Allegations of Cheating at WSOP

Allegations of Cheating at WSOP

Friday, 5 June 2015

The 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has been dealt a potentially damaging blow this week after rumours surfaced that a player from Moldova may have cheated his way to a $54,000 score in the $10,000 heads-up event.

The tournament, which is traditionally frequented by pro players, kicked off earlier this week with 143 players intent on bagging a bracelet. Among the initial cohort of players was a mid-stakes grinder from Romania known as Valeriu Coca.

Despite his average tournament buy-in prior to the event being just $1,500, Coca bought into the event alongside everyone else and began weaving his way through some of the toughest heads-up players in the game. One player who fell to the Moldovan was Illinois native, Connor Drinan.

Drinan Feels Cheated

An established player on the live circuit with more than $3 million in career earnings to his name, Drinan was confident that he could cruise past Coca and move a step closer to a WSOP bracelet earlier this week. However, after losing the match in frustrating fashion, the American pro took to Twitter to let out his frustration.

Claiming that he'd just been involved in one of the strangest matches of his life, Drinan hinted that he may have been the victim of a super-user (someone who could see his hole cards).

Despite feeling cheated, Drinan attempted to keep the incident a secret until the WSOP had conducted a full investigation into the incident. However, as rumblings of discontent spread throughout the Rio, Drinan was eventually forced to respond in a forum thread outlining the subject. Stating that his description of events is only his personal take on the match, he went on to explain that Coca was making a number of odd moves during their match.

In addition to playing extremely slowly at certain times, Coca reportedly checked and re-checked his cards at different angles even though it was "clear he had made up his mind to fold." Witnessed by Drinan as well as his friend, Pratyush Buddiga, who lost to Coca in the previous round, these mannerisms were then accompanies by a series of pre-flop folds that didn't seem to make sense to Drinan.

"Every time I had a good starting hand he folded. If I had a bad one he raised or re-raised."

After losing the match, Drinan spoke to the other players who had lost to Coca, including Buddiga, Matt Marafioti and Aaron Mermelstein, and all seemed to agree that something wasn't right. Intent on testing their theory that Coca was somehow able to read their cards, Drinan told Byron Kaverman to protect his cards as much as possible. Taking Drinan's advice, Kaverman did his best to hide his cards, but still ended up losing the match.

Further Accusations Against Coca

Coca eventually hit the rail in fifth place and picked up $54,545, but his antics during the match have since sparked a mass debate online. Wanting to get to the bottom of the incident and find out if there is any truth to their accusations, Drinan and his peers reported the incident to the WSOP's Tournament Director, Jack Effel.

Stating that he would launch a full investigation, Effel and his team have since been checking CCTV at the Rio and doing some research into what may have gone on. While these checks have been taking place, a number of players from the Czech Republic have been pointing to prior incidents where Coca has been caught cheating at the poker table.

According to Czech poker news site,, Coca was handed a lifetime ban for bending the corners of certain cards; information which has since been backed up by various Czech players who have suggested that Coca is well known for marking cards in high stakes cash games.

At this stage it's important to point out that all the accusations are, as yet, unproven.

Tags: WSOP, Valeriu Coca, cheating