“Poker imitates chess?” — tweeted Fabiano Caruana, one of today’s leading chess players. But he wasn’t referring to a strategy or an approach or anything; He was referring to cheating.
The Poker Drama
The poker drama unfolded in between longtime Instagram model Robbi Jade Lew and former Survivor contestant Garrett Adelstein, both now pro poker players. The hand was worth $269,000. Adelstein went all-in – and Lew called.
By all the statistical rules, she shouldn’t have called. Basically she had nothing. Corresponding an analysis, not only would she have lost against any decent hand that included anything like a full house, three of a kind, or even big pair – she would have lost against many of his bluffs as well. Besides Adelstein had nothing. It came down to the high card, which was an 8 for Adelstein, and Lew won with a jack.
The hand shocked everyone at the table and immediately led to allegations of cheating.
“I don’t understand what’s happening,” said a perplexed Adelstein while the cameras rolled on.
After a moment he asked Lew why she had called.
“I thought you had Ace High,” Lew said.
“So why call with Jack High?” Adelstein said since Jack High lost to Ace High.
“Because you don’t have shit,” Lew said.
Adelstein then left the table.
Meanwhile, Lew offered to return the money (it’s not clear if she offered to do so, or if she was pushed by the organizers or someone else). “I was pulled from the game and forced to talk to him in a dark hallway. All details follow,” Lev tweeted. Adelstein accepted the money: “Of course, as soon as she offered, I take my money back after I was clearly scammed.”
Some saw the return of the money as an incriminating gesture, but legendary player Daniel Negreanu intervened, saying that it’s something someone rich and relatively new to poker would probably do.
So how would someone cheat at poker? Well the easiest way would be to have a device that vibrates when you have the best hand or something.
Adelstein provided his analysis of their past strategies and said he was aware of the ways someone could “cheat” during a live stream. He said this could include a “hidden device that simply vibrates to indicate you have the best hand”.
He added, “Another common way to cheat is for someone to have the technology to know who has the best hand at showdown by hacking into the card reader.”
Meanwhile, Lew implied that she misread her hand.
But then things took an even stranger turn. An investigation into the casino where the game took place revealed that a clerk dug into Lew’s stack and took $15,000 before he was later caught. Lew said she would not press charges, then changed her mind and made a slew of comments, some of which seemed contradictory – but still there is no tangible evidence she cheated, other than that she put a lot on one hand, which she has done much rather lose than win.
Lev will now be on a mental hiatus, which is understandable given the misogynist replies on her Twitter. The investigations are still ongoing
The fraudulent chess calculation
The chess world watched in shock as Magnus Carlsen, the highest rated chess player of all time, resigned after just one move. But this was just the beginning of a series of cheating scandals that made waves in the chess world.
It all started when Carlsen met Hans Niemann, a rising 19-year-old who has dramatically improved his rating in recent years. Carlsen lost to Niemann in a way he thought impossible and subsequently withdrew from the tournament. Many observers noted that it was the first time Carlsen had retired from a tournament and that it’s not a move he would take lightly – he’s nothing but combative.
For many, the move seemed shocking. You can’t just pull out of a tournament because you think someone is cheating, especially when you’re the world champion and all eyes are on you. But Carlsen didn’t just do that: when he faced Niemann again in an online tournament, he resigned after just one move.
However, behind the scenes, many top chess players sympathized with Carlsen. Several top players expressed concern about Niemann and expressed suspicions of cheating. Suspicion was only fueled when Niemann’s analysis of the game was rather bizarre during a post-game interview. In a subsequent interview, Niemann admitted he cheated a few years ago, but he said it was only online and only in non-prize-money tournaments.
But then, of course, it got even weirder.
It’s hard to tell when someone is cheating at chess, if they’re smart, and if they’re strong enough without cheating. The thing is, at the highest level, you don’t really need a computer telling you every play (or having someone relay a computer move somehow) – you just need a few key moves at a few key moments; Sometimes a single moment of “inspiration” is enough.
