WSOP Heads Up Championship Marred by Valeriu Coca Cheating Accusations

June 5th, 2015 | by Kaycee James
Valeriu Coca Heads Up cheating allegations WSOP 2015

Moldavian player Valeriu Coca is facing cheating allegations after his deep run in the WSOP Heads-Up Championship, but nothing has been substantiated as of yet. (Image:

Valeriu Coca made a deep run in this year’s World Series of Poker $10,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em Championship, ultimately losing to eventual champion Keith Lehr in the quarterfinals.

But Coca’s run seemed a little too good to be true to some of his opponents, and the Moldovian player has now been accused of cheating by some of the opponents he dispatched on his way to making the money.

Coca was a relative unknown to most of his opponents, as he previously had no WSOP cashes before his fifth-place finish in the heads-up event earned him $54,545. But it wasn’t Coca’s results, but rather the way in which he achieved them, that raised suspicions during the event.

Drinan Posts Frustrations After Loss

The accusations first came to public knowledge after Connor Drinan took to Twitter following his loss to Coca, a miss that caused Drinan to fail to cash out in the event.

“Bubbled the HU,” Drinan tweeted early Wednesday morning. “Hands down strangest hour and a half of poker of my life. Felt super-used.”

“Super-used” is an allusion to the infamous Absolute Poker “superuser” scandal of 2007, when a player using an administrative account that could see the hole cards of other players was outed by other players on the site who saw the account make impossible folds and incredible calls.

Perfect Poker from Coca

Drinan found that Coca was able to do the same thing. After an early period where Drinan said that Coca took an extraordinarily long time to play his hands, he started playing perfect poker, as though he could see Drinan’s cards.

“Every time I had a good starting hand he folded,” Drinan shared on the Two Plus Two forums. “If I had a bad one he raised or re-raised. If I whiffed a flop he attacked my c-bets. If I whiffed and went for a delayed c-bet, he blasted turn into me every time. If I hit and bet, he folded. Hit and checked, he checked…”

According to Drinan, he started to take countermeasures, such as waiting to look at his cards until after Coca acted.

“He still seemed to be waiting for me to look at my cards, and when he realized I wasn’t going to, he seemed flustered by it,” Drinan told PokerNews. “He then looked at his hand and folded from the button.”

Others Report Similar Experiences

In his forums post, Drinan said that Matt Marafioti and Aaron Mermelstein also reported strange experiences where they “couldn’t win a pot” against Coca. Drinan proceeded to warn Byron Kaverman ahead of his match against Coca, and Kaverman reportedly also got the impression that he was attempting to cheat.

Though Coca won that match, Drinan said that Kaverman felt that protecting his cards (plus increased WSOP scrutiny, including switching decks frequently) had prevented Coca from cheating. Lehr also took measures to protect his hands in his match, when Coca was finally eliminated.

Coca Denies Allegations

According to WSOP officials, an investigation is underway, though they say that preliminary testing hasn’t found any evidence that Coca was marking the cards. And the Moldavian has since denied the allegations, saying that his opponents are simply frustrated by losing to him.

“This is a fantasy,” Coca told PokerNews through an interpreter. “The players who lost are very good, so they just don’t believe they could lose to me for an honest reason.”

This isn’t the first time Coca’s been accused of cheating at poker. According to a report on Czech poker site, he was banned from a casino in Prague after being caught slightly bending the corners of kings and aces in order to mark them.

Coca also rejected these reports, saying that he had merely been banned from playing roulette after being deemed an advantage player.



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