Arnaud Mattern files defamation lawsuit against Wes Side Wesley and Nik Airball over cheating allegations

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: February 16, 2024 02:10 PST

France's Arnaud Mattern has followed through on his vow to sue "Wes Side" Wesley Fei and "Nik Airball" Nikhil Arcot for defamation over allegations that Mattern was part of a cheating ring that was claimed to have operated within a private high-stakes poker game in Yorba Linda, California, last year.

Mattern filed his action on February 1, 2024, in the Superior Court of California for Orange County, alleging that Fei and Arcot publicly accused him and others after a marked deck was purportedly found after an October 14, 2023 private game at a Yorba Linda home game.

Fei was the first player to take the cheating allegations public, though Arcot and others soon offered corroborating accounts. The floating nature of the private cash games muddied the accusations as they were made, since the Yorba Linda game was just the last of several series of games in which cheating allegedly occurred.

Fei, Arcot, 'John Does' named as defendants

Mattern's lawsuit names Fei and Arcot specifically and reserves room to add other defendants at a later date. The primary argument offered by Mattern is that he was not even present at the October 14, 2023 Yorba Linda game where the marked deck was allegedly uncovered. Mattern declared that he "did not deal cards during the October 14, 2023, game in Yorba Linda and was, in fact, out of the country in France."

Mattern also acknowledged that he dealt in approximately 25% of the Yorba Linda games, which began in March 2023, but asserted that he did not participate as part of a cheating ring: "Plaintiff did not cheat at any time during the Series, or at any time described by Defendants in their Accusations and was not even in the United States in October when the alleged cheating took place."

The defamation claim references posts that Fei and Arcot made on X/Twitter that named Mattern in addition to other alleged cheaters, and in the case of Fei's post on December 6, 2023, included a photo of Mattern as he appeared at a live poker tourney earlier in his career:

Lawsuit asks for over $50,000 in damages

Mattern's action asks for over $50,000 in punitive damages and to pay legal expenses and court costs, with the exact amount of damages, "shall be proven at time of trial." The action also notes that none of the allegedly cheated players reported the suspected cheating to law enforcement.

The full text of the action has been posted on 2+2 by Mattern for public consumption. Among other specifics, the action asserts that Fei and Arcot acted "with actual malice," an important consideration in any defamation or libel claim.

  • 47. Upon information and belief, Defendants’ false and defamatory Accusations were generated and communicated with actual malice, total disregard for the truth, and in the complete absence of any special privilege.
  • 48. Upon information and belief, the False Accusation have been viewed by thousands of people and have been heard by hundreds if not thousands of people.
  • 49. Upon information and belief, Defendants’ false and defamatory Accusations uttered and made and published online and on social media are disparaging and have produced damage to Plaintiff and to Plaintiff's name, character, and reputation.
  • 50. Upon information and belief, the false and defamatory Accusations expose Plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, cause him to be shunned or avoided, and/or tend to injure him in his occupation. ...

Arcot has not responded publicly to Mattern's lawsuit to date, though Fei responded with another X/Twitter post, writing, "What kind of cheater culture is this? Cheaters all sue victims after fail to life threaten me?"

Mattern also accused Fei and Arcot of launching the cheating allegations as a way to avoid paying off their own alleged heavy losses during the private high-stakes games. Mattern also made note of an apparent admission by Fei that Fei had at one time attempted to operate a "bot" on online poker sites, which would amount to a different form of cheating, though it would be irrelevant to this case and was more of an attack on Fei's character.

Defamation cases involving cheating at poker have a limited but poor track record. The most famous of such cases was the $330 million defamation case brought by alleged cheater Mike Postle against Veronica Brill, Todd Witteles, and ten other individual or corporate defendants. Postle's action was dismissed after his original attorney dropped him as a client and Postle was unable to find replacement counsel. Brill and Witteles were both awarded a judgment against Postle for their legal expenses in battling Postle's claims.