Former Treasure Island Poker Room Manager Arrested for Stealing Promotional Money
Sometimes when someone comes up with a scheme to make money by illicit means, I can’t help but be impressed. It takes some planning and creativity to think up something good and even though I don’t approve and even though the person might get caught I think to myself, “Well, that was clever.”
What follows is not an example of the above. This is the story of a dumb, dumb alleged criminal.
Christopher Coffin, the former poker room manager at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was arrested on December 12th on a felony charge of the theft of $650 to $3,500. (An exact dollar amount was not given.) According to a records search on the Las Vegas Township Justice Court website, his case, numbered 15F00364X, was filed January 9th.
Alright, that’s fine. People get arrested all the time. Just because he was the manager of a poker room is really inconsequential.
Except that he allegedly stole money from his own casino.
According to Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles on his site PokerFraudAlert.com, an unnamed Treasure Island employee told him that Coffin was arrested for stealing money from a football pool established at the poker room. Had he simply taken the money from the pool, that would be bad enough, but Coffin concocted a scheme to try to do it without drawing attention. Problem was, he did the opposite.
Witteles’ source went on to explain that the promo was designed to reward frequent players. “It was a promo where you make picks,” the employee told him. “You get picks by playing more hours.”
Coffin allegedly rigged the football pool in his favor. The employee was not completely certain of all the exact details, but he believes that Coffin created an entry using a fake player name and filled in the correct football picks after the games were played. The employee figures that this scenario makes more sense than Coffin making multiple fake entries and just getting lucky with his picks. He ended up getting caught because since the name on the entry was made up; nobody in the poker room knew who the player was.
One can imagine how things went from there. Probably a lot of “Who the hell is Perry Kings?” and “What a luckbox, getting all the games right.” Then, Coffin probably tried to quickly pull an Oscars move and announce, “Um…Mike McDermott could not be here to today, so I, uh, will accept the prize on his behalf. Yeah, I know the guy, so I will be sure to give him the money tonight. Yeah…that’s the ticket!”
Coffin has a criminal history; he was arrested in June 2013, charged with robbery, burglary, domestic batter with substantial bodily harm, and conspiracy to commit criminal contempt.
Prior to his stint at Treasure Island, Coffin was the poker room manager at the Mirage, taking over in 2009. Among other changes, he reduced the capacity of the room, drawing criticism in some quarters. In a 2012 interview with PokerAtlas.com, Coffin discussed the “change in direction” for the poker room:
The big difference is understanding that there is only so much high end market out there. The mass of the market is low end, capped NL players and Limit players. Recreational players. Even within the realm of recreational, I consider many people who play on an everyday basis still to be recreational. They’re actually enjoying their time. They’re not just here to make money. They’re here enjoying the game of poker. They’re not just here grinding away a living. Understanding that that is the bulk of the market, instead of just trying to focus on just high limit when we have multiple big rooms in town that have captured that market pretty well, I started changing the room to focus on the more recreational, every day player, and offering them what they want. It was non-stop, people asked, “I don’t get anything for my quads? I don’t get anything for my Royal Flush?” So we started jackpots. And with the jackpot money, we have done many different promotions for holidays, for football, for any special event.
And now, a few years later, he has allegedly found a way to use these types of promotions to his advantage.
This is not the first incident of someone in the poker industry stealing from a poker room or casino. The highest profile example in recent memory was from a year ago, when popular poker tournament photographer and video blogger, Jay “WhoJedi” Newnum was caught stealing about $700 in tip money from poker dealers at Foxwoods. The story was, in a way, as funny as it was sad. Newnum was able to steal the money by allegedly using a pair of sticky chopsticks to reach into dealer toke boxes.