Borgata poker tournament suspended---someone sweeteend the pot

I’ve played a few sit-n-go tourneys in Vegas, but nothing on such a large scale. Any players here have any idea how someone could have introduced fake chips with dozens of cameras focused on a large tournamet? (Not trying to get ideas for my next tournament, mind.) Really, how can that happen in this day and age?

One of the comments says it was likely caught when the field of players was whittled down to 27 was because they could tell there were too many chips in play, but that is still a multi-table tournament at that point. Are there officials that go around counting the number of chips throughout a tournament?

I have no trouble seeing how someone could get the chips into play. Yeah, there are plenty of cameras, and they may wind up finding the guy or guys who did it, but the camera network isn’t so extensive that a little slight-of-hand can’t possibly succeed, and players at the table are constantly manipulating their chips and putting their hands in their pockets.

I’d wonder more about why the crooks would go this particular route. If the article is accurate in saying that it’s a case of *counterfeit *chips (as opposed to authentic tournament chips pocketed & saved from previous, low-stakes tournaments, which is the more common form of cheating), why would someone who can produce passable fakes choose to make *tournament *chips? I mean, maybe if it was some $10K buy-in event where the possible payoff is huge, but you’re so much less likely to be caught introducing fakes to a cash game, where there’s no way to keep track of how much money *should *be on the table. Slower work, perhaps, but much more certain.

(I should note, however, that they’d probably have to counterfeit cash-game chips at a different casino, since the Borgata’s regular chips are magnetized as an anti-counterfeiting measure.)

Perhaps the scrutiny is lower during a tournament?

Or, maybe it’s the same reason I’ve seen fake $1s at work. Someone was trying it out for the first time, or someone was tying a new copying technique to get used to it? If the cash-game chips are magnetized, maybe they were trying to make tournament chips before moving to the more advanced ones? It still doesn’t make sense, in the long run.

Looks like it was not just suspended, looks like the tournament was cancelled. I assume all the players get refunds since they don’t know when the chips got in the game.

Hey FEDS!!

This would be pretty hard to do in an online tournament.

Just Sayin’


NFM (on behalf of online poker players across the USA)

Do tournament chips actually get cashed in? I assumed it was just as simple as “Alright, you won, here’s your prize.”

“…with artificial sweeteners.”

Just hadda get that in.

Why bother, when there are so many other ways to rig an online game?

I believe it is.

But because tournament chips are not going to be converted to cash, it may be that they are not checked closely, thus making it reasonably easy to put fake ones into play.

I don’t believe anyone has specifically addressed this yet. In my (somewhat limited) experience, yes - typically a multi-table tournament will have at least one designated complete break in play. In all such tournaments I have played in and observed, the chips are counted by tournament staff at that stage to ensure the number of chips in play is as it should be (and to keep a record in case anyone tampers with chips players have left on the table during the break). I’ve only played in the UK so I suppose it’s possible things are different in the US, but I’d be very surprised if so.

In fact, given that this is so common, I’m not sure why the cheaters thought they could get away with it. If they introduced the fake chips at an early stage of the event, first of all that’s much more likely to be spotted by one of the players or dealers during play (unless you introduce such a small amount as to have no meaningful impact). Even if you achieve that, it would by no means guarantee you getting through to the final stages. Conversely, if you did it later on in the event (perhaps soon after the last chip count), it would be easier to introduce the fakes (though still difficult), but you would at some point need to remove the same amount from the table otherwise you would be caught when they counted all the chips in at the end of the event. So even if they didn’t have the evidence to know it was you, the prize wouldn’t be paid out (as seems to have happened).

The online poker sites have pretty sophisticated means of spotting cheating. It’s not in their interests to rig the games themselves, nor turn a blind eye to collusion between players. For example, if you try to sign up with multiple usernames and take several seats at the same table, that’s not going to work. Sure, you can have a group of players who are communicating with each other privately all at the same table, but that would generate suspicous betting patterns and be uncovered sooner or later.

