The player accused of cheating in the $10,000 buy-in heads-up event at this year’s World Series Of Poker (WSOP) tournament series has been cleared of the allegations made against him and will now receive his prize money of $54,545.
Valeriu Coca, from Moldova, placed fifth in June’s $10,000 heads-up no-limit event but was accused of marking cards by his competitors, who subsequently raised their concerns with the WSOP. Conor Drinan, a high-profile member of the poker community, felt uncomfortable with Coca’s odd behaviour during the game, and concluded with other players that he may have been cheating. They reported the incident to the WSOP authorities.
The WSOP took the allegations seriously and spokesperson Seth Palansky issued a statement confirming that, “once issues were brought to our attention, we immediately commenced an investigation and worked cooperatively with the Nevada Gaming Control Board”. They concluded the investigation and found no discernible evidence of foul play despite reviewing surveillance, security, and conducting a forensic examination of the cards in question. Thorough testing of the cards showed no markings or use of any foreign solution, as Drinan and others had suggested might be the case. The WSOP confirmed that as a result of this, they would be releasing Coca’s funds since he had been cleared of any misconduct.
The World Series tournament, which is traditionally frequented by professional and experienced players, kicked off in June this year with an initial 143 players.
Coca has run into controversy before in his poker career. A number of poker players from the Czech Republic, and the Czech poker news site, Pokerzive.cz, have raised the issue of Coca’s previous indictments for cheating at the poker table. He was purported to have been handed a lifetime ban for bending the corners of certain cards and marking cards in high stakes cash games. In light of his recent scandal, Coca has laughed off the allegations. “This is a fantasy,” he has said. “The players who lost are very good, so they just don’t believe they could lose to me for an honest reason.”