Forum Files: Scams and Schedules

Alex Weldon : October 19th, 2015

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The World Series of Poker Europe got underway last week, and although the turnout has been unimpressive, the series has at least been devoid of the sort of scandals that wracked the main WSOP this summer; indeed, the only thing anyone’s found to complain about so far was a surprise last-minute rescheduling of Event #8.

That doesn’t mean the poker world in general has been free of controversies. Brian Hastings is at it again, this time joining Aaron Massey in calling out Dwyte Pilgrim for non-payment of money owed due to action sold. Meanwhile, Tobias “kuhns89″ Hausen and Natasha Barbour have taken public a fight they’re having over a series of Open-Face Chinese matches they played earlier this year.

Last-minute rescheduling at WSOP Europe
Thread: WSOPE reschedules event two minutes before start

Terrence Chan took to Twitter on Saturday to announce that he’d be boycotting WSOPE Event #8 because of tournament director Jack Effel’s decision to change the tournament’s start time from noon to 4 PM. Ordinarily, a schedule change wouldn’t be a huge deal, but Effel only announced the change two minutes before the originally scheduled start time.

The official reason given for the decision was that some players were confused about the timing of the event, and had believed it was starting at 4. It’s not clear how this confusion would have come about, however, and Chan and others suspect that the actual reason was disappointment in the number of attendees, and that delaying the start would allow time for more players to potentially show up. Effel responded angrily to Chan’s post, and the two have been at it ever since.

The WSOP in general tends not to be popular with the forums community, due to a history of these kinds of questionable decisions, so it’s not surprising they’ve taken the opportunity to join Chan in criticizing Effel’s move and subsequent responses.

Hastings and Massey vs. Pilgrim
Thread: Brian Hastings putting Dwyte Pilgrim on blast for scamming
Thread: Who is Dwyte Pilgrim?
Thread: Brian “Stinger88″ Hastings Multi-Accounting as “NoelHayes” Cliffs in first post.

Brian Hastings is not a popular man in the poker world these days. Despite a very impressive performance at this summer’s World Series of Poker, he’s been dogged by scandal ever since David Baker publicly accused him of multi-accounting on PokerStars, a charge that Hastings has effectively but not-quite-explicitly admitted to.

Unhappy about the damage to his reputation, Hastings has repeatedly, in the ensuing months, called various other players out for their own bad behavior; last month, he accused Paul Dlugozima of failing to make good on a deal and now he’s said that Dwight Pilgrim has similarly refused to make good on a debt. Whereas in the former case, it was Hastings’ word against Dlugozima’s, this time around, Aaron Massey has also said that Pilgrim owes him money and is refusing to pay.

Although the accusations have produced a thread at PokerFraudAlert, they’re so far only being discussed on TwoPlusTwo in the two threads relating to the players themselves, which, in Hastings’ case, is a clear contender for both longest and most vitriolic thread on TwoPlusTwo. As has been the case in the past, the majority opinion is that Hastings getting scammed is just karmic justice, especially as the amounts of money involved are far less than what he allegedly won from other high stakes players while masquerading as Noel Hayes.

Hausen vs. Barbour
Thread: OFC Scam by Natascha [sic] Barbour

Tobias Hausen, who goes by “kuhns89″ created a thread at TwoPlusTwo to call out Natasha Barbour for failing to make good on money she owes him as a result of playing Open-Face Chinese Poker together via the “ABC Open Face Chinese Poker” app for iOS. Barbour’s reason for not paying is that she believes Hausen cheated, by using software which would allow him to see which cards were coming in advance, thereby setting his hands optimally. Hausen insists that there’s no evidence that he cheated, and that Barbour is simply using the accusation as an excuse to freeroll him.

It’s worth reading the whole thread on the subject, because it’s far from an open-and-shut case. Although both Hausen and Barbour agree on facts when it comes to their actual play together, there’s a fundamental and important difference in how they came to meet and agree to play in the first place. Hausen says that he met her at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January and that they agreed to play at that time. Barbour, on the other hand, insists that their match was set up (and fairly aggressively so) by a mutual acquaintance, Hanh Tran.

The reason it’s critical whose version you believe is that Tran was himself accused of owning and operating the same cheating software that Barbour feels Hausen used against her. Although it’s debatable whether Tran’s cheating has actually been proven, the circumstantial evidence against him is much stronger than that against Hausen… and if Tran did in fact push Barbour to play his friend Hausen, and is in fact himself a cheater at this particular game, using this particular app, then it does look pretty bad for Hausen

Will Blom get into the black?
Thread: The new Isildur..

Another equally debatable question, though not involving any illegalities, is whether Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom’s recent upswing will last, or whether he’s just experiencing the upside of variance again. Blom is, of course, one of the world’s best-known high stakes online players, who was at his peak in terms of popularity in the pre-Black Friday days of Full Tilt, where he played for six and seven-figure sums with other top players of the day, including his famous series against Tom “durrrr” Dwan.

The thing about Blom, however, is that he’s actually not a lifetime winner at these games. Although he’s had many seven-figure upswings, he’s had just as many downswings, and those downswings have been overall slightly larger. He’s been doing very well on PokerStars this year, but still about $2 million in the hole as far as tracked high-stakes results go. Even most of his detractors feel he’s among the game’s best when he’s on form, however; his woes are generally considered to stem from issues with tilt and self-discipline.

The literal million-dollar question, then, is whether the new, seemingly more disciplined Blom who has been crushing it in 2015 is around to stay, or whether it’s only a matter of time before he once again loses his cool and his bankroll. Opinions are split on the forums, but whatever your belief, it’s going to be fun to keep an eye on Blom and see what happens next.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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