The highly anticipated $10,000 Heads Up Championship event wrapped early Thursday afternoon at the 2015 World Series of Poker after Keith Lehr defeated Paul Volpe in the final match. But after a post on Two Plus Two by two players in the event, the focus is all on fifth place finisher Valeriu Coca, who now finds himself at the center of cheating allegations from two of his opponents in the event.
Connor Drinan alleges that Coca played him and Pratyush Buddiga very deliberately at the beginning of their match and displayed some suspicious behavior. “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,” Drinan wrote.
The allegations are now being investigated by the World Series of Poker who have released limited information while the investigation is completed.
We are aware, monitoring very closely w/all resources @ our disposal. Those include surveillance/security,forensic examination of cards, etc
— Jack Effel (@WSOPTD) June 4, 2015
2/2 We take integrity very seriously, as evidenced by our lifetime bans, and would enjoy nothing more than catching a cheater in our midst. — Jack Effel (@WSOPTD) June 4, 2015
Both Drinan and Buddiga have declined comment until the investigation is over. Drinan says he is seeking a lawyer to be involved. Drinan and Byron Kaverman, another one of Coca’s opponents, took their concerns to Effel. Lehr, who defeated Coca in his quarterfinal match, says he was warned by other players before their match. “Somebody warned me about him, other than that I don’t really know if any of it is true. There were some insinuations about him being barred in casinos and Prague. The World Series of Poker is looking into that and they’ve hired outside resources to find out if he really is. I’ll let them do what they do,” said Lehr. “I protected myself the best I could if he was, so I don’t know if he was or wasn’t,” Lehr added. “I got a text he was barred for cheating (from other casinos), but I don’t know if it’s true or not. He was being watched.” Seth Palansky, VP of Corporate Communications, replied on Twitter as well.
@Kevmath We take these types of allegations very seriously & an investigation began immediately upon learning them. It is ongoing. (1/2)
— Seth Palansky (@SethPalansky) June 4, 2015
Aaron Mermelstein did speak on the matter and said, “Long story short, after I defeated Racener I played Coca next. The first few hands were going my way and I thought he was actually a pretty easy opponent.”
“After the first level or so, he really stepped up his aggression a ton. It just felt like he always knew when I had it,” Mermelstein said. “He knew when to fold, he knew when to bluff me and at the end of the match I felt really owned. I wasn’t sure he was cheating or anything like that, maybe he just figured out how I played. I’ve been told there is an investigation but I’m not in the board room and don’t know what’s going on.”
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