Eli Elezra Responds to Cole South and Abe Mosseri Debt Allegations
Frank Op de Woerd
Table Of Contents
- The Timeline
- Thread 1: "ask me anything -eli elezra"
- Elezra States He Doesn’t Play Staked
- Elezra Claims He Always Pays His Debts
- Cole South Accuses Elezra of Not Paying Back $40,000
- Elezra Says He and South Have a Different Understanding
- Thread 2: "New Elezra Book Thread"
- Abe Mosseri’s Name Surfaces
- Thread 3: "A STATEMENT FROM ELI ELEZRA"
- Elezra Claims He Owes Fewer Than Five Players, All To Be OK With Arrangements
- Cole South Replies
- Abe Mosseri Enters Thread; Claims Elezra Threatens His Family and Owes Him $853K
- Eli Elezra Reacts
Eli Elezra, a fixture on the first six seasons of the popular High Stakes Poker TV show and winner of three WSOP bracelets, has found himself in hot water. After the release of his biography, he found public accusers in Cole South and Abe Mosseri who claim that he has big outstanding debts. The latter added that Elezra has threatened his family in an attempt not to be outed, an allegation Elezra has staunchly denied.
The interactions between Elezra, South, and Mosseri took place on poker forum TwoPlusTwo, across different threads. Below is a timeline of what happened, corroborated by links to all the mentioned posts. Elezra reacts to the allegations and casts doubts over the identity of Abe Mosseri’s TwoPlusTwo account, and alleges that the account belongs not to Abe Mosseri but to his girlfriend.
Thread 1: "ask me anything -eli elezra" (Jan. 17)
On Jan. 17, Eli Elezra opened a thread on poker forum TwoPlusTwo titled ‘ask me anything -eli elezra’ opening with ‘To help promote my autobiography Pulling the Trigger, I’m here to answer any questions that anyone may have. So ask away.’
Elezra States He Doesn’t Play Staked
After some questions about the biggest hand he ever played, his opinion about Stu Ungar and Daniel Negreanu, and his favorite game, forum user ‘Cinque’ asked how he originally got the money to play in the big game. Elezra answered:
|01-18-2019, 09:11 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|Hello Two Plus Two:
I had a number of businesses operating in the Las Vegas Strip. I started at $10/$20 and moved up in stakes more quickly than I should have.
I always have 100% of myself
Elezra Claims He Always Pays His Debts
A day later, forum user ‘gostatego’ inquired about his standings with Shaun Deeb, in reference to the thread ‘Article on Eli Elezra’s mansion and apparently, he owes Shaun Deeb and a ton of other people.’ from 2015. Elezra replied:
|01-20-2019, 01:39 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|Shaun and I are on good terms. If you saw us together in the Bahamas playing and chatting, you would understand.
Poker players are always lending each other money. I always pay my debts.
After some more questions and answers – Elezra prefers beef over chicken and once won 20 consecutive sessions – Elezra reiterated he always pays his debts.
Cole South Accuses Elezra of Not Paying Back $40,000
An hour and a half later, Cole South, posting on the forum as "CTS," replied to Elezra’s claim of always paying his debt. South, one of the original online wunderkinds who played the highest stakes of online poker before leaving poker behind some years ago, posted the following:
|01-20-2019, 03:27 AM|
Join Date: Dec 2005
I really don’t like to get involved in public drama, but I can’t stay on the sidelines when I see something like this.
Eli borrowed $100k from me during a cash game in Bobby’s Room on July 15th 2010, toward the end of a long summer where we played a ton against each other and generally got along very well. At the end of the session, one of the most seasoned high stakes Vegas regs pulled me aside and warned me what I did wasn’t a good idea, and not to do it again.
We didn’t cross paths my final few days in Vegas that summer. Over the course of the next year, he was responsive and widdled down the debt from $100k to $40k (a few grand at a time, via Full Tilt transfer), which he still owes me. By summer 2011, he had stopped making payments but was still responsive with plenty of reasons why he couldn’t.
Since then, he’s been basically nonresponsive. I’ve sent him messages every now and then when he’s hit a big tournament score and he’s ignored them. The only time I got a response was when we were both in Vegas playing the same tournament, and he asked me not to make a public scene about it. I still have screen shots of texts and other evidence, but would like to give him a chance to respond before sharing more.
