A very large number of you have been waiting on this post, and are understandably tired of the carrot-dangling that I've been subjecting you all to over the past week.Well, I'm sorry. Don't hold it against me, I just had a lot of other things I had to get out of the way first. So...here it is. Hope you find it interesting.
Okay...if you don't know who this fella pictured is? And you haven't heard about the scandal that rocked the WSOP circuit event at Palm Beach Kennel Club a few weeks, ago, then (a) you're living under a rock and (b) I've provided you with the link to brush up on the details, at least....the details that the ruling bodies (PBKC and WSOP) wanted you to know about. Is there information lurking below the surface that isn't being shared with us? The correct answer: No one really knows, except the folks at WSOP and PBKC. Why would they be withholding certain elements of information?
Just two weeks before the PBKC event, a major scandal erupted in Atlantic City at the Borgata event. Most of you know about it. If not...I really don't know who referred you to my blog! But the end result was that a huge event had been compromised because counterfeit chips had been introduced into play...by a guy named Christian Lusardi. He has also been busted for running a house game (big deal) and for fraudulently manufacturing and selling DVD's. They popped him with 37,500 DVD's that had come from China. Hmm...doing business with the Chinese, eh? Guess we know where all those counterfeit chips came from, then...don't we?
That event was halted with 27 players remaining, and kept on hold, while they investigated the full scope of what was going on. Well, they found 2.5m chips in the plumbing of the hotel room where Lusardi was staying, and arrested him. So, what happened with the event? Nothing! And sometime last week, one of the 27 remaining players filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all the players in that tournament against the Gaming Commission for the State of New Jersey. Can't wait to see how that turns out.
So...with all that going on, you can see why the poker tournament operators were collectively on high alert status. So when this 'incident' with Chan Pelton went down, it created a very unique opportunity for them to flex their authority, to make an example of someone, in order to send a message (loud and clear) to the poker community, that malfeasance in the game of the poker will NOT be tolerated , if they can help it.
So when I ask: Did they really tell us everything, when they handed down the virtual 'death sentence' to Chan Pelton? Because if they did, then it raises the question, was the punishment for this offense too harsh? Well, I had a nice 200+ thread on my Facebook wall discussing just this thing. There was also a very lengthy thread on 2+2 where he was basically skewered, which is (as we know) kind of the nature of any 'debate' that occurs on 2+2. The person in question almost 97% of the time ends up being proverbially burned at the stake.
Let's explore a couple of reasons for why they might NOT have told us everything, shall we? The official report was that he took a chip, or chips (that was never very clear) either during the tourney...or when it just ended. That too wasn't very clear. They left a lot of room for people to speculate, when they issued their somewhat ambiguous 'statement' for the poker community to feast on.
First: Let's imagine that when they went back and watched video surveillance from every event he played that week, they observed him taking chips on a frequent basis. He won the Omaha event earlier that week. Incidentally, they let him keep that prize money. What would the Kennel Club and/or the WSOP have to gain by letting people know that they had that information? I would answer that by saying absolutely nothing. If anything, it would create a nightmare, both logistically, as well as from a public relations standpoint. The last thing you want, especially in the wake of the Borgata shit show...is to have people feeling like they are playing in an event where the operators can't provide a safe, secure tournament without cheating.
Had they come out and told people that they had evidence of him stealing chips, or 'removing them from play' in other tourneys....then they open themselves up to legal action from EVERY player in all of those other tourneys. I think the path of least resistance, was to simply acknowledge he took a chip (or chips) from that one, single event (The $1100 event that he also won) drop the hammer on him, and move on. Sound about right?
Most of the people I know who work in poker, who make the tough decisions, could not have looked at that punishment and not thought it was overly harsh. Unless...UNLESS...they knew/know something that we don't know. Which I have to speculate may have been the reality of the situation.
What he lost: They DQ'd him from the $1100 event. He had won...$42,000. He lost all of that. They stripped him of the points he accumulated during that whole circuit event, which would have made him the Casino Champion in the race for the National Freeroll.... a seat that would have been locked up, and is potentially worth about $300,000 were he to win. And finally, he was banned from ALL Caesar's properties, with no time frame on it.
Maybe you're asking the same question that a few people were asking in the comment boards; if this happened at a place that Caesar's didn't own or operate, how then, could they take the initiative to ban him from all Caesar's properties? I don't know the answer to that question.
The common thread in the message boards seemed to be 'Did the punishment fit the crime?' A lot of good analogies were made, and the debate raged on for days. There were the hardcore folks, those who are adamant that 'stealing is stealing' no matter the value of the item being stolen.
Was he taking the chip as a souvenir? Was it something he did on a regular basis? There were stories that he had a table...where all these chips he had taken in past events were laid out on and made into a display. There were stories from people claiming to be his friends, who concluded that he would 'never do something like steal chips to introduce later in a future event, he is just kind of a dipshit who doesn't always think.' Heard that one a lot.
