The news broke last night that up and coming Portuguese poker pro Jose “Girah” Macedo, who is widely known in the poker community as the “Portuguese Poker Prodigy,” may not be who he claims to be. Under the heavy weight of evidence, Macedo has admitted to scamming the high stakes poker community for at least $30,000, though this figure is likely much higher, and for targeting popular nosebleed pro “Sauce123″ in an attempt to steal much more.
Jose “Girah” Macedo, the 18-year-old from Portugual, burst onto the poker scene in January of 2011. He is known for his claim to have turned $30 into $2.5 Million in a little over a year. This claim instantly drew a mixture of awe and skepticism from the poker world, because the online poker games have gotten much tougher in the last few years. The flames of Macedo’s rising star status were further flamed when he challenged Tom Dwan on Twitter to a nosebleed heads up match. Dwan did not respond. Up until that point, the authenticity of Macedo’s story was still questionable.
Macedo’s claim, to be as an elite nosebleed player, was then solidified by various top level players in the poker community, who one after another made the mistake of vouching for Macedo, until his reputation built heavy momentum. Major poker news outlets picked up Macedo’s rags to riches story within only a few short months. By April, Jose “Girah” Macedo, was making strategy videos for Europe’s largest poker strategy website, PokerStrategy.com, and had secured a team sponsorship from Lock Poker.com.
By May, just one month into his Lock Poker sponsorship deal, Jose “Girah” Macedo was already already embroiled in controversy. The “Lock Poker Challenge” awarded cash, prizes, and their very own marketing campaign, which included a Bluff Magazine cover story to the player on Lock Poker to win the most cash in one month. With only a few days left in the challenge, Girah suspiciously won $104,000 against an unknown small stakes player to take first place in the contest.
A few days later, Lock Poker issued a statement that Macedo was disqualified for multi-accounting, without giving further details. Various members of the poker community began to question the authenticity of Jose’s story, including a player under the alias RangeyMcTriplmerge, who began to suggest early on that Macedo’s story was fake. For the most part however, Macedo was given the benefit of the doubt, and his cheating in the Lock Poker Challenge was forgiven as a youthful mistake.
In this latest scam, Girah used his reputation in the poker community to target high stakes players over Skype. The way the scam worked was very simple. Macedo offered coaching to high stakes players with money on the iPoker network who wanted to elevate their game to the nosebleed stakes. Under the guise of coaching, Macedo then insisted on sweating them online in real time, using screen viewing software so that he could see their hole cards.
Macedo would then insist his students play heads up against a certain opponent, Suaron1989, claiming the opponent was bad. Unbeknownst to them however, the account Sauron1989 was actually controlled by Macedo. Playing heads up against an opponent while being able to see their hole cards allowed Macedo to steal at least $30,000, though this figure could be much more.
Just how many players have fallen victim to Macedo’s coaching scam is unknown. Macedo has admitted to stealing at least $30,000. In the mean time various other students from his site GirahPoker.com have begun to come forward, including one iPoker regular who claims that Macedo stole $15,000 from him in June. Several other players have come forward claiming theft in the thousands.
Macedo’s coaching scam operation was found out last night by a group of players who had all been coached by Macedo on iPoker, and lost money to this mysterious Saurion1989 account. This discovery came just in time as Macedo had targeted popular nosebleed player Ben “Sauce123″ Sulsky, attempting to trick Sauce into engaging in a rigged $50/$100 heads up match.
It wouldn’t make sense for an up and coming elite nosebleed player to risk his reputation in order to steal $30,000. So until proven otherwise, it is safe to assume that Jose Macedo is not at all who he claims to be. Whether or not any other poker players will be found complicit in these scams is unclear. Based on the information we have now, Daniel “Jungleman” Cates and Haseeb “DogIsHead” Qureshi may likely have been Macedo’s next targets.
Macedo has lost his sponsorships with both PokerStrategy and the Merge Network site LockPoker.com. Poker is regulated all across Europe, so it is possible that local crime authorities will investigate these online crimes. As more information is made available it will be up to the parties involved as to whether or not this case will be taken to court.