Martin Kabrhel Sings the Blues

  • Whitey Ford was an iconic baseball player who had no issue with gaining an unfair advantage
  • The poker community hailed Chris Brewer’s $250,000 Super High Roller win on Sunday
  • The final table was overshadowed by allegations of cheating against Martin Kabrhel
  • Fellow players accused the Czech player of marking cards during the tournament
  • WSOP tournament officials are aware of the allegations and are conducting an investigation
Martin Kabrhel
The WSOP has confirmed that it is investigating allegations of cheating against Czech player Martin Kabrhel during the $250,000 Super High Roller event. [Image:]

Whitey Ford’s Hall of Fame career

Charles “Whitey” Ford was a ten-time all-star and 6-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees. He is the franchise’s leader in career wins (236), shutouts (45), innings pitched (3170.1) and games started by a pitcher (438). During his tenure with the team between 1953 and 1967, he set numerous World Series pitching records, including consecutive scoreless innings (33.2), wins (10), games started (22), innings pitched (146), and strikeouts (94). 

Ford was a legend of his sport and of the franchise

Hailed by many as the greatest living Yankee until he died in 2020, Ford was a legend of his sport and of the franchise which boasted players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra. In 1974, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the same year that the Yankees retired his iconic uniform number 16. In 1998, he was further immortalized when House of Pain frontman Everlast titled his second solo album “Whitey Ford Sings The Blues.” 

A dark side to Whitey

There was, however, a dark side to Ford, who had a liberal attitude towards the rules on ball tampering. If he wasn’t colluding with catcher Elston Howard, who used to slice the ball with a buckle on his shin guard, he used his own wedding ring to cut the ball. He also planted mud pies all around the pitcher’s mound, using them to load the ball. He later boasted that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.”

no qualms about gaining an unfair advantage over opposition batters

Nothing was off-limits for Ford, who had no qualms about gaining an unfair advantage over opposition batters. One of his favorite angle-shoots was when he would throw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, vaseline, turpentine, and resin. He kept his “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which his teammate Yogi Berra once famously mistook for a deodorant stick, gluing his arms to his sides in the process.

Brewer victory overshadowed 

In the wee hours of Sunday night, popular high-stakes regular Chris Brewer won his first bracelet, pulling off a sublime victory in the $250,000 Super High Roller for a whopping $5.3m payday. In a heartwarming post-tournament interview with Natalie Bode, he expressed how much the result meant to him, choking back the tears as he explained what a tough run he had been on. Brewer has been particularly unlucky with endgame run-bad in recent years. 

Watching Brewer hold his bracelet aloft was a lovely moment. In a game in which everyone is a lone wolf to some degree, it is rare to feel that happy for another player winning a tournament, but it was clear from the outpouring of well wishes that the community enjoyed this one. It was also pellucid that this final table had taken on a greater significance as a battle between heroes and one particular villain.  

Martin Kabrhel has courted controversy throughout his career

Czech high-stakes player Martin Kabrhel has courted controversy throughout his career. His time-wasting and inane table talk have made him no friends down the years but more recently, there have been questions raised about his integrity. Having been in a dominant position, Kabrhel ultimately finished third in the $250,000 event. This was not before causing chaos both in advance of and on the final table, as video evidence suggested that he might be throwing “gunk balls” of his own. 

The players weigh in

Like doctoring baseballs, marking cards can take many forms. Nails can be used to scratch indents into the cards. Invisible ink can be used, visible only through special glasses that the player wears. It’s also possible to apply a substance to cards, detectable via close inspection. As the tournament entered its latter stages, Kabrhel’s table-mates grew suspicious of the latter. 

Andrew Robl was the first to accuse Kabrhel. 

Phil Hellmuth gave his endorsement to a follow-up tweet from Robl. 

Max Silver then recounted an incident from the WSOPE in Rozvadov.

Justin Bonomo recalled an incident involving Kabrhel from the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl. 

There was no conclusive proof, but the circumstantial evidence was mounting up. Brian Rast weighed in with his observations from the $250,000 tournament. 

When play ended on the penultimate day, there was much consternation, both from onlookers who were compiling and clipping compelling video evidence and the players who felt not only that something was amiss, but that something needed to be done. 

New “No Standing” rule 

For the final day, a new rule was implemented that forbade players from standing up while in a hand. Kabrhel had craned over his opponents on several occasions, claiming to be ascertaining exact stack counts, but players believed that this was actually a ruse to get closer to marked cards. 

When Kabrhel broke this rule on the final table, the floor was called, leading to a dispute between him and all the remaining players. When Alex Kulev reminded Kabrhel of the new rule, he played dumb.

“The reason that you’re not allowed to stand is if the cards were marked, you’d have a better angle of it,” explained Dan Smith.

Kabrhel was indignant, but was hit with a withering follow-up from Chance Kornuth: “They’ve created the rule for you to protect us. If you have any more questions, let us know.”

Sticky fingers

As the live-streamed final table progressed, the cheating allegations were given more credibility as a clipped video by Malia Miranda showed how Kabrhel alternated between two card sliding techniques, one where he placed his index finger on cards that were Aces and one where he placed his middle finger on non-Aces, keeping his index finger aloft. 

There was also clipped footage of his index finger sticking to cards. 

When Dan Smith busted in sixth, he didn’t mince his words, both at the table and to Bode during his bust-out interview: 

Ongoing investigation 

On Monday, WSOP tournament officials acknowledged that they are aware of the allegations and are conducting an investigation. In a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, they said:

“While we do not discuss specific security protocols used to monitor players and gaming equipment, the integrity of the game remains paramount and we can assure fellow patrons that we are taking these allegations very seriously. As this is an ongoing investigation, there is no further comment on the matter at this time.”

For his part, Kabrhel said today that he is taking legal action against Andrew Robl who he believes has defamed his character. 

Hopefully, the powers that be are getting to the bottom of it, as these are very serious allegations with vast sums of money at stake. Whitey Ford once said: “If I needed to cheat to be able to throw the good stuff that would keep me in the major leagues at a salary of about $800,000 a year, I’d do whatever I had to do.” The money motivation is certainly present in this case. Let’s hope the truth comes out, and soon. 

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