Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fake Chips, Fake Dollars

Saw headlines today about that fellow Christian Lusardi, the one who introduced all of the fake chips into a preliminary event at the 2014 Borgata Winter Open that caused the tournament to be stopped with 27 players.

You might remember how Lusardi had added the phony chips to his stack, enabling him to make it all of the way into the money before he punted, then skedaddled. I remember a funny-in-retrospect live update from Day 2 of that event describing Lusardi's growing stack and how he had been “quietly adding another wing to his expansive chip castle.”

Ha! He’d done it so quietly, not only did others not remember him having to go to showdown, it was hard to recall him even playing a hand!

After busting the tourney, Lusardi then tried to flush around 500 of the fake discs down the toilet at the nearby Harrah’s where he was staying in AC. That led to the plumbing getting clogged, which in turn led to the discovery of the chips and their being linked to Lusardi. By then it was already known that the tournament had been compromised, and so it didn’t take long to nab the cheater.

Sounds like he’s getting five years for this one, plus has to repay the Borgata nearly half a milly (what it lost on the tourney), plus has to play Harrah’s another nine grand or so for damages to the plumbing! All that goes along with another five-year sentence Lusardi received back in the spring for having counterfeited and sold a bunch of DVDs.

That’s right. The dude has a thing about making fakes of round things. Probably has an apartment full of plastic cheese wheels, bogus clocks, and rubber pizzas.

Anyhow, I clicked through to read a few different articles about the sentencing. Like most poker players, I had to wince at repeated references to the “$800,000 in counterfeit chips” put into play in the tournament, as well as the “$2.7 million” worth of chips found in Harrah’s plumbing. Saw a couple of examples of this in the stories I read -- here’s one over at the Press of Atlantic City.

Obviously the tourney chips weren’t worth the millions in cash such articles suggest. It’s an easy mistake to make -- indeed, many non-players who casually tune into poker tournaments on television believe a player “raising to 1 million” to be betting actual dollars, not just tourney chips. Still, in articles reporting fine amounts and including other real-money references, it’s a little careless not to get this right.

Makes me think of the first time I played a play money tournament on PokerStars. I wondered why there was a dollar sign in front of the number designating how many chips I had in my stack. I think somewhere along the way the site stopped doing that, although in real money tournaments they still do put the dollar signs in front of chip amounts.

I decided it was there to add a little bit of excitement, even if the “$” really didn’t mean anything at all. You know, not the real excitement of vying for actual cash. Like, uh... a counterfeit.

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