Rant: It's High Time to Start a Rogues Gallery for Poker

christian lusardi
Poker rogue Christian Lusardi (Photo: 6abc Action News)

In one fell swoop this week Christian Lusardi elevated his status from 30,252nd on poker’s all time money list to the top of the 10 Dumbest Criminals in the World list.

As The Press of Atlantic City unveiled, the 42-year-old Lusardi was responsible for the recent Borgata Winter Poker Open $2 Million Guarantee chip scam.

A very quick summary of what happened:

Borgata tournament officials and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) were forced to suspend play in the aforementioned event after players complained to tournament officials about a series of 5k chips that did not look or feel like ordinary 5k chips.

After studious examination the organizers and the DGE found that 160 forged chips (totaling 800k) had been added to the tournament field. Play was suspended indefinitely. It was going to be exceedingly difficult to find the perpetrators amongst a field of 4,812 players and an event that resembled organized chaos.

Step forward and take a bow Mr. Lusardi.

Chip Leader without a Single Hand of Note?

As a live tournament reporter it always rankles a bit when the day ends with a chip leader whom you have not seen play a single hand of note.

Borgata Lobby
Borgata has sweet pipes, but not that sweet.

This is exactly what happened at the end of Day 1B of the aforementioned tournament when Lusardi was named the dominant chip leader with 519,000 chips.

Little did tournament officials realize that he'd just dumped a shedload of chips into his bag at the end of the night to give him a 200,000-chip lead over his nearest competitor.

Instead of using his counterfeit chips to propel him on to victory, the criminal mastermind was eliminated on Day 2 for a $6,814 cash.

How was he caught? Well it seems when news of the scandal broke Lusardi panicked and in a scene fresh out of The Wire flushed the remaining $2.7m counterfeit chips down the toilet of Harrah’s Borgata Hotel.

He did what? What did he think was going to happen with $2.7m worth of plastic chips? This isn’t coke or heroin Mr. Lusardi.

Did this kid ever do basic science in class? Chips were flushed, pipes were clogged, sewer workers were called and the shitty, pissy chips were traced back to the hotel room of the world’s dumbest criminal.

Now what happens next is extremely important.

It's High Time for a Poker Rogues Gallery

I don’t know about you guys but I am getting extremely pissed off with all of the cheats and scams in our game. It’s high time that we put an end to it and I think we should start a Rogues Gallery.

ali tekintamgac wpt barcelona
Ali Tekintamgac can be in the gallery.

I’m no expert but I assume that Bill Kaplan will not be able to get a game of Blackjack in most casinos in the world. Systems already exist to prevent cheaters and scammers playing the casinos table games and so it’s time we did likewise for poker.

There is nothing to stop a cheating poker player from entering another tournament or cash game except the thickness of his or her own skin.

A fact that was never better demonstrated than in 2011 when the alleged cheat Ali Tekintamgac turned up to take his seat in the $25,000 World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship.

Tekintamgac, Jean Paul Pasqualini, Cedric Rossi, Christian Lusardi and the former Full Tilt Poker (FTP) crew can all wander into any of our major poker tournaments and take a seat with only the wrath of the rest of the players to contend with.

Unless you're sharing a table with Georges St-Pierre, there really isn’t much to be scared of.

Yet David Diaz can get blind drunk at an Harrah’s joint, make a bit of a mess, and suddenly he is banned from all poker events at Harrah’s establishments meaning he can never play in a World Series of Poker (WSOP) event in his life?

I’m not excusing the antics of Diaz, and I have my own thoughts on whether or not he has got his just deserts, but the fact that he can’t show his face in the greatest competition in the world -- but the rest of the Rogues can -- doesn’t seem like balance to me.

Let's Start at the Tournament Directors Organization

We need a judge, jury and executioner.

Let's Make a Deal
Over to you, TDA.

Poker needs to act as one to create a regulatory body that can take these cases through a process that either ends with guilt being exonerated or heads being chopped off.

I believe the best place to start is the Tournament Directors Association (TDA). Why there?

It’s the only time you will see the leading lights of official tournament-dom together in one place and part of their role is to create rules and processes that provide protection from our players.

Yes, players need protection from players. If an organization can ban Diaz then it can ban anyone, and I want them all to start by banning the guy who believes $2.7m in chips will dissolve in the waters of the New Jersey sewer system.

Christian Lusardi – welcome to the Rogues Gallery. Now who else do you think should join him?

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