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October 20, 2014

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How gambling on the World Series of Poker could influence play

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Gambling on … gambling.

Addicts rejoice! You can now gamble on gambling. Yes, this year, the Gaming Control Board of Nevada will allow gamblers to bet on the outcomes of various World Series of Poker events.

You might remember that last year the Board allowed people to bet on the WSOP’s main event’s final table (including silly prop bets like, “What poker hand will determine the champion?” and “Will there be more red cards or black cards on the final table’s first flop?”). This year, the Board is expanding gamblers’ options, so they can now place bets on all WSOP events, except for the million-dollar buy-in charity event and two others. The bets must be placed on an event’s final day, when only a few players remain.

It isn’t hard to imagine who will place bets on World Series of Poker event outcomes: poker players. Namely, the same poker players who are competing in the WSOP events. And it would be impossible for casinos to know whether a particular player was colluding with a betting buddy—whether a player who’d made it to the final day of a particular event told his friend to wager against him, thus hedging his bet. It’s no big secret that players sometimes agree to split prize pools once they make it to an event’s final table, so this sort of casino-facilitated bet hedging isn’t unthinkable.

Will the new rule have an effect on game play? We’ll have to wait and see. And in the meantime, maybe the Gaming Control Board will let us bet on it!

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