Marked Card Incident at WSOPE Feature Table

November 10, 2023
Mark Patrickson

An incident concerning potentially marked cards has erupted at the World Series of Poker Europe feature table.

High stakes pro James Chen spotted that the backs of the RFID card deck was flawed in a way that allowed observers to recognise if a card was upside down.

Chen pointed out that the commentators were wrong with their theory that if all cards are flawed in the same way it doesn’t matter.

“If the ace of spades is facing one direction, while all other cards are facing the opposite, you can always tell which card is the ace of spades, even after a shuffle.

“Even if multiple cards are upside down, as is usually the case, you can still determine which cards could and which cards couldn’t be the aces of spades (or any other card you know the orientation of).”

Great Spot But Not Everyone Is Convinced

It’s great to have such eagle-eyed players on the right side of game integrity, but not everyone was convinced this was even a problem to begin with. Chen explained clearly why it could be.

Chen responded:

“If I know the ace of spades is facing one way, and both cards dealt to you were facing the other way, I know you absolutely don’t have the ace of spades, even without the blocker in my hand."

The founder of the celebrity high stakes game that inspired Molly’s Game reckons it wouldn’t be easy to cheat using such a method but it could be done.

Houston Curtis said:

“One way decks can be used in poker just like edge sorting in baccarat. However, maintaining the one way direction on the desired cards is difficult due to people holding and mucking. But: cheating can occur on a set up change.”

Could Eagle-Eyed Players Do a Phil Ivey?

Talk of imperfections on the backs of playing cards leads us right back to the edge-sorting scandal that saw Phil Ivey hauled before the courts in more than one country.

The American and his accomplice were able to predict with some degree of certainty which value of card was more or less likely to come next in a game of baccarat.

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey and recently closed down Crockfords in London both refused to pay Ivey approximately $10 million after sussing out what he was up to.

Although Ivey and others genuinely considered that edge sorting was not cheating, the courts deemed it cheating in civil law, and the casinos were justified in refusing payment of winnings.

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