Kudos to the Borgata (sort of)

The biggest poker news story of the week was the appearance of 800,000 in counterfeit 5k chips in the $560 buy-in $2 million dollar guarantee tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City. I assumed, and even stated publicly, that the Borgata would probably not press charges or even look too hard for the culprit. I was wrong (maybe). Good for them. From Russ Hamilton and the UB super users, to Men “The Master” Nguyen who was caught with a suitcase full of tournament chips at Foxwoods, and a host of other poker cheats, charges never seem to be pressed. I don’t know of a single case of online cheats being prosecuted, and this is the first time I have ever heard of a live tournament cheat being arrested.

There are lots of reasons for this. The house doesn’t want to hand over video footage, they want the story to go away, they don’t want to invest resources in investigating on their end, inside jobs make them look bad, it could be anything. I assumed the Borgata would treat this the same way, ignoring it until it went away and claiming that they are investigating the situation any time someone asks. Now the alleged perpetrator, Christian Lusardi, has been caught and is sitting in jail in Atlantic City.

It appears, at this point, that the cheating was discovered because 2.7 million in Borgata chips were flushed down the toilet in a hotel room at a nearby Harrah’s hotel and Harrah’s called the police and The Borgata. Good for The Borgata for pressing charges, but I’m not even sure they had an option. The State Police were alerted to the presence of the chips and may have done all of this on their own. And The Borgata didn’t catch the tremendous overage until they were notified that extra chips might be in play.

800,000 extra chips should be obvious. All you have to do is drop the chip counts into a spreadsheet at the end of the night. It takes less than a minute, and if you have it set up correctly it only takes a few seconds. I know that my local card room, Running Aces Harness Park, does this as do many other rooms around the country. A room the size and stature of The Borgata should be doing this, especially in a tournament with a 2 million dollar guarantee. There is no excuse for failing to catch a large amount of extra chips. Especially when they don’t even look like the other chips!

Photo credit @7thecho from twitter

Photo credit @7thecho from twitter

 I don’t work in casino security. I don’t know all of the best methods for stopping this kind of cheating. But I know that pressing charges and sending people to jail serves as a deterrent both to the perpetrator and to future cheats who may be bolstered by the fact that no one ever gets anything worse than a ban from the casino if charges are not pressed. I guess the New Jersey State Police are the real heroes here, along with the prosecutor who managed to get the bail set at $300,000. 

When I had a home game years ago we always had a sign on the wall with our rules, which included rule #7  –

“If you are caught cheating we will not call the police, but we will call you an ambulance.”

Perhaps this isn’t the best way to deal with the situation, but we never had a cheating problem.

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