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Black Cloud hits Online Poker: Macedo Admits Cheating Players for $30K

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As if online poker needed any more bad press, a new black cloud has rolled in over the online poker landscape. José Maria Macedo, known online as “Girah” and called the “Portuguese Poker Prodigy,” recently admitted to being behind a hole card-sharing scam.

One of the victims, MossBoss, outed Macedo on 2+2 as the person who perpetuated the scam by encouraging members of a high stakes HU study group on Skype to play a fish called “sauron1989.” The high rollers of the study group who took the bait were then taken themselves - for over $30,000.

The first victim was “ImFromSweden,” who was enticed to play $10/20 where he lost over $10,000. Ten days later, ‘sauron1989’ got MossBoss (jajay1963) for $20,000 playing $25/50 in two sessions. Macedo’s victims quickly became suspicious due to the seemingly perfect play of the fish ‘sauron1989’ and the fact that it was Macedo who was pushing players hard to play against the supposedly easy mark while he sweated them. Another red flag was that Macedo would always disconnect from Skype at the exact same time that ‘sauron1989’ would disconnect from the game. When exposing the cheating scam, ‘MossBoss’ said on 2+2, “we received a full admission of guilt at a point at which it was more or less apparent that we already knew we had been cheated.”

Macedo was then invited to come clean by posting an apology before the evidence was laid bare. As reported by PokerFuse; according to Macedo’s statement, before he was confronted with the evidence he came clean. Apparently a friend, who he had “introduced to poker” and “was losing money badly,” had suggested that Macedo sweat sessions with study partners, and share hole card information with him. Macedo agreed.

In the post, Macedo said, “This went on for a short while but I felt so bad, I had to say something, I confessed.” He added, “I told the guys involved what I had done, I told my friends and the people who I respect and who respected me.” In his blog Macedo says he plans to pay back everyone who was scammed plus an extra $30k. Other than admitting he was stupid, none of this explains however why a successful player with supposedly over $2 million in poker winnings would stoop to cheating for what amounts to peanuts.

Macedo found poker fame and fortune when he turned a deposit in of $2,500 into a bankroll of almost $2 million. It wasn’t long before Lock Poker, a Merge Gaming network skin, grabbed him to be an “Elite Pro.” There ensued a scandal too, when Macedo was disqualified from winning the Lock Poker Challenge because he was found to have multiple user accounts. He continued his deal with Lock Poker however and recently launched a poker training video for PokerStrategy.com.

Those lucrative deals ‘Girah’ had however are a thing of the past. Since Macedo admitted his guilt, both PokerStrategy.com and Lock Poker wasted no time distancing themselves from the scam leader. PokerStrategy.com announced over the weekend that their association with ‘Girah’ was a done deal. While no official statement has been made by Lock Poker, there is a rumor that Macedo’s contract has been terminated and when visiting the poker room, his name no longer appears on their list of Elite Pros.

Since this story broke and the cheating exposed on the TwoPlusTwo Forums, more players are coming out and claiming to have been part of the ‘Girah’ study group. They say they also played and lost a lot of money while being sweated by Macedo.

There hasn’t been any statements released regarding just how Macedo was able to view player’s hole cards at the iPoker and OnGame networks poker tables either. More importantly is what the networks plan on doing to make sure it can never happen again. Does the UB and Absolute Poker cheating scandal of a few years ago involving a pro ring a bell? Let’s hope it doesn’t take iPoker and OnGame three years to finally address the problem like it did with the Cereus network and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

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