Tuesday, May 17, 2011

J’Accuse! Tekintagmac at WPT Championship

The headline from Emile Zola's famous 'J'accuse!' letterDay 4 of the World Poker Tour’s Championship event, a $25,000 no-limit hold’em tournament that once upon a time stood out as one of the few events on the calendar with a greater than $10K buy-in, gets underway later today at the Bellagio. Heading into today’s play, 52 of the original 220 players are still with chips.

Sam El Sayed is the current leader, with Nenad Medic close behind. There are a number of other familiar names left, including David Williams (gunning for a repeat of last year’s WPT Championship triumph), Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, Doyle Brunson, and several others.

However one player in particular, returning today to a short stack (45th of 52), has gotten an inordinate amount of attention over the first three days of play. I’m referring to Ali Tekintagmac, the German player who was disqualified just prior to the start of the final table of the Partouche Poker Tour Grand Final last November after being accused of cheating.

If you aren’t familiar with Tekintagmac’s story, I gave a summary of it here -- “No Cannes Do: On the Disqualification at Partouche” -- which was in fact a rundown of Benjo’s comprehensive report on the situation. Not only did Benjo cover what was alleged to have happened at Cannes back in September (when the Grand Final played down to a final table) and the disqualification of Tekintagmac in November on the eve of the final table playing out, but he also gives further background on earlier suspicions of Tekintagmac having cheated at events in Europe, too.

At Cannes, Tekintagmac was accused of having collaborated with a couple of faux bloggers during the event in order to gain a competitive advantage. After examining video evidence, PPT officials determined the reporters had been catching glimpses of Tekintagmac’s opponents’ hole cards, then signaling to the German. Many suspected a similar method had been employed by Tekintagmac at earlier events, stretching back (at least) several months into the spring of 2010.

Partouche Poker TourFollowing his disqualification at Partouche, Tekintagmac filed a lawsuit in February against the PPT for €1.5 million, an amount representing first-place prize money plus damages. A French court first considered the case on April 1st of this year, and Benjo was there to report on that preliminary hearing. Here’s his full report (in French), or you can click here for a list of highlights from Benjo in English.

The upshot of what happened at the preliminary hearing was that the PPT has to try to prove once and for all that cheating did occur before anything else can happen. If that can be done, the slander case gets dismissed; if not, it will proceed. Benjo surmises that it will probably be difficult for the tourney officials to prove the cheating, but he also thinks Tekintagmac isn’t likely to win his case either. They’ll be returning to court on June 24th to see how the investigation into the cheating has gone.

As I mentioned, there was a lot of suspicion surrounding Tekintagmac prior to Partouche, which likely led to his receiving closer scrutiny at Cannes. I haven’t seen any tapes or photos from the PPT event, although there have been other items -- such as this video from the final hand of the €3,200 WPT Spanish Championship in May 2010 (won by Tekintagmac, which, not incidentally, earned him his seat in the WPT Championship) -- that have drawn a lot of attention by those interested in what might have happened at Cannes. Players and reporters have shared anecdotes and photos, too, as they’ve considered the likelihood of Tekintagman’s guilt.

The allegations most certainly led to the somewhat altered guidelines for media for the 2011 WSOP which I mentioned last week. I’m guessing they also caused the WSOP to be even more vigilant with regard to handing out credentials, too.

Anyhow, over the last few days it sounds as though Tekintagmac’s appearance at the WPT Championship caused quite a fuss among some of the players and others who believed the “cheater” shouldn’t be allowed to play.

Daniel Negreanu, for one, appears to have embarked on a bit of a campaign at the Bellagio, tweeting about Tekintagmac’s presence, reporting how he’d “called him out,” and suggesting to those running the event that “he should be banned.” Negreanu even took a photo of Tekintagmac, sending it out with the note “This is a picture of the cheater.” Kid Poker then tweeted that he was going to talk to the WSOP officials to try to ensure Tekintagmac wasn’t going to be allowed to play at the Series this summer.

The outrage appears to have died down a bit since Sunday, although I imagine if Tekintagmac were to score a double-up or two early today and somehow make it deeper in the WPT Championship, it will probably revive.

Benjo decried the “mob mentality” being shown by Negreanu and others regarding Tekintagmac, and I tend to agree with that view. It’s definitely a lamentable situation, one that has succeeded both in increasing players’ discomfort and making the business of reporting on tourneys more complicated, too. But it seems to me that it would be even more lamentable to see officials at one event refuse a player’s entry based on yet-to-proven allegations that he cheated in another.

What’s your judgment? (No rushing!)

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Blogger Benjo said...

You should see the replies I got on Tweeter for merely suggesting that Negreanu's behaviour was a bit out of the line.


5/17/2011 11:44 AM  

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