Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Alleged High-Stakes Poker Cheaters Get The Cold Shoulder At World Series Of Poker

Ali Imsirovic, Jake Schindler, Bryn Kenney And Others Face Backlash For Playing Series Events


In April, tournament pro Alex Foxen called out fellow members of the high-stakes community for unethical play or even outright cheating, and pushed for the creation of an industry-wide blacklist which would ban these players from competing at other venues.

Although most are in favor of such a list, it’s existence remains a long shot due to the lengthy list of legal hurdles it would have to overcome across many different jurisdictions. So even though a site like GGPoker announced the banning of 40 online poker accounts for breaking their terms and conditions in high-stakes games, most of those names remained a secret and those players can continue to play elsewhere without penalty. Even at the World Series of Poker.

The most notable players outed included Bryn Kenney, who is among the biggest tournament earners ever, Jake Schindler, who holds the record for most final tables in a single year, and Ali Imsirovic, the young high roller phenom who won the Player of the Year title in 2021. Despite any potential backlash, all three showed up for the opening $100,000 buy-in WSOP event.

Thus far, Kenney is the only one to speak out against the allegations. In an interview with PokerNews, he denied former horse Martin Zamani’s accusations of ghosting and the use of RTA (real-time assistance). The New York native did admit to minor infractions like coaching members of his stable while in events, but said the bizarre stories about frog poison and shaman visits were false.

Perhaps in an effort to help his declining image, Kenney donated a $10,000 WSOP main event seat towards top pro Nadya Magnus’s giveaway for ladies in poker.

Bracelet winner David Miscikowksi and high-stakes tournament pro Sergi Reixach, who were tied to Kenney via Zamani’s allegations, have also showed up to the series. Both players have two cashes each, with Miscikowski earning a fourth-place finish in the $3,000 no-limit hold’em event for $180,795. All throughout his time at the live streamed final table, however, Miscikowki was blasted for his alleged involvement by viewers in the chat log who openly rooted for him to lose.

The anti-sweat hasn’t been working in the case of Schindler, who opened the series with a second-place finish in the $25,000 no-limit hold’em high roller for $874,915. Just two days later, he won the $50,000 no-limit hold’em high roller for $1,328,068.

Jake SchindlerIt was the first WSOP bracelet of Schindler’s career. For years, the Pennsylvania native was considered of the best players without one. The 2018 Card Player Player of the Year with $36 million in earnings had finally nabbed his elusive piece of gold.

And yet, as he dragged the final pot of the tournament, there was virtually no one there to celebrate in his corner. A couple of polite claps pierced through the near silence in the room, a stark contrast from the warm reaction to player-favorite Dan Smith’s inaugural bracelet win just days earlier.

The silence continued after Schindler finished posing for his customary winner photo, as he declined to talk to reporters and take questions. He has yet to respond to the controversy, and was subsequently raked over the coals on Matt Berkey’s podcast, even though he refused to identify him by name.

Imsirovic has also remained quiet, although like Kenney, he did make a public offer for a charitable cause, saying he was donating 50% of his profits in non-high roller events to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Like Schindler, the Bosnian-born 27-year-old also found success, finishing fourth in the $100,000 kickoff event for $350,158. However, poker pro Sam Grafton had no problem referencing the scandal as he worked in the commentary booth during the live stream broadcast.

In the following days, Imsirovic was also subjected to the antics of five-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb, who wasn’t going to let him enjoy his time at the same table.

Deeb started a round of ‘Lodden Thinks’ against four-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser, with Scott Seiver player the role of Lodden. In the game, the players take turns wagering on Seiver’s answers to random questions. Except in this case, all the questions had to do with Imsirovic.

The questions included how much money he has allegedly cheated the community out of, how long he would keep attending the WSOP, and even how long his new marriage would last.

When asked how Imsirovic responded to the game being played at his expense, Deeb said that he tried to ignore it by wearing headphones.

The online poker bans haven’t hurt Schindler and Imsirovic’s results in the live arena much. Both players have earned more than $10.5 million combined this year and they remain in first and second place in the Card Player Player of the Year race.

Of course, players involved in poker scandals have been facing backlash for years. Annie Duke, once among the most popular players in the game, was cursed out at the series by another pro who wasn’t happy with her role in both the UltimateBet and Epic Poker League debacles. She hasn’t been back to the WSOP in years.

Similarly, Duke’s brother Howard Lederer and 2000 WSOP main event champion Chris Ferguson have also taken heat from others at the series for their actions with Full Tilt Poker following Black Friday. And although there’s no way to know if it was accidental or on purpose, even the WSOP has found a way to snub Ferguson, moving his Player of the Series banner to a tucked away space off a hallway at Bally’s.

You can follow the 2022 World Series of Poker on Card Player’s series landing page, sponsored by Global Poker, the fastest growing online poker room in the world. Check out the series schedule, as well as event recaps, news, and player interviews.