After South’s comment, the thread exploded but Elezra was only seen lurking in the thread, not replying. Mason Malmuth and Mat Sklansky chimed in with comments, followed by numerous comments by users digging into Elezra’s story.
Elezra Says He and South Have a Different Understanding
On Jan. 21, Elezra replied:
|01-21-2019, 08:39 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|Thank you Mason for your replies. I appreciate it.
What happened with Cole and I goes back to the Full Tilt days. He has a very different understanding than I do of what we agreed on back then. It was a private conversation and it is not something I will address here, or on any public forum. This is the last time I will be addressing this issue on this thread. Cole, you are welcome to contact me and we can discuss how to resolve our differences.
I’m happy to stay on the thread a little longer and keep answering any genuine questions people have about me, my life, the book, etc.
That’s all for now.
Elezra continued to answer some questions in the thread, but most users weren’t having it and asked him to more seriously address the allegations. Some hours later, South came back to the thread with further details and evidence of his claims. He posted a screenshot of him reaching out to Elezra.
After numerous responses from the TwoPlusTwo community, including several at the time uncorroborated allegations of Elezra owing more money to other players as well, the thread was deleted on Jan. 23.
Thread 2: "New Elezra Book Thread" (Jan. 23)
Right after the closure of the initial thread, Mason Malmuth opened a new thread in the same "News, Views, and Gossip" forum called "New Elezra Book Thread." Malmuth stated he was asked by Elezra to close the thread and did so in accordance with the forum rules.
After outrage over the deleting, the original thread was later brought back by the admins of TwoPlusTwo but remained locked with the discussion continuing in the new thread.
Forum user "Privatetime," by many believed to be by the same person as the banned "Privateworld" — an account that posted rumors and gossip about the high stakes poker world in Las Vegas with some being confirmed while others remained uncorroborated — posted more stories and background (example 1 and 2.) User "Cashgameplayer" again added to the thread with more unverified inside information.
Abe Mosseri’s Name Surfaces
On Jan. 27, forum user "AbeMosseri" entered the thread — claiming to be high stakes player Abe Mosseri — stating he was owed over $800,000 by Elezra.
Twenty-seven minutes later, forum administrator Mason Malmuth clarified that he had confirmed that the user was not Abe Mosseri, but an imposter.
While user "Cashgameplayer" and Mat Sklansky were getting into an argument in the thread, it was announced by the TwoPlusTwo owners that Elezra would come with a statement within two days. Meanwhile, forum user "Dr. Rob G Thompson" wrote a lengthy post about being scammed by Elezra back in 2010, but other forum users shot holes in that story right away.
Thread 3: "A STATEMENT FROM ELI ELEZRA" (Jan. 30)
On Jan. 30th, a new thread was opened called "A STATEMENT FROM ELI ELEZRA" and the older one was closed.
Elezra wrote that the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 took a hard toll on his business:
|01-29-2019, 08:06 PM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to respond to what has happened over this past week and a half, and what the tone of my response should be. Thank you all – especially Mason – for your patience, as I’ve put a lot of time and thought into the following statement:
Poker players – including lots of high stakes players – borrow/lend money from each other all the time. They always have and they always will. The deals and arrangements they make in this regard have always been private and I believe they will always remain private. It’s nobody else’s business anyhow.
Why would I borrow money? When the global financial crisis hit many years ago, it really took a hard toll on my business. I lost a lot of my personal wealth. But I still wanted to play in high stakes games. The “right” thing to do would be to drop down in stakes, but I didn’t want to, so I borrowed to keep playing in the same games. I don’t play for super high stakes anymore. I get plenty of buzz and enjoyment playing for lower stakes.
