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8,773 X $10,000 = $90+ Million?

ChipswsopSo apparently there's some controversy about the number of chips in front of Jamie Gold at the end of the Main Event, and surprisingly the controversy has absolutely nothing to do with Jamie Gold (although conspiracy-minded folks may imply otherwise). No, this one--which involves an extra $2 million worth of tournament chips in play that weren't there when the Main Event started---rests squarely on the shoulders of the suits at Harrahs, who run the Main Event like a daily tourney at the Gold Strike rather than the multimillion dollar property it has become.

It's understandable though, or at the least, expected. In most businesses, the operations side generally lags behind everything else, and the WSOP is no exception. How much longer they can ignore their gross incompetence remains to be seen. Based on the conversations we're hearing, probably not much longer.

To break down the numbers for you, there were 8,773 players who started this year's WSOP Main Event, each ponying up $10,000 and receiving $10,000 in tournament chips in return. Thus the total dollar value of chips in play would be...hold on, ok, wait, that's four zeros and 1 x 8,773 is...fuck we hate math. Math is dumb. Let us get one of them calculator thingamajigs.

[several minutes later]

Hey look, we made it say "BOOBLESS" when you hold it upside down.

Ok where were we?....right, so there would have been $87,730,000 tournament chips in play at the start of the tournament, give or take several thousands due to clerical fuck ups and such. Fast forward to when we were down to the final 27 players and the total chip count reported at PokerWire.com was $88,246,000. A fews days later though there were $91,140,000 tournament chips in play according to the official chip count at the start of the final table. Then looking at the last chip count provided by CardPlayer.com when the play was heads-up between Jamie Gold and Paul Wasicka, the total chip count was reported as $90,200,000.

So what gives? Were the chip counts horribly wrong? Did the chip races add that much to the total? Was something sinister taking place?

Attempting to answer these questions for us/you/whoever are Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli, who spent several weeks looking into the controversy for the fine folks over at PokerNews.com. In short, the duo point the blame on tournament officials who they say somehow introduced 2 million extra chips on the second to the last day of the Main Event.

For details, get your Woodward/Bernstein on at the below links:

Two Million Questions. Will Poker Answer?: Part I

Two Million Questions. Will Poker Answer?: Part II

Two Million Questions. Will Poker Answer?: Part III

Also check out Richard Brodie's blog. Brodie is a poker pro and the original author of Microsoft Word who first reported on the extra chips during the main event. He ain't happy about all of this.

Finally give Haley over at KickAssPoker.blogspot.com a read. She gives an analysis of Calistri and Lavalli's report and doesn't quite buy that this was an error but instead suggests the possibility of "a fix between a player and a dealer and/or director who saw an opportunity in the chaos."

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Hey, guys! LOL.

Thanks for the link love, but let me clarify one thing. I think that the color-up math error is the likeliest explanation, but as long as Harrah's keeps mum on the answer, then alternative explanations that still fit the known facts seem ever more likely. The fact that something happened is clear... and if you've checked some of Tim Lavalli's latest pokerblog.com entries, it might turn out to be TWO major somethings, one at 1.75 million and another at 500,000 chips.

Harrah's should have known that something had happened within about 12 hours at the latest, possibly sooner. And they do (or did) have those tapes, which if they weren't examined, reflects a gross misunderstand on what people would have expectations about, once the word began to spread.

Referring to it as "2% of the total" dilutes just how freaking enormous that two percent is --- it's like taking 20 to 25 full tables' worth of players from the beginning of play, taking the value of all those chips, and somehow having that much added to the mix near the very end. Think of the enormity of the Amazon Room, some 30-35,000 square feet, and this represents one-eight to one-tenth of all the tables occupying that cavernous space.

It's not a small mistake.

That said, no one's asking for a sacrificial head-on-a-platter; well, excepting maybe one or two players. My point is that someone at Harrah's needs to -own- this and serve up an explanation that holds water. The longer they don't answer, then the more likely that people will believe that there actually is something to hide, whether or not there is actually something worth hiding or not. I'm really not much of a conspiracy buff myself; I was rather more interested in noting that the evidence at hand does not disprove that something shady might have occurred.

In the last 24 hours, I've already heard two ridiculous rumors. In one, some dealer said there were supposedly 153 blank seats on the first day of main-event play, accounting for the chip discrepancy. Hilariously unbelievable --- this would represent almost one blank per table of those in play. (More likely, it was a blank seat at Table 153 or something.)

Second, and perhaps more telling, is that there is now a rumor floating that Jamie Gold's $6 million is being withheld because of the chip discrepancy. (I ran across it while monitoring Earl Burton's webcaast last night.) While Gold may turn out to have been one of the beneficiaries of the likely error, the continuing distortion of this stuff is exactly -why- Harrah's needs to be proactive in answering the mystery.

Will they? Hey, I'm a nobody who happened to witness a different chip-security issue, and that and this, point to a much larger problem.

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