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Thread: Female chess YouTuber Qiyu "Nemo" Zhou wins $12k WPT package, runs contest to give it away -- and then rigs it for her boyfriend Alex "Thallo" Epstein

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    Female chess YouTuber Qiyu "Nemo" Zhou wins $12k WPT package, runs contest to give it away -- and then rigs it for her boyfriend Alex "Thallo" Epstein

    Sometimes people from outside the poker community simply don't understand how this community works. This is especially true if they're part of the YouTube space, where viewers tend to be both very young and very gullible.

    An example of this from the past was YouTuber "Catrific", who was accidentally given a ticket to the $1700 Main WSOP Circuit event, rather than the $400 which she registered. She said nothing about it, did well for awhile, and then was caught. Rather than sheepishly accepting the disqualification and quietly slinking away, she had the nerve to complain on Twitter about the floorman being "mean", which of course didn't go well for her.

    Now we have another young female YouTuber who has gotten herself in hot water, after being caught in an obvious deception.

    "Nemo" is a chess YouTuber from Canada. Her real name is Qiyu Zhou. She has about 90k followers there. Earlier this year, she played a chess match with YouTube megastar "Mr. Beast", but only used pawns because he was a chess novice:





    Nemo also is apparently dating "Thallo", whose real name is Alex Epstein. In 2019, Epstein won a bracelet in the tough (but small field) $10k Short Deck event:



    Nemo identifies Thallo/Epstein as her "friend and poker coach", but he is actually her boyfriend. Here's his Twitter: https://twitter.com/thallo_poker


    Nemo was one of several poker influencers who were given free mega satellite seats on WPT Global's platform. The prize was a $12,400 WPT package, but the influencers had to agree that they would do promotional giveaways for any seats they won. WPT Global is a real money online poker platform which is not legal in the US, but the influencers were able to play because their seats were free (paid for by WPT Global), so there was no actual gambling (risk) involved.

    Several influencers won multiple seats, because the fields were small and there were often big overlays, since WPT Global is fairly new. Amanda Botfeld, for example, won 8 seats, and lost heads up for a 9th.

    Nemo managed to win one of these $12.4k WPT packages. Initially she tried to ask WPT Global if she could gift it to her boyfriend Thallo, but she was told that she couldn't. There had to be some kind of public-facing contest or promotion for her to hand out the seat, and there had to be some kind of competition for it.

    Nemo decided that she would make the contest related to her popular YouTube channel, which has almost 90,000 subscribers. It involved finding a secret phrase embedded in her next YouTube video, and posting the comments.

    https://twitter.com/akaNemsko/status/1598054771331473408


    In what was a clearly staged exchange, Thallo claimed he was highly eager to find out when the video would be dropping, so he could attempt to win, but Nemo rebuffed his request for info, claiming she was delaying it to be "more fair":

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    The secret phrase in the video was something like, "My mom is so proud", and then the contestants would have to write something about her mom being proud in a creative fashion. Thallo would make the first 10 correct answers "finalists", and then would pick the most creative or best answer to be the winner of the seat.

    Well, a ton of people of course tried to win this. Here was Thallo's entry:

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    Well, shock upon shocks, guess who the winner was?

    https://twitter.com/akaNemsko/status/1598445676958187520


    Of course, everyone is outraged about this.

    "Cris Thomson" wrote in the YouTube comments:

    It's unbelievable how you rigged this giveaway, I did not expect you would ever do this... what was the point of the whole giveaway if the winner was known even before the start? just give it to your bf Thallo and don't try to farm views and comments

    Someone named "Hayley" pointed out that Thallo himself admitted to cheating, by posting a junk comment first in order to be in the first 10 commenters, and then editing in the correct phrase later!

    https://twitter.com/DColpoys23/status/1598505125429284866
    https://twitter.com/big_poser/status/1598528435185500162

    https://twitter.com/snapp_andrew/status/1598539732388282368



    Clearly she planned to give this seat to Thallo in the first place (who likely either bought it from her or will be giving her a piece of his action), but wanted the excitement, attention, and engagement of a public "contest" on her YouTube channel. Being from the YouTube world, full of gullible 12-year-olds, she probably thought that there wouldn't be much suspicion. She tried to pass off a rigged contest as an exciting giveaway, and now got caught and won't admit what she did.

    More baffling is Thallo's involvement in this. The guy is a known high stakes player and presumably has a lot of money, so why he'd throw away his (otherwise good) reputation over something like this is a real head scratcher. How could he have signed off on this boneheaded plan, where it would be obvious to so many that the fix was in?

