall’s ‘broadcast team did its best to turn him into a poker celebrity. They created a series of graphics designed to hype his talents,’ including showing ‘Postle’s face superimposed over that of Jesus,’” wrote Brill’s legal team in the filing.
Brill is being represented by Las Vegas-based lawyers Marc J. Randazza and Alex J. Shepard, while Wittlees is represented by Beverly Hills-based Bensomochan. Witteles’ anti-SLAPP motion will be heard by Judge David Brown in a Sacramento Superior Court on Feb. 10. Brill’s motion will be heard by Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi the following day.