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Poker player lied about having colon cancer to raise money for world series: report

Evan Rosen, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

His bluff was called.

An amateur poker player lied about having terminal colon cancer so that he could raise enough money to partake in the World Series of Poker Main Event, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Rob Mercer of Vallejo, Calif., admitted Tuesday to the outrageous falsehood.

“I did lie about having colon cancer. I don’t have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation,” he told the Review-Journal. “What I did was wrong. I shouldn’t have told people I have colon cancer. I did that just as a spur-of-the-moment thing when someone asked me what kind of cancer I had.”

Questions about Mercer’s diagnosis, which drew widespread attention in the poker world, surfaced last month, according to the publication.

He apologized for creating a GoFundMe to raise funds off his phony diagnosis in June, seeking to rake in $10,000 so he could play in the No-limit Hold’em World Championship.

Before news of his scheme broke, he reportedly received more than that — between $30,000 and $50,000 in donations, including a suite at Bellagio, and did participated in the event.

Mercer now claims that he has a different form of cancer — undiagnosed breast cancer — and says he has no plans to repay the money raised from the GoFundMe.


He said he spends about 18 hours per day in bed and has quit playing poker due to his declining health.

Leading up to the World Series event, Mercer received support from many big names in poker, including Nick Vertucci, the creator of the poker stream “Hustler Casino Live.”

Vertucci said he began to notice red flags about Mercer even before his elimination just a few hours into the tournament.

He recalled Mercer appearing ungrateful for the Bellagio suite, as well as witnessing him in the casino pit and confronting him about possibly using the money he raised to gamble. Vertucci said Mercer then became defensive.

“Deep inside, I just thought, ‘I don’t like this kid,’” Vertucci said on his YouTube show.

“He’s still a human being and you need to care about every person on the planet regardless of what a big piece of cheese they could be,” Vertucci added.

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