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  • Counterfeit Chips Found at Borgata Winter Open, First Event Cancelled

    Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Ryan

In a bit of a shocking way to start out the new year for poker, we saw the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open have a pretty huge controversy pop up. The action got fully underway this week, but the first major United States poker series of the new year is now going to be slowed down thanks to a pretty big scandal. The scandal you ask? Well, during the first event of the Open series featured counterfeit chips being found. This not only led to a suspension of the tournament, but in the long run of things we actually saw the tournament get cancelled.

Originally this situation came up and the discovery of the chips came on Friday. The Senior Vice President of Operations for Borgata (Joe Lupo) didn’t say exactly what was going on, but he did say that there was a reason to think that the tournament was compromised. From there, we were able to find out that the spokeswoman for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) Lisa Spengler said that the DGE and the police knew about the situation, and that it was “involving counterfeit chips.”

Unfortunately for the players in the first event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open, which was a $2 Million Guaranteed Big Stack Re-Entry, the action originally got suspended after Day 3 of the action. At this point though, there were only 27 players left in the action, and this was dwindled down from a massive starting number of 4,812 players. The prize pool ended up being more than $2.3 million. 423 players to this point were already in the cash ranging anywhere from $1,082 up to $6,338. At this point, the first place prize was set at $372,123. The chip leader when the tournament was suspended was Allard Broedelet with 10.315 million chips, and then Nick Guagenti with 9.745 million chips. The plan originally was just to suspend the event for 24 hours while the situation was investigated.

On Saturday though is when things started to get ugly, as we saw the decision come down to cancel the tournament all together. The choice was made by Tom Ballance, who is the president and chief operating officer of the Borgata. Apparently according to his statement, they had found that “one or more tournament entrants improperly introduced a significant number of counterfeit chips into the tournament, gaining an unfair advantage and compromising the integrity of play for the event. They are also going to be moving forward with the tournament schedule as planned to this point once approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Now comes the huge question of what to do with the rest of the prize money that is remaining in the pool. There are obviously 27 players who are unpaid, and their money is now frozen until the investigation completely comes to a close. The buy-in’s are not going to be refunded though is the way that it seems to this point.

With the tournament series continuing to roll on, it means that the schedule continues, and will run through the end of the month. The final event is going to be the $3 Million Guaranteed Championship Event, and this is an event that will start on Sunday, January 26th, and is going to play through Friday January 31st to determine the eventual winner.

To put it plain and simple, this is a situation that you don’t see very often in the poker community, but it’s one that really hurts that start of the new year for the game of poker. This year has the potential to be a huge year in poker, especially with the potential for online poker to possibly start taking off in certain states throughout the United States. The online aspect more than likely won’t be affected by something like this, but it’s going to be interesting to see how some of the other different tournament series’ that are coming up over the next few months end up doing in terms of their numbers against what they were expecting to see.

On top of that though, we mentioned that the tournament series for the Borgata Winter Open is going to continue on as planned. With the status of this tournament up in the air, if players aren’t paid out with the upcoming events getting set to get underway, I feel pretty confident in saying that we could see the overall numbers for the next tournaments take a hit. Obviously the 27 players who are awaiting the outcome of the situation with their money aren’t likely to invest more money if they don’t know what the outcome will be, and other players could be a bit weary of the situation, which will make the end of this tournament series even more interesting to watch.

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