Website Sells Microchipped WSOP Cards, Other Cheating Devices
Well, this is certainly interesting. First reported by PokerNews.com, a Dutch website named GambleRomania.com (yes, it is a Dutch website called Gamble Romania) has been selling the exact same cards used at the 2015 World Series of Poker to anyone who is willing to pony up €120. Why the hefty price tag? Each card contains a microchip that allows someone with special software to use a laptop or smartphone to know exactly what is on the face of each card.
The specific WSOP cards have been removed from the site, but it sounds like they had been available right up until PokerNews started asking questions. There is still a listing for “Modiano WSOP,” but the detailed description of the product now mimics that of the “Modiano Cristallo” version. All sorts of varieties of cards are available, including different Modiano, Copag, Fournier, Bicycle, and KEM decks.
The site says, though, that it can take any deck of cards a customer sends it and embed microchips.
In order to take advantage of the microchip embedded in the cards, it appears that one would have to shell out another €200 for special software that can recognize the cards. This software can supposedly give a complete picture of all the hands at the table and community cards, giving winning percentages for each player. For some reason (money?) the software only comes with a 30-day license.
PokerNews contacted GambleRomania.com to inquire about the WSOP while they were still being sold and a site representative confirmed that it is feasible that they could be used to cheat. “We have Modiano WSOP, World Series of Poker model. You can use [them] in any place where you can switch up cards. Cards must switch up, [which] means replacing the clean one with a marked one. If [you have the] possibility to switch up, [it will] work, if not… [it won’t].”
That switch, of course, is the big problem for someone who would actually try to cheat in this way. It would be nearly impossible to actually get these cards into play. Even if one did so, decks are swapped out so frequently that they would soon be removed from the table. Plus, there is the whole issue of actually using the software to read the cards without getting caught.
The site does also sell devices to help further aid in cheating, such as earpieces and even a sleeve-concealed “card exchanger,” an item someone would use to palm a card, slip it into their sleeve, and replace it secretly with a microchip card.
The site does include a disclaimer with its products saying that they are just for “personal entertainment” and are not to be used for cheating, but come on:
Gamble Romania is a company executing products on demand and the sole use of these products should be for personal entertainment. These products are under no circumstances made for the purpose of cheating at gambling games.
Gamble Romania assumes no responsibility for the use of the products in casinos or private games, being these games legally or illegally organized for money gain purposes.
Some items on the site are also billed as useful for magic tricks.
This find is particularly interesting in light of recent cheating allegations levied against Valeriu Coca by several players whom he defeated in the WSOP $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Championship. Coca, from the Czech Republic, was accused by Connor Drinan and other players of playing , let’s just say, in an odd way:
Pratyush Buddiga was the first to lose to him. He is my good friend but seemed pretty tilted so I didn’t ask details until I found out he was my next opponent. I asked for reads and whatnot and he basically told me he was really slow and passive in the beginning and then picked up the pace as the match went on as far as speed of play and aggression. He thought he was stalling in the beginning to give himself a better shot to win at a higher blind level. He said he would stall by rechecking his cards at a bunch of different angles when it was clear he made up his mind to fold already.
He did the same thing in my match. For the first 10 hands or so, he folded to most of my button opens and either limped or folded the button (doing the same obnoxious card checking tactics). I was thinking “man this guy is going to be a breeze.” From that point on I won very few pots the rest of the match. Every time I had a good starting hand he folded. If I had a bad one he raised or re-raised. If I whiffed a flop he attacked my c-bets. If I whiffed and went for a delayed cbet, he blasted turn into me every time. If I hit and bet, he folded. Hit and checked, he checked ect ect ect.
Though he maintains his innocence, Coca apparently has a history of cheating. According to a Czech poker news site, he has been kicked out of multiple Eastern European casinos after allegedly being caught marking cards by subtly bending aces and kings.
World Series of Poker officials have looked into the matter and have not found any evidence of wrongdoing by Coca yet. The cards have been checked for “foreign solutions” that could have been used to mark them and have apparently, according to Tournament Director Jack Effel, been sent somewhere (a lab, one would assume) for further “forensic” testing.
And speaking of foreign solutions, Gamble Romania also sells special “invisible” infrared inks that can be used to mark cards. To read the ink, a player would need to wear infrared sunglasses. Even better, the site sells infrared contact lenses, a way for players to see the markings without it being obvious. Even if the markings were detected, one would presume that the cheater’s contacts would either not be noticed or they could be removed a discarded before an investigation began. Getting rid of sunglasses would be much more suspicious.