Unlocking the Cheats of SCG Player of the Year, Alex Bertoncini

[UPDATE: Bertoncini was banned from Magic for 18 months by the DCI on December 15th. The announcement can be found here.]

[Publisher’s Note: I started this blog as a venue to talk about and publish things that would not make it onto the mainstream Magic sites. I also have a long history of catching people who cheat at Magic and detailing their exploits. What Drew details here will be controversial to some, but the evidence presented is about as damning as it gets. That said, if Alex wants to tell his side of the story, I will agree to host and promote that as well. — CardGame]

A joke, to start us off:

It’s Saturday night at a Grand Prix. A group of people are sitting around a table, having dinner, chatting about nothing in particular. The subject of Alex Bertoncini comes up.

One says, “Oh! Did you hear that story about him cheating?”

Another chimes in, “Yeah, I heard it!”

Yet another, “Weird. Me too.”

One of the players stops, then points across the table at the first person. “Wait a minute, what’s your story?”

They listen. Brows furrow. The second person says, “Hmm…I heard a different story.” They go around the table.

Six players, six different stories of Alex cheating.

I met Alex Bertoncini three years ago. I was barely a player then – I played awfully, knew nothing about deckbuilding, and I didn’t know what I was doing in the tournament scene. Alex was relatively new to the competitive scene as well, having seen his first real tournament success with Faeries earlier in the year. As an avid coverage reader, I knew his name. As an 18-year-old who respected – no, admired – status far too much, I wanted to befriend him.

Over the next few years, I got to know Alex. I stayed at his house, he stayed at mine, we drove with each other to tournaments, shared rooms, worked on decks, discussed tech, and talked about life. For a time, I considered him my best friend.

To understand this article, you have to understand that I am not impartial. Objectivity doesn’t exist. My actions at various points are colored by emotion. Sometimes this turns out well and sometimes it does not. Still, before you judge everything else, understand that this is someone I once trusted deeply and stopped trusting primarily because I felt strongly that he had cheated me and cheated the game that we bonded over.

This is no public hanging. Only the DCI bans people, and only judges disqualify players. As a player and neither an official of the DCI nor a high-level judge, I have more information than a judge or official but am less able to do anything with it. Having collected it meticulously for months, I have realized that the best thing to do is to turn it over to the community. Only officials ban people and only judges disqualify players, but who calls the judges over? Who spots a cheater in the act? Once someone does spot a cheater, what moral and communal obligation do they have?

I’m not just writing this to disseminate information. I want to send a message to anyone who, when they’re in a losing spot, considers playing an extra land or drawing an extra card. I want them to know that there are people in the Magic community who will see their lack of integrity and work to expose them. I don’t want the Magic community to look or act like a safe haven for cheaters. I don’t want our community to defend cheaters – all that serves to do is foster the growth of a new generation of stackers, peelers, and advantageously sloppy players. This is about a long history of Alex cheating, but this is also a warning to anyone who would consider replicating Alex’s success by replicating his methods: cheaters are not welcome in Magic and there are people who will wade through a lot of blowback to make that clear.

I’ve spent quite a few weekends of this past year on the SCG Open circuit, for better and for worse. I became one of the faces of the circuit, one of the “grinders.” I started writing a Select column on Starcitygames.com, eventually getting bumped up to Premium billing. I dove into this community headfirst, and I have a story worth reading.

It is a story about how Alex Bertoncini, a player who repeated as StarCityGames Player of the Year at this weekend’s Invitational in Charlotte while also winning the entire tournament, is a methodical and repeated cheater.

To fully understand where I’m coming from, though, I have to take you back to the beginning and tell this story in the proper order.

The Sower Cheat
My side of this story starts in June 2010. I was driving to visit my girlfriend for the next month, while Alex was making his way into St. Louis to play Mono-Blue Merfolk. We talked on the phone, I wished him good luck, and hung up. I read the coverage, texted him my condolences at his second-place finish, and worked on my deck for Grand Prix: Columbus.

Over the next few weeks, whispers of “Alex cheated in Round Three” made their way around the Internet. I didn’t believe them, and so I didn’t bother checking the facts. Why fact-check when I’d hung out with him for hours and hours, know that he’s a good guy, and heard him fume over peoples’ accusations of foul play? I’d seen him play long enough to know that he was no cheater, right? No point in following up, he’s obviously innocent, fuck the haters, and so on.

As we now know, Alex cheated Andy Hanson in that feature match. It can be found here. To highlight the relevant parts of game 1:

Andy Hanson, who had opted to run Reanimator before it lost Mystical Tutor to a recent banning, opened on Thoughtseize and forced Alex to discard Daze. A second-turn Silvergill Adept for Alex drew him a card but it was Sower of Temptation, not a counterspell of some type for a potential second turn combo out of his opponent.

With the turn back, Andy cast Entomb on his upkeep to fetch a Platinum Angel which he put into his graveyard. Alex commented on the unusualness of the 4/4, which wasn’t in most versions of Reanimator, but Hanson missed land yet again and passed with just an Underground Sea fueling his game.

Later on, Alex had no choice: he had to pull the trigger on his Sower of Temptation targeting Platinum Angel for the win or die himself to the 7/11 Leviathan. He tapped four mana, leaving one Island untapped, and plopped the 2/2 onto the table. Andy cast Force of Will exiling a Daze but Alex checked with a judge on whether the play was legal. “Can you pay 1 life when you’re on -16?” When the judge confirmed you could not, Hanson simply scooped up his side of the table.

That’s all well and good – Alex sandbagged his Sower until he had Andy dead, then stole Platinum Angel for the Force-proof kill. Pretty simple, right?

Well, except for the part where Alex didn’t maindeck Sower of Temptation that day.

Maindeck Kiras? Check.

A bunch of 4-ofs? Check.

Sower of Temptation? Sideboard, two-of.

This could have been an innocent mistake, I’ll grant you. It could have been… but Alex isn’t the sort of person who forgets what’s in his deck. There is no chance that he forgot what his decklist was. He’d just registered it three hours prior, after all! This is not rocket science. So now we have two uncomfortable possibilities. Either:

Alex forgot to completely desideboard from the previous round, a round where he boarded in exactly Sower of Temptation (and either didn’t board any other board cards in, or didn’t draw them in his protracted game one against Andy),


Alex presideboarded Sower of Temptation for Kira, since Kira is Wind Drake and Sower is g-motherfucking-g.

Even setting all of that aside, we come to the moral/ethical dilemma of what happened when Alex picked up his sideboard and saw his Kiras staring back at him. Call a judge and have himself game-lossed for the game that he just stole? Sure, maybe.

Or, you know, just jam your sideboard into your deck and beat poor Andy down in game two, thanking your lucky stars that you heard about