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The 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is well underway in Las Vegas, and it appears to be another successful year for poker’s premier annual festival. Yet a cheating scandal involving Czech player Martin Kabrhel threatens to derail the fun and leave a sour taste in the mouths of participants and onlookers alike.

Martin Kabrhel has been suspected of cheating in the 2023 World Series of Poker

Robl, Smith Begin Accusations

Two People Arguing

The first hint that something might be amiss occurred on June 18: the third and final day of the $250,000-buyin Super High Roller NLHE tournament. This was the priciest event on the 2023 WSOP roster, but this did not deter 69 individuals from entering, generating a substantial prize pool of $17,181,000.

Before the final table competitors sat down to conclude the event, Andrew Robl, who had busted out early on the second day of play, tweeted the following about Kabrhel who was entering the third day with the second-largest chip stack:

Andrew Robl thinks that Martin Kabrhel should be banned from the WSOP

This might seem like a case of a salty loser throwing shade at a disliked competitor who advanced further in the game than the vanquished complainer, but then we have the exchange that occurred later in the day between Kabrhel and Dan Smith to consider.

After Dan Smith’s A Q was cracked by Martin Kabrhel’s T 6 all-in preflop, sending Dan to the rail in 6th place with $912,022, he commented to the rest of the table, “Good luck, most of you.” To Martin, he said, “I hope you get barred.”

“What does it mean?” inquired Kabrhel.

“Banned,” explained Smith.


“Your antics are the worst of anybody I’ve ever met,” Dan elaborated. “Everyone else is a great player.”

Martin Kabrhel went on to take third place in the tournament, scoring a $2,279,038 prize. The eventual winner, Christopher Brewer of California, won $5,293,556.

In a post-bustout interview, Dan Smith expanded upon his earlier comments, saying:

Martin’s antics at the table are worse than anyone I’ve played with. People were speculating…like, there were a lot of discussions about whether he was marking cards. Whether or not that’s true, playing with him is unbelievably unpleasant. He’s rude. He takes the full 30 seconds every time, and last night, playing with him, it felt like something not kosher was going on. Can’t know for sure, but I think it’s ridiculous that he’s allowed to play in the tournament.

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About the Protagonists

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All three of the main individuals involved in this controversy are experienced poker professionals, so it’s not like these allegations are the result of ill-considered reasoning on the part of novices who don’t understand variance and like to find evidence of rigging and cheating everywhere. Neither can it be argued that Kabrhel is guilty of infractions due to ignorance or inexperience.

Martin Kabrhel

Martin Kabrhel, 40 years old and from the Czech Republic, is #1 on the list of live tournament winnings for his country with $11.7 million in tourney cashes to his credit. Among his victories are 50 WSOP cashes, five rings, and two gold bracelets, the latter coming in the 2017 and 2018 WSOP Europe series.

Andrew Robl

Andrew Robl, from Michigan, has accumulated more than $5.6 million in offline tournament earnings throughout his career. The 36-year-old has also been a fixture in high-stakes cash games, both live and at online poker sitesso his true poker winnings are likely a bit more than this figure. Despite final tabling five separate WSOP events, Robl has yet to win one.

Dan Smith

Dan Smith from New Jersey has amassed a whopping $43.7 million in live tournament cashes: good for 6th place on the all-time money list. Among his accomplishments are eight EPT titles, one WPT title, and one WSOP bracelet. Smith has booked this enviable record at the relatively tender age of 34, so he likely has a lot more success in store for him in the future.

Poker Community Weighs In

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After posting his first tweet on the subject, Andrew Robl wasted no time in following up with more details:

Robl states that he would rather avoid playing in any tournaments that Martin Kabrhel is in

Other prominent players chimed in with their takes on the situation:

Justin Bonomo thought it was “likely” that Kabrhel was cheating in a 2017 Super High Roller tournament
Phil Hellmuth said he was “uncomfortable” playing with Martin Kabrhel

Fellow poker pro Chance Kornuth had an interesting take. He felt that Kabrhel may not have been cheating but could have been pretending to cheat as a way of angle-shooting his opponents and making them second guess their decisions. Part of a lengthy tweet Chance made on this subject is reproduced below:

He stands up and makes a show of looking at players cards when he’s faced with almost any decision – he knows that he’s been accused of marking cards in the past and wants players to be thinking about that – a huge angle shoot.

