Rob Mercer got to live out a poker dream this summer by playing the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event. Mercer received tens of thousands of dollars in donations via GoFundMe and individual contributions from a variety of 0thers in the poker community after announcing a Stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.
Unfortunately, Mercer’s story turns out to have been a lie from the start.
In a story released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mercer admitted that he was never diagnosed with colon cancer in the first place.
“I did lie about having colon cancer. I don’t have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation,” Mercer told LVRJ’s David Schoen. “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 One, who knows what would have happened.”
Mercer’s admission is the culmination of months of conjecture and controversy, as efforts to support his WSOP dream became an effort by the same group of people to prove Mercer had been lying all along. Prior to Mercer launching the GoFundMe campaign in June, social media posts back in February of this year drew the attention of Doug Parscal Jr., a.k.a. ‘SnoopDoug’ on X (formerly Twitter).
Parscal offered to help stake Mercer in a tournament at Thunder Valley Casino in California, but Mercer declined citing health reasons.
Mercer allegedly reached back out to Parscal at the start of the summer to ask for help in publicizing his GoFundMe efforts. Along the way, Hustler Casino Live producer Nick Vertucci got involved with financial support, as did Cody Daniels, a terminally ill 28-year-old who made headlines of his own by cashing in the WSOP Main Event.
Eventually Mercer got himself his WSOP Main Event buy-in and a comped suite at the Bellagio. But an increasingly long list of issues over the months that followed led Parscal, Vertucci and others to become suspicious and ask for proof of Mercer’s diagnosis. After posting a self-completed form on MyChart.org, a healthcare app in an effort to provide evidence, Mercer soon deleted his social media accounts.
In his interview with the LVRJ, Mercer acknowledged that a representative from GoFundMe reached out to him for violating the site’s terms of service. As of Wednesday evening, GoFundMe started issuing refunds to those who donated to the campaign.
Mercer stated he has no intent of repaying the money because he believes he has an undiagnosed breast cancer diagnosis and claimed he spends 18 hours a day in bed.
“Obviously I was just trying to keep up with my story,” Mercer said. “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.”