One-time French poker star Arnaud Mattern has published a defiant, bilingual “Statement / Déclaration” in the face of continuing allegations that he was part of an high-stakes Southern California cheating group centered on Ye “Tony Mars” Shen.
Mattern had already been named publicly by “Wes Side Wesley” Fei, one of the victims of what appears to be multiple cheating operations involving Mars, and he had already threatened Fei with a defamation suit in response to Fei’s allegations. Besides Fei, the victims of Mars’ cheating groups include Nikhil “Nik Airball” Arcot, “Blank Check Ben” Lee, Eshaan Bhalla, and numerous others. (Arcot and Lee shared their adverse experiences in a recent PokerOrg piece.)
In accusing Mattern of being involved at least part of the time with Mars’ ongoing cheating, Wes Side Wesley (Fei) also declared that Mattern was known in the games as “Mike the Magician”:
Mattern responded to Fei’s post with an immediate threat of litigation, then followed that with his somewhat longer “Statement” today. The English version of Mattern’s statement reads as follows:
“These accusations against me are unfounded and lies. Accusers mentioned a marked card incident on the 14th of October. I was not even in the U.S. when this happened. And regarding everything else they say, there is not a shred of evidence to support these outlandish claims against me. These people are collecting winnings when they win, and bring up false accusations when they lose to avoid paying. I can only tell you that I have done nothing wrong, and I intend to hold all who slander my name accountable through civil legal action.”
Fei’s response to Mattern’s statement was brief and direct: “Sue me please.”
Mattern statement is bold, but includes misdirection
Forceful as Mattern’s declaration is, it contains debatable issues. His mention of an October 14th game where marked cards were used and his statement that he was outside the US at that time may well be true, but that statement applies only to that date. Nik Airball (Arcot) was the first cheated player to mention the possible use of UV-overprinted cards, but Arcot, Fei, Lee, and others subsequently compared notes and deduced that the UV-marked cards may have used only in the final game or games that Mars may have cheated within, and those games might not have included Mattern.
The cheated players now believe, in part based on Mars’ recent phone conversations with Fei, that the cheating was mostly done with two groups of accomplices through multiple games earlier in 2012. Those games allegedly employed a card “mechanic” as the dealer rather than using UV-marked decks. Mattern, along with a Pennsylvania man named Shane Hammen (who went by “Peter”), and one other alleged cheating player, were part of some of those earlier games.
In denying being present at the October 14th game, however, Mattern tacitly confirmed that he was present at some of those other games involving Mars where the cheating was alleged to have occurred. That was already all but assured through photographs of players surreptitiously taken by Nik Airball once he suspected cheating was occurring, and Mattern’s own words remove all doubt regarding his presence.
Mattern’s line, “These people are collecting winnings when they win, and bring up false accusations when they lose to avoid paying,” also appears to be a misconstruction of the situation. Fei claims to have lost $3.1 million in the cheated games, while Arcot’s and Lee’s losses run into the hundreds of thousands, and those losses — which at first appeared to be legitimate poker losses — were paid at the poker table.
However many millions were stolen, according to Mars amid his conversations with Fei that Fei has since released, have long since been distributed to the cheaters involved. That distribution allegedly included Mattern.
Older claims regarding Mattern begin to resurface
Mattern’s accused involvement as an accomplice of Mars has resulted in other claims about his past behavior beginning to resurface. One such claimed incident from 2018 resurfaced in a story on the Mars scandal published on Tuesday by the French poker site ClubPoker.fr.
Beginning with the drama of Wes Side Wesley claiming to have received death threats for outing and pursuing the Mars-centered cheaters, the ClubPoker piece brought in the Mattern angle in this way, via Google Translate:
“Dr Hash would have been threatened with death if he did not withdraw his defamatory tweets which are still visible on X: HERE. He announces that he has warned the police of these threats, and in return Arnaud Mattern has just responded this evening to these accusations which he considers defamatory in the tweet responses thread.
“Arnaud is of course presumed innocent, which we hope. But nothing works in his favor when we know that he was already concerned by a ‘hushed up’ affair but which had already caused a lot of noise in the Parisian microcosm. The ‘groupe des Entram’s,’ which brings together around a hundred Parisian regs, apparently caught him with his cards in his sleeve and banned him five years ago.”
‘Only Friends’ podcast focuses on Hennen
Meanwhile, a similar cold spotlight is beginning to shine on Hennen, another of Mars’ alleged accomplices in the cheated games. Hennen has a checkered past, most prominently featuring his being sentenced in 2010 to 30 months in prison for stabbing another man in the neck in a Pittsburgh bar fight.
Hennen’s other misdeeds, according to various court records and public reports, include operating an illicit slot-machine operation and being involved in or connected to various drug-trafficking operations,
His poker background may follow a similar dark path. Though he has just a handful of small tournament cashes in recorded tournaments, he has been accused of being a long-time private-game cheat, from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas to, now, Southern California. “Sugar Shane”‘s alleged poker cheating was the focus of Wednesday’s “Only Friends” podcast offered by the Solve 4 Why crew.
Berkey’s posts led to an extended conversation on Twitter/X also including poker veteran David “Viffer” Peat, plus a cameo appearance from Hennen himself from his own rarely used account:
Overall, the scandal continues to snowball. PokerOrg will continue to provide updates as new developments and information warrant.
Featured image source: Bluff Europe