But let’s assume for the sake of this thread that Martin isn’t cheating…

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To have a strategy of making players think you are cheating is bad for the game on multiple levels.

He gains an unfair edge and pushes the line of mental warfare too far.

The floor does everything it can to protect players from angle shooters and to me what Martin is doing is the ultimate angle…

To INTENTIONALLY give the illusion you are cheating in any event, especially the highest of stakes should not be tolerated.

Martin Kabrhel Responds With Legal Action

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On the evening of June 19, Martin Kabrhel took to Twitter to give his side of the story. In a series of four consecutive tweets, he stated:

On behalf of yesterday situation I feel necessary to speak up. @Andrew_Robl yesterday posted on twitter an accusation that I’m marking cards and cheating in poker tournaments. I was shocked by how quickly people took it as true, pure statement with no evidence and..

..started media blizzard in which I am portrayed as cheater. You can accuse me of controversial manners, bad jokes, uncomfortable play, or whatever stickers you put on my autistic behavior, you can call me pain in the a** but calling me a cheater is something completely out of..

..line. I am not a cheater, this is not true!! This gossip is damaging me not only as poker player, but also my business activities and my family. That’s why I have decided to take legal action against Andrew Robl, because in such a professional tournament series as WSOP.. is very easy to prove such accusations are pure lies. I just can’t believe how easy it’s for people to join such accusations just by their personal antipathy towards my person.

Then on June 21, Daniel B. Ravicher, a partner in the Zeisler PLLC law firm, posted a letter that he had drafted the day before. It was addressed to five parties: Justin Bonomo, Chance Kornuth, PokerGO, Andrew Robl, and Dan Smith.

The letter accused the five of making “false and defamatory statements” about the firm’s client, Martin Kabrhel. Ravicher instructed them to save all messages, documents, notes, DMs, and other materials pertaining to Kabrhel under penalty of possible court sanctions should any such material fail to be preserved. In closing the letter, the attorney explained that his client was seeking for the named parties to “compensate him for any and all injury caused by your statements.”

A copy of the letter is reproduced below:

Martin Kabrhel intends to sue those who made “false and defamatory statements” about him

WSOP Responds

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The World Series of Poker for its part is taking the allegations seriously and has promised to conduct a full investigation. In a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the WSOP said:

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While we do not discuss specific security protocols used to monitor players and gaming equipment, the integrity of the game remains paramount and we can assure fellow patrons that we are taking these allegations very seriously. As this is an ongoing investigation, there is no further comment on the matter at this time.

Our Opinion

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There have been very few people leaping to Martin Kabrhel’s defense while tons of experienced pro players are rushing to excoriate him. Yet, there has been very little presented in the way of actual evidence of Kabrhel’s cheating.

Most of the criticism against Martin centers around his annoying chatter, tendency to stare at opponents’ cards, excessive time-banking, and general angle-shooting. These shenanigans are annoying, yes, but they do not constitute cheating.

One of the few voices of dissent on this topic is Alex Jacob. He laid out his reasoning succinctly in a tweet:

Alex Jacob thinks Martin Kabrhel did not cheat

We largely agree with the points Jacob made. Martin Kabrhel isn’t just some unknown wunderkind who appeared on the scene to immediately light the poker world on fire as Mike Postle seemingly did. Rather, he has had a record of live tournament success dating back more than a decade.

If multiple players really think he had been cheating over the course of several years, why wasn’t an outcry raised well before this most recent instance? Shouldn’t the poker community have conducted an investigation, using all available camera footage, to uncover the truth well before now?

The narrative of Martin Kabrhel being a cheater just doesn’t seem to add up.

Online Realm Largely Free of Cheating Allegations


Over the past couple of years, we have seen several cheating scandals in the world of live poker, like the incident at the Hustler Casino in October 2022. However, the game as played online has been largely free of such controversies.

If you would like to move all or some of your play online, then you can check out this guide to internet poker for Americans to learn how to get started. Rest assured, this activity is fully legal as you will discover if you peruse this rundown of online poker legality in the USA.

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