The past year has seen its fair share of controversy on and off the felt in poker. The biggest dramas have taken place at locations around the world, but one venue stands out and that is the live stream belonging to Hustler Casino Live (HCL). The drama was never far away from HCL viewers and in a year of epic beef, the Robbi Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein row erupted in sensational fashion dominating headlines in mainstream media as well as igniting the poker fraternity.

Adelstein and Lew Yet to Return

There was no doubt what the biggest drama was on HCL, as Garrett Adelstein’s bluff was called live on air leading to allegations of cheating, an arrest of a thief and a poker blow-up for the ages. Adelstein’s bluff with seven-eight led to a call from the aforementioned Lew with just jack-high (jack-four to be precise). Adelstein, smelling a rat, looked from side to side on the live stream.

Allegations of cheating soon followed from Adelstein and half the poker world. How could Lew have called with only jack-four in a sport worth six figures where virtually no hand was losing to her own? Adelstein went all-in, outraged by perceived cheating and muliated by the auto-generation of memes that seemed to bask in his misfortune whether the call was legitimate or not.

As Adelstein gathered evidence against Lew, the alleged cheater paid back the money won ($130,000) and then set out to clear her name. With the other half of the poker world standing behind her, Lew underwent a lie detector test and was backed by many big names. With neither player having returned to the live poker felt on HCL since the allegations, investigations are ongoing. One thing is for sure. Bryan Sagbigsal, who allegedly palmed some of Lew’s chips in the aftermath, was sacked and sought for arrest, initially going ‘missing’ after the authorities were unable to locate him.

Could Adelstein and Lew get back in the game in 2023? It would attract possibly the biggest audience for a poker live stream in history.

Hellmuth and Ivey Return to Live Cash Games?

Phil Hellmuth’s involvement in the HCL output in 2022 was minute by comparison to many others who clocked up way more hours at the felt. However, the Poker Brat’s enduring popularity has never been down to his ability to grind out hours of poker, but rather dominate the time he is at the poker table. In a hilarious pot against the popular Fortnite streamer Ninja (a.k.a. Tyler Blevins), Hellmuth lost out, with the blue-haired gaming legend happy to laugh in the Poker Brat’s stoic visage for a tantalising few seconds of TV Gold.

Ninja, Mr Beast and other gaming superpowers were great fun in 2022 whenever they took to the felt and we’d love to see those names and more return to the felt in the next 12 months. Ninja has previously declared his interest in playing more poker, with his brother a keen player and Las Vegas being a short distance to travel. We’d love to see it happen in the next year.

Mr Beast’s foray into poker was just one of several collaborations, as the Fortnite character skin added to the immense popularity of the YouTuber. With his innovative ‘challenge’ videos giving millions to ordinary folk encouraged into extraordinary adventures for us all to enjoy, the definition of multimedia success is sure to play poker at some point in 2023, not least for the fact that he is being coached on the quiet by… Phil Hellmuth!

Big Winners Sure to Push Envelope in 2023

If 2022 was known for one thing on the HCL live stream, it was for breaking records. Not only did more poker fans watch than ever before, but more money was won in cash game pots than ever before. Pot size, there was none bigger in 2022 than the $1.2 million pot won by Alan Keating for the biggest live-streamed pot in U.S. televised poker history.

Keating’s win was a stunning one, because it was a marginal hand and he was put under relentless pressure by the other player in the pot, known as ‘Handz’ on the HCL Stream. With the board coming T-6-5-4-7, Handz held two-pair and shoved the river to put Keating to a decision for $309,000 out of $1.2 million.

In the end, Keating made the brilliant call with a king-high flush – Handz holding the ace of that flush draw made for the action – and raked in the biggest pot of his cash game career. After the action, Keating said he ‘just got it in’, eulogising that ‘sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield’. This time around, Keating was definitely driving the car.

With players such as Keating, Hellmuth, Adelstein, Bill Klein and Phil Ivey all potential HCL players on live streams in 2023, we could be set for one of the most exciting years of watching poker ever. Whatever happens, it seems that the Hustler Casino Live viewers will be guaranteed drama throughout the year if the last 12 months are anything to go by.

Joe 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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