Kenney denied Zamani allegations
Bryn Kenney dodged and prevaricated, ducked and weaved, shifting his position, both literally and figuratively, throughout his 70-minute interview with PokerNews’ Sarah Herring. He was Trumpian in both his language and methods of deflection as he played the victim; a modern day poker-Ozymandias, a half-man offering half-answers to the recent accusations leveled at him by former stake horse Martin Zamani.
colluded and used real-time assistance programs (RTAs) to cheat
In a recent appearance on Doug Polk’s podcast, Zamani followed up on his Twitter storm in which he claimed the former GGPoker ambassador ran a stable of online poker horses who colluded and used real-time assistance programs (RTAs) to cheat. Kenney denied Zamani’s claims, questioning his credibility, motive, and sanity. He also insisted that Polk “is out to get me.”
While a rush to judgment is never prudent in a case such as this, Zamani’s willingness to blow the whistle on a cheating operation in which he took part should be taken seriously. Add to that the statements and private messages published by Kenney’s former friend Lauren Roberts and it certainly paints the picture of some shady and dysfunctional relationships. Put the sideshow of shamans and frog poison to one side, there certainly does seem to be a great deal of smoke in this case and Kenney’s interview with Herring did little to blow it away.
A surprise emergency podcast episode
Last Thursday, Zamani took to Twitter to out Kenney as a cheater:
Polk immediately reached out to Zamani and, just hours later, they appeared together on a “surprise emergency podcast episode” of Polk’s show to discuss the accusations. There were some wild and downright weird moments during the 80-minute interview as Zamani flitted between stories of alleged ghosting, colluding, RTAing and bum-hunting, replete with some colorful details involving Taco Bell and Kambo (poisonous frog psychedelic) rituals.
It was entertaining fare, but one was left feeling like Zamani was not necessarily the most reliable narrator. Nonetheless, he was laying some serious allegations at the door of Kenney, ones which demanded answers but also begged further questions.
During the interview, Zamani also outed high stakes regular, poker coach, and Kenney associate Sergi Reixach, who responded on Saturday with a statement issued via Poker.org. Reixach categorically denied ever RTAing, ghosting, or having knowledge of Kenney ghosting other players. Reixach acknowledged that he was banned from GGPoker in 2020, but claims that the ban was due to him using “preflop charts” and not a dream machine.
Lauren Roberts bum hunted
In high stakes poker circles, it is not at all uncommon to see the sharks grooming the whales. It’s not cheating, but it’s certainly grubby. It’s even worse if you are setting them up to be tag-teamed. In his interview with Polk, Zamani also rang the bell on this behavior:
“He22” was amateur high stakes player Lauren Roberts and Zamani made her a focal point of the interview. He claimed that Kenney had ghosted Roberts and also played on her GGPoker account. Poker King Media’s creative director and long time Polk collaborator Thomas Keeling was quick to take us on a trip down memory lane:
On Saturday, Roberts took to Twitter to respond:
There certainly is.
A skeleton in GGPoker’s closet?
Roberts published screenshots of some of her text message interactions with Kenney. She also said that she witnessed ghosting, corroborating some of the things Zamani had claimed. Interestingly, she went on to say that she had no way to withdraw money from GGPoker on her own and that all transactions went through Kenney.
This is where things get murky for the online poker giant who Roberts claims broke the law in not only fostering and facilitating these (presumably transaction fee-dodging) “agent” relationships, but also by allowing the use of VPNs.
There was a lot to digest in what was becoming a multifaceted scandal with a widening cast of characters. Poker player and commentator Henry Kilbane broke down the key points of the scandal in this excellent video for “Overbet Express”:
On Sunday, Bryn Kenney finally broke his silence:
This foreshadowed his appearance on Tuesday night’s live PokerNews Podcast.
After opening with the disclosure that she and Kenney were friends, Herring, who had been put in a difficult spot, dutifully brought up all of the major allegations, including encouraging horses to soft play in satellites, RTA use, playing on Lauren Roberts’ account , ghosting, and whether Kenney was using TeamViewer to see his horse’s screens. It was not the hardball interview that the situation demanded but it spoke volumes that it was the only one Kenney was willing to do.
denied the veracity of Zamani’s accusations and zagged to non sequiturs
The audience was treated to 70 minutes of bluster and filibuster (filli-bluster?) as Kenney segued from direct questions to meandering monologues about what a generous and kind person he is. He denied the veracity of Zamani’s accusations and zagged to non sequiturs like his former horse’s happiness.
“Martin’s a person that, through our conversations, has never been really happy in his life,” Kenney said to Herring, eschewing yet another direct question. Later, she asked him for a yes or no answer on whether he ever ghosted. Kenney swerved once again, offering a word salad about his long career of helping people, culminating in a tacit admission to the act.
On the subject of Roberts, Kenney more than hinted that she was motivated by unrequited love for him and he tried to poke holes in her story that weren’t there.
“I don’t understand how, [on] one side, she can say that I was playing on her account, but then on the other side I was having people hunt her because she was a weak player,” Kenney stated. Those two things are not at all mutually exclusive.
Did Kenney plead the fifth?
If Kenney’s goal was to clear the record, then this interview with PokerNews what a swing and a miss. In fact, his refusal to answer Herring’s most potent question regarding his financial relationship with GGPoker is what will be most remembered.
At a key moment in the interview, Herring asked him: “In what way were you incentivized if you were not necessarily [a GG] ambassador any more?” Kenney replied: “I don’t really see that as [having] Merit to answer. That’s like personal business I have with someone. I don’t feel like there’s any reason to answer that.”
This felt like a plead the fifth moment for Kenney and one that left the audience suspecting that it is under that stone that the bodies are buried. One suspects that this scandal is not going away any time soon.
“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”