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Backpedaling at the Rio

Image
A photograph taken and tweeted by poker pro Jeff Romano from the Rio on Monday, June 18, 2012.
Photo: Jeff Romano

I’m not okay with the way this Rio roulette wheel story played out.

The backstory: Last week, poker player Jeff Romano tweeted a photo of a Rio roulette table’s electronic scoreboard. The wheel had apparently hit the number 19 seven times in a row. Romano accompanied the tweet with the words “yea roulette wheel at the Rio isn’t rigged…”

The Internet went nuts. Everybody wanted to get in on the discussion of how unlikely this event was, a seemingly once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Then, people started to wonder whether the Rio was just testing the wheel. After all, you can’t see that much in the picture—it’s just a close-up of the scoreboard.

Romano replied to these questions by tweeting, “there were a couple people at the table going crazy, but I was just passing by.” And also, “I don’t understand what everyone is saying, I walked by the table on break, saw people jumping up and down and took a picture of the wheel.”

Then Rio Casino spokesman Gary Thompson came out and said that, yes, it was a diagnostic test. No one was playing at that table.

Romano then tweeted, “apparently it was a test run at the table, I have no idea if it’s true or not I just took the picture”

I’d like to make two points here:

1. The photo shows two seats at the roulette table. And they’re both vacant. Let me tell you, if a roulette wheel hits the same number seven times in a row, the seats are going to fill up. All of them.

2) As a poker player, Jeff Romano knows the difference between an in-play roulette game and an in-service game. Pretty much anybody could tell the difference, but especially somebody who spends time in casinos.

So I don’t accept Romano’s playing dumb here. Not buying it.

What happened was this: Romano wanted to put something attention-getting on Twitter, as we all do, so he took a close-up pic of the scoreboard without explaining the surrounding circumstances. He got the attention he wanted—more than he bargained for, actually—and then he got caught.

I totally understand wanting to put up a cool photo on the Internet. I can’t fault Romano for that. I can’t even fault him for dramatizing the picture—I do that too. But I fault him for the backpedaling and for playing dumb. I say, Own up to it, bro.

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