‘Tis the Season for Cheating?
Full Tilt disqualifies semi-prominent, back-to-back winner

by , Nov 29, 2007 | 9:36 pm

The Absolute Poker scandal should have been enough. It remains unresolved, though most of the details of the cheating have been made clear, and the poker public still awaits the conclusion of the audit.

Back in early October, there was another mini-scandal on PokerStars. The winner of the WCOOP main event — the largest online poker tournament in history — was disqualified, and “TheV0id” was stripped of his title and $1,378,311 in winnings.

And we have another.

This time the allegations of nefarious online play revolve around Bluff Magazine’s managing editor Chris Vaughn. On 10/21, he took down the $1 Million Guarantee tournament on Full Tilt Poker for $197,984. The following Sunday, he won the Sunday Million tournament on PokerStars for $240,633. Well, it seems the first one didn’t stick.

According to the second place finisher in the Full Tilt event, Soren “Kongsgaard” Kongsgaard, he received an e-mail from FTP stating that Chris – screen name “BluffMagCV” – had been disqualified and “Kongsgaard” was awarded first place money.

Reportedly, though unconfirmed at this point, Chris’ backer, Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi, took over at some point in the tournament and played the remainder of it for him. Chris and Sorel have now been banned from Full Tilt. More details can be found on Sorel’s blog, though it’s not clear who is writing the posts.

Interestingly, Chris was just interviewed on 11/18 by Scott Huff and Haralabos Voulgaris on Big Poker Sundays, a radio show on PokerRoad.com. Haralabos asked him if he’s ever been accused of ghosting, where a person’s backer plays for them, and Chris said, “I’ve been accused of that. I think it’s going to come with the territory when someone relatively unknown wins two in a row… But as far as having someone take over, that’s ridiculous.”


17 Comments to “‘Tis the Season for Cheating?
Full Tilt disqualifies semi-prominent, back-to-back winner


  1. Kajagugu
    says:

    It would be pretty easy to prove, unless he physically sat in the same room and got in his chair. If he was in a different place you would see a second IP log-in to the account. Pretty easy to catch. Pretty stupid to get caught like that.


  2. California Jen
    says:

    That’s what I thought, but wouldn’t you think that two people who know online poker so well wouldn’t do it and risk getting caught?


  3. California Jen
    says:

    This is part of a post from of Sorel Mizzi on PocketFives early this morning:

    “As far as the situation with FTP goes I hope that everyone can understand
    the intense scrutiny that I am under and be respectful and patient at this
    time. I currently am in the process of finalizing a formal interview with a
    major media outlet to explain the situation that has been discussed.
    Please understand that it would be impossible to address everyone’s
    questions/comments by responding to each one individually.
    Obviously, I am doing this interview so that I can hopefully answer
    all of your collective questions and concerns.

    “I am hopeful the interview will take place this weekend, but
    it will certainly be as soon as possible. I promise to be fully open
    and honest about the situation.”


  4. DanM
    says:

    ***“I am hopeful the interview will take place this weekend, but
    it will certainly be as soon as possible. I promise to be fully open
    and honest about the situation.”***

    I am hopeful, too, that he is indeed open and honest, and lets the cards fall where they may. Because really this case brings up a lot of gray-area ethical issues.

    For example, if the backer was simply and literally standing behind Vaughan, telling suggesting what he should do, but Vaughan did the actual button pressing … would that be wrong?

    I’ve seen WSOP cash games where different players come in and take over a friend’s cards and stacks before … but obviously this isn’t allowed in tournaments. But let’s say I went really deep, is it wrong if I call The Big Randy Tom Schneider and start telling him the situation hand-for-hand seeking his input and advice. At what point does this form of “team” poker become wrong?

    And if the prize money had been withdrawn immediately, what recourse would Full Tilt have in trying to get it back?

    This will be one of those cases, it seems — regardless of how things end up — that will bring a lot of regulatory issues to the fore.


  5. GoodChuck
    says:

    I have been curious ever since the disqualification of TheVoid. Does anyone have any facts as to the infraction that got the player disqualified?


  6. DanM
    says:

    Oh, I also wonder what’s going on at the CardPlayer editorial table. Usually CP doesn’t like to do much reporting about cheating scandals or anything else that could be considered “bad for poker.”

    But they love to stick it to Bluff whenever possible. Dilemmas dilemmas …


  7. DanM
    says:

    The V0id was multi-accounting, I believe — playing multiple players in the same tourney, a la ZeeJustin back in the day.

    By the way, the blog we link to hear is a bit confusing … It says it’s Sorel’s blog, but it reports on Sorel in the third person. The posts are credited to “Lil” … who is the same person credited for the posts on Annette_15’s blog.

    We know they are reading us — or have at least once — because they reference a point made by California Jen. So perhaps they can be open and honest about what or whom we are reading, as well? If not, the credibility of http://sorelmizzi.blogspot.com/ has to be called into question.


