Alleged Incident of Cheating at WSOP; Tournament Director Responds

cheatingThe WSOP $10K Heads-up No Limit Hold’em Championship should be in the news today due to the event finishing up, but the win by Keith Lehr is now being overshadowed by the alleged cheating that reportedly took place during the event. Several players have suspected that one player was cheating during the event. Taking to the TwoPlusTwo forum, Connor Drinan and Pratyush Buddiga told their side of how they believed Valeriu Coca was cheating during the WSOP tournament event.

In their posts, Buddiga was the first to lose against Cocoa and initially complained that Coca played slowly and in a passive manner before he began to make moves faster and became aggressive later on. Buddiga told Drinan that Coca acted strangely, evening pausing to recheck cards from a different angle, even after he had decided to fold.

After comparing notes, Drinan was able to confirm that Coca had acted the same way during their matchup at the Rio in Nevada. Drinan became very frustrated once Coca’s playing style changed. Drinan reported that when he had a good starting hand, Coca would fold. If he had a bad hand, Coca would raise or re-raise. Drinan felt as though Coca had used something to help him have an advantage during the tournament. After contacting Buddiga and then Matt Marafioti and Aaron Mermelstein, each had been eliminated in heads-up play by Coca, they all agreed that they felt owned during the tournament and could not win a pot. Each player had also noticed strange behavior with card checking by Coca.

Drinan then found out from a friend that Coca had been banned from Czech poker casinos due to cheating as he was marking cards. After finding out this information, the players alerted Bryon Kaverman, the player to take on Coca in the next round of the WSOP event. Kaverman asked for deck changes often and covered his cards. Coca was still able to win and Kaverman felt as though the player was cheating as well as he was watching the cards closely as they were dealt. The staff began to watch his game play and eventually Coca was eliminated by Keith Lehr, the eventual winner of the event.

The players believe that Coca used some type of invisible ink with special sunglasses to cheat during game play. WSOP officials did preliminary testing of the cards and were not able to find any issues but will be conducting further testing.

In response to the reports surfacing yesterday, Jack Effel, the WSOP Tournament Director, stated that the WSOP is aware and monitoring the situation very closely with the resources that are available. This would include surveillance/security, forensic examination of the gaming cards, etc. The WSOP takes the integrity of each event very seriously as is evident by the lifetime bans they have in place, according to Effel. According to information by PocketFives, Seth Palansky, the WSOP VP of Corporate Communications, has stated that the WSOP will not comment further on the subject until the investigation is complete.

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