When a poker player decides to lend another poker player money, they do so with the inherent risk that it might not be paid back. […]
Elezra Claims He Owes Fewer Than Five Players, All To Be OK With Arrangements
In the same opening post, Elezra said:
|[…] I never hide from my debts. To the best of my knowledge, every person to whom I have had an outstanding debt (I can count them on one hand) has been OK with the arrangements I have made with them to pay back. For the record, this includes Shaun Deeb, to whom I still owe some money and with whom I am on great, friendly terms. […]|
|[…] For whatever reason, Cole South felt the need to make a public post about a private arrangement, and I already made it clear in my original response that he has a misunderstanding of the facts. He could have contacted me privately or even by private message here on 2+2 if he wanted to. I don’t ignore text messages and haven’t seen him or gotten a message from him in years. I haven’t been hiding anywhere and it’s not hard for anyone who wants to get in touch to find me. […]|
Cole South Replies
Cole South, still posting under the user name "CTS," was quick to reply. He added a screenshot of getting ghosted by Elezra.
Elezra replied not much later, stating he had left South a voicemail message. South replied the two had talked and cleared the air. While South said he had not been paid (part of) the $40,000 yet, he was confident it would be resolved.
Abe Mosseri Enters Thread; Claims Elezra Threatens His Family and Owes Him $853K
A couple of hours later, a new user with the name "AbeandLeesa" showed up in the thread and posted the following:
|01-30-2019, 05:03 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|We will be posting a statement about Eli Elezra as soon as I hear back from my lawyers. The statement he made is sham as I know it.
The content will not only be my story but will include threatening and alot of texts and etc he has made in the past few years about the sensational substantial amount of money he owes me and possibly about many others.
He has given me no choice to do this and has taken to far
Half an hour later, forum administrator Mat Sklansky confirmed that this user is the real Abe Mosseri, the famed high stakes player with over $4 million in online winnings, $2.2 million in live tournament winnings, and two WSOP bracelets.
PokerNews reached out to a high stakes poker player who knows Abe Mosseri and asked him for Mosseri’s details to confirm it was him replying. The player relayed the message that Mosseri didn’t want to comment to PokerNews. Asked if he could confirm it was Abe Mosseri replying, he replied with a simple ‘Yeah. It’s him.’
In a subsequent post, Mosseri elaborated a bit more:
|01-30-2019, 08:55 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|No person has ever staked me in my lifetime and I did not out Eli in 9 years. I have no social media and had no idea Eli had a book or Ame until days ago when I was called by a high ranking casino side of the business. I was shocked and suprised my name was used . He asked me to speak with DS and I have many times in the past few days. I got to tell you I was on the fence about it and not slept well. I decided today to speak out after Eli sent me texts of threats about my family most likely scared I was going to out him. If he had not had made such a stupid and actually a illegal decision to do that you would of never heard from me. Im not sure yet what I can say at this point. I can say this disappointed that Eli pushed me to this point when it could have been really simple. I really do not think Eli is so insane yet to come on here and call me a liar but so be it. Figure is 853k. A loan not a gambling debt.|
Mosseri later stated that the loan was initially for over 1 million and that Elezra paid back a bit for the first three months, nine years ago.
Mosseri, who claimed he had no previous experience with TwoPlusTwo, remained an active poster in the thread, answering questions from users.
In one of his messages, he explained why he had come forward:
|01-30-2019, 11:26 AM|
Join Date: Jan 2019
|Please remember I did not. out Eli and never looked at tis website.
Im not wanting anyone to feel sorry for me and Im not playing broke. Eli said to many times I have enough money. I have to maintain a lifestyle also I just dont do it with other peoples money. It was over a million at the time
He paid alittle the first 3 months 9 years ago with a discount. I do need the money and had to pay taxes on the loan on top. For his lifestyle has not change. Im not asking for pity. I was in denial for years and realize Im out the money. Its the messages lying and saying my family is making threats on his children and he is going to the FBI to have me arrested is scary. It a out and out lie and for those who know me know that. Its a scare tactic and hechas called me all night saying he is going to the Fbi. I have not slept and my we are scared he is that nutz now.
My lawyer advised me not to post the texts so Im not.
Do not think this will get anyone to come out just the opposite. Im glad he boost about being in the poker room 5 days a week. Good for you Eli. For me it hurt my gamecin Bobby room and not in there for a year. I can’ be around him and look him in the eye but he has no trouble
Looking me in the eye or baiting my gf to. Go after him.. Again I know Im out the money. Eli, you can stop now. I will never ask for a payment. You got your wish. Well played Eli you got me.
