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WSOP officials investigate cheating allegations

8 Jun 2015

By David Schoen
World Series of Poker officials said they are investigating allegations that a player cheated his way to a fifth-place finish in one of its most prestigious tournaments.

The alleged incident took place during the $10,000 Heads-Up No-limit Hold’em Championship that ended Thursday and were levied against Valeriu Coca of Moldova.

“We are aware, monitoring very closely w/all resources @ our disposal. Those include surveillance/security, forensic examination of cards, etc,” WSOP tournament director Jack Effel wrote on Twitter. “We take integrity very seriously, as evidenced by our lifetime bans, and would enjoy nothing more than catching a cheater in our midst.”

Coca defeated five opponents in the Heads-Up Championship before losing to eventual winner Keith Lehr in the quarterfinals Wednesday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. According to PokerNews.com, Connor Drinan believed there were several irregularities in Coca’s play during their match in the round of 32 and posted his concerns on the TwoPlusTwo online poker forum early Thursday.

Drinan also spoke with other players who faced Coca in the tournament and had similar suspicions. The players then contacted Effel later Thursday and WSOP officials began their probe.

“We take these types of allegations very seriously & an investigation began immediately upon learning them. It is ongoing,” WSOP spokesperson Seth Palansky wrote on Twitter. “Preliminary testing of cards show no markings or use of any foreign solution. Further tests will be done to confirm initial.”

Palansky wrote in a text message Friday morning that the cards from the tournament remain out for testing and that officials will be “thorough in conducting” their investigation.

Coca collected $54,545 for his fifth-place finish and denied any wrongdoing in an interview with PokerNews.com.

“This is a fantasy,” Coca told the website through a translator. “The players who lost are very good, so they just don’t believe they could lose to me for an honest reason.”

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