Final Table Cheating Caught on Camera

March 18, 2014 Posted in Poker by No Comments
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Note: This is an old post that was originally posted on a website that I no longer run. It was interesting though and worth a read. It’s not too often that you can catch poker cheaters in action – and even rarer to see it caught on camera.

Online poker is SO rigged. Oh wait. That should read live poker is so rigged.

We have pretty damning video evidence of collusion in action at the final table of the 2009 Partouche Poker Tour Main Event. It appears that the top two finishers in that tournament used a system of hand signals to convey information back and forth so that they could guarantee top spots in the tournament.

I first came across this scandal after the poster PullMyFinger at the PAL forums posted a link to a thread on 2+2 in which Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi are accused of colluding at the final table. First, let’s begin with the video:

42 seconds into the video, the hand signals are described. From there, you can see that the signals are dead-on accurate. Watch the rest of the video with this key:

  • Head touch = Ace
  • Forehead touch = King
  • Eye touch = Queen
  • Nose touch = Jack
  • Mouth touch = 10
  • Neck touch = 9 or 8
  • Arm touch = small pair

Upon watching the video, it’s clear that these signals are accurate. Jean-Paul Pasqualini has denied the new accusations, claiming that it was hot and everyone was itching and scratching at the final table. He also noted that the final table lasted for 18 hours, so a short video compilation was far from damning.

In a recent interview on a French website, Pasqualini says he didn’t even know Cedric Rossi before the tournament. The funny thing here is that directly after the tournament, Pasqualini was interviewed and said that it was a joy to win alongside his friend Cedric Rossi.

The guy who put the video together is a poker player named Nordine Bouya. Another French website has his interview here (warning: it’s in French). It is also worth noting that Nordine Bouya is promoting at least one upcoming poker book.

Gianni Giaroni, who finished 3rd, complained to officials after the tournament and refused to shake hands with the top two finishers. Unfortunately, nothing came of his allegations at the time.

And one last funny thing to note: in a 2011 No Limit Holdem tournament, Pasqualini and Rossi managed to finish in 1st and 3rd places respectively. Coincidence? That’s hard to buy given these recent cheating accusations.

This is what I’ve managed to gather from a collection of French website and forum posts. I’m having a hard time verifying everything, but the video evidence looks pretty bad. The information that I’ve been able to scrabble together looks legit from my point of view. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out.

Update: Both Pasqualini and Rossi were both suspended from the Global Poker Index (GPI) but it appears no criminal charges have been filed. This isn’t exactly a severe punishment, but at least anyone who visits their pages on the GPI will know that they are not to be trusted.

The moral of the story here is that in any situation involving big money, people are going to be tempted to bend the rules. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about online poker or live poker. I actually feel better playing online because hand histories are recorded and IP addresses noted. The biggest poker sites go to great lengths to catch cheaters in order to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of other players.

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