http://sports.espn.g...tory?id=2097513Tournament directors faced with a new situation
LAS VEGAS - Two black souvenir poker chips that are nearly indistinguishable when stacked with actual $100 chips being used in the World Series of Poker were discovered in play during an official event Tuesday, raising concerns among tournament organizers of a new form of cheating.The souvenir chips, which could be purchased at the gift shop outside the Rio's poker hall, are emblazoned with the World Series of Poker logo in the center. The real tournament chips have a red "$100" stamped in the middle. But from the side, both kinds of chips contain similar alternating black-and-white sections.Jody Ivener, an assistant tournament supervisor, was alerted to the existence of one of the phony chips during the $2,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em event Tuesday afternoon."My immediate response was to take the chip out of play and replace it with a regular chip," Ivener said. "I couldn't penalize the player. We don't know if he brought it in or if it was part of the set-up (when officials lay out the appropriate stack for each player at the start of an event). We don't know when it came in, so I couldn't take the chip out of play without giving him back $100 in equity somehow. So, I gave him back one of the correct chips."I guess I have to thank the Lord it's not a purple chip -- a $500 chip -- or a yellow chip -- a $1,000 chip. Thank God it's only a $100 chip."Another phony $100 chip was discovered in play during the day, said Jack Effel, assistant tournament director. It also was replaced with an official tournament chip.In an unfortunate collision of poker's modern-day marketing meeting its outlaw past, tournament officials voiced worry that players have a stash of the phony chips that they plan to use in future events, including the prestigious $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em championship that is expected to draw up to 6,600 participants.To combat that, Effel said, players who hold phony chips will not have them replaced. Additionally, Effel said anyone caught purposely trying to slip them into play will be immediately disqualified."They're going to lose their buy-ins and be 86'd from the event," Effel said.Effel said WSOP dealers and people manning security cameras lining the ceiling of the poker hall have been told to be aware of phony chips entering play."We're going to have surveillance take a look at them," Effel said. "We're going to watch those people."We've educated the dealers. We've told them to make sure the black chips are spread (to reveal the distinctive red '$100' printed on the actual chips)."Poker pro Andy Bloch believes there is a solution to the problem. "One of my pet peeves is they should have computer chips in their chips so they could track them," Bloch said of an idea that has been kicked around, but apparently is too expensive for casinos that stock millions of chips.Rio poker officials planned to make an announcement to players that phony chips have been discovered and that it will be the responsibility of the players, as well as dealers and WSOP organizers, to make sure they are using official chips, Effel said.No announcement to players had been made as of Wednesday evening."We had four events today: A 12 o'clock event, a 2 o'clock event, a 3 o'clock restart and a 2 o'clock final table," Effel said of the head-spinning day for players and officials alike. "It just kind of slipped by us."Meanwhile, a basket next to a register in the gift shop Wednesday afternoon was filled with black chips going for 49 cents apiece."I haven't addressed it with (gift shop managers)," Effel said. "I don't know if they want to take them off sale."Players dismissed the advantage a participant would have from slipping phony $100 chips into play."Whoever tries that is stupid, because they'll never be able to play in any World Series events," poker pro Joe Awada said. "What are a couple of chips going to do for you? They're not going to take you to the final table. You have a lot to lose and nothing to gain."Player awareness and additional scrutiny on the part of tournament officials, dealers and security personnel should be enough to quash the issue, Effel believes."If somebody has the (guts) to try to do it and they want to take a shot at losing their money and they want to get disqualified from every event at the World Series and never be able to play again, well, let them take that chance," Effel said. "Everybody's going to be watching out for them now."