    Even if she and Thallo weren't dating, picking the contest winner to be someone who is her "friend and poker coach" is obviously a terrible look. Thallo should have been disqualified from winning in the first place. Wasn't the point of this contest to give away the seat to a stranger who follows her YouTube channel?

    Embarrassing.

     
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      JeffDime: +1
      
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    I am sure many of these packages have been given away randomly and ethically. I am also sure a huge number were not. Watching these packages being given out like candy has been pretty fucking titling. God only knows how many of these were fixed, how many deals & swaps were made & how much time people spent joining “giveaways” where they were drawing completely dead. WPT Global should of put some strong terms & conditions that had to be followed. It’s been pretty tilting to see.

    Sometimes life is about who you know rather than what you know. Seems to be the case with these packages. Should of been handled 1000X better. This boyfriend winning blew the cover off this and I’m glad it did. Because I’ve been steamed up watching these “giveaways” for a while.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Thallo is engaging with a lot of people tonight on Twitter, attempting to cool everyone down.

    However, his story keeps changing, bouncing from essentially admitting it was rigged (because apparently WPT Global forbids direct giveaways?) to playing dumb and acting like he didn't realize this was unfair.

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    Shaun Deeb also caught that Thallo was attempting to sell a seat to this same event on November 27, and called it out. Thallo admitted that it was THIS seat he was trying to sell, meaning that the seat was already for sale before Thallo won it!

    https://twitter.com/Thallo_Poker/status/1598555918786252801
    https://twitter.com/Thallo_Poker/status/1598562508691845121



    And Jared Jaffee of course had some choice words about this:

    https://twitter.com/Thallo_Poker/status/1598566494300143617
    https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1598567597175341057

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    Nemo is now admitting she "messed up", and claims she will randomly draw from the first 10 correct comments, as first promised. Laughably, she still isn't taking full credit for it being rigged, and rather is just conceding that he should not have been eligible. Ugh.

    https://twitter.com/akaNemsko/status/1598573461282361344



    Here is the list of people she identifies as being "top 11", with Thallo being #8 and now disqualified.

    Name:  thallo-nemo-winners.jpg
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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Also apparently this was Nemo's first flippant response:

    Name:  thallo-nemo-response1.png
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    Okay, so let's cut through the BS here and break this down very simply.

    Nemo and Thallo are claiming that she wanted to simply give the seat to Thallo directly, but somehow their rules forbid this. There apparently has to be some sort of contest where people can win them.

    Their claim is that, in order to circumvent this restriction, Nemo held this contest where he would end up being the winner. They have gone back and forth regarding whether or not they admitted it was rigged, but it's blatantly obvious that it was planned from the start for Thallo to be the winner.

    They claim that this wasn't malicious or a premeditated scam, but more just going through the motions in order for Nemo to transfer her seat to the person she wanted to give it to in the first place.

    However, I have a big problem with this. I'm assuming WPT did NOT require the contest to be open to the general public. I bet it would have been totally fine for Nemo to hold a contest only open to "people who have made a big impact on my life", to where only close friends and family would be eligible. She could have told them all behind the scenes that the contest is a sham just so she can transfer the seat to Thallo, and I'm sure they'd all have been fine with it.

    Instead, they did this obnoxious contest where people had to watch her YouTube video and find a secret code phrase (obviously giving her channel more engagement), and then all the people who had tremendous hope to win after making the top 10 were left extremely disappointed after initially getting their hopes up. Remember, making the top 10 essentially gives you $1240 equity in the prize, but in reality these people had zero point zero equity, since it was already rigged against them.

    There's also the bizarre situation with Thallo trying to sell a seat to this tournament a few days ago. Thallo admitted to Deeb that he was selling THIS seat, which is proof that he was already given this seat before the contest took place on November 30.

    In any case, it is simply unethical under all circumstances to hold a rigged contest where people are made to get their hopes up to win a big prize. It's especially shameful when you choose just 10 finalists -- 9 of whom never had a chance due to it being rigged! If that's the only way you can give away a seat to a preferred person, then you just shouldn't do it at all. Otherwise, you're just fucking with the heads of strangers on the internet, treating them as collateral damage to your scheme to circumvent rules.

     
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      Tellafriend: interesting

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    Here's one other element of interest, involving Nemo's history.

    There are allegations on Reddit that Nemo played in a rigged chess tournament in 2021, where she beat six superior players.

    According to the poster:

    Nemo (2102 rated) was 6-0 (6 wins, 0 losses) against 2300+ players winning every game in ~30 moves, and 2.5-5.5 (5 draws, 3 losses) against players rated < 2200.

