Instagram model and poker player Robbi Jade Lew was accused recently of cheating at a major tournament where she took home the winning pot of $269,000. Her win was with a controversial Texas Hold’ Em hand during a recent poker event. Now, she’s being accused of cheating by one of the game’s top players. But another top player, Phil Ivey also weighed in on the national cheating scandal.
Lew, 37, is a former biopharmaceuticals account manager from Pacific Palisades. Born in Saudi Arabia to a doctor mother and a physicist father, her family immigrated to Berkeley, California, when she was 5. Lew attended UC Santa Barbara, double-majoring in Law and society and philosophy. Ten years ago, she married Charles Lew. She learned to play poker four years ago, initially picking up a “Poker for Dummies” book before having her husband teach her the basics.
Veteran professional poker Ivey Jr. has won ten World Series of Poker bracelets, one World Poker Tour title, and appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables. He is regarded as the best all-around player in the world, Card Player reported.
On Sept. 29, Lew appeared for the third time on “Hustler Casino Live,” a hugely popular YouTube poker that streams from the Gardena casino. The high-stakes table included Garrett Adelstein, a 2013 “Survivor” contestant and who is considered one of L.A.’s best professional poker players.
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The battle was clearly between Lew and Adelstein as a wild hand occurred between the two a couple of hours into the match.
Adelstein was holding the seven and eight of clubs; Lew was holding the jack of clubs and the four of hearts. After the flop — the first three communal cards — Adelstein had a straight flush draw, The Los Angles Times reported. Adelstein seemed on the way to the win.
Lew, meanwhile, had a terrible hand. Despite this, she called his bet instead of folding.
Next came the fourth communal card, also called the turn. The card that was drawn was not a help either player. But Adelstein semi-bluffed and bet out again. In turn, Lew raised the bet. Adelstein answered the raise by pushing all in. To continue, Lew would have to use the rest of her chips, or a total of $109,000 she had left.
Everyone was shocked when Lew called. A call means to put chips into the pot that match the bet of another player. The call paid off as Adelstein failed to improve his hand after all the cards were dealt. Lew took home the $269,000 pot, even though by all accounts her hand was terrible.
Some thought the $120,000 borrowed ruby ring on her middle finger might vibrate or be concealing a tiny camera, or a camera was hidden in her $480 rose-tinted Fendi sunglasses, or that the supposed bulge in the side of her Versace leggings could have been hiding an electronic device that was feeding her info from an accomplice, The Los Angeles Times reported. Even the Hustler Casino chair she sat in has also been scrutinized.
“I’ll just say it: Garrett thinks that this hand was not straight in some way — there’s no doubt about it,” event commentator Bart Hanson told the more than 20,000 viewers who were tuned in on YouTube. “This is the most disturbed I’ve ever seen Garrett look.”
Soon after winning, Lew gave Adelstein back half the pot, which only further caused suspicions. But Lew told The LA Times she was cornered into returning the money “to alleviate the stress of the situation” and later regretted the decision.
“I’m not nervous about any of this. I have nothing to hide, you know? I feel like if I stay quiet and let the world come up with their own stories and their own storyline, that for me mentally is more detrimental than coming out and speaking my own piece,” she said.
Adelstein made allegations on Twitter; he reasoned that Lew never would have continued playing with the cards she had unless she was cheating. Lew admitted she misread her cards, thinking she had a pair of threes instead of jack high, but maintains she did not cheat. Days later, she even took a lie detector test to prove her innocence, Poker News reported.
Ivey, who was riding high from his recent Phil Ivey Week on Hustler Casino Live, weighed in on the uproar. The 10-time WSOP bracelet winner said, “Here’s what I think — I think if you notice in the middle of the hand, she asks, ‘can you beat a three?’ So, what I think is that she thought she had jack-three, she misread her hand, and then she didn’t want to say she misread her hand cause she was at a poker table. That is the best, most reasonable explanation for it.”
What Ivey pointed out about why Lew called a $109,000 wager with just jack-high and no draw was similar to what many have argued on social media — she simply misread her hand as jack-three for a small pair instead of jack-four (no pair), Poker News reported. This is what she herself said.
Still, please are questioning: Did she cheat?
Phil Ivey competes in the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, July 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)/ Inset: Robbi Jade Lew, screengrab from BETMGM Poker/ Live WPT Global