José ‘Girah’ Macedo scandal: Qureshi takes a walk, Lock faces questions

The Merge Gaming Network will resume accepting new US poker players this week. (As leads, the Merge Gaming Network follows. It’s like they’re dating or something.) Merge had soaked up the most liquidity gains since PokerStars, Full Tilt and others quit the US market following Black Friday, but stopped accepting new US players in June because it didn’t have the eCom capacity to handle the sudden influx. Anyway, that was then, this is now. But you’re still not getting any rakeback, noobs…

Locked out? Jose Macedo and Haseeb Qureshi

Merge skin Lock Poker has dropped its former golden boy, José ‘Girah’ Macedo, from its Lock Pro roster following revelations that he’d been cheating other online poker players. Again. If you haven’t been following the Macedo scandal, you’re missing out on a full life, truly. It makes the television series Lost look plausible. Poker forum 2+2 keeps providing stellar Cliff notes on the tale, but the details are unfolding so quickly, that link may have already been superseded by another.


In addition to Macedo losing his Lock gig, Haseeb ‘Dogishead’ Qureshi was dropped by poker coaching site CardRunners. The ax fell after Qureshi admitted on his blog that (among other things) he was the one who’d played on Macedo’s Lock account during the Bluff/Lock Poker Challenge (and for which Macedo was ultimately disqualified). Then, in an exclusive interview with Bluff Magazine, Qureshi claimed that he had also chip-dumped $100k to Macedo on Lock using the screen name “SamChauhan” because Qureshi was backing Macedo and this was the easiest way of getting Macedo the sum he’d been promised.

Though the dump occurred two days before the close of the Lock Poker Challenge, and thus was instrumental in Macedo’s (temporary) victory, Qureshi claims not to have known the contest was still in play at the time. Qureshi also doubled down on his denial that he had any advance knowledge of Macedo cheating other players. (Qureshi has since put up a fairly self-serving ‘farewell’ blog post saying he’s tired of the speculation, so he’s leaving the game of poker forever, choosing instead to wander the world and have adventures, like David Carradine in the old Kung Fu series.)

Many 2+2 posters have questioned Qureshi’s claim that creating a fresh account on Lock, funding it with $100k and then chip-dumping it to Macedo was somehow more expedient than simply wiring or transferring the money to one of Lock’s own pro players. Questions have also been raised as to why Lock cited the multi-accounting incident as justification for disqualifying Macedo from the Lock Poker Challenge, and not the obvious chip-dumping that had taken place. Especially since Lock claimed at the time to have done a comprehensive audit of Macedo’s account after the multi-account allegations first surfaced – in which the $100k swing should have stood out like a sore thumb.

In another exclusive interview, Bluff spoke with Dan ‘Jungleman12’ Cates. Cates had been one of Macedo’s early public champions, as Qureshi had been to the point where the three players had planned to move in together in Macedo’s native Portugal. Cates also denies any advance knowledge of Macedo’s chicanery, and vouched for Qureshi’s innocence as well. As for the remote coaching method by which Macedo cheated the other players, Cates admitted that under such a system, “safety protocols do not really exist.”

There are many in the 2+2 community who still don’t accept that Girah is a real live human boy and not a sock puppet created by certain high-stakes pros to use as they saw fit. Everyone believes that there is a lot more left to be uncovered in this story. And both sides of the looming US online poker legislation debate will likely use this sorry incident to bolster their respective cases. The ‘pro’ side will paint the current state of online poker as a haven for outlaws and con men, something only tough federal regulation and trusted land-based casino operators could make clean. The ‘con’ side will paint online poker as a haven for outlaws and con men that this God-fearing nation would be wise to steer clear of. And the rest of us? We’ll just pick up our guitars and play, just like yesterday…