Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let The WSOP Cheating, Scheming and Scamming Begin!

Well, there are 114 days left until play begins at the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker Championship and already I’m getting dozens of e-mails not only asking for my opinion on the prospects for cheating and colluding but also detailed cheating scenarios that people out there are concocting for those nine players lucky enough to be part of this long delay, which will eventually lead down the yellow brick road to a pot of poker millions. In previous blog posts I have spoken about cheat possibilities as well as ESPN’s and WSOP organizers’ and sponsors’ obvious motives to milk out as much publicity and exposure as they can, which is the sole reason for the drastic change in WSOP format. All this is reminiscent of Fox Sports Net’s attempt to run with the giant ball that was supposed to be a six-player winner-take-all freeze-out for a $100 million in 2006 that never came off, mainly because the whole thing was going to be a fraud in the first place, which I exposed in my book “Dirty Poker.”

Getting back to this year’s WSOP Championship, I must say that the way the final table stands right now is very conducive to collusion. This is because there is no dominant chip-leader the way there was back in 2006 when Jamie Gold, the eventual winner and accused “deal renegger,” had a commanding chip lead going into the final table that he turned into a championship and $12 million in his pocket (minus whatever amount he finally gave his backer that he tried to stiff). With nearly all the nine players very much in the hunt and only one short stack, the collusion cheating opportunities are endless. In fact, one e-mailer pointed out to me that if you take all the possibilities and combinations of any or all of the nine players entering into prearranged prize-money-sharing, there are more than a million different ways to cut up the giant cake! In other words, there could be cheating twosomes, threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, sixsomes, sevensomes, eightsomes…and even ninesomes, although I doubt the first eight players would bother to involve the ninth player in many deals with such a short stack, but who knows?

Do I really think there will be pre-final table deal-making or cheating? Well, since both are one in the same, you can bet your sweet ass there will be! No way are 114 days going to pass without conspiring, scheming, planning and everything else that leads to cheating. Just think of all that time that these nine players—okay, let’s even include the poor guy in ninth place with the tiny stack—are going to have to communicate. How will they communicate? Well, it might start with simple e-mails, then step up to instant messaging, then phone calls and then…well, why not a pre-final table final table? No, it’s not a typo! And it’s not some kind of actual poker play on a final table either. What I’m talking about is a meeting of all nine players around an oval table in a cozy restaurant or lounge, maybe like the Peppermill on the Las Vegas Strip, the same cozy lounge that I often used with my cheating buddies to map out our strategies for hitting the casinos on the Strip. There the “lucky nine” could sip champagne while relishing in thoughts of the money they KNOW they will be receiving on that glorious November day to come…okay, well…maybe the lucky nine won’t be brazen enough to meet in a public place like that but they could rent a suite at the Bellagio and sneak up to it unnoticed and have the champagne sent up by room service. However they choose to do so, 114 days is lots and lots of time to plan and scheme.

And if you think for one minute that this will not happen, then you probably spend half your life watching ESPN!