So which side was I on? Well, as you know (or most of you do anyway) I am currently banned from all Caesar's properties myself...for something that amounted to a simple misunderstanding with a female dealer...which has since been hashed out and rectified with that person. At the root of my situation, was that the man who is basically the face of the WSOP was forced to kind of eat crow a few years ago when the ban he had (again) unfairly placed on me was overturned by people who ranked over him. This put him on a mission of revenge that I knew to watch out for.
I knew....KNEW...that he was looking, for anything....anything, to use against me, to allow him to take to his bosses and essentially present whatever it was to them and say "Look! See! What did I tell you about this Souther guy! And you didn't want to believe me! Well, here you go! He screwed up...AGAIN! And now, he is DONE!" Oh...that's exactly what happened. And what could his bosses say? No one really cares enough about me to really do any heavy investigating. I'm sure it was just a case of, "Well, okay I guess maybe you were right Jack...I guess he screwed himself, do what you gotta do." And he did.
Where am I at in that mess? I honestly just kind of threw my arms up in the air when it happened and said 'Fuck it' because I was tired of dealing with that asshole. I knew what I was going to face to get my good name back. And I just didn't have the energy to pursue it. Plus, I talked to Nolan Dalla about it, who at the time was still traveling with the WSOP to all the circuit events...and he advised me to just leave it alone for about a year, then come back and ask to be reinstated. Well, Nolan reduced his role with WSOP a while ago, and I no longer see him at the small number of events that I go to play. I'm glad he cut back on his duties with the WSOP though, because now he has become the greatest blogger on the planet.
I suppose in the next month or so, I will either write a letter to Ty Stewart of the WSOP, or maybe even try to secure an appointment with him out in Vegas (preferable) with the intent to explain my side of things to him (which you never get a chance to do when these people decide to boot you)...and to let him know that the female dealer and I are perfectly friendly with one another now, and that she is willing to sign anything necessary to exonerate me and allow me to return to playing events on Caesar's-owned properties. Will things go my way? Pffft....I wouldn't even put odds on it, knowing my history with those guys. But I can say that the one time I met Ty Stewart, and from everything I've heard about him from people who have worked for and with him....he seems like a really decent guy. One who's vision isn't clouded by vendetta. One who doesn't have a problem using good judgement to make a decision on something like my situation.
I kind of got sidetracked there. But part of the reason is to let you know just how much the punishment they hit this guy with is going to impact his poker career. Massively. To some who aren't as heavily involved in the poker world, this punishment might be hard to fully understand.
So,originally, I was totally on this guy's side. And I know that a lot of you would liken that to me having a 'grudge' against the WSOP, and that I would take sides with anyone who had been punished by the WSOP. That is narrow-minded and simply incorrect. My problems with the WSOP, and really, one person specifically, do not cloud my ability to see a bad thing that has the ability to really hurt poker. Whether it's WSOP, WPT, or a tournament at the VFW.
I was on his side because I just couldn't convince myself to believe that this guy could have had sinister motives when he removed ONE 25k chip from the tourney either near the end, or at the conclusion of the tourney he won. It seemed quite feasible that he had, in fact, simply removed it with the intent to take it home and make it a part of his collection. I never like the way these guys make their decisions...which is done without ever hearing anything from the person being judged/accused. What kind of a process is that? How does anyone make an educated decision on someone's future and livelihood without hearing what they have to say? Just seems insane.
So when they announced the punishment, I was blown away...as were a lot of people I know. It was debated for three days or so through these comment threads. Nobody could really agree on anything.
A VERY REVEALING PHONE CALL
On about the 3rd day, I get a message in my Facebook inbox from a guy I've known and played poker with for probably 8 years. He wanted to tell me something. Something about this guy Chan. Whoa!
So the next day, I called him. And what I heard really threw me for a loop. First, let me say something. I have a lot of people who have taken advantage of me over the years. People who owe me money, some, a lot, others a little. They know who they are. They know they owe me money. And how people are ever able to rationalize NOT paying someone that they owe money, I will never, ever understand. It's just not how I happen to be wired.
When I owe someone money, they get paid, immediately. I don't owe ANYONE money. A lot of people have told me that I have to 'just let karma take care of those people' who owe me money. I've always kind of scoffed at that, since karma never really ever seems to 'get' these people. My own selfish desires require immediate satisfaction in these cases. I want to see them suffer. I want to hear that someone 'got them.' Or that they ran afoul of the law and wound up in jail. Anything...to make me feel like they got what they deserved.
So. This Chan fellow? He seems to be a real piece of work, according to this guy I spoke to, who knows him as well as anyone, having played house games with him off and on for almost a decade. He has seen enough to know what his deal is. Turns out what his deal is, is something that someone like me would run around my front yard fist pumping like Tiger Woods after hearing what happened to him.
You may have heard that he was pulled over by cops 3 years ago, and that they found an ounce of marijuana on him...that he first claimed that it was going to be sold. Then, when common sense kicked in, he changed his story, telling the cops it was his own, for his consumption. I guess that is what happens when you've fallen asleep at a stop light...and are woken up by a cop tapping on your window. You lose your sense of what to say!
