Nearly seven years ago, Poker Life Podcast host Joey Ingram uploaded his very first video to YouTube — introducing a niche poker forum community to the world of high stakes prop bets. The challenge? Play a record 50,000 hands on PokerStars in a single 24-hour cycle. The prize? Thirty thousand dollars and bragging rights.
Armed with 3 monitors (one for watching Real Housewives), a personal masseuse and a wide, freak-show assortment of Gummi Worms, Doritos, Planters peanuts, Red Bulls and soon-to-be urine bottles, Ingram boldly informed his viewers how he would accomplish such a feat. “It’s easy. I don’t take any drugs. I don’t need that Adderall bullshit. I’m a fucking natural.”
Twenty hours later, ChicagoJoey set the world record. The celebratory video clip Papi posted as he achieved his goal has been viewed more than 330,000 times since November 2009.
Poker Life Podcast Becomes a Hit
ChicagoJoey’s original podcasts (February 2014) were aimed specifically at the high stakes Pot Limit Omaha cash game community, and featured guests who were mainly popular among that specific crowd. Over time, Ingram gradually began inviting high profile guests who connected with a mainstream poker audience, and the show’s ratings improved dramatically. Yet it was an unlikely coincidence — coupled with epic timing — that first put the Poker Life Podcast on the radar of several poker media websites.
The 2015 calendar year would find the world’s largest poker site — PokerStars — fending off community ire, affiliate disillusion, social media calamity, and outright player revolt by the time January rolled around. In six months’ time, Joey Ingram had become THE authoritative source for discussion on the biggest “poker news” item of the year: the PokerStars VIP Club changes.
Ingram’s November 30, 2015 broadcast with PokerStars headline pro Daniel Negreanu established the Illinois native as the go-to personality for informed debate on the most controversial topics within our industry. However, the path leading to that unforgettable show — and the subsequent importance placed upon it by poker media outlets — began May 1, 2015.
PokerStars Alters Deal with Affiliates
In May 2015, PokerStars gave its affiliates one month’s notice (sound familiar?) that it would no longer honor legacy commission payments on sign-ups with more than 2 years of antiquity. While the story didn’t get a lot of love among the poker-playing crowd, the changes resulted in a major shake-up within the poker media industry.
Many of the affiliates that survived (some lost 80% of their revenue overnight) were suddenly faced with a future that lacked a heavy dose of PokerStars money and news generation. A number of these media outlets had already taken notice of Ingram’s growing popularity — and were transitioning to basing high profile, non-PokerStars-friendly news stories off of information posted in forums and social media platforms — but there was little in the form of “mainstream poker news” that could be gleaned from the 2-6 hour live podcast episodes without binge-watching them.
Papi could undoubtedly attract big name pros — but how many of those guests would be willing to stake a reputation on picking a fight with the world’s largest online poker brand? As it turned out, the fight would get picked for one particular pro — on air — at the 2015 EPT Barcelona stop.
The Lee Jones Angle
To grasp how Lee Jones ties-in to this story, we must go back to July 2010, when he served as Cake Poker Cardroom Manager. An anonymous poster informed the TwoPlusTwo community of a breaking news article published by PokerTableRatings — which exposed weak Cake Poker encryption, claiming “anyone with access to a player’s network could intercept their hole-cards.”
The story also highlighted a lack of communication by Jones, who was responding to separate issues within the general Cake Poker Feedback Thread while ignoring the more urgent requests for clarity on security concerns. The anonymous poster reminded readers that the site was still in full operation during the one week it took to fix the issue — knowingly exposing its players to “huge risk.”
Once a critical forum mass demanded a response from Jones, he replied that the error was not excusable (8 words), then spent about 180 more passing off blame to PokerTableRatings and reminding forum posters that the “standard protocol in the computing industry” encourages those who find security leaks to “alert the company that has the software, wait an appropriate period to let them fix it, and then tell the world.”
