Scandals do occur in the poker world, but it is difficult to say how common they are. Like any industry or community, individuals will always engage in unethical or illegal behavior. Some high-profile poker scandals in recent years have involved cheating, money laundering, and illegal gambling operations. In some cases, poker players are the ones raising their voices to fight against cheating and unfair play. Such is the case of Jennifer Shahade, a professional poker player and chess champion for women who claimed that Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez sexually assaulted her and other women, including a teenager. Today’s casino news covers the story.
Jennifer Shahade and a Misconduct Ongoing Investigation
Shahade said that Ramirez, the chess team coach at Saint Louis University, abused her twice between nine and ten years ago. Utterly unaware of Shahade’s encounters, several women approached her recently and accused Ramirez of abusing them as well. And according to Shahade, these women were much younger.
Jennifer Shahade holds the FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster and is a two-time US Women’s Champion. She achieved some crucial victories in poker, such as the first TonyBet Open Face Chinese Poker Live World Championship High Roller Event, where she won €100,000. She was once a PokerStars brand ambassador and currently broadcasts the acclaimed “The Grid” poker podcast.
Ramirez is currently the subject of an inquiry, according to Shahade. According to the chess.com portal, the United States Chess Federation and the notable St. Louis Chess Club are undertaking this investigation, not the police. In the fall of 2022, Shahade allegedly filed her concerns with both organizations. However, the path to these investigations and their potential repercussions has been challenging.
The Grandmaster stated in a tweet, that much of the effort made to make chess more inclusive is meaningless unless people can make it abundantly clear that protecting children, girls, and women is the top priority. She is speaking up right now for that reason.
Jennifer Shahade is Not the First: Other Poker-Related Scandals
Scandals often affect the iGaming sector. An example is the leading high-stakes Garrett Adelstein poker player, who accused, weeks ago, another poker player, Robbi Jade Lew, of cheating in hand worth $269,000. This accusation created some effects on the integrity of iGaming.
One notable scandal occurred in 2019 when allegations of cheating surfaced against professional poker player Mike Postle. He was accused of using a smartphone to receive information about other players’ hole cards during live-streamed cash games at the Stones Gambling Hall in California. The case drew significant attention and sparked debates about cheating and the integrity of the game.
Another well-known scandal involved a renowned online poker site, which was found to have engaged in insider cheating. This involved employees of the site using their access to player information to cheat in high-stakes games. The scandal resulted in the site’s closure and millions of dollars in fines.
Jennifer Shahade’s Case: More Allegations
Following the publication of her initial tweet, Shahade later claimed that four other women had contacted her about Ramirez’s alleged inappropriate behavior.
Some accounts were from purported victims who were significantly younger. In a text, he acknowledged abusing a youngster while teaching her, as well as one where he referred to the claimed victim as a “temptress”, Shahade’s troubling evidence stated.
Ramírez Response to the Allegations
Ramirez declined to comment further on the accusations when chess.com contacted him.
The 34-year-old said: “I understand the concern raised by the allegations against me, but I am unable to go into the details of Ms. Shahade’s allegations due to the ongoing investigations of the US Chess Federation and the St. Louis Chess Club.” I am fully cooperating with both investigations and look forward to the opportunity to respond to these allegations and present my point of view. Despite a brief SPIEGEL inquiry, Ramirez has yet to respond.
Ramirez is unique among chess players. He competed in the global championship in 2004 and transferred to the US association in 2010. He placed second in the US championship in 2013. Moreover, he supported eventual runner-up Fabiano Caruana in the 2018 World Cup as a second. Although, he gained more popularity as a pundit.
Ramirez and poker player Jennifer Shahade had previously collaborated as co-hosts on chess broadcasts. Most recently, though, she quit such roles, as she implied in the tweet since she was the one who started the inquiry about her colleague.
Jennifer Shahade’s Tweet and its Reactions
Many chess players responded to Jennifer Shahade’s tweet by expressing their support. In reaction to Shahade’s tweet, Berlin Chess Federation President Paul Meyer-Dunker tweeted: “It takes far more courage than it should, to stand up to such attacks on women.” He further stated that he appreciated her efforts in ensuring that women and girls could play chess in a safe environment.
Also speaking, Fabiano Caruana said “These are serious claims,” he posted on his Discord channel. “I really hope they’re false.”
The US Chess Federation stated that it is “dedicated to due process and dealing with sensitive problems courteously and discreetly.” They also added that they are committed to due process and dealing with sensitive matters respectfully and in a confidential manner.
While scandals like these can have a negative impact on the reputation of the poker industry, it is important to remember that they are the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of poker players and organizations operate ethically and with integrity, and the game continues to be enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
The accusations haven’t negatively impacted the iGaming sector. This is because operators are very careful not to tarnish the image of their games as well as their casinos. Soon, more details will be released by Jennifer Shahade.