Justice has come swiftly in the case of a poker player who allegedly pilfered a tournament chip from his event at the World Series of Poker Circuit stop in Florida last week, with said justice being forceful, heavy and a warning to any player who might think about doing it themselves.
Last week Chan Pelton, who was already a two-time WSOPC ring winner, looked as if he had taken down his third championship at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, where the latest WSOPC schedule was unfolding. After winning Event #9, the $1000 (plus $125 juice) No Limit Hold’em tournament over 180 other competitors, Pelton allegedly removed one of the 25,000 tournament chips from the table as he was being awarded his third ring. Subsequent review of video surveillance of the table – and Pelton’s actions – removed the “alleged” tag from the situation and the tournament was upheld until WSOP and PBKC officials could determine what to do about it.
When they handed down their punishments, they were extremely harsh, but not if you consider what the tournament chip could have been used for. First off, the Palm Beach Kennel Club issued a statement that read, “An act of theft of poker room property – the removal of a poker chip off the poker table – by one of the two remaining players in the event was confirmed by video surveillance. (The tournament’s integrity) was in no way compromised and the impact of the incident only caused harm to the perpetrator himself.” The PBKC went on to suspend Pelton from setting foot again on the property indefinitely.
The “sword of justice” was even heavier from WSOPC officials. In their own statement, the WSOPC stated, “The individual (Pelton) who admitted the theft and violation of tournament rules will no longer be eligible for the National Championship and is also being served an indefinite suspension from all WSOP-related events,” the statement began. “This suspension is a companywide casino ban, forbidding the individual to step on any Caesars-owned property in the future. Failure to comply will result in trespassing charges and possible further law enforcement.”
In addition to the indefinite ban, Pelton was stripped of his WSOPC championship ring (a championship he had won earlier in the PBKC WSOPC schedule was left intact) and the $47,061 first place prize, which was awarded to runner-up Chris Bolek. These punishments were enacted as per the WSOP Tournament Rule book.
Pelton was well on his way to the National Championship with that second victory, which would have all but assured him the Casino Championship that earns the eventual winner a seat at that event. During questioning about the chip disappearance, however, Pelton admitted that he had scooped one of the T25,000 chips up as a “souvenir.” If that had been his intention, Pelton could have requested one of the chips from the staff (and would have probably received it after its cancellation). Many in the poker community believe, however, that Pelton was planning on using the chip if he went deep in the WSOPC Championship Event, where it potentially could have been used to supplement a stack.
The quick movement of WSOPC and PBKC officials is the direct opposite of what has occurred in another case involving chip issues. In January at the opening tournament of the Borgata Winter Poker Open, player Chris Lusardi allegedly introduced 160 counterfeit T5000 chips into the event and disposed of another 2.7 million in chips by flushing them down his commode in his hotel room. That tournament, which was suspended with 27 players left, has yet to be concluded even though Lusardi has been incarcerated since his arrest on the issue. New Jersey gaming officials and the Borgata staff cite “further investigation” as the reason there has been no conclusion to that tournament and the remaining prize pool remains in limbo.