Gambling has been associated with the mafia since the rise of casino culture. Mafia has a significant role in the development of casinos in cities like Macau and Las Vegas in the past. However, in the last few years, the association of mafias and criminals with gambling has reduced. But this doesn’t mean that scams, frauds, or crimes have stopped in the gambling industry. Since poker is one of the celebrated and popular gambling games, many poker tournaments and events have witnessed some serious crimes and offenses that have shaken the gambling world. This article will discuss scams and crimes connected to poker history.
Russ Hamilton’s Online Poker Scam
Poker enjoys incredible popularity at the land-based casinos, but it also has a huge fanbase at the online casinos. In the last two and half decades, online poker platforms have embraced new changes and have become trustworthy. However, when online gambling was in its infancy, the doors were slightly open for the cheaters.
Initially, there were no regulations and awareness about online casinos. Players didn’t know how to differentiate between a serious online poker site and the dubious one. And that’s when two sites named Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker had dark secrets under the curtains.
Russ Hamilton is an American poker play and Champion of WSP 1994. He was also a consultant and co-founder of the Ultimate Bet site. In 2008, Hamilton was found cheating the players by playing with different names and accounts according to the Washington Post. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission found that Hamilton had frauded the players for more than $22 million by using software that allowed him to get access to other players’ hole cards. This becomes one of the biggest crimes in online gambling history.
This happened between 2004 and 2008. Russ used over 20 accounts of his friends and colleagues with nearly a hundred screennames to cheat the customers. However, he was never accused of the crime. Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker were owned by the Cereus Poker Network, which closed all its operations in 2012.
Peter Jepsen’s Spyware Scam
Peter Jepsen, a Danish poker player, was popularly known for his win at European Poker Tour in 2007. In the following year, he set the world record to win the biggest amount in online poker history. However, he is also known for cheating the players by downloading spyware on opponents’ devices. The accusation was listed in cities like Berlin, Las Vegas, Copenhagen, and Aarhus, where the scam spyware was downloaded on the unknown player’s devices. He did all these with his associates, but later they became the witnesses and provided proof against Jepsen.
Many people believe that while European Poker Tour and during his Barcelona stops, many break-ins were attempted by Jepsen’s accomplices to install Remote Access Trojan spyware on other players’ devices. In 2014, nearly eight poker players from Denmark reported complaints against him for the scam that occurred in 2008.
The Mysterious Case of Missing Millions
Full Tilt poker platform’s case came in 2011 when the Department of Justice accused the company of defrauding over $300 million of poker players registered at the platform. One of the company’s directors, Bitar, was accused and charged with several offenses of digital gambling and fraud. Later he surrendered his house and $40 million after pleading guilty. Other directors, including Ferguson and Lederer’s lawyer, denied the allegation of an illegal or fraud attempt and said it was mismanagement.
In this case, more than $400 million were taken out of the company’s till. All the money was paid to the shareholders, owners, directors, and several popular poker players. This huge amount was actually a deposit made by the poker players on the Full Tilt Poker online platform. The players had to wait three years to get back their money. In 2014, Rational Group acquired Full Tilt and repaid all the debts, including mission millions of the players. This could be one of the biggest crimes in the poker game in the last decade.
Floods of Fake Chips
At the World Series of Poker events, chips did not tally when counted at the end of the day. This has been happening for years, so it wasn’t a big deal. Organizers used to add stacks of all the remaining players to know the amount they started off with. Well, there was always an issue about additional chips in the play, but this couldn’t become a huge problem then. However, the possibility of fake chips in the series was never thought of by the organizers.
The prospect of fake chips in the game became a serious problem when nearly 800,000 fake chips were found at the Borgata Winter Open at the beginning of 2014. The event has a prize pool of $2 million, and the event was canceled when more than 25 players remained in the game, and the fraud of fake chips came to light.
The Adventure of Ali
This fraud seems like a plot from a movie from the ‘80s. A poker player from Germany named Ali Tekintamgac, along with his accomplices, cheated at several events. His plan was simple. He used to hire fake bloggers so that the events get populated. His fake blogger associates would see other players’ cards and informed him in expressions.
He even collected 278,000 Euro at the World Poker Tournament Spanish Championship in 2009 with his trick, but it was found later. In the same year, he was disqualified from European Poker’s main event due to a gesture received from his blogger accomplices, and the scene got disclosed. However, he left and contested at Partouche Poker Tour without proving his innocence after a few days in France.
Here, it was never found about his tactic until he reached the finals. When the video footage was found cheating him, the officials expelled him from the event. This is the time when his video of victory at World Poker Tournament Spanish Championship Barcelona came to highlight and proved he cheated. He was banned from all the reputed poker events and was never prosecuted until he was found cheating at a local casino in Germany.
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