Borgata Chipgate Ruling: “Don’t Know Whether to Waste Winnings on a Lawyer”


On Monday, New Jersey gaming officials and Borgataannounced the resolution to the counterfeit chip incident that plagued the first event of the Borgata Poker Open in January. At the time the fake chips were discovered, the tournament was frozen with 27 players remaining. As we told you on Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement ruled that those 27 players will each receive $19,323, while over 2,100 entrants will receive their buy-in and fee back, a total of $560 per person.

Since the ruling was made, reaction has been swift in the poker community. Poker players took to the forums on Two Plus Two to express their feelings, most of which was outrage. The problem most people have is that the top 27 players are receiving a little more than half-a-million dollars collectively, while they were actually playing for about $1.4 million that remained in the prize pool. The difference is going to the players who did not cash but were ruled eligible for a refund.

As Thomas “SrslySirius” Keeling put it, “That just seems absolutely horrendous to me.”

Many posts reflected this same sentiment, calling the ruling a “robbery” and “terrible.” Many have suggested that the final 27 players seek legal counsel and there’s already a class-action lawsuit pending. A few of the 27 posted in a thread, frustrated and torn on what to do.

Jack Rocaberte, posting under the screen name “Pair Draw,” said, “Unreal. I’m torn right now. I’m 7th in chips, which is well above the middle of the pack. Idk whether to waste the ‘winnings’ on a lawyer or suck it up.”

Another player, “Pninwin,” wrote, “Just got email from Borgata letting us know they will be mailing our check for $19,323 over the next 10 days… No acknowledgement that the full prize pool is not being allocated to final 27 or suggestion that we should expect any more.”

Nick Guagenti, who was second in chips when the tournament stopped, Tweeted, “E-mailed and received a response from Joe Lupo, Borgata VP. Decision is final. Borgata has washed their hands of the situation.”

Not everyone thinks it’s a horrible decision, though. Poster “Lovesantiques” said, “I can see this from more than one perspective. On the surface, yes – the 27 are getting shafted. However, if play had not been affected, then who knows what the actual outcome might have been.”

Poster “frommagio” opted to give Borgata and New Jersey gaming personnel the benefit of the doubt, writing, “It seems to be reasonably fair, and well thought out – largely along the lines of what I anticipated. I did expect that there would be a slowly increasing payout according to stack size for the final 27, but instead they chose to pay everyone the same. I can’t really argue against that, however, since (a) the larger issue was dealt with, ensuring that all the affected players who busted out receive refunds, and (b) the nominal final 27 are making out pretty well compared to other players who are just as deserving.”

But still, the overall tone of the reactions is anger. One poster summed it up for many. Named “Oneof27,” presumably because he is one of the 27 players remaining in the tournament, he wrote, “They stole 2/3 of the remaining players prize pool to pay the bust-outs. When they determine the payouts, it is all done by a percentage of the prize pool. 450 – 28 all have received the original payout as a percentage of the total prize pool. Why? Why does the burden fall on the 27?”

What do you think? Leave a comment here and let us know.

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  1. I cant believe the casino can wash their hands of this situation and put the burden on top 27 left. By no means should thecasino be off the hook. If they did their job 100% the chips would not been in play. The should eat the refinds for all the non cashing payouts.

    • Wow Gross! I did not expect that! I think they should have paid out the 27 players the 1.4 million they were playing for and that the other 2000 players should have received their 560 back from borgata pocket book! They essentially are getting away scott free. How the heck can they think they are not responsible for the lapse in security. Wow so lame a whopping million bucks it would have cost them to make everyone truly happy. I would take the 19k and sue them. This is crazy!

    • I agree with this >>>>>>> “I think they should have paid out the 27 players the 1.4 million they were playing for and that the other 2000 players should have received their 560 back from Borgata”Then again we will see pigs fly before ANY casino admits anything and does the right thing – ask Phil Ivey what he thinks LoL

    • I think Borgata needs to pay for this. When you really think about the only thing that this is costing them is losing the $60 for each entry. I think the final 27 should get to play for the prize and Borgata should come out of pocket to make up for the difference otherwise this will lead to a lawsuit and more bad press for Atlantic City and their number 1 Casino.

    • how can anyone say that the knockout victims werent affected?if i took 45th,or 30th or whatever i’m pissed,i’ll think about the prior hands wonderingif i was affectedi have to admit i used to wonder in the past how come people werent counterfeiting those things

    • Easy. $1.4M to remaining 27 based on ICM. Refund of buyin to the rest. Cost to Borgata about $1M with everyone happy. What idiots are running this place. Very injury prone leadership based on what we’ve seen in recent years.

    • Its not the casino entirely at fault , players had the responsibility to report fake chips , anyone could see a mile off on day 2/3 those were fake chips ,tournament should have been “replayed” without cheaters present and then perhaps all things being equal at least everyone would be starting over and playing for the real prize on offer..Regardless of holding chip leads or players having gained stacksizes ,tournament should have been restarted .Casino staff should have done more and the dealers needed to be more aware ,of course some of them didn’t even know how to deal from what I understood of the situation ,better practice for casino is to employee reputable dealers and not shimmy away on trying to make constant profits. Maximize the gain for the players by ensuring that and making small comforts like beverage assistance and overall control as in “wsop” tourney rules . Easy to envisage but hard to put into practice.!

      Maybe also run background checks on all players and staff even before tournament has undergone would help eliminate any potential for problems should they arise.

    • I can’t express enough the sadness this past week the Borgata has given me. This is my home away from home when playing poker outside NY. I don’t think anymore. Foxwoods here I come.

      I don’t care what anyone says, this is a terrible solution. 1.4 Million should be chopped up (ICM) and the rest get the $560.. the rest meaning ANYONE who entered the tournament, with the exception of the ones who have already cashed. How can one pin point exactly who was effected by this? NO ONE! Because Everyone was.

      The discoloring of the chips were completely obvious, for the casino dealers and others in the staff not to pick this up immediately is proof of there negligence. Since this wasn’t picked up the casino should lose out on money and pay everyone. They still made money off the rooms and food purchased. Cough one up and pay up.

      “Washing our hands”?? GTFOH!!!! Morons!

    • I have boycotted this casino and the current Spring Open. They know they are the most popular place in Atlantic City to play. How they have conducted business recently is foolhardy and arrogant.

    • Someone in the Top 27 cheated. That’s the point. Presumably, the bust outs could have been affected unfairly and deserve a refund. The tournament was not fair. I’m more surprised that with all the camera in that place they can’t find the cheater.