September 10, 2006

The chips have hit the fan

The extra two million tournament chips discovered toward the end of the 2006 World Series of Poker main event were probably added during the color-up of the 5000-denomination chips with 20 players left, according to two poker journalists.

In a three-part series (1 2 3) on PokerNews, Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli reiterate my proof that chip races could not have caused the overage. Instead, they claim, evidence points to tournament staff overpaying players by two million when buying up the smaller chips at the first break in the penultimate day of the event.

I don't know if that's what happened. What I do know is that the tournament staff knew about the extra chips at the time and they had surveillance cameras pointed at the tables. Surely they watched those tapes to try to discover what happened. Surely they have saved those tapes rather than destroy them after the minimum seven days required by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Surely.

Folks, we're talking about an error worth almost $2 million to the players who benefited. That is probably the grossest mistake in the history of casino gambling if it was inadvertent, and a hell of a criminal conspiracy if it was not.

I don't know whether Allen Cunningham or other affected players have initiated a formal investigation. What I do know is that this has to be the last year that tournament chips are not treated as the valuable currency they are. Gaming must insist that casinos follow the same procedures with tournament chips that they do with casino chips.

Or maybe the solution is this...