Daniel Negreanu allegations of pros distributing fake vaccine cards adds to WSOP controversy

COVID-19 vaccine vials
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: September 24, 2021 10:40 PDT

An accusation Daniel Negreanu made recently that a couple of fellow poker pros possibly sold or gave away faked or blank COVID-19 vaccination cards has triggered another round of controversy regarding the upcoming World Series of Poker's mandates that all participating players be vaccinated.

Negreanu targeted pros Will "The Thrill" Failla and Robert Mizrachi during an appearance on the DAT Poker Podcast, where he frequently appears. “Rob Mizrachi, Will Failla, I saw you guys trying to f**king pass off fake vaccination cards at the Wynn,” Negreanu said. “I watched you guys at my table, handing out vax cards on the downlow, as if I wouldn’t see! I mean, c’mon bro!”

Negreanu soon walked back the part of the comment pertaining to Mizrachi, the brother of four-time $50,000 Poker Players Championship winner Mike Mizrachi. However, the allegations regarding Failla remain largely unchallenged. As the controversy drew public attention, a heated thread discussing the situation sprang up on the 2+2 discussion forums.

That in turn prompted Mizrachi to address the situation on Twitter. Mizrachi noted that Negreanu had already "clarified" his comment, inferring there might have been some communications not made public. Mizrachi then declared that he was indeed vaccinated, properly, and was looking forward to a full WSOP of action:

When a follower pressed him for more information on what transpired, Mizrachi claimed Failla gave him a blank vaccination card "as a joke," which Mizrachi later tore up and threw away:

Mizrachi's disavowal regarding Failla, however, remains incomplete. Mizrachi's statement does not explain why or how Failla possessed and was distributing CDC-issued vaccination-record cards in the first place. Early in the fast growing 2+2 thread, veteran poster "Mench" declared having seen a similar situation involving Failla.

"Having played in a private game with Will (Emanuel) Failla over the summer, I can confirm I saw him selling fake/blank vaccine cards," Mench wrote. "I’ll note that I did some research but am not clear on how to report this. If anyone has good insight, feel free to PM me."

Fake cards a felony, will challenge WSOP's CLEAR Health Pass capabilities

Whether or not Failla has indeed sold or distributed faked or blank vaccination cards remains only conjecture. It is worth noting that Failla has not responded at all to Negreanu's allegations on his own @WILLFAILLA Twitter account. Failla is an infrequent poster, but his most recent Tweets have been about the WSOP and its vaccine and mask mandates.

Negreanu's allegations, whether true or not, served to highlight the biggest issue regarding the WSOP's vaccine mandate. How effective will the CLEAR Health Pass registration system be for identifying players submitting fake vaccine cards? The system records the physician or health worker who administered each vaccine dose, the manufacturer of the vaccine, the dates the doses were administered, and the lot numbers of each dose's manufacturing batch.

Collectively, that allows for inquiries to be conducted into whether a claimed dose truthfully occurred or whether a vaccine card has been filled with non-authentic information. The collected info can quickly determine several indicators of fakery, such as whether, as an example, a Florida-based player claims to have been injected from a vaccine lot actually distributed in Texas. Whether Failla distributed faked or blank cards then becomes secondary to another reality. Because of Negreanu's comments, Failla's vaccine-card submission -- if he attends the WSOP -- is likely to receive special scrutiny.

Submitting fraudulent vaccine information also violates federal law, and the fines can be hefty.  Nevada officials have already warned individuals about circumventing vaccine mandates. In August, Mark Krueger, Nevada's Chief Deputy Attorney General, stated, “Under the federal law, you can be actually fined for individuals up to $250,000 or for an organization up to $500,000. But it also carries with it a criminal component or penalty, that can find yourself in prison for up to five years.”

Featured image source: Flickr