The year 2020 may have been the strangest on record for most of us, but not even the threat of COVID-19 could stop the poker world from erupting in scandal every month or so. We had live cheating, online cheating, bizarre scams and some huge names involved in most of them, so here’s our countdown of the biggest poker scandals of 2020 in reverse order!
#5: Wann2play Disqualified from $1.35 Million WCOOP after 18 month investigation
We kick off with the result of a one-and-a-half-year investigation into the WCOOP Main Event, some suspicious play by the winner ‘wann2play’ eventually leading to a DQ this year.
Although PokerStars wouldn’t publicly comment on incident, the $1.35million in winnings were redistributed among the other prizewinners.
2018 WCOOP Main event winner “wann2play” account was frozen shortly after the tournament. Looks like his $1,352,267.97 was finally redistributed to the rest of the prize pool.
Looks like we have a new champion @EzequielWaigel 💪💪💪
— Max Silver (@max_silver) February 28, 2020
That meant Argentinian pro Ezequiel ‘Eze88888’ Waigel bumped up to the gold medal spot, with an extra $272,000 heading his way.
Waigel had lost the heads-up match with ‘wann2play’ after striking a deal, but later contacted the site with suspicions about his anonymous opponent, having discussed the tournament with other ‘well-known players’.
The final table included Linus ‘LLinusLLove’ Loeliger, Robby ‘PlayaPlz’ Lipkin, Michael ‘mczhang’ Zhang, and Noah ‘Exclusive’ Boeken.
The investigation finally concluded that the winner’s Dutch-registered account had reportedly ‘violated PokerStars’ terms of service’, believed to be related to multi-accounting.
#4: Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates named in Bill Perkins ghosting storm
Even bigger names were involved in our fourth biggest scandal of 2020, after Dan Bilzerian outed ‘Jungleman’ Dan Cates as the culprit who ghosted an amateur’s account in games with highstakes player Bill Perkins.
Perkins had taken to Twitter in a rage after finding out he had been hoodwinked, believing he was playing a ‘fish’ in ‘an invite only game for 500/1k 1k ante’ on an online poker app.
Settlement w/ 1 participant gave my word I would not Publicly reveal UNLESS they lied during questions
App: download for friends
Cheating: pros playing for fish account (so far)
Participants #: unknown now
Evidence: confession/physical https://t.co/HoUiPDs7BR
— Bill Perkins (Guy) (@bp22) May 24, 2020
While Perkins was beating about the bush, Dan Bilzerian stepped up to the plate and outed the dastardly duo behind the ghosting, later deleting the tweet but not before half the poker world had read it…
‘This cocksucker Sina Taleb cheated me, @bp22 and others outta money on Fun Ocean poker app by having @junglemandan play on his account…
Having been publicly named and shamed, Jungleman eventually fessed up and apologised to Perkins, though still claiming he thought it was acceptable to ghost in that game.
“I played very few hands against Bill Perkins, who sat in a game I understood was rampant with professionals who were ghosting,” said Cates.
He added: “I thought since many on the site were using pros to play for them (which was clear by the uniquely high level of play) at the time it felt acceptable for me to be playing.”
You forgive those who attacked your integrity by claiming you did the thing you’re admitting to doing?
— TonyDunstTV (@tonydunsttv) May 27, 2020
#3: Midway Poker Tour in silver coin payout scandal
We’ve encountered many a scam where winning players have found themselves short-changed, or worse, but this year saw a poker tour’s launch embroiled in a silver coins for cash scandal.
The Midway Poker Tour seemed like a respectable and welcome new addition to the Chicago tournament scene, with players eagerly joining in the $1100 buy-in, $100k GTD inaugural event, a charity due to benefit from it and PokerNews reporter Chad Holloway on hand to report.
Those reports soon turned from glowing into, well, gleaming, as news filtered through that the organisers would be unable to pay out in cold, hard cash due to Illinois charity laws.
Instead, Daniel Bekavac had a plan, and that involved buying more than $200k of precious metals in coin, the numbers scribbled on a sheet of paper…