Rob Mercer Stage 4 Cancer GoFundMe to Play in WSOP a Fraud?

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:

Shocking accusations were leveled against poker pro Rob Mercer this week after he claimed to be suffering with Stage 4 cancer and set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds in order to participate in this year's World Series of Poker Main Event.  Fellow pro Todd Witteles now claims it was all one giant fraud.


"I suspected as such, but I couldn't say anything because I already used up my 2023 poker cancer callout quota early in the year," Witteles tweeted this week.

Mercer's WSOP plea was as follows:

"Hey Everyone, my name is Rob, I am a 37 year old semi professional Poker Player with Terminal Cancer, I found myself going back and forth wondering if I was ever going to do this because my pride means a lot to me and I never like asking people for help, But my dream has always been to play the World Series of Poker Main Event, Ive never really had the sustainable bankroll to outright buy into the Event and I was conflicted on whether I would ever play it in my lifetime, but in August of last year I was diagnosed with Terminal Cancer and I was told that my timetable wasn't very promising, anywhere from 6 months to 18 months depending on how rapidly it progresses, Ive been fighting hard for months now and my body is definitely doing its best but I can feel the sickness draining on me physically and mentally.

"I spend most days in bed now, I recently took a 1 week trip to Vegas with my dad for the beginning of the WSOP and I played a couple events and managed 3 cashes but nothing major, but it did give me a shot of life back into me and I felt like me again even for just a few hours here and there, and I definitely realized when I got home that if I didn't atleast try to find a way to play the Main once before I die, it will haunt me even in death, so now Im here, asking for help from the Poker Community as well as just the General Public to help me fulfill my wish, the Main starts on July 5th I believe and Im hoping that we can raise the money to make this happen, and if it doesn't, well atleast I know that I didn't give up my dream and I did everything i possibly could to get there.

"Whatever anyone donates will be a blessing and appreciated whole heartedly and you're really helping prolong my life just by my shear joy that poker brings me and keeps me motivated and driven to keep living and fighting, thank you all and god bless.

"I forgot to add a breakdown of where the funds will go, the entry fee for the Main event is $10,000, and the extra $2000 is to cover travel expenses, lodging, Food, miscellaneous expenses, this is a far fetched ask of people I don't know and I know I need to be realistic about expectations and at this point I have zero expectations of this happening, if it does it will be a blessing, if not, I understand and I am good with it, thank you all for your time to read a part of my story in this chapter of life."

Witteles on Sunday issued the following statement:

"Can anyone in poker with a terminal cancer gofumdme who actually has terminal cancer please stand up... please stand up?

"In February, a mid-30s dude named Rob Mercer showed up on Twitter during the Jami Lafay Gofundme controversy, and was highly critical of her.

"Mercer claimed that, unlike Jami, his cancer was terminal, and yet wasn't asking for anything. He said he had six months to live, and claimed to be speaking out because it disgusted him to see her exploiting her seemingly manageable illness for gambling money.

"Mercer was very clear that he didn't want anything. Several people offered to put him into events in Northern California, where he lived, and he kept "politely declining" such offers. He reiterated that he didn't want anything from anyone, and was simply speaking out in opposition to Jami's behavior.

"He provided no proof of this terminal cancer. Not being known to anyone in poker, he could have been making it up. However, he seemed to not be after anything. Here the guy was turning down stakes, despite being a low limit player.

"Eventually the Lafay thing died down, and I stopped paying attention to Rob Mercer.

"However, on June 17th, something changed, and I became a bit suspicious. Mercer started a Gofundme, asking for money to play the WSOP Main Event."

That change was Mercer's GoFundMe account.

"He raised over $12,000, and Nick Vertucci facilitated a lot of it by both encouraging people to donate, and promising to cover any shortfall, after talking to Rob on Twitter Spaces.

