There are allegations of cheating in the $10k Heads Up WSOP Event #10.
The alleged cheater is Valeriu Coca, who finished 5th for $54k in the tough field of 143 $10k Heads Up players that began Tuesday. Coca is largely unknown, but has $317k in live cashes lifetime, most of which came in the last twelve months in Southern Europe. He is also banned from many casinos for marking cards as detailed in this PokerZive article from April.
Coca’s reputation however was not known when his opponents realized that they might be getting duped. With rumors circulating, Connor Drinan took to twoplustwo to post his account of the events, which follow in entirety:
Hey 2+2, it’s Connor. We (the players that were beaten by this Valeriu Coca guy in the $10k HU) were trying to keep things quiet until we gave the WSOP adequate time to investigate the situation and come up with a solution, but since there are a lot of rumors circulating and a lot of people know bits and pieces already, I might as well clear things up.
Pratyush Buddiga was the first to lose to him. He is my good friend but seemed pretty tilted so I didn’t ask details until I found out he was my next opponent. I asked for reads and whatnot and he basically told me he was really slow and passive in the beginning and then picked up the pace as the match went on as far as speed of play and aggression. He thought he was stalling in the beginning to give himself a better shot to win at a higher blind level. He said he would stall by rechecking his cards at a bunch of different angles when it was clear he made up his mind to fold already.
He did the same thing in my match. For the first 10 hands or so, he folded to most of my button opens and either limped or folded the button (doing the same obnoxious card checking tactics). I was thinking “man this guy is going to be a breeze.” From that point on I won very few pots the rest of the match. Every time I had a good starting hand he folded. If I had a bad one he raised or re-raised. If I whiffed a flop he attacked my c-bets. If I whiffed and went for a delayed cbet, he blasted turn into me every time. If I hit and bet, he folded. Hit and checked, he checked ect ect ect.
It was probably the most frustrating match of my life and I’ve played a ton of HU. He grinded me down to 80k at bb4k from 240k starting. At this point I was playing super passive as his aggression was out of control. I made my first button raise in a while which was a shove with 33 and he snapped me with k5o for 20bb. I held and won my only significant pot of the match but he went back to work grinding me down to 60k and then won a flip to end the match.
I remember him folding 4 times total preflop once blinds got big. 1) He walked me when I had AA. 2) he folded to my min when I had AJs. 3) I capped my cards and waited for him to look at his cards first for the first time in the match as I was starting to get really skeptical. He acted surprised and flustered and walked me before I uncovered my hand. 4) After checking my hole cards (J9o i think) I looked behind me to see if there was a chance he had a friend on the rail who could see my cards but there was no way. He seemed very weirded out that I did that and again walked me.
I stormed out of the rio as tilted as I’ve ever been after busting a tournament and immediately messaged prat saying I felt like something major was off with the match. It didn’t make sense that a guy grinding 300 euro mtts in eastern europe who has never played WSOP before would come here for the $10k HU and be such a beast. I ranted to Prat all the things that were weird, both mannerisms and plays he made vs me. Prat said he felt the exact same about his match but didn’t say anything at first because he figured he was just being a sore loser and got owned. I then messaged the other 2 players he beat, Matt Marafioti and Aaron Mermelstein and they both had similar “yeah i felt totally owned, couldn’t win a pot, thing he was doing with his cards was really weird, ect” type responses.
I called my other good friend Byron Kaverman and warned him about everything as they were scheduled to play in the round of 16 the next morning. We figured we should also tell Jack Effel so they could be on the lookout. Byron said he knew Jack well so he would talk to him. I went to bed questioning myself and wondering if I was just being a sore loser.
I then woke up this morning to a message on facebook from a czech friend of mine that read “Hey man just woke up and found out u were in HU with a guy who made a lot of money in cash games in Prague. He has ban in czech poker casinos for cheating. Guy was marking cards. We can talk in person little bit later when Im on sngs in Rio and u can forward it to floors players etc so they can do smtng about it I guess”
I instantly passed this along to Byron and he said that Jack was on it and they were monitoring him via cameras and also switching up the decks frequently. My friend also sent me this article which you have to translate to english with your broswer: http://www.pokerzive.cz/zpravodajstv…azskych-kasin/
I spoke with Byron after his match and he said he was 100% sure the guy was trying to cheat and was watching the cards very closely as the dealer dealt off the deck but that he did a pretty good job covering his cards and the decks were being switched up so it was hard for Coca to work his magic. Unfortunately he couldn’t fade an 80/20 and the guy advanced. His next opponent, Keith Lehr, was also warned about Coca. At this point, Coca probably knew that he had been exposed based on the attention his matches were receiving from the floor, the way Byron and Keith were protecting their hands so well, ect ect. He finally lost to Keith in 5th place.
Our speculation is that he was using some sort of invisible ink in combination with special sunglasses. We haven’t heard much from WSOP since the match, but what little I have heard I would rather keep to myself for now and allow WSOP time to finish the investigation and make their own statement.
We will keep you informed as more information comes to light, including a detailed analysis by Alex Weldon.