    Someone also pointed out this match, where a highly rated player resigned against her after 32 moves, despite being a favorite to win at that point.

    Another Reddit thread discusses this, as well: https://www.reddit.com/r/chess/comme...ted_of_buying/

    The general narrative is that a lot of these closed eastern European chess tournaments -- especially in Hungary -- feature excellent players who purposely throw the match, in exchange for behind-the-scenes bribes. This allows players to earn chess titles they otherwise could not achieve. It is alleged in these Reddit threads that Nemo engaged in this scheme in order to win a title in Hungary.


    I am not an experienced enough chess player to comment on any of the above, but this is very suspect, from what I can see.

    So it seems like rigged contests might not be a new thing to her.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Some are also expressing concerns that other WPT $12k giveaways, some of which I believe were promotional handouts, were also rigged.

    I don't know about any of these other situations, so I can't comment. However, Jeff Dime is quite suspicious, and he's not the only one wondering!

    https://twitter.com/Cool_ishFoolish/status/1598595614148739077

     
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      JeffDime: These are just two idiots so brazen they got caught, just the tip of the iceberg. You see one cockroach there’s a shit ton more you can’t see.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Thallo just deleted or deactivated his Twitter.

    Let's light a candle in his memory.




    *fortunately I saved his tweets I linked in this thread, and will be reposting them shortly


    Edit: Now he reactivated but posted an "I'm leaving" message:

    https://twitter.com/Thallo_Poker/status/1598608945001639937

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    "Frances H" claims that she was the 4th commenter, but her comment was deleted, as was one other person's.

    https://twitter.com/NLHCajun/status/1598608142627127297


    Hmmm.

    YouTube does sometimes "eat" comments, so maybe this one wasn't Nemo's fault. But Nemo also might have deleted 2 comments so Thallo made top 10.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    It has also been suggested that she called Thallo her "poker coach" rather than her boyfriend because she didn't want to disappoint the simps watching her channel. We have seen before where attractive female YouTubers go through great lengths to hide the fact that they're taken, in order to give their male viewers hope that they might have a chance with them some day.

    While you could also say that it looks less shady that she awarded the seat to her "poker coach" instead of her boyfriend, notice that nowhere on her social media does it indicate that she has a boyfriend, so I'm guessing that having a boyfriend wasn't good for her brand.

    That's the least of the problems here, but just thought I'd point that out.


    Oh, and in her tweets it's especially gross that she talks about "making things more fair" and "feels guilty she can't give it to everyone" when it turns out the entire thing was rigged. Like, if you're gonna rig something, don't posture about how bad you feel that only one lucky person can win the prize. Really shitty.

     
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      JeffDime: +1
      
      JoeD: When NEMO first moved to LA she was put in a 5150 hold (mental issues). Also something about cutting herself. Curious how this is going to end

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Also apparently this was Nemo's first flippant response:

    Name:  thallo-nemo-response1.png
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    "not to mention coached me that entire tournament as well". a/k/a "played the tournament on my account".

     
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      Pablo:

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    Quote Originally Posted by haleylh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Also apparently this was Nemo's first flippant response:

    Name:  thallo-nemo-response1.png
Views: 3743
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    "not to mention coached me that entire tournament as well". a/k/a "played the tournament on my account".
    I already suggested this on Twitter that in fact he ghosted on her account and played and it wasnt here to begin with since oh thats never happened before in online tournaments. (cough cough Bryn Kenny's stable cough)

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    Almost as big a scandal as a certain 8th tier poker forum failing to deliver on promised PFA hats.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I appeared on Chicago Joey about this. Was only on Twitch, not YouTube for some reason.

    https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1668604017

    Thallo came on at 1:22:35

    I came on at 1:57:17

    Thallo and I were not on at the same time.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Here's one other element of interest, involving Nemo's history.

    There are allegations on Reddit that Nemo played in a rigged chess tournament in 2021, where she beat six superior players.

    According to the poster:

    Nemo (2102 rated) was 6-0 (6 wins, 0 losses) against 2300+ players winning every game in ~30 moves, and 2.5-5.5 (5 draws, 3 losses) against players rated < 2200.

    Someone also pointed out this match, where a highly rated player resigned against her after 32 moves, despite being a favorite to win at that point.

    Another Reddit thread discusses this, as well: https://www.reddit.com/r/chess/comme...ted_of_buying/

    The general narrative is that a lot of these closed eastern European chess tournaments -- especially in Hungary -- feature excellent players who purposely throw the match, in exchange for behind-the-scenes bribes. This allows players to earn chess titles they otherwise could not achieve. It is alleged in these Reddit threads that Nemo engaged in this scheme in order to win a title in Hungary.