Eli Elezra Reacts
In a phone call on January 31st, Elezra reached out to PokerNews to tell his side of the story – a side he hasn’t expressed in any of the threads on TwoPlusTwo yet.
Elezra recognizes the number of $853,000 that the ‘AbeandLeesa’ account speaks of, saying that he received it from Mosseri in a time where Elezra was with no doubt good for it with Full Tilt Poker sponsorship money coming in every month. Before anything, Elezra wants to make it clear he believes the forum account not to be handled by Mosseri himself, but by Mosseri’s girlfriend.
"Did I ever threaten people with the FBI? This is so ridiculous! I would never!"
Elezra received the money from Mosseri on Full Tilt Poker in a time that the latter was doing well, winning millions under his account "EazyPeazy," while Elezra himself wasn’t doing so well online. Via the player to player transfer option, Elezra received large sums of money with the stipulation that he would pay him back in the same manner, via Full Tilt Poker. A smaller part of the money owed, Elezra said, was borrowed in Bobby’s Room as well, but the majority of it was on Full Tilt Poker.
Elezra didn’t want to go into detail, but hinted there were reasons why Mosseri was happy to loan Elezra money: "I’m not going to make Abe dirty, but who in his right mind would give this kind of number to somebody? […] The $800,000 was given on one condition, on one condition only: I’m paying him monthly. I paid Abe monthly until Full Tilt went down; I think I paid him close to $40,000 a month."
While the payments from Elezra to Mosseri were continuing until Full Tilt Poker’s closure following the collapse after Black Friday, Elezra makes it clear that he had no more than $40,000 in his account by the time the site closed. The money loaned from Mosseri was lost to other players online, not stuck in limbo when the site was closed. "I played too much pot-limit [Omaha] with Ziigmund, Durrrr, and stuff. I lost probably the best part of the money he gave me, I lost it in 2011 and 2012."
Pressed what it was that made Mosseri loan Elezra the money, Elezra said: "If you go a little bit back to the 8, 9 years version, you’ll see what I did for Abe. I did something that, without me, Abe wouldn’t make this ten or more million dollars that he made online. I got Abe back online basically. So I think Abe thanked me by transferring me every time $100,000 $200,000 online during the time I wasn’t doing good."
Elezra was quick to add that doing something good for someone at one time, is no excuse to not repay later. But what puzzles him, Elezra said, is that he had a reasonable relationship with Mosseri for all those years, talking at least bi-monthly about their lives, but after Cole South came forward, all of the sudden Mosseri came online on the poker forum to out him.
"I got Abe back online basically. So I think Abe thanked me by transferring me every time $100,000 $200,000 online during the time I wasn’t doing good."
The sum of $853,000 mentioned by the ‘AbeandLeesa’ account wasn’t the only thing that shook the poker forum community. It was the allegation that Elezra had threatened Mosseri’s family and Mosseri himself. According to the account, Elezra said he was going to the FBI with information on Mosseri.
Elezra went out of his way to deny that claim. "Did I ever threaten people with the FBI? This is so ridiculous! I would never! […] Now they all come and say that I sent threats to Abe? Never ever in my life! […] The only thing I said to him in text was that people tried to threaten me and my family, so I’m going to save those things and if I have to, I’m going to go to the authorities with it."
According to Elezra, the person behind the ‘AbeandLeesa’ account is not Mosseri himself, but his girlfriend. Elezra alleges that the incoherent messages and lack of proper structure is not at all how Mosseri writes or speaks, but more the profile of his partner. "I’m willing to bet it’s not Abe. I’m laying ten to one it’s not Abe posting."
Elezra shined light on some background having to do with Mosseri’s girlfriend. According to Elezra, Mosseri’s girlfriend texted him some years ago stating that Mosseri had sold the debt to her father: "I have the text from his girlfriend, I saved a copy from 2011 or 2012, with her saying – and this is a quote – ‘Abe sold the debt to my father. My father is a mobster and it’s not going to be good for you, for your family, or for your kids. And if you don’t return the money, they’re going to come and find you, in Aria or Bellagio or wherever.’
"I’m willing to bet it’s not Abe. I’m laying ten to one it’s not Abe posting."
