A long-suspected poker cheat has finally received his comeuppance. Former WPT “Champion” Ali Tekintamgac was jailed for three years and five months by a German court last week after pleading guilty to being the head of a cheating gang that targeted high-stakes ring-games in several countries around the globe.
The German, who is of Turkish origin, was arrested in September after electronic cheating devices were found in the car of one of Tekintamgac’s associates, Kadir Karabulut, who has been missing since March 2013.
Tekintamgac has been surrounded by the stench of controversy since 2010, when he was disqualified from the final table of the Partouche Poker Tour after a video surfaced apparently showing a number of fake bloggers signaling his opponents’ hole cards to him. It emerged that rumors had been circulating around the player since the EPT Tallinn a few months earlier when players and media suspected he was using the same system.
Tekintamgac had won the WPT Spanish Championship that year for â‚¬278,000 ($343,307), and footage was then unearthed from the heads-up stage of that tournament where he faced Spanish player Roberto Garcia Santiago. Chillingly, as Santiago moves the last of his chips across the line, a photographer stands behind him, his camera trained on Santiago’s hole cards; it’s the same photographer that appeared to be signaling to Tekintamgac in the Partouche footage. Tekintamgac calls and wins the championship.
Partouche was faced with a difficult decision: Tekintamgac had made the final fourth in chips and the players were playing for a first prize of â‚¬1.3 million ($1.82 million), and while the footage appeared extremely suspicious, appearances can be deceptive. Nevertheless, Partouche disqualified Tekintamgac and passed the footage to the police, redistributing the prize money for the remaining eight players to play for.
Perhaps realizing that despite the damning nature of the footage, it couldn’t be proved, Tekintamgac was incensed at the decision, and attempted to sue Partouche. Even more brazenly, he turned up at the WPT Championship a few months later, taking the seat he had “won” for his now highly suspicious first-place finish at the WPT Spanish Championship.
Many players were furious that the WPT was allowing him to take part.
Daniel Negreanu tweeted: “Ali Tekimtamgac who was caught cheating in Partouche is in #WPTChamp. I called him out, and floor told ME I can’t do that! When will we learn… Bellagio/WPT should absolutely not allow this person in the event. He was caught red-handed cheating and should be banned. This is absurd.”
Meanwhile, Scott Siever, who found himself at the same table as the disgraced player was physically threatened when he questioned him. “The cheater just threatened Scott Siever,” tweeted Negreanu. “The floor was alerted and won’t do anything about it. Physical threat, he should call the cops.”
Tekintamgac has not played a major tournament since 2012.