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A poker player crowdsourced tens of thousands of dollars on GoFundMe, having told sympathetic souls he was dying of stage 4 colon cancer and wanted to fulfill his dream of playing at the World Series of Poker's main event before shuffling off this mortal coil.
It turns out, however, it was all a hoax.
"I did lie about having colon cancer. I don't have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation," said Mercer, who had attended the poker tournament with his dad. "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."
Mercer suggested that he lied about having colon cancer because he was embarrassed to admit that he had breast cancer, another grievous condition there is reportedly no evidence that he has.
The fake story helped Mercer bag donations estimated to be valued between $30,000 and $50,000.
$2,500 came from Cody Daniels, a chronically ill poker player from Arizona who also entered the WSOP's No-limit Hold'em World Championship that ran July 3-17.
Daniels noted on X, "I learned a $2500 lesson. Sadly, my kindness was taken for weakness once again. Just a shame. That's all I can say."
A screenshot of the GoFundMe page obtained by the New York Post reveals how Mercer framed his plea.
"Hey Everyone, my name is Rob, I am a 37 year old semi professional Poker Player with Terminal Cancer, I found myself going back and forth wondering if I was ever going to do this because my pride means a lot to me and I never like asking people for help, But my dream has always been to play the World Series of Poker Main Event," wrote Mercer.
The fraudster added, "I was conflicted on whether I would ever play it in my lifetime, but in August of last year I was diagnosed with Terminal Cancer and I was told that my timetable wasn't very promising, anywhere from 6 months to 18 months depending on how rapidly it progresses, Ive [sic] been fighting hard for months now and my body is definitely doing its best but I can feel the sickness draining on me physically and mentally."
GoFundMe announced Wednesday it would be providing refunds to those who were scammed by Mercer. However, not all donors helped out via the crowdsourcing platform.
The Review-Journal indicated that extra to the $12,500 he raised from GoFundMe and the donations he received privately, Mercer also received a free suite at Bellagio during the tournament.
Mercer told the Review-Journal he has no intention of paying anyone back, suggesting he might have cancer after all.
Nick Vertucci, the creator and producer of the "Hustler Casino Live" poker stream, was among the donors who helped get Mercer to the WSOP table.
Vertucci spoke the Review-Journal about Mercer's entry before the 37-year-old's scam was exposed, saying, "I was so overwhelmed, I just got on the speaker and said, 'Hey, it's booked. I got you.' ... It chokes me up because we walk around so blessed and we don't realize it. This kid's fighting for his life, so I'm just so happy he gets to play."
After learning of the deception, Vertucci wrote on X, "Breast cancer my a**! And the lies continue. Next will be I don't have breast cancer, I was too embarrassed to say I have testicle cancer. The only cancer is you Rob!"
Vertucci told the Review-Journal, "I don’t want the kid to have cancer. Ultimately, I'd rather him just be a bad person."
"They're making me out to be some kind of monster, like this vindictive villain who planned this months in advance," said the fraudster, who reportedly feigned to get a doctor's note for the benefit of the poker community and maintained the charade for several weeks."It's just crazy. But I understand. I get it."
Mercer may be adept at lying, but he doesn't appear to be any good at poker, having been eliminated from the WSOP main event just a few hours into the tournament.
Here is one of the pleas made on Mercer's behalf by a donor who fell for his scam:
Living The Dream: Poker Community Rallies for Rob Mercer's WSOP Journeyyoutu.be
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.