"I made a copy of those texts back then because if God forbid something would ever happen to me, I wanted my attorney to know, so I sent it to a couple of people. According to her, I’m dealing with the wrong people. […] I don’t think she got the full picture from her husband – or her boyfriend – about what exactly happened back then. Why did he ever give me the money? She wasn’t involved."
A story circulated that Elezra had been attacked in the Bellagio some years ago. Elezra admitted that it was Mosseri’s girlfriend who was the lady in question that hit him. With Mosseri playing $2,000/$4,000 on one table and Elezra playing $200/$400 on another in Bobby’s Room, Mosseri’s girlfriend came walking in:
"She held a glass of wine in one hand and with the other hand she hit me in my face […] Of course I’m not raising my hand on any girl, so I held myself. The dealer got up and held her and they immediately called security. Security came and they looked at the tape and immediately they asked him to leave the hotel and they 86’ed her for good from the Bellagio. There were six people in my game and four or five people in his game that saw it. Obviously, I didn’t do anything over there, I didn’t raise my hand or anything."
Asked why he agreed to the ‘Ask Me Anything’ thread in the first place, knowing very well there were people out there who could contradict some of his statements, Elezra said: "I did not see it coming obviously. I wouldn’t listen to Mason [Malmuth]. Mason was very clear when he came and said ‘Eli, part of the marketing would be an Ask me Anything. Are you ready for that’ So I said, ‘I’m ready for that.’"
Elezra said he felt confident venturing into the online world, as he had a clear arrangement with Shaun Deeb over money owed, and his daughter would help him with answering the questions since he himself wasn’t so tech savvy. But, after three different threads and hundreds of comments, Elezra isn’t planning on going back to the online forum anytime soon.
"You know, there’s so many dirty things over there; people think I owe a hundred people money; no, it’s not the case. People write so much stuff over there now… For me, it’s better that I don’t read it, so I don’t read it. I just don’t wanna upset myself. So I’m staying away from it yes. Everybody can still come and see me at Bellagio and Aria and I’ll be very happy to get up and answer questions or sign books or whatever, but I’m not gonna go on TwoPlusTwo because I don’t even have the talent of answering and doing certain stuff."
"Me and Cole South going to be fine […] he’s going to get his $40,000 by me making payments."
While the number of people he owes money to is not a hundred, it’s also not just three as there are others next to Shaun Deeb, Cole South, and Abe Mosseri, Elezra admitted. Elezra lost some money on the Open Face Chinese Poker App he hasn’t repaid yet. The app, at one time incredibly popular with (high stakes) poker players, turned out to be not as secure as previously thought, as detailed by Barry Greenstein in a post he wrote on the PokerStars Blog. Elezra has three or four outstanding debts over money lost on the app, he says, each being in the four-figure or low five-figure range.
While Elezra indicated he didn’t think it was really anyone’s business, he stated he’s now playing $80/$160 up to $200/$400 with several people taking pieces of him when he plays higher limits. A similar arrangement goes for the WSOP, he said.
In the thread, Cole South was the one to come out with his story first. According to South, he reached out multiple times over the years trying to get paid back the $40,000 he was owed. South attested that Elezra didn’t reply. Elezra said: "Cole South sent me one message right after I won my bracelet two or three years ago. That was the time that yes, somebody staked me and most of the money went to him, [It] didn’t go to me, so I didn’t even respond, that’s what I explained to him. Before that, he probably didn’t send me any text for like a couple of years."
"I know the people that will read the book will love it so much because it’s all from the bottom of my heart. I don’t keep any secret in there."
Asked what was going to happen with Cole South’s debt now, Elezra said: "Me and Cole South going to be fine, ya know, he’s going to get his $40,000 by me making payments."
The story about the doctor who flew back home and then back to Vegas to loan him money, Elezra just laughed, saying that never happened. Asked what he thinks will happen to the book now, Elezra said: "I’m not going to be rich from this book. I know the people that will read the book will love it so much because it’s all from the bottom of my heart. I don’t keep any secret in there; If I fucked up, I write it, ‘I fucked up’ ya know?"
If you want to read the book despite, or maybe because of, all that is written here, you can buy the book ‘Pulling the Trigger’ on Amazon.com. (The affiliate code linked to this url is TwoPlusTwo’s.)
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