So it’s quite difficult to find out when someone is cheating. But when someone cheats on a regular basis, you would expect online platforms to be the first to find out – and that’s exactly what happened.
Chess.com, the largest online chess platform, published an investigation into Niemann’s online games and found that he probably cheated more than 100 times even in significant games. Now, that’s not to say he cheated against Carlsen or that he cheated in over-the-board (as opposed to online) games. But once a person has cheated, he can cheat twice; and if they have often cheated, then it is not difficult to understand why people are suspicious. The analysis was also supplemented by individual chess players who dealt with the last games of Niemann and Find some very unusual patterns. “Play first [computer] In any complicated game that isn’t a 12-move draw, the line-up is pretty weird,” said Fabiano Caruana, who would have come very close to Magnus Carlsen in 2018 and is still one of the best players in the world at the moment.
The scandal spread in unusual directions. Chess.com’s investigation also said it found other leading players who were likely to have cheated. Shortly thereafter, the president of the Norwegian Chess Federation resigned, admit cheating, and all sorts of accusations started flying. The problem is that this is a fight for who soul of the game: Because computers are so much stronger than humans, it’s easier than ever to cheat, and the honor principle just doesn’t seem to apply. Also, many players feel that online cheating is not taken seriously enough, even though online tournaments now come with a lot of money and reputation at stake.
Of course, the scandal sparked an endless barrage of memes and jokes, including one that somehow caught on. What first started as a joke on social media: the anal beads.
The idea is that if someone were to cheat, some sort of vibration system could be used that eludes detection. Since Niemann said he was willing to play nude to prove his innocence, some social media users joked that he might be using anal beads anyway. It’s a (bad) joke, of course, but it kind of caught on — and the fact that some media outlets reported it as anything but a conspiracy theory or joke didn’t help.
At the end of the day, the drama is still unfolding, and despite hot suspicions, the direct incriminating evidence isn’t there yet. But if chess wants to polish its image and prove that it’s a fair sport, it needs to make sure there’s a way to root out cheating.
The Fishing and Tap Dance Drama
Which brings us to fishing. Sure, poker drama isn’t new; Even chess had its moments. But fishing? tap dance? What on earth?
Apparently, two anglers stuffed their fish with lead weights and fish fillets to win over $28,000 at a fishing tournament in Ohio. It was also quite a surreal phase.
Apparently the fishing competition tournament thought something was wrong when the two anglers’ fish appeared to be heavier than expected (good for them that they could tell something was fishy). The director proceeds to cut the fish caught by the two anglers and after finding the weights he begins scream:
“We have weights in fish! We have weights in fish! Get the fuck out of here!” Another video shows other attendees shout and berate the scammers, with some apparently suspecting foul play for a long time. Then the director makes a fillet of another fish from another gutted fish. Swear words continue to be hurled from contestants as the ensuing dialogue is deliciously unreal, but not for sensitive ears.
Apparently the two anglers had won tournaments in the past, but it’s not clear if they’ve also cheated in the past. The two have been charged with attempted grand larceny and possession of criminal tools, and misdemeanor wildlife possession.
But if you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, hold on. Apparently, an Irish tap-dancing judge appeared to be “exchanging sexual favors for higher scores”. Corresponding a reporta number of teachers and schools have been implicated in the allegations, and at least 12 tap dancing teachers have either asked or offered to organize competitions.
Maybe it’s the financial pressures of the pandemic. Maybe after being locked in a house for months, people have an above average desire to win, or maybe it’s just coincidence. The fact that four cheating scandals, so different in their own way, are happening at the same time is certainly a bizarre circumstance.
Ultimately, while this may draw temporary attention, it is a scam reduces trust in the community and is a toxic act that nullifies real achievements and reduces interest in the game. We can only hope for a transparent solution to all scandals. But in the meantime, here’s some popcorn.