The response obviously fell flat on a forum community rife with bitterness over past cheating scandals, and before long TwoPlusTwo Top Dog Mason Malmuth chimed-in with a moneyshot that accurately reflected the general sentiment of his site’s contributors.
As if that message wasn’t clear enough, Jones followed-up that he had Private Messaged the TwoPlusTwo Publishing chief, to which Malmuth replied, “You need to post and answer the questions now. Our posters are the ones you need to communicate with, not me.” Cake Poker’s insubstantial communication with the online poker community during that period shed an uncomfortable light on where Jones stood when it came to protecting players versus company interests.
EPT Barcelona 2013 — The “Criminality” Cirlcle-Jerk
Mister ToS would bid the sinking Cake Poker ship farewell in late 2010 and make a triumphant return to PokerStars a few months later as its new Head of Home Games — eventually morphing into him becoming PokerStars’ Director of Poker Communications.
Which brings us to EPT Barcelona 2013, and professional poker player Jens Kyllönen of Finland — who would experience his own communications issues with Lee Jones. In his Unbelievable EPT Barcelona Story the Finnish TwoPlusTwo poster who goes by Jeans outlined how his Barcelona Arts hotel room was broken into, his laptop stolen, and then hacked before being replaced, allegedly in an attempt to gain access to his hole card information while he unknowingly competed online.
Ace poker industry consultant and writer Steve Ruddock covered the story for OnlinePokerReport on September 9, 2013.
Kyllönen contacted security personnel immediately, and was led to believe that a criminal police report would be filed and that the culprits were sure to be discovered. But it just so happened the hotel’s surveillance system was the shits (again, sound familiar?) and three months later the “Scandinavian Superstar” received a Warmest Regards message from Mr. Jones…
No, the police weren’t contacted. No, the case would not be resolved. No, PokerStars did not sweep the issue under the rug. The following is a screenshot taken from a December 2013 Flushdraw.net article posted by Haley Hintze.
EPT Barcelona 2015 – Drama Ensues
While attendance records were being set at EPT Barcelona 2015 events a year ago, high stakes pro Dani “Ansky” Stern took to the TwoPlusTwo NVG boards to post his August 27, 2015 experience of getting Cheated out of €18k at Casino Barcelona.
The tomfuckery with high stakes players continued that same day, when Jason Mo sat down at his Day 3 Main Event table to discover approximately 40,000 chips (of 350,000) missing. Mo wasn’t the only high profile player to notice something awry with lighter chip stacks (shout-out to Haralabos Voulgaris and Jason Les) so he took the issue up with the Floor — who in turn referred him to two older gentlemen he assumed were tournament directors.
A discussion ensued, and moved directly into an EPT live-stream as Lee Jones was pimping the excellent work being done by on-site staff. So good was this work in fact, that players could relax and not worry about policing themselves. It was a surreal scene as Mo received the news from event staff that there were no cameras recording the action, and therefore Mo’s claims could not be investigated further. Jones somewhat jokingly told the disgruntled pro to “cut your losses” on stream before the segment moved on.
So the following day, Mo relayed his version of events to the TwoPlusTwo community and conducted an interview with PokerNews reporter Sarah Herring.
Lee Jones Spreads Lie About Jason Mo
Given the overall popularity and goodwill promotion that the EPT Barcelona Season 12 enjoyed, the issue may have quickly lost steam. But days later Jones appeared on a TwoPlusTwo Pokercast episode, and (incorrectly) implied that Mo had previously complained about missing chips at the World Series of Poker.
A transcript of that portion of the interview — provided by TwoPlusTwo poster watevs — is pasted below.
Jones would pull back on that statement shortly afterwards. No, he didn’t tell a lie about Jason Mo… he just spread a lie someone else told him. Verify whether that’s an accurate shoot while you brace for Mo’s pathetic old man comeback.
