Florida Poker Pro Arrested For $25 Million Sports Betting Scam

Written By Steve Schult on May 26, 2022 - Last Updated on May 27, 2022
Cory Zeidman

A Florida poker pro allegedly ran a sports betting scam that stole more than $25 million from bettors.

Cory Zeidman, a Boca Raton resident, was indicted on Wednesday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The federal government is charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

The 61-year-old operated the sports betting scheme from both Long Island and Florida. He was arrested Wednesday morning in Florida and will make his first court appearance at a federal courthouse in Miami.

Zeidman charged clients for “inside information”

According to the Department of Justice, Zeidman led an operation that charged bettors for sports betting advice.

Zeidman and his co-conspirators used national radio advertisements to get sports bettors to contact their group. When those bettors reached out, they were told that the group had information about fixed games.

They claimed they got the information from sources close to the teams or events. They said those sources were team physicians or television executives.

Zeidman’s group charged hefty sums for access to the “information.” The information he disseminated was either completely fabricated or found from a cursory internet search. Since his clients thought they were guaranteed to win, Zeidman framed it as investing and not gambling.

The DOJ states that the group ran the scam over a 16-year period from 2004 to 2020. Over that timeframe, they defrauded their victims out of more than $25 million.

Victims didn’t know who they were really talking to

Zeidman used several different aliases for both the business and himself. The organization used several different names including Gordon Howard Global, Ray Palmer Group and Grant Sports International.

Some of his personal aliases included Richard Barnes, Walter Barr, Mr. Carlyle, Rick Cash, Joel Orenstein and Steve Nash.

The scheme funded Zeidman’s lavish lifestyle

The DOJ alleges that Zeidman convinced his victims to invest large amounts of their savings and retirement accounts in his business.

As United States Attorney Breon Peace said:

“As alleged, Zeidman defrauded his victims, stole their life savings and persuaded them to drain their retirement accounts to invest in his bogus sports betting group, all so he could spend it on international vacations, a multi-million dollar residence and poker tournaments. Today’s indictment serves as a reminder to all of us to be wary of so-called investment opportunities that purport to have inside information as they are really a gamble not worth taking.”

The DOJ is still looking for victims of Zeidman’s scam. Homeland Security Investigation is asking anyone who believes they lost money to the scam to contact them at 1-866-347-2423.

For years, Zeidman claimed to be a poker pro

Anyone involved in the high-stakes poker world likely heard of Zeidman. During the early days of the poker boom, he became a familiar face to poker fans after playing a memorable pot against Jennifer Harman in the 2005 World Series of Poker main event.

Sports betting scam seems to have jumpstarted poker career

He was touted as a successful professional poker player that took part in both high-stakes tournaments and cash games. But a deeper look at his tournament resume shows that his poker career took off right around the same time as his sports betting scheme.

Zeidman finished eighth in a $1,500 seven-card stud event at the 1997 World Series of Poker for $8,481. It was his first recorded cash.

He then cashed at a $540 buy-in tournament in Mississippi in 2000 for $675 and finished 39th in the 2003 WSOP main event for $25,000.

It could just be a coincidence. But right around the time that the feds allege Zeidman began this scam, his poker results picked up.

Starting in 2004, Zeidman began cashing tournaments much more frequently than before. Over the course of his poker career, he cashed for a total of $691,141, which includes a WSOP bracelet victory in the 2012 $1,500 seven-card stud hi-lo event for $201,559.

Zeidman’s top tournament scores

Year Buy-InEvent FinishCash
2012$1,500World Series of Poker Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 1st$201,559
2009$10,000Wynn Classic No-Limit Hold'em Main Event 3rd$131,144
2012$2,000Wynn Classic No-Limit Hold'em2nd $58,055
2004$5,000World Series of Poker Seven-Card Stud Championship5th$44,000
2011$1,500 World Series of Poker Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo6th$30,228

The scheme doesn’t reflect on his poker ability or take away from any of his victories on the felt. However, it would allow him to endure downswings and continue buying into tournaments without financial pressure.

It’s also important to note that live tournament resumes are simply an aggregate of a player’s lifetime cashes. It’s possible that Zeidman was a losing player over the course of two decades. And his victims essentially fronted his tournament buy-ins.

Photo by WSOP.com / Joe Giron
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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