Breaking Down the Action:
  • Who is Gal Yifrach?
  • What are the Charges Brought Against Yifrach?
  • Text Messages Used to Trap Illegal Practices

4 Minute Read

Gal Yifrach is facing charges related to gambling that could lead to him serving 20 years in federal prison.

Gal Yifrach, the high stakes poker pro who has won over $2 million at the felt in live  tournaments alone faces two felony counts for running an illegal gambling operation, according to the federal police.

Based in Los Angeles, Yifrach was charged with conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to commit money laundering this week. The 35-year-old faces a worst-case scenario of 25 years behind bars if convicted.

Who is Gal Yifrach?

The American player, who often plays in live-streamed poker programs such as Hustler Casino Live or Live at the Bike has a World Series of Poker bracelet to his name to go with his $2 million in tournament winnings. Yifrach won his sole bracelet back in 2018, winning Event #28 of the series, the $3,000-entry six-handed event for $461,798, beating a final table that included Ana Marquez among others.

In 2021, Yifrach third in Event #38, the $50,000 buy-in 8-Max High Roller event for $495,305 that Michael Addamo went on to win for $1.1m, with a final table that many consider one of the toughest ever to play out, featuring as it did Justin Bonomo, Erik Seidel, Sam Soverel and Mustapha Kanit.

Since then, Yifrach has largely cashed in WSOP events, although two cashes in November and December of last year on the World Poker Tour and in the Wynn Winter Classic respectively hint at a wide-ranging tournament schedule. Yifrach refers to himself as “one of the top [poker] players of all time” in a paid-for advertorial page he took out in the Los Angeles Weekly in October of last year.

Yifrach refers to himself as “a role model for many aspiring poker players”, but that has been brought into serious question by the events of this week.

What are the Charges Brought Against Yifrach?

In an indictment that was filed by the U.S. Eastern District Court of California, Yifrach is alleged to have made money by illegal means, namely by conducting a gambling business and laundering money.

The 35-year-old is accused of “supplying, operating, and maintaining video slot machines and devices” in the document, with the indictment detailing some of the specifics in laying out the charges. “[Yifrach would] exchange cash proceeds of an illegal gambling business for other items of value to conceal the fact their income was derived from operating an illegal gambling business.”

In the accusation of laundering, the charges relate to Yifrach and an alleged business partner using the cash from the illegal casino and then ‘cleaning’ the money by exchanging it for legitimate currency. According to the feds, Yifrach then moved that money into real estate and other investments. All the charges relate to actions taken in or around California.

The charges are extremely serious, with the potential for Yifrach and Shalom Ifrah to be given up to 25 years in prison. That amount would be the upper limit of five years for setting up an illegal gambling operation and up to 20 years for the conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Text Messages Used to Trap Illegal Practices

Live at the Bike have removed a series of videos detailing Yifrach’s most popular plays.

According to the indictment, Yifrach and his co-defendant Shalom Ifrah used text messages to coordinate the operation, transferring money from their illegal gambling business into passable funds. It’s due to those messages that the pair were supposedly caught after a tip-off alerted them to the possibility of illegal gambling and enabled them to tap the two men’s cell phones.

According to the legal documents, examples of criminal activities include an incident where $150,000 was exchanged for casino chips during October 2018, just three months after Yifrach won close to $500,000 in tournaments around and including his WSOP win. As recently as two years ago, Yifrach is alleged to have texted Ifrah to inform him they needed to “consult with someone about cleansing the cash” and a plan was apparently formulated to register as an employee of a company to give checks for cash.

Yifrach, known as ‘Handsome Gal’ online, has only recently been part of the Live at the Bike table where Phil Ivey played in the live-streamed poker cash game. The “Live at the Bike” website has removed a series of videos detailing Yifrach’s most popular plays and sessions in the wake of these allegations.

With more than $550,000 in cash and half a century in served time between the two men on the line, Gal Yifrach and Shalom Ifrah face the poker game of their literal lives in order to clear their names.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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