Once a solid tournament pro with almost $1.9 million in winnings, Joe Sebok has been off the poker radar for the past few years. In fact, he’s gotten more attention for his blue collar job of crushing grapes than he has for playing poker. And now Sebok is blaming an extortion plot involving nude photos for his rapid drop-off in the poker world.
Two California men named Tyler Schrier and Keith James Hudson, and a Philadelphia man named Ryder Finney were the perpetrators in the crime. Schrier and Hudson were recently sentenced to 42 months and 24 months in prison, respectively, for charges including hacking into a protected computer, stealing naked photos, extortion and hacking into an email account. Finney has yet to be sentenced since he’s in a different state.
Sebok and a number of other people were victimized by the trio in 2010. According to the Los Angeles Times, the hackers got into Sebok and others’ computers to steal sensitive information and emails. They then used this info to extort thousands of dollars out of the victims. When Sebok refused, they sent his naked pictures to an estimated 100 people.
The 36-year-old told U.S. District Court Judge James Otero that this incident had an extremely negative impact on his career and “instantly damaged my ability to sustain my livelihood doing what I had been since 2005.”
He continued by saying, “In short, I was no longer able to maintain my then-current level of participation in the poker industry, representing the brands that I had been previously, as well as greatly destroying my ability to do so with new companies moving forward.” Sebok added, “Without belaboring the point too much, it was a nightmare, and one that I was forced to live through with millions of people watching.”
Since 2010, when the extortion plot took place, Sebok has only earned $24,792 in live tournaments, thus indicating some truth to his courtroom statements. Furthermore, Sebok hasn’t been sponsored by a poker site since his controversial signing with Ultimate Bet in 2009. Many people labeled him a sellout for joining UB Poker based on the room’s previous scandals. To this day, many people continue to loath Sebok for representing UB.