"Rob didn't make it through Main Event Day 1, and apologized to his backers for letting them down. At one point, Mike Matusow did not understand that Mercer was a (supposed) terminal cancer patient, and criticized some of Rob's update tweets. When the community jumped on Matusow, Mike laughably said he would 'pray for your recovery' to Mercer, somehow missing the part that the cancer was terminal! This earned Matusow additional scorn from some. However, this was just Mike being careless with words, and he really didn't deserve all the shit he got.

"Despite my initial warm feelings about Mercer, his begging in June made me feel uncomfortable. The whole reason I gave him respect in February/March was because he repeatedly stated that he did not want anything, and turned down people's offers of charity. A few months later, suddenly he wants to play the Main Event on other people's dime -- all without ever providing proof of illness.

"I clearly was not going to donate to Mercer's fund, nor promote it in any way. That's why you didn't see me tweeting, posting, or speaking on radio about it. However, at the same time, I had learned my lesson about questioning people's cancer Gofundme. Jami's cancer wasn't even terminal (she admits to have been dealing with it for 20 years), and her Gofundme was riddled with various contradictions and inconsistencies. In addition, she had an existing questionable reputation and lots of prior drama surrounding her. When I attempted to point out the issues with her Gofundme, many people viciously attacked me, and accused me of being a cold, heartless asshole who was attacking a poor cancer patient who just needed money to live. No matter what I said, some people simply could not be convinced, and viciously attacked me over it.

"I was done questioning cancer Gofundme campaigns. The whole thing was incredibly draining.

"I made the decision to simply steer clear of the Mercer matter. Besides, unlike Lafay who self-promoted, Mercer's cause was taken up by Nick Vertucci and others who were advocating for him. Surely one of them had done some due diligence, right?

"Well, now it turns out Mercer was possibly lying about the whole thing, and he has exited stage left from social media."

Whittles points to an advocate of Mercer's, Doug "Snoopdoug" Parscal, became suspicious and asked Mercer to provide proof of his terminal cancer diagnosis.  Mercer could not.  Mercer's doctor was apparently a general practitioner, not an oncologist.  Furthermore the pro immediately became evasive. 

That's when Snoopdoug stepped forward with this conclusion:

Mercer has finally responded to the allegations.

Mercer claimed to have lost his medical insurance and was assigned a general practitioner.  He once again insists he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July of last year and says he no longer has the energy to participate on social media or play poker any more.

Snoopdoug concluded:

"While there is definitely no hard proof that Mercer was faking the cancer, this is all HIGHLY suspicious. Given how much money he received, and given how involved he was in the Poker Twitter community, why would he run away when asked to provide simple proof of his terminal diagnosis? Clearly that should be easy to come up with at this point. Even if for some reason it would take a few days to get the paperwork, why would he leave Twitter? Why not tell everyone he has requested the paperwork and will prove everything later in the week?

"It is also possible that Mercer has or had colon cancer, but it was not Stage 4. I have a buddy in Vegas who had Stage 1 colon cancer at age 44. It was discovered during a routine physical. They treated it, and he's now 52 and cancer free. It is possible that Mercer got a diagnosis like that, originally spoke out against Lafay because he was jealous that she was getting donations and he wasn't, and he embellished his own condition. Perhaps at that time there was no financial motivation, but he was later too tempted by a potential free Main Event seat, and decided to go for the gold.

"It's also possible that the whole thing is made up. It's also possible, albeit unlikely at this point, that he really does have terminal cancer, but is afraid to face scrutiny for whatever reason.

"So this isn't 100%, but it definitely ain't looking good."

According to the National Institute of Health, treatment of stage IV colon cancer is mostly palliative and its median survival is reported to be approximately 9 months with best supportive care. With 5-FU/LV, median survival improved to 12 months, and with combination 5-FU/LV plus irinotecan or oxaliplatin it is reported to be between 14 and 19 months.

Mission146 on TwoPlusTwo suggested: "It's honestly quite simple: if he dies of cancer inside of three months, then we will owe him an apology."

He might be right.

- Ace King,


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