A poker player conned $10,000 out of well-wishers by claiming he had terminal cancer to raise cash for the buy-in to the main event of the World Series of Poker.
Rob Mercer admitted that he lied about having Stage 4 Colon cancer. The 37-year-old amateur poker player from Vallejo, California, raised more than $30,000 via a GoFundMe campaign, more than double his initial goal of $12,000 to help pay for medical expenses. However, he admitted to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) on Wednesday that he never had the disease.
Poker Player Lies About Cancer
“I did lie about having colon cancer, “Mercer told the Journal. “I don't have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation.
“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. I'm sorry for not being honest about what my situation was. If I would have done that from Day 1, who knows what would have happened.”
Mercer gained the attention of the poker community in February when he claimed on Twitter (X), in a now-deleted post, that he had “six months to a year left” before claiming he had “cancer” and it was “actually terminal.”
The Con Catches Fire
Mercer's post caught the eye of poker influencer Doug Parscal Jr., also known as Snoop Doug, who was one of several poker players that helped raise awareness of Mercer's plight when he believed it was legitimate, contacting others in the community like Nick Vertuccis who runs Hustler Casino Live, a popular high-stakes poker stream. Who said in June that he would cover the rest of Mercer's GofindMe if he didn't hit his $12,000 target.
Fellow poker player Cody Daniels, whom the LVRJ reports is chronically ill, was also staked into the main event with help from the community, befriended Mercer, and eventually donated $2,500 to his fundraiser, responded to the revelation of Mercer's deception on social media on Wednesday, tweeting: “Well I learned a $2500 lesson, sadly, my kindness was taken for weakness once again. It's Just a shame. That's all I can say. Hopefully, GoFundMe peeps get their money back. Just sad, sad, sad.”
Mercer was eliminated on the first day of the WSOP main event and stayed at a donated suite at the Bellagio, according to the LVRJ.
Mercer Refuses To Give WSOP Cash Back
Mercer told the LVRJ that he had no intention of returning the cash because he has undiagnosed breast cancer, stating that he initially said he had colon cancer because he was embarrassed to be a man with breast cancer — which he has also not been diagnosed with.
Mercer decided to confess after many of his supporters became skeptical of his story after meeting him in Vegas and observing his behavior at WSOP.
Pascal told the LVRJ he decided to “do some research” after receiving calls from other donors concerned about the validity of Mercer's claims.
“That's when I saw the quote-unquote proof, and I immediately got sick,” Pascal said.
In August, Pascal confronted Mercer online and asked him for proof of his cancer diagnosis. Mercer responded by deleting his social media accounts.
Mercer told the LVRJ: “I was just trying to keep up with my story. I didn't want to get exposed because it looks bad. It does look bad. I lied. I'm not going to deny that. I lied. I should have just been transparent and comfortable with what is going on with me and tell people what was happening.”
“They're making me out to be some kind of monster, like this vindictive villain who planned this months in advance. It's just crazy. But I understand. I get it.”