YouTube celebrity Catherine Elizabeth Valdes (AKA Catrific) managed to get herself disqualified from a World Series of Poker Circuit event at Bally’s Las Vegas this past weekend. The prolific poster then posted a video that has the poker community buzzing.
In short, Valdes registered for a $400 tournament, but was mistakenly placed in the $1,700 main event by the cashier. After observing several red flags she realized the mistake, but decided not to tell anyone.
Unfortunately for her, the tournament director discovered the error as well and pulled her aside. During the conversation she admitted to knowing she was in the wrong tournament.
Enter the strawman
Valdes’ main gripe seems to be the “unprofessional” way the tournament director spoke to her. As she said in her video:
“Why [is the tournament director] treating me like this is all my fault? Yes, the staff messed up, but I did not know what the proper thing to do was?”
There’s no doubt that staff made an error. It happens.
However, Valdes never seemed to grasp her own guilt in the matter. Perhaps due to her inexperience, she failed to see the full ramifications of her silence.
It doesn’t matter how the TD spoke to her. Her inaction at several points along the way is what turned a minor incident into a full-blown situation.
Multiple opportunities to nip the situation in the bud
According to Valdes’s account, that admission led to her disqualification from the main event. In her video, Valdes expressed both confusion and frustration at the way the tournament director handled the issue.
The first opportunity to speak up occurred when she went to collect her chips and was handed double the amount of chips she expected. At this point she admits to being confused, but chalked it up to a typo on the tournament sheet.
That seems plausible. Had that been her only clue it would be easy to sympathize with her story and understand how she wound up in the wrong tournament. The problem is, more red flags appeared.
Next she arrived at the table to discover the tournament was already in progress, when it was slated to begin at 4 PM. She was also struck by the number of name players she recognized in the field.
According to her account, her epiphany came when she noticed the tournament clock was for the main event.
At that point, she would have been better served with a short and to-the-point explanation. She could have simply told the TD that she was nervous and didn’t know what to do.
Instead, she rambled for some 11 minutes, and multiple holes appeared in her story. The tournament director’s ire is easy to understand.
It’s doubtful she set out to deceive the tournament. However, her motives (consciously or subconsciously) for not speaking up should be called into question.
There are also some other accounts of what occurred that don’t line up with Valdes’s version of the story.
At one point, she says:
“In my head I’m thinking, ‘Well, I guess I could go tell somebody but if I tell somebody it’s going to cause all this chaos … I don’t really think they can do anything about it. It’ll mess up the integrity of the tournament.”
For this statement to jibe with her self-portrayal as new to poker two contradictory things would have to be true:
- that she is too new and nervous to know what to do;
- that she’s experienced enough and calm enough to weigh the possibilities of notifying staff and assume they can’t do anything to fix the problem.
An inconvenient truth
There’s also the issue of her amassing a healthy stack of chips to consider.
Her reason for not knowing what to do may have been influenced by the “lucky” situation (in a bigger tournament with a lot of chips) she found herself in. It’s easy to rationalize bad choices when you find yourself in a fortuitous situation and think you can make it right after the fact.
But let’s flip the script and consider what would have happened if she registered in the main event and was given a seat in the $400 tournament? Or, if she realized she was in the wrong event when she was down to a couple big blinds?
Would she have been able to find the courage to let someone know she was in the wrong event in those scenarios?
This is poker after all. This TD has to constantly deal with cheats and angle shooters. He doesn’t have time to deal with flimsy excuses.
There’s no difference between what Valdes did and receiving three cards and not telling anyone until the hand is over.
When you’re the beneficiary of a mistake the proper thing to do is to speak up and fix it immediately. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping no one catches on turns what was an honest mistake into a deception. And waiting often compounds the problem.
The bottom line is this: When something feels off, speak up, ask questions.
When you identify a mistake, fix it. Immediately. No matter how uncomfortable or embarrassing it might be. When you ignore it you’re simply delaying the inevitable and making the problem worse.