High Roller Controversy As WSOP Player Accuses Another Of Illegally Marking Cards

The World Series of Poker is never has a dull moment and is never without controversy. Over the last couple of years, the tournament has seen its fair share of controversies, which has created an ever-evolving landscape for the poker community. From contentious rulings to accusations of cheating, the WSOP always provides fodder for debates and discussions among fans, industry insiders, and of course, the player themselves.

This year has been no different. In a shocking turn of events at the 2023 WSOP, high-stakes poker player Andrew Robl accused fellow pro Martin Kabrhel of foul play through card marking.
These cheating allegations were made during the $250,000 high roller WSOP bracelet event.

During this tournament, Robl claims to have witnessed Kabrhel marking cards to gain an unfair advantage over his fellow competitors. As a result, the poker community, as well as WSOP officials have been grappling with the implications of these accusations as they could have far-reaching consequences for Kabrhel’s reputation.

If proven, the accusations could even have legal ramifications. Robl took to social media to accuse Kbrhel of card marking not just during the $250,000 high roller WSOP bracelet event but also during various poker tournaments that the two have participated in together. Robl even went as far as posting a picture showing Kabrhel staring at the cards of competitors, which fueled suspicion of foul play.

How can card marking allow a poker player to gain an unfair advantage?

Card marking is a common practice in professional poker, specifically for purposes of cheating. Typically, poker players leave subtle markings on the back of cards. A poker player then relies on these markings to identify their value with ease without alerting the value to other competitors.

The main goal of card marking in poker is to know the value of certain cards in advance, which affords one an unfair advantage. Detecting whether a deck of cards has been marked or not can be challenging as the marking is supposed to be subtle and unrecognizable to fellow participants.

However, careful observation can sometimes reveal a few irregularities on some cards such as sections that have been scratched or colored, variations in shading, or some other form of alteration intended to mark the cards. In some unique circumstances, special glasses or gadgets can be used to discover any marking as some can be invisible to the naked eye.

Professional poker players looking to gain an advantage use several methods to mark cards, each with its level of sophistication. Some of the more common techniques include scratching off a section of the card at the back or scratching it.
Some poker players shade or use luminous ink that can only be observed with the assistance of special devices and cameras.

The choice of which card marking method to use depends on a player’s preference, as well as their access to the necessary materials. While marketing as many cards as possible helps to provide an unfair disadvantage, sometimes marketing one or two cards is all a cheater needs.

For instance, marking a subset of cards such as all the Aces in the deck can considerably improve one’s game. Cheaters often look for as many strategic opportunities as possible to mark cards, which ought to give them an edge without raising suspicion. When these marked cards end up in the hands of other players, the cheater can identify them with ease, thus allowing him or her to gain insights into their opponent’s holdings.

To further prove his accusations, Hugo Lemaire, a French poker player even shared a video clip from the PokerGo Stream where it appears that Kbrhel is using his fingernails to make an indentation on the back of one of the cards. 

WSOP launches an investigation

As the allegations of card marking are serious, WSOP has launched an investigation although they haven’t provided specific details of what the process will entail or what people should expect. However, WSOP staff swiftly implemented a new rule banning poker players from standing up during final table play.

This new regulation was created to prevent Kabrhel from potentially examining any cards they had marked. By preventing players from standing up mid-game, this action is aimed at ensuring fair play. Fellow pros Chance Kornuth and Dan Smith informed Kabrhel of the new rule, which caused a tournament official to intervene to enforce the new rule.

While some players have accused Kabrhel of card marking, others believe that he has been using angling instead. Angling refers to the practice of bending the rules as a means of gaining an unfair advantage that can sometimes be technically legal.

In response to the allegations, Kabrhel vehemently denied cheating and has vowed to take legal action against Robl. Kabrhel expressed concern regarding the potential damage that the accusations will have on his reputation, family, as well as business activities and has vowed to prove that the accusations are false.

The stakes have never been higher for Kabrhel as cheating in casino games including poker remains prohibited by law in Nevada. Cheating in any form is illegal in Nevada owing to the considerable role that casino revenue plays in the state’s income and taxes. The penalties for cheating in a casino vary on the particular circumstances and the jurisdiction of the casino.

To strengthen his defense, Kabrhel enlisted the assistance of attorney Daniel B. Ravicher, who filed a defamation claim against several parties involved in the allegations. Kabrhel maintains his innocence and this move marks his determination to clear his name at all costs. As the investigation unfolds, the poker community continues to eagerly await the outcome of this dispute.

Final Thoughts

The resolution of these allegations has the potential to reshape the dynamics of competitive poker forever. Please keep in mind that by law, individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty. As such, it remains to be seen whether the evidence available will refute or support these allegations.

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