Portugese Protigy Jose Admits Cheating
Aug. 10, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
"I just made a mistake. Don't ruin my life. I've already told my mum."
These were the words of "Portuguese poker prodigy" Jose "Girah" Macedo as it emerged he was at the center of a large, complex and bizarre scam in which he used remote-desktop software to view the hole cards of his friends' and coaching students' while he played them in high-stakes heads up matches using an alternate account.
It will be weeks before the tangled web of lies, duplicitous relationships, dummy accounts and shady behaviour is fully unwoven, but at the very least Macedo has stolen tens of thousands of dollars from poker players who trusted him as a confidant, fooled by a reputation that now seems to have been carefully faked from the very beginning.
Jose Macedo was first launched to the heady heights of poker e-fame in January by a thread on poker forum TwoPlusTwo. An unknown poster offered a cash reward for the name of the 17-year-old "prodigy" who had won millions of euros crushing the nosebleeds. The story became more credible when two respected high-stakes players, Haseeb "DOG IS HEAD" Quereshi and Daniel "jungleman12" Cates, confirmed some aspects of the account and outed the Portuguese player's name.
Macedo then began to construct a seemingly solid reputation by contributing to high-stakes strategy discussion groups and chat sessions, even going so far as to offer coaching. It was this level of good-standing that made it possible for him to later convince other grinders to let him sweat their sessions using the screen-sharing software TeamViewer. Macedo encouraged players he knew to take on "fish" that were in fact accounts he controlled, allowing him to see his opponents' cards and dishonestly win five-figure sums.
It's impossible to reconcile the popular image of Macedo as a baller high-stakes poker genius with the scared, snivelling child who begged for forgiveness in chat logs when the scandal broke, and seemed to think that telling his mother of his misdeeds was punishment enough. It now seems likely that Macedo never accomplished many of the feats ascribed to him. When you consider that, for example, it was seriously suggested he had beaten mid-stakes games for upwards of 25bb per hundred hands over a large sample, that's not entirely surprising.
Many posters on TwoPlusTwo are now asking why no-one noticed: Macedo did not appear to have the millions of euros it was claimed he'd won; published no reliable evidence of crushing high-stakes games; was an unrelenting moron rather than a poker savant. While answers to these questions are not yet forthcoming, Macedo was somehow convincing enough to secure stakes from professional players and maintain a long waiting list of people desperate for coaching.
The Portuguese teen has now begun to repay the victims of his scam, which lends a rare positive note to an otherwise baffling, depressing story.
Perhaps the most surprising element of the entire debacle is that the high-stakes poker community still transacts millions of dollars worth of deals, stakes, loans and guarantees largely on the basis of the reputations of people who may never have met or even seen the other's face. While it undoubtedly takes a sharp, disciplined mind to beat poker at the high levels, the unfolding Macedo scandal indicates it can be foolish to entrust your money to a stranger on the basis of their message board posts or chat sessions. Unless, that is, you know their mother.