(Photo credit: Joe Giron)
Once a top online player, Justin Schwartz, a.k.a. “StealthMunk,” has certainly earned a reputation in the live poker world as well. His most recent, shall we say, adventure involved his banishment by the World Series of Poker (WSOP) bigwigs.
Justin Schwartz is perhaps best remembered for his WSOP exit on day 7 of the Main Event where his set lost to Joe McKeehen’s set (McKeehen would eventually go on to win the tournament). Take a look at Schwartz’s winning personality, his profanity-laden tirade, and his refusal to shake anyone’s hand on the way out.
Regardless of what people may think of Schwartz, the fact remains that he has had a certain level of success playing poker. To date, Schwartz’s live tournament winnings are nearing $1.18 million.
Justin Schwartz is certainly not afraid of expressing his opinion and he doesn’t pull any punches. Much of his persona and attitudes stem from a difficult past, and it appears that his problems continue to haunt him.
Justin Schwartz: Early struggles
Schwartz discovered poker at age 13, much to his parents’ disapproval; however, when he won a major online tournament at age 17, he alleged that his mother had no problem taking his winnings. His father, however, was the person who finally stepped up to help his son when Schwartz hit rock bottom.
Schwartz struggled with homelessness, run-ins with law enforcement, and drug abuse—much of which he blamed on his early relationship with his parents. In addition to his father, Schwartz’s new friends in the poker world also helped save him from heading down a dangerous road.
In November 2013, Justin Schwartz was arrested for possession of a controlled substance which almost throttled his chances of coming to the 2015 WSOP. At court, the judge offered Schwartz two choices: drug rehab and probation that would erase his conviction or a one-year suspended sentence with a conditional discharge that would remain on his record. Because the first option would have prevented him from coming to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP, Schwartz chose the second, for which he received much criticism.
Stealthmunk at the WSOP
Justin Schwartz entered the WSOP with a different goal than anyone else. Whereas the bracelet is oftentimes a driving factor, for Schwartz, the seven-figure payouts for the top nine were front and center, especially to a man who desperately wanted—and needed—a completely debt-free fresh start. He did admit that the bracelet would, in fact, provide social validation.
Then, the unthinkable happened. According to a Reddit post, about a year ago, one of Schwartz’s friends allegedly had a bong in Schwartz’s room at a Caesars property during a WSOP circuit event.
A noise complaint drew security to the room, they witnessed the bong, and this incident led to Justin Schwartz’s lifetime ban from all Caesars’ properties as well as WSOP events. Even though a bong can be used for other things besides marijuana, the WSOP banned Schwartz from future events. Recreational marijuana is now legal in Nevada; however, private properties do have the right to say what is and isn’t permitted on their grounds.
What are your thoughts on Justin Schwartz’s ban from the WSOP? Do you think the WSOP was justified? Please comment below.
Until next time.
Read more from Upswing Poker:
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.