This week saw massive amounts of controversy erupt in the live poker tournament scene, as one of the players taking part in the World Poker Tour Championship event was identified to be none other than Ali Tekintamgac. The german poker player was invited to play in the event despite strong allegations that he has cheated in past poker tournaments, including the Partouche Poker Tour in which he made the final table, but was disqualified from the event for cheating.
The WPT World Championship kicked off on Saturday May 14th and is scheduled to play through until the 20th of this month, taking place in the famous Bellagio casino in Las Vegas. The World Poker Tour is a series of televised poker tournaments taking place in beautiful locations around the globe, and culminating in a WPT World Championship event at the end of each series. The Championship is open to registration from all players, with winners of WPT events from that series receiving free registration and entry. As Tekintagmac came in first place in the WPT Spain stop in May of last year, he received a seat in this season’s WPT World Championship.
This would, of course, be all fine and dandy were it not for the fact that Ali Tekintamgac is known for cheating in poker tournaments. After winning the Spanish WPT stop, he entered the largest poker event in France, the Partouche Poker Tour. Here he also performed extremely well, making it to the final table which was scheduled to be played out some weeks later. During the course of these weeks, however, video footage from the tournament showed that Tekintamgac had help in the form of fake bloggers and other media personnel who would stand near his table and signal him information as to his opponents’ hole cards. He was, naturally, disqualified from the tournament and his chips were removed from play.
Understandably so, the other players in the WPT Championship were less than impressed with Tekintamgac’s presence and made themselves heard. Among those hot under the collar was the often outspoken famous poker pro Daniel Negreanu, who had much to say on the subject via twitter and pointed out the man to a WPT camera crew announcing, “This is the cheater from Partouche!” The floor was quick to warn Daniel Negreanu, however, according to his twitter, when fellow poker pro Scott Siever was threatened physically by Tekintamgac, the floor “[wouldn’t] do anything about it.” Even players not playing in the WPT event were outraged, including pro Vanessa Selbst who asked of Matt Savage, WPT Executive Tournament Director, via twitter “why was he even allowed to register???” At this time there has been no comment from Savage.
The man himself, Tekintamgac, thoroughly denies the cheating allegations and is in the process of suing the Partouche Poker Tour for €1,500,000 (over $2.1 Million USD) for potential prize money lost and damages to his reputation. The case is currently tied up in the courts in France, so the outcome has not yet been decided but Tekintamgac stated clearly, “I don’t want a deal,” and that he “wants to go till the end.” He says that with regards to playing poker, especially now in the WPT Championship, he is unable to concentrate and is “pretty nervous” about the situation after being recognized and casino staff, other players and a lot of bloggers and media all talking about him.
The situation is a difficult one for the World Poker Tour as, given that he won a World Poker Tour event by means fair or foul, they have promised him a $25,000 WPT Championship package. Daniel Negreanu pointed out via twitter that, while they’re legally obligated to give him the $25,000, they nevertheless have the right to deny tournament entry to anybody, and that Tekintamgac should definitely belong to that group as somebody who has been allegedly caught cheating red-handed once with strong rumors that the tactic was used in the past. At the time of writing Tekintamgac is no longer playing in the tournament, which is probably a very lucky break for the World Poker Tour as the fallout would have been massive had he made the final table of this event.