Bryn Kenney Addresses Cheating Allegations w/ Joey Ingram; Lots of Talk but Any Real Answers?
Table Of Contents
On Tuesday, September 6 at 1 p.m. PT, Joey Ingram welcomed Bryn Kenney to his Poker Life Podcast. It was only the second time – following an interview Sarah Herring of PokerNews back in April – that Kenney publicly addressed cheating allegations leveled at him earlier this year.
The interview was highly-anticipated by the poker community hoping Ingram would ask harder questions and hopefully receive answers to unanswered questions. So, did those answers come?
The Shaman and the Frog Poison
The interview started off slow with Ingram asking how Kenney has been dealing with the allegations. Essentially, Kenney’s perspective is there are positives to be taken from the negative situation.
“It’s helped me to grow and maybe see some blind spots I might not have necessarily been seeing,” he said.
Ingram then referenced Herring’s PokerNews interview with Kenney in which Kenney denied the accusations made by Martin Zamani.
The first topic was the “shaman and frog poison” story that captivated many outside observers. Kenney, who admitted to doing the process himself, reiterated that he did recommend the practice to Zamani as a way to “check his energy,” but that it wasn’t a requirement for backing.
Kenney was also quick to claim that he’s staked hundreds of players that he never placed any requirements upon, and it’s more of a “case-by-case” situation. In the case of Zamani, Kenney believed his recommendations of yoga, healthy eating, etc. were a way to help manifest better poker results, and that he may have taken them as requirements as opposed to recommendations.
Kenney’s Role w/ GGPoker
Ingram then shifted the interview to GGPoker and Kenney’s role as both an ambassador and agent.
Kenney said he first met GGPoker officials in March 2017 with the hope of setting up his own skin on the network. Upon learning that having a skin would require license, regulation, etc., Kenney left the meeting no longer with the same goal, and that the officials later approached him about being “the face of the site.”
“I’ve never been banned on GGPoker ever. I’ve never had my account frozen or suspended."
He claimed to have pushed GGPoker to develop a desktop client and to offer larger tournament series, which he helped design in November of that year. From there, he helped recruit players for GGPoker’s high-stakes games in an agent-affiliate deal, which meant he helped facilitate money transfers, buy/sell transactions, and staked people to help start games.
“I was effectively their poker room manager,” Kenney claimed.
Ingram then referenced a claim by Justin Bonomo that Kenney vouched for the games he helped start.
“I vouched for the money they had on the site,” Kenney said while denying he ever vouched for the game’s security.
He later added: “I’ve never been banned on GGPoker ever. I’ve never had my account frozen or suspended."
Text Messages and Lauren Roberts
Kenney also claimed that: “There was never any instance where I told people to collude or soft play at any point,”
At that point, Ingram then pulled up PokerNews’ article highlighting screenshots of conversations from 2018 where Kenney corresponded with Zamani and George Wolff in which it appeared he was aware of ghosting.
Kenney tried to deflect by stating that certain circumstances might require a player to either have or change multiple accounts, but that it didn’t constitute traditional multi-accounting. In addition, he once again reiterated that he never pushed his players to collude, soft-play, or ghost each other deep in tournaments, despite text exchanges strongly suggesting otherwise.
Kenney’s fallback seemed to be referencing that he’s backed hundreds of players who would vouch for him. In one instance, Ingram seized the opportunity to call out that there have been more than one of those players who’ve said others, specifically Zamani but later backed up by Lauren Roberts.
Ingram then asked about how Roberts entered the mix. Kenney said they met at a poker table and she invited him to stay at her place during his next trip to Vegas. In the summer of 2018, Kenney took her up on the offer and a friendship ensued.
“My intention was never to take advantage of her or anybody else,” Kenney claimed.
Ingram then brought up the accusation that Kenney had groomed Roberts as a whale and had others target her.
“It just didn’t happen like that,” Kenney said. “I gave her lots of credits to play lots of games. She owed me over $2 million … At no point did I have any action of hers in any tournament … I was never staking her.”
Kenney refuted that he ever took advantage of swindled Roberts, and pushed back against the idea that she or anyone have footed the bill – “Nobody ever bankrolled my life,” he said. “I’ve paid my own way.”
Starting New Online Poker Site
At the end of July, word broke that Kenney was set to launch an online poker site called 4Poker in which he serves as an investor and ambassador. Understandably, reaction to that news did not sit well with many in the community.
Ingram asked Kenney why he would start a new online poker site and why he would think players would trust him enough to come play.
“My intention with this site from the beginning was to build something that was great for the community,” Kenney said.
He referenced others involved in the venture, including former PokerStars executives, and didn’t seem to indicate that he thought the cheating allegations would have an effect on the new business.
“My goal is to offer people a place they feel safe to play on and to grow the game,” Kenney said.
Does He Owe Zamani Money?
During the interview, Zamani took to Twitter claiming he was owed money for players he signed up to GGPoker. Kenney claimed that GGPoker closed Zamani’s agency and that he had nothing to do with it.
Bryn claims I owe him $, he’s supposed to be giving me my rake for all 100+ players I signed up and hasn’t. Why wou… https://t.co/ru5rrOR6pJ— Martin Zamani (@martin_zamani)
Odds and Ends
Throughout the two-hour-long interview, topics bounced around a good deal due in no small part to Ingram asking various questions from the chat.
Here are some other tidbits revealed during the course of the interview:
- Kenney says he has never been banned from Triton Poker tournaments and is welcome to play in their events.
- Kenney denied any sort of collusion regarding satellites on GGPoker.
- Kenney used to stake Jason Koon, who is part of the new Poker Integrity Council and a GGPoker Ambassador. Kenney attempted to cite Koon as a character witness
- Kenney’s intention moving forward is to help grow the game of poker.
- It was Kenney’s opinion, not a guarantee, that there would be a 100X return on investment for his new online poker site, like he offered to Lauren Roberts.
- Kenney is not a fan of Taco Bell.
Reaction to the Interview
Despite Ingram asking pointed questions (he did fail to follow up on viewers' request to ask about Team Viewer) in a largely unstructured discussion, the answers – and oftentimes deflections – he received did not seem to pacify viewers.
“This guy won’t admit anything,” said one commenter.
Another wrote: “Bryn is deflecting and hiding.”
Yet another viewer shared: “Bryn ain’t stupid, he knows he won’t be made accountable and there’s scant evidence,”
Viewers also pushed for Ingram to add Zamani, who was in the chat, to the show. Ingram declined but offered to host a forum between Zamani and Kenney.
“I don’t see any point,” Kenney said. “The guy has clearly lied about many things.”
The chat reacted sharply with lots of “coward” posts before the show ended shortly thereafter, at which point one viewer stated: “Never heard someone speak so much without saying anything.”
For more on the situation check out the interview PokerNews did with Kenney back in April:
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.