Well...that may not be far from believable, since, apparently he is quite the pot head. I'm told he hasn't worked...a real job...ever. He has run house games, and has sold drugs. Along the way....he has managed to accumulate a bevy of debts with people, from sports gambling, to poker, to drugs. On many occasions he has simply refused to pay them. Or if he owed, say $2000, he would give them $300 and tell them that was all he was going to pay them. Period. Huh? You owe me $2000 but you are only going to give me $300...then TELL ME that is all I'm going to get?
Well, see...he isn't as stupid as he may seem. I mean...if he owes someone money for something that is essentially illegal, what are they going to do? What is their recourse? Okay, if we are talking about Flatbush...in Brooklyn, he's probably going to get a visit from Guido and Tony, who are going to convince him of all the reasons why he should pay his debt in full, and probably with a little interest tacked on. But this guy was living in College Station...home of Texas A-n-M...and he was dealing with college kids. Not guys who were going to remove a pinky until he came up with the rest of their money.
Seems the trail of people this guy has burned is a fairly long one. And when those people found out what happened to him, there was kind of a collective celebration, that someone had finally done to him what he'd been doing to everyone else for the past 5-10 years.
When I asked this guy if he thought Chan was taking a chip out of play to simply have as a keepsake, telling him that I'd heard from a supposed friend while in Palm Beach that he had a collection of other chips, that he kept as memorabilia. He laughed at that, saying that Chan is the least 'nostalgic' person he knew. That this was just something he would never do. He had zero doubts in his mind that Pelton removed that chip, and maybe several chips...with the full intent to either use them in a later tourney, or possibly sell (or exchange for a 'sweat') to a player who might make it deep in a tourney that he's been knocked out of already. And after hearing that? It made me think....wow, I never even thought of that angle.
I had convinced myself that it didn't make any sense to accuse this guy of planning to steal ONE chip with the intent to bring it into play in the next event, the Main, a $1675 buy in. My main reason for doubting that? Because I had just finished 38th in that event...and specifically recall that the 25k chips didn't even come into play until we removed the 500 chips from the tourney...which happened when we were down to about 5 tables. And only 1 or 2 at the most per table. So realistically, anyone holding a 25k chip that was trying to sneak it into their chipstack, wouldn't really be able to do so until action got down to about two tables, otherwise it would be too noticeable, especially to guys like me. Me and my O.C.D. come in very handy for things like counting everyone's chip stacks about every half hour. There is no way, if that guy was at my table...that I wouldn't notice a 25k bump in his stack when he hadn't won any hands.
And the argument that some were making? That he could steal ONE chip and ship it off to China to be produced in mass quantities? That just seemed far-fetched and lacked any logic, since the Palm Beach Kennel Club...which the chips were branded with, only hosts that one in event annually. If someone were going to make that 'play' it would make a lot more sense to steal a chip from the WSOP at Rio, or maybe Hammond...places that get massive fields. It's pretty obvious now that this is precisely what this schemer Lusardi did. The Borgata hosts a lot of tourneys...and hasn't done the best job of mixing up their chip sets, or even bringing in new ones every year or two...which should be done when you are running that many tourneys a year. So Lusardi basically just exposed and exploited a weakness within their tournament operation.
But hearing this new info, about Pelton? I was able to easily convince myself that this guy is/was the shyster that a lot of people had convinced themselves he is. Maybe just not as slick and calculating as the Borgata shyster.
The friend I spoke to even said: "The thing is, even if he was innocent on this one occasion, I can promise you that he has done plenty in the past that he DIDN'T get caught for, that make this acceptable for me to handle." He used an analogy that he got caught shoplifting gum at a store that he'd been robbing at gunpoint in a ski mask for the past 5 years. I thought that was pretty good.
So, in conclusion...and I know this has been a long post...but there was a lot to discuss on this matter, I feel kind of mmmm.....not even sure what the word is. Stupid? Gullible? Something. For thinking this guy was a total victim in all this. Just knowing that he's made a habit out of screwing people over who he knowingly owed money to, that alone makes me glad he got bent over and screwed without lube.
And something tells me, and this could be way wrong...but it wouldn't even matter either way, that when they went back and watched that video from the whole event over ten days? That they found a lot of evidence of wrong doing by this guy. And they may or may not (I suspect they probably DID) have informed him of what they discovered. Why would they tell him that? Maybe to save him the time and money (and themselves, obviously) of trying to sue them...so that when he arrived in court he wouldn't be humiliated by the numerous video clips they would show in court that blew his case out of the water. Or showed him just to shame him into ever trying to step foot in their casino again. These are just guesses. But I have a really hard time believing that their punishment would have been as steep and as severe as it was if they didn't have something else on him.
You could counter that because of the mess at Borgata, they were over-reacting, trying to make this guy their official poster boy for WHY NOT TO STEAL CHIPS. A lot of people will still think that is exactly what he was, a gigantic scapegoat. Hey, he might be. It might have been just what he said it was. A keepsake. This one time...he may have truly been innocent of wrong doing.
But now that I know what kind of guy he is? I could care less. I am more happy for all those people he fucked over, who finally got to see karma pay someone a visit and clobber the shit out of him. Now...if I could just get Mr. Karma to go visit some of the assholes who have stiffed me over the past 5 years...it would be a perfect day!