Pokernews.com has posted a two part interview conducted with Chris Vaughn and Sorel Mizzi discussing the recent online poker scandal involving these two well known players. Both players were found to have broken tournament rules when Vaughn sold his account over to Mizzi towards the end of a large poker tournament.
On October 2st, Chris Vaughn won the $1 Million Guaranteed on Full Tilt under his “BluffMagCV” screen name. No more than a week later he won the PokerStars Sunday Million tournament under his “SlippyJacks” account. Poker players dream of having such a rapid succession of wins in tournament play, and such incidents are rare, so certain members of the poker community raised their eyebrows in suspicion at this stroke of luck.Suspicions were recently confirmed when Soren Kongsgaard, who finished second to “BluffMagCV”, posted an email sent directly from Full Tilt Poker, stating that he had been declared the winner of the event due to “BluffMagCV” being disqualified.
It soon became clear that Vaughn’s victory on Full Tilt poker was not his own, but rather a direct result of “account selling,” the act of selling or turning over an account late in a tournament to a more seasoned online pro. Kongsgaard was quickly declared the true winner, and was awarded the first place prize, giving him about $76,000 more than he had originally won.
Nobody was exactly sure about what had happened, although suspicious players who had followed the story quickly focused on young online poker star Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi, a known friend of Vaughn's. An investigation into the October 21st victory began, and the official story began to unfold due to a data trail left behind by the two poker players.
According to an interview conducted by Pokernews.com, Vaughn had made it to one of the final tables and with only 24 players left in the entire tournament his internet connection began to lag. Living a mere five minutes from work, Vaughn was considering making the drive over to Bluff Magazine, where he claims to usually play his poker games.
At the time, he was chatting online with his friend, Sorel Mizzi, explaining that he was thinking of driving to work, and asked him if he would take over for a few hands while he made the transition. Vaughn claims that “the reason I initially contacted him probably more so had to do with connection, but selling the account was completely a financial decision and was in no way anything else.” The conversation quickly changed as Mizzi offered to buy his seat from him to finish up the tournament.
According to the interviews on Pokernews.com, Vaughn makes it seem like the decision was quick, and completely out of the ordinary for him. He says that, “This is something that was a one-time – it was a one-time thing and I clearly didn't give it much thought, which is exactly why I got caught….But, I want to make it clear that this is something that was an isolated incident and it's not something that I've done in the past.”
Many of the reactions have been over the top. Sorel Mizzi told Pokernews.com in his interview with them that he has already received physical threats since the incident. Such violence should never be justified, especially not for a matter such as this. The reaction by Full Tilt Poker terminating both players’ accounts, however, was fully justified and will serve to teach these men a tough lesson. Especially for Mizzi who, as a professional online poker player, will forever be banned from one of the premier poker sites. He admits that he is “…now limited as an online pro. I have lost good friends and my credibility.”
As for Chris Vaughn, being a member of the poker media, the situation has had quite a different impact for him. The Sunday Million tournament that he won on October 28th has been thoroughly investigated and all evidence suggests that he won the tournament completely on his own, with no outside help whatsoever. The staff over at Bluff magazine has also given Chris their full support, citing that the incident was a mistake made by Chris, completely of his own volition and has nothing to do with his job as an editor at Bluff.
According to a statement released by Bluff Media regarding the Chris Vaughn incident:
"Bluff Media in no way, shape, or form condones the actions of Chris Vaughn. We were extremely unhappy, and disappointed. However we feel that Chris has always acted in a professional manner at BLUFF in the past, and we have no plans for terminating his employment with the company. He has been given a warning, and is on probation. We hope that we can all move past this, and learn from it."
Although this scandal continues to be a searing issue in forums, there are many valuable lessons to be learned from Vaughn and Mizzi’s mistakes. They have both come forward, and have fully admitted to wrongdoing in a responsible and professional manner. Furthermore, they are not the first to partake in such activity, as account buying continues to be an issue that poker sites must learn to combat. As for Chris Vaughn and Sorel Mizzi, they are both fully paying for their mistake and must at least be given credit for their efforts to clear up the situation and for the manner in which they have stepped forth to accept their responsibility.