Poker and controversy don’t come together nearly as often as some might have you believe, but this week, a player was banned for displaying a ‘lack of integrity’ on a live-streamed poker game at Hustler Casino Live in Los Angeles.

The offending player, Julio Cedillo — known as ‘Skillsrocks’ on stream, was caught looking at the cards of a Hustler Casino regular, Barry, on at least three occasions.

The live stream, which is broadcast on delay and requires players to hand in their mobile phones before taking part to dissuade any hint of cheating, revealed the actions and the casino have subsequently banned Cedillo for life.

What Actually Took Place?

Hustler Casino Live is a popular live-streamed cash game. On this occasion, no limit hold’em was the game and the hand that led to the controversy say Barry turn the nut straight and Cedillo get out of the way with two pair. Whilst this might, at first, have looked like either a super-tight move or simply a great read, it was later looked at on the stream and Cedillo was banned for cheating.

Cedillo was banned for cheating, but what did he do?

Well, in three separate instances at the table, Barry looked at his cards in the seat to Cedillo’s left and did not protect the cards in question, allowing a shrewd player to look at the edges of the cards as they flicked up and revealed the hand. Cedillo looked over and read the cards, then used that information to avoid the straight, for example.

Hustler Casino Live took immediate action as soon as they could, but Cedillo’s actions, playing as ‘Skillsrocks’ on the stream, looked bad and to make matters worse, he was alleged to have lightly ‘kicked’ the player next to him in order to alert him to the fact that Barry had a strong hand.

Looking at opponent’s hole cards is considered bat poker etiquette and the polite thing to do is to exit the hand then tell the player Cedillo did neither.

The Controversial Hand in Full

The most controversial hand, the turned straight for Barry, took place with three players, not just the two already discussed. The other, Antonio, was actually the aggressor, making it $1,300 to go with ace-four off-suit. Barry (with ten-eight) and Cedillo (with nine-seven), both made the call from the blinds, Cedillo in the small, Barry in the big.

The flop of ace-seven-nine was always going to create drama, but no-one could have expected what followed. Antonio bet $1,000 with his ace catching the flop and both of his opponents called. The turn of a six gave Barry an improbable straight, Antonio bet $2,400 after reporting to the table that Cedillo ‘kicked his foot’. Cedillo, sitting with two pair in a usually advantageous situation, found a found despite having odds of 3:1 to call.

“Are you all kicking each other?” Barry remarks, clearly annoyed. Cedillo denied doing so, but eventually, on the river, Antonio shoved and Barry called. Viewers on the stream later commented that Cedillo had been looking at his opponent’s cards.

Hustler Take Immediate Action; Cedillo Apologises

Less than 24 hours after the stream concluded, Hustler Casino Live – represented by co-owners Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman – sent out the following joint Twitter statement to tell fans that Cedillo had been given a ban from the show.

HCL Statement
Hustler Casino Live made a statement about the scandal and their immediate actions.

Post-Postle, any streaming poker game is extremely careful to make sure that no-one’s safe play is compromised. Integrity is everything, and as previously mentioned, players and commentators alike aren’t allowed cell phones at the table, something that Phil Ivey himself took issue with when he played on the stream in 2021.

Cedillo, perhaps unpredictably, especially given fans’ experiences involving watching Mike Postle threaten legal action against anyone calling his actions ‘cheating’, admitted his behaviour and accepted that he is now banned not only from Hustler Casino Live but the casino in Los Angeles whether there are streamed games or not.

Adelstein Comments on Cheating ‘Not Being Part of the Game’

Later on in the weekend, the victim of the situation, Barry, was back in action on Hustler Casino Live. Covering what happened, the popular regular told the table. “He didn’t cheat when he looked [at my cards]. I’m responsible for my own hand. The cheating part was when he kicked the other dude and was addressing him trying to tell him to fold when I had a straight. He didn’t even know – he wasn’t in on it. The idiot was purposefully leaning back to look at my hand.”

Sitting directly to his left was the popular poker professional Garret Adelstein, who has played cash in some of the biggest games in the world. He took issue with Barry taking any blame at all for what transpired.

“Looking at other people’s hands, if you can, is not part of the game,” he said. “That’s completely ******* unacceptable. Is there a small segment of people in poker and life who will take every edge like that if they can get away with it? Absolutely. But that’s not part of the game.

I think I stand for the vast majority of poker players that when someone is showing their hand, they go out of their way to not look at it, they say something. I don’t think poker is this community where people are trying to rip each other’s heads off. Some people are going to try to take every spot and other people are more interested at looking in the mirror at themselves at night and feeling OK.”

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for GambleOnline.co about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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