Jason Mo Returns to Poker Life Podcast: Sept 1, 2015
One day before Lee Jones misfired with his personal attack, there was a modest amount of intrigue surrounding the @cuntycakes123 Twitter handle. Alex Weldon of PartTimePoker had already posted an editorial piece which gave the Evil Empire member’s arguments fair play.
Before Papi & jmo went live that Tuesday, the PokerNews Sarah Herring segment had made the rounds. Mo was on record, stating he was “100% sure” he counted his chips correctly while placing “99%” faith in Ben Tollerene’s capacity to do the same. These percentages were updated not too far into that 160-minute ChicagoJoey cast. The probability of Jason Mo, Ben Tollerene, Jason Les and Haralabos Voulgaris correctly sizing up their EPT Barcelona chip stacks through “counting skills” was 99 percent, according to Mo.
After vouching for the foursome, Ingram gave a 100% shoot on PokerStars’ recent lack of communication with its players. “They said nothing about the Hastings-gate. They say nothing about this. They say nothing about the PLO bots. They say nothing about anything… when they got sold, they just sort of checked out.”
That statement pretty much summed-up how some members of the non-PokerStars-friendly media camp felt about the situation, and through his words Joey Ingram sent a clear message that a new “poker news” personality had arrived on the scene — one who didn’t come with the baggage of PokerStars sponsorship grime. Aside from reliving his EPT Barcelona story, Mo went on to provide a unique glimpse into the high stakes poker world through the eyes of someone who has been living it for years.
Future Poker Life Podcast programs continued to grant ACCESS to not only thousands of engaged viewers, but a handful of mesmerized poker media representatives who may or may not have been inspired by the genuine news scoops Ingram was getting guests to reveal on a weekly basis.
The Mo-Jones Double Payback
Months passed after the PokerStars Director of Communications started a chain of unimpressive communication attempts and personal attacks (now formally known as “errors”) which culminated in a rancid, clusterfuck of all clusterfucks series of social media tirades once the PokerStars VIP Club changes came to light last November.
And on the heels of a seemingly ineffective January 2016 player boycott, Papi ran into none other than Mister ToS on the Aura Nightclub dance floor at the 2016 PCA Bahamas — and tweeted it out to his followers. Then Jason Mo took the opportunity to get what some might call “payback” for months of frustration associated with someone in a poker industry “position of authority” passing along some bullshit story to tarnish an adversary’s reputation.
Mo added more personal bitterness to the dispute via Twitter, and days later PokerStars blocked access to the 2015 APPT Seoul Main Event champion’s online poker account — freezing six-figures of his funds in the process.
As PartTimePoker contributor Weldon proclaimed, the Kid Gloves Were Off in the PokerStars vs. Jason Mo dispute at that point. The ban was quickly lifted with all funds made available, yet PokerStars confirmed that the account had been blocked in reaction to Mo’s tweet.
Looking Forward to August Presence (2016)
It may be WSOP time now, but the EPT Barcelona Season 13 tour stop goes live in two months. Which means the PokerStars & Co High-Volume Poker Player Curb Stomping Jig is right around the corner… kid gloves removed and not even a grainy still image to serve as a receipt. But we are living in a Golden Era of Poker Media. Every conceivable opinion on this and similar hot-button topics will continue to be aired — if not on a poker media site then in an NVG forum or live broadcast environment.
So what’s your take on Lee Jones, Jason Mo, and the recount of facts laid out in this article? And what news topic will Papi unveil the next time he appears on-stream? It’s food for thought for Upswing Poker Twitch Stream viewers who can check out live casts featuring Doug Polk and Ryan Fee throughout the week starting at 3:00pm PST!
(If you’re interested in improving your poker game, check out the Upswing Lab! Doug Polk and Ryan Fee collaborated on this A to Z training course and the great reviews keep rolling in! Check out our Upswing Lab testimonials page here)
David Huber (known as “dhubermex” online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).