December 5, 2006

Beat the Players

I just finished reading Bob Nersesian’s new book Beat the Players. He is a lawyer who represents gamblers – particularly card counters and other guys who try to beat the house at their own game -- in disputes with casinos. He recently won a huge judgment for two players who were caught peeking at a sloppy dealer’s hole card (completely legal), manhandled, arrested, and jailed. The book is mostly a summary of Nevada gaming law with a few excerpts from cases thrown in. I like to know my rights under the law so I read it with interest.

One thing that jumped out at me was that Nevada, like most places, still does not enforce gambling debts. There is a law requiring the payment of a winning bet, but the common-law doctrine that gambling debts are unenforceable is still in force in Nevada.

I suspect this means that, regardless of the merits of his claim, Crispin Leyser is out of luck trying to collect half of Jamie Gold’s $12 million first prize in the 2006 World Series of Poker.
By the way, what ever happened with that investigation Harrah's was doing into the extra chips I discovered added to the main event?

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August 14, 2006

Some tough questions for Harrah’s

Business as usual?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the degree to which many in the poker community consider the 2.2 million extra chips found at the WSOP main event “business as usual.” Cheating has been around since before poker and apparently many have learned to live with it, the skillful making money in spite of it and the losers losing anyway. There’s the possibility the chips were added through incompetence rather than dishonesty, and there’s still a tiny chance the reports of the final chip total are simply wrong. I wasn’t there.

But notwithstanding all this, there are some tough questions for Harrah’s, questions which ought to be asked by the Nevada Gaming Control Board:

  • Harrah’s decided to use the same chips in the main event as they used in previous tournaments, including super satellites. Were the chips counted at the conclusion of each event? If not, why not? If so, how many chips were missing after each event?
  • If they did discover missing chips, was there any effort to use the video surveillance to catch the cheaters?
  • Were there official chip counts done at any point in the main event? If not, why not? If so, what was the result? What was the discrepancy between each official count?
  • Were the same precautions taken to guard and log the movements of the house bank of tournament chip as are taken with casino chips of similar value? If not, why not?
  • How many dead stacks were blinded off through errors during day one? What is the list of names of people who were allowed to play on a different day but had stacks being blinded off on another day? Why were so many errors possible?
  • Were there stacks being blinded off for players who had been given refunds? If so, why?
The current explanation by a Harrah’s spokesman, that the extra chips were a result of rounding up during chip races, has been proved impossible both by me and by Jerrod Ankenman, co-author (with two-bracelet winner Bill Chen) of the forthcoming book The Mathematics of Poker. I don’t know if a complaint has yet been lodged by any of the final 27 players, who seem to be the most hurt by the cheating or incompetence. The chip counts reported by poker journalists are full of errors but it seems to me that most of the chips were added during the play from 27 players to the final nine. That should all be on videotape.

I’m looking forward to some answers and, more importantly, to some major reforms in the integrity of these large tournaments.

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August 10, 2006

Even more chips!

It's bad enough that no one at the Rio seems to be able to count chips -- the total in play changes by hundreds of thousands with each update -- but with six players left the totals are consistently over 90 million. Since Harrah's is basing the prize pool on 8773 paid entrants, there should be only 87,730,000 chips in play. That is a difference of almost 2.2 million, a difference representing real dollar value. It is also an increase of 1.7 million from the reported total with 27 players left.

What does it mean? There is still a small chance that whoever is reporting the chip counts is consistently wrong. To my knowledge there has never been an official count. That in itself is somewhat cavalier, I think.

If the chip total is accurate, either this is the biggest cheating scandal or the grossest incompetence in the history of tournament poker. The gaming control board should be brought in immediately and videotapes examined, particularly during chip races, to see if evidence can be found.

Pretty much every player in the event is affected by this (including yours truly who got knocked out just before the money, money perhaps won by someone with extra chips).


August 8, 2006

Chip Races

Why is it impossible that chip races added 514,000 in chip value to the WSOP main event?

The 25 chips were raced off during the split day 2, which began with fewer than 3500 players. If all 350 tables were still there and every one of them added the maximum 50 in chip value, that would add 17,500 to the event. Probably more than 1/4 of those tables had already broken and probably only 1/4 of the maximum 50 was added per table.

The 100 chips were raced off at the end of day 3, with 481 players remaining. If all 54 tables added the maximum 200 in chip value that would add 5400 to the event, but the expected add is zero.

The 500 chips were raced off with 288 players remaining. If all 32 tables added 500 that would add 16,000 to the event. The expected add is half that.

The 1000 chips were raced off with 49 players remaining. If all six tables added 2000 that would add 12,000 to the event. The expected add is zero.

So the very maximum possible in added chip value is 50,900.

Now it's still possible the listed chip count at the end of yesterday was inaccurate. But if not...where did the half million come from?


Where did those chips come from?

The total chip count reported in PokerWire for the final 27 players in the 2006 WSOP main event is 88,246,000. That is 516,000 more than the total starting chips for 8773 entrants. It is impossible that so many chips were added simply due to rounding up in chip races.

If the PokerWire chip count is accurate, where did the extra chips come from? That is some serious cheating.