Mainstream coverage of poker would grow the game. There needs to be expansion outside of the poker community. But no one wanted it to happen this way, via a controversial poker hand that people unfamiliar with poker are wildly misconstruing.

Yet and still, here we are. The hand between Robbi Lew and Garrett Adelstein was controversial in and of itself, but now people outside of poker are debating it, too. Right in the middle, Hustler Casino Live is trying to conduct the fairest of investigations to set part of the record straight.

Some prominent poker voices are weighing the merits of both sides of the poker hand. Others have made their decisions and have no problem voicing them.

Team Garrett

Obviously, the leader of Team Garrett is Adelstein himself.

Doug Polk has done a couple of videos thus far about the situation, both times throwing his full support in Garrett’s camp. Of course, Polk is a friend of Gman’s and his vlog thrives on controversy.

Brian Rast has said that there is no definitive proof of cheating, but he leans in that direction.

Some think that people are quick to denounce Adelstein’s actions because of his popularity, and feel the public was ready to pounce on the first thing he did that was out of his good character.

Ryan Depaulo took a break from an almost nonstop stream of slot machine play to weigh in.

Fedor Holz quickly came out on the side of Robbi cheating.

Shaun Deeb even gave a percentage of 85% on the cheating side.


One of the harshest critics of Lew thus far was Marle Spragg, who called in to Joey Ingram’s second stream about the topic. She noted time after time that she wasn’t being sexist, all the while saying that Lew could never, ever win at poker. Spragg also said that Lew seemed unintelligent and probably not at the top of her field in business, either.

Team Robbi

Lew has defended her play all along, while admitting that she is not a pro player and often makes unconventional plays.

Her husband not only stepped into the poker space to defend her but threatened legal action as well.

Lew’s poker coach, Faraz Jaka, had to make a statement and did so in a tweet thread. His connection to Lew was undeniable in that she had a cup bearing his coaching business’ name on the table during the HCL stream.

Justin Bonomo didn’t hesitate to call out some of the bad takes on potential cheating.

Vanessa Kade has also come out in support of Lew, not to shut down any discussion of the hand but to defend against people who don’t know Lew but decided to malign and insult her anyway.

Sam Grafton seemed to understand her play from past experience.

Daniel Negreanu and Todd Witteles are also in the camp that there are many reasons Lew could have played the way she did, but cheating was not a part of it.

Team Investigate

The vast majority of people in the poker community fall somewhere in the middle of the debate. They want a thorough investigation from Hustler Casino Live and its organizers, Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman.

The team is hiring independent experts to conduct the investigation into their security system and to review all records, interview players, and possibly even use a polygraph to test those involved. While HCL’s attorneys will oversee everything, third-party experts will draw their independent conclusions.

Some people have approached the issue with an open mind and tried to cover all sides of the story, examining all theories and tossing out ones that are not probable or realistic. Matt Berkey and his Only Friends podcast team have done this consistently, even breaking down past hands that Robbi played in various games.

Well-respected minds in poker like Phil Galfond posted information, with his thread examining theories from both sides.

Team Mainstream Media

Let’s be clear. No one in poker is on this team.

The scandal went mainstream, and the comments show how little people outside of poker can understand a poker hand. Granted, the poker hand is somewhat complicated – at least more complicated than mainstream is portraying – but the mainstream narrative about the hand has…well…gotten out of hand.

Twitter has been afire with a particular angle, that Lew made a brilliant play in a poker game and Adelstein simply couldn’t handle being called down by a woman. While most people in poker agree that is not the case, the mainstream Twitter audience has glommed on to that one and won’t let go.

Notice that the woman’s original tweet has 258,000 likes at the time of this writing.

And when Jen Shahade tried to push back on that narrative, Martin reported that she received violent comments and threats and blamed Shahade for it. Shahade deleted her comment but not before Katie Martin berated her.

And if it wasn’t enough that mainstream Twitter has taken the hand and done cartwheels with it, gossip television took it in as well. Inside Edition did a piece on it.

To be continued…