  8. California Jen
    says:

    Regarding the PocketFives message from Sorel that I mentioned in a previous comment, here is the link to it:

    http://www.pocketfives.com/BD836AF0-F439-46C6-ACC7-C093FE47F071.aspx

    As for the identity of “Lil” – I am going out on a limb to say it’s Chad “lilholdem954” Batista. But confirmation of that would be very helpful.


  9. California Jen
    says:

    Dan, you bring up a lot of good questions.

    Regarding this issue, each online gaming site has its own set of rules, and most discourage – prohibit, in fact – multiple accounts. If that’s the rule and you choose to break it, there are consequences, plain and simple. But if a coach is literally standing behind you, telling you what to do in a hand, that can’t be regulated. That is part of online poker and one of the many ways it’s different from live poker.

    If the prize money was withdrawn by the time Full Tilt wanted it back, the site can most likely pursue legal action to get it.

    You’re right, though… So many fuzzy areas with these situations. It will be nice to see what Sorel has to say about it. I get the feeling that if this was an erroneous story, he would have cleared it up already, but the fact that he’s doing a big interview about it makes me think that there will some admittance to wrongdoing.


  10. Kajagugu
    says:

    “This will be one of those cases, it seems — regardless of how things end up — that will bring a lot of regulatory issues to the fore.”

    This is definitely something that will make the industry stronger. And help define reg guidelines. But Online poker has so many grey areas:

    1) Backer “standing” behind player. No way to know.
    2) Backer sitting at same computer that player was at previously. No way to know.
    3) A team of 10 players sitting in the same room and playing one account together. No way to know.

    What about all those “team domeski” frat house groups? How can they even be logged in at the same time? My guess is they have separate DSL or T1 lines. If they were using a router it would show up as the same IP to the site and that should not be allowed. I remember Party would not let me log in and play against my wife.

    I also wish there were more details. If these two pulled off 1 or 2 above there is no way to tell unless they got drunk and told someone who ratted them out. But there is no proof, so it would be hard to nail down. I wonder what happened here.


  11. DanM
    says:

    ***If the prize money was withdrawn by the time Full Tilt wanted it back, the site can most likely pursue legal action to get it.***

    You think so? In what court? Ireland? Whose jurisdiction would this case fall under? And what means would any authority have to enforce it?

    In the eyes of the United States — specifically as it pertains to the transfer of funds — the courts would likely see an action brought by Full Tilt (dot-com, not dot-net) as akin to a drug dealer complaining about being shortchanged by a customer.


  12. California Jen
    says:

    Kajagugu, it’s been reported that it was clear to Full Tilt that Chris logged off his account and Sorel logged on (after Sorel had already busted from the tournament). I think sites like Full Tilt and PokerStars are watching for stuff like this…

    I hope you’re right that the industry becomes stronger because of this.

    Dan, I’m no lawyer (surprised?) but there are international treaties that would allow Full Tilt to go after someone who broke the law to get their funds back. Just a guess.


  13. DanM
    says:

    There are also treaties that say the United States can’t enact any laws that would inhibit business in Antigua.

    Sites like Full Tilt and PokerStars have no way to legally go after any money that they believe was ill-gotten once it leaves their site (or perhaps their partner bank’s). Likewise, when Party Poker ganked Zee justin’s $140k bankroll, what could he do if he disputed their actions? At the time, he didn’t have any recourse. But now, in theory, at least, he could file all sorts of complaints and legal actions through various UK governing bodies, as the company is licensed and regulated, and would face legal and financial ramifications for non-compliance with the Queen. (My legal phrasing, not theirs.)

    But here in America, and for the companies that operate here despite the UIGEA, they are “legally questionable” at best. Not unlike the underground poker rooms in Texas and elsewhere when you think about it.

    And one other small but important point. This is between a player and Fulltiltpoker.com, which on paper at least is different from Fulltiltpoker.net … further complicating any jurisdictional matters.


  14. Betfair Poker Player
    says:

    “The posts are credited to “Lil” … who is the same person credited for the posts on Annette_15’s blog”

    This is not Annette’s blog – I think (I don’t know) that this is a spam site. Her real blog is at http://betting.betfair.com/annette_15/


  15. JasonBurns
    says:

    Okay, so someone else played the remaining of the tournament, is FT stating that since a specific player took over another player’s seat in a tournament that the computer would know and thus give a unfair asvantage? This is by far the most ridiculous thinking Ive heard about online poker. Absolute Poker case was completely different cause of the employee’s access to the system, not cause 2 people were taking turns playing in a tournament!


  16. California Jen
    says:

    From what we know at this point, it seems that Sorel has been accused of logging on to Chris’ account from another computer to play the rest of the tournament. Multi-accounting is strictly forbidden on most online sites, and most players – especially those who play frequently – are aware of this.


  17. dan
    says:

    i love the poker news/discussion sites (don’t get me wrong) – but the more crap like this i read, the more i get turned off to cards as a whole.