Thursday, September 21, 2023 – A poker player who lied about having terminal cancer in order to raise funds to get into the World Series of Poker Main Event is now apologizing.
Rob Mercer, a 37-year-old Vallejo, California native, came up with the lie back in June in an effort to gather the $10,000 he needed to buy into the world’s most prestigious poker event in July in Las Vegas.
Mercer created a GoFundMe with the hopes of gathering the cash. He succeeded in raising between $30,000 and $50,000 and this allowed him entry into the tournament.
However, several people in the poker community became suspicious of Mercer over the way he had acted at the event. Mercer had reportedly provided vague responses to questions about his illness and failed to share concrete proof of his alleged terminal colon cancer diagnosis as well.
Also, several people saw him gambling in a casino, and when he was confronted, he was said to have been defensive.
He ended up getting eliminated from the Main Event early on.
Eventually, Mercer confessed, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday, Sept. 19: “What I did was wrong.”
He added: “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.”
Mercer, however, said his story wasn’t without at least some merit. He told the outlet he believes he has undiagnosed breast cancer and he made up the colon cancer story because he was embarrassed to say he was dealing with a disease not as commonly found in men.
“I did lie about having colon cancer,” Mercer said. “I don’t have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation.”
Mercer said due to his belief that he has breast cancer, he has no intentions of returning the money he obtained through his GoFundMe.
As for his future on poker tables, Mercer told the Review-Journal he has quit playing due to “his deteriorating health.”
He told the news organization that he now spends around 18 hours a day in bed.
“At the end of the day I lied to a lot of people because I was scared to tell the truth,” Mercer said. “And I guess I’ll have to pay for that.”