That’s correct. While in some tournaments, the chips in play correspond exactly to the dollar amount you pay to enter the event (e.g. you pay $1,000 to enter (plus a registration fee), and receive a nominal $1,000 of chips), “cashing them in” at the end would only work if the tournament were ‘winner takes all’ - a very rare format for a normal tournament (more relevant for satellite events). Usually, the dollar entry fee is totally independent of the nominal chips you receive, anyway. When you win the tournament (or are knocked out in the prize money places), you simply claim your prize. But they still count in the chips at the end of the tournament, as I have said, so they are going to notice if any extras have been introduced however good the fakes are.

Um, sure.

Anyone who knows something about not only the sweep and scale of gambling cheating, but the motivations (greed, greed and an insane desire to accumulate as much money as they can) would agree. Without a professional eye being able to observe the players, independently and collectively, you might as well throw your money on the table and leave. (Besides the fact that the casino cut completely wipes out every player in the long run.)

Would everyone entering necessarily know this? (I wouldn’t know this, but of course, I’d never enter in the first place.)

What if two or more were working in collusion, one to receive the extra chips, and a second whose task was to remove the same number, and drop out? Would it have made any sense to do this?

I don’t think so. If they’ve got a way of removing chips from one person’s hand, and a way of sneaking chips into another person’s hand, why bother with counterfeits? Just remove real chips from one player and sneak them into the second person’s hand.
(** unless the real tournament chips can be turned into cash somehow. In which case this is probably a good way of turning counterfeits into real, though you’d only be moving them into and out of one person’s hand).

From the casino’s perspective:

When you play poker, you’re playing for each others’ money.

When you play other table games, you’re playing for OUR money.

Of course the poker chips won’t be as vigorously scrutinized. In Vegas (and probably in casinos elsewhere, but I can’t verify that) poker chips aren’t even the same style as regular casino chips.

Casinos also have an interest in getting the betting as high as possible, since their cut is a percentage of the winning pot. This doesn’t apply to tournaments (AFAIK) but all of this is the reason playing casino poker is a stupid idea. You can’t win any more than table stakes, and the more you win, the more you’ve paid the casino to do so. If you lose, you’ve still paid the casino for the privilege, without them risking a dime your way.

Y’know, let’s play dice. You bring the money, I’ll bring the dice, and I’ll take a dime every time you roll. It’ll be fun.

It might be hard to have enough time and opportunity to remove the chips, transfer them to a second person, then add them back in, in that order. With extra chips, the first and third parts can happen independently, and the second step isn’t needed at all.

Maybe that was the point all along. They just got caught before they could remove the real ones.

In most casinos I have been in, they use the same chips. I have seen one exception, but it’s usual practice to use the same chip base. It’s just easier that way.

The casino damn well IS playing you for your money at a poker table. If it’s a raked game, they win every hand. If it’s a table session, they still win. Either way they win, and either way the standard method of payment is chips.

Keep in mind I was talking from the casino’s perspective earlier. Poker players aren’t competing for the casino’s money, they’re competing for each others’ money. In poker, no matter who wins the casino gets paid. The casino isn’t even a player in the game.

I’m curious to know where the casinos are that you’ve been to. I fully admit that I have no knowledge of how stuff works outside of Vegas, but I can’t really wrap my head around how it could work otherwise. For example, if you play a tournament with a 50 dollar buy in, you usually start with thousands of dollars in poker chips (which can’t be redeemed for face value, of course). In the casinos you’ve been to, how is that handled? Do they issue you chips of exactly the same value as your buy-in?

No, there’s two sets of chips in use in every poker room I’ve ever been in. Tournament chips are a special set, unlike other casino chips, and have no cash value. (They are also almost always, I can’t help but notice, visibly easier to counterfeit.) Cash game chips, however, are regular casino chips.