    I am not an experienced enough chess player to comment on any of the above, but this is very suspect, from what I can see.

    So it seems like rigged contests might not be a new thing to her.
    I'm a strong player and this particular game doesn't seem very suspicious. It's not at all uncommon for even strong players to resign when they totally overlook what looks like a strong tactic (Qh8). In fact Qh8 fails but you have to look quite deeply into the position and see Black's back rank weakness is fatal. Of course an IM should find this but Marholev's official FIDE rating is extremely low (2156) for a player of his class as he must have been 2400+ to get the title. He was born in 1971 and seems to be suffering from a massive decline in playing strength over the past decade. https://ratings.fide.com/profile/2901340/chart I think it's just a poor quality game.

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    Sorry boys….she already has a “poker coach”. Looks like Fanhouse is the PG-13 version of Only Fans.

    I’m very careful to not to try to come off misogynistic. But the fact I don’t hear of any market where men can make a living streaming chess and beautiful women apparently can, proves that this mostly isn’t about chess. Yes, men can find their abilities attractive but there’s not enough men who are going to watch other men play chess all dam day.

    I just don’t see Magnus Carlson starting one of these funhouses. I have no problem with these women making all the money they can. But let’s call it what it is. Young men (mostly) Simp’in out.

    https://twitter.com/akaNemsko/status/1620878673405677568

    Name:  5AE2517C-CA47-4877-8E54-1659C8AC7F71.png
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    This is providing a service for a price. So a big step up from rigging a giveaway to her “poker coach”.

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Interesting.

    But yes, whenever I hear complaints about all the disadvantages women suffer in spaces like chess or poker, I always point out that young/attractive women are the most privileged demographic here. And it's not even close.

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    BUMP

    https://twitter.com/wsop/status/1727602643303018820

    WSOP or GG signed her in some way to appear at their "WSOP Paradise", which some are expecting to be an epic fail.

    Laughably, they turned off comments to their tweet!




    Why sign a person to a promotional deal when you know in advance the reaction will be negative?

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    Safe to assume Alexandra got her the gig. Alexandra has handled herself well. I would like to think she knows this Nemo chick and her bf are awful…but she has to play nice because they are part of this group of female chess streamers. The WSOP in paradise is so desperate that they are paying a woman whose only real attachment to poker was a scam giveaway.

    https://twitter.com/GGPoker/status/1724331722144375052

    Even still, hiring a person who is not even a poker player. Only known for this scam and shitty apology is beyond insanity. Alex will never be able to rehabilitate Nemo in the poker community. She had no attachment to it and then came in and scammed.

    Just a quick note on the forced redrawing Nemo reluctantly was forced to do… If you remember the first winner turned it down right away. To me, that means it was another plant in case they decided to not go with the boyfriend. But they probably had to give that person something and they were just greedy to the max. Who turns down 2 K cash on top of the $10,400 entry? No one. She got caught because she was dumb enough to give it to her boyfriend directly. I believe over half of these last year were probably rigged but not done in such a blatant fashion.

    I took a quick glimpse of this “Only Fans Light” aka “Fanhouse”. This is their stance on Nudity

    1.Adult Nudity and Sexual Activities

    To abide by our payment provider’s policies and App Store rules, as well as create a welcoming environment for minors on Fanhouse, we do not allow explicit adult content, nudity, pornography, implied nudity (e.g. emojis covering bare or visible genitals and breasts, hand bras), and/or any media without fully clothed content. We recognize that not all content is inherently pornographic, such as nudity in art, but we are unable to support any such explicit content on Fanhouse. When creators post adult content, they also risk having their payment balance frozen by Stripe, our payment processor, which we have no control over. We also prohibit content depicting or supporting non-consensual sexual acts, the sharing of non-consensual intimate imagery, and adult sexual solicitation.


    It’s too much space to copy paste what she has set up there. But she has a bunch of photos that people have to pay 5 bucks or so to unlock. These are just the run of mill photos you will see on Instagram accounts. But apparently Nemo thinks she is so hot that she can charge for clothed provocative photos. I mean really? She has the right to do so, but everything she does just makes me think she’s awful & entitled.

    I wish I was proficient at photoshop because I think the WSOP should have ran a promo with “Big Huni’s Fantastic Voyage”. Photo with Huni standing in front of a private jet. GG could run “15K Go(FlyWith)Me “packages where winners would meet up with Huni and fly down on a chartered plane. Missed opportunity for WSOP.

     
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      Dan Druff: Lol @ the Huni reference

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