Poker Player Bluffed Terminal Cancer to Get WSOP Buy-In

Posted on: September 21, 2023, 11:29h. 

Last updated on: September 23, 2023, 09:29h.

A Vallejo, California man has admitted that he lied about having terminal colon cancer to raise the $10K buy-in to the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Rob Mercer, WSOP, cancer
Rob Mercer, at the WSOP above, is a feel-good story turned sour as he admitted to lying about having a terminal condition Wednesday. (Image: LVRJ)

Poker player Rob Mercer, 37, made $12,500 from a GoFundMe page and is believed to have received an additional $18K from private donations. And in an extraordinary interview with The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday, Mercer says he isn’t going to give any of it back.

The Review-Journal contacted Mercer Wednesday because it originally ran a feel-good piece about his experiences at the WSOP. But since that piece was published in July, some of those who donated to the cause became suspicious and turned against Mercer.

“I did lie about having colon cancer. I don’t have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation,” Mercer told the newspaper. “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.”

‘Dying’ Wish

In his GoFundMe page, Mercer described himself as a semi-professional player who had never had the bankroll to buy into the Main Event outright and wondered if he would ever fulfill his dream.

I found myself going back and forth wondering if I was ever going to do this [fundraiser] because my pride means a lot to me and I never like asking people for help,” Mercer wrote on GoFundMe. “But my dream has always been to play the World Series of Poker Main Event.”

He claimed he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in August 2022 and had been given between six to 18 months to live, and suddenly, the need to fulfill his dream had become more pressing.

‘Vindictive Villain’

Mercer told the Review-Journal that he lied because he believes he has breast cancer, although he admitted this hasn’t been diagnosed. He claimed he had colon cancer because he believed this was the least “embarrassing” of the two conditions.

Mercer added there was no need to repay the money since it had been given to him because he was ill, which he claims he is.

Among those who donated was Cody Daniels, a poker player who actually does have a terminal illness.  

“They’re making me out to be some kind of monster, like this vindictive villain who planned this months in advance,” Mercer told the Review-Journal. “It’s just crazy. But I understand. I get it.”

Mercer was eliminated from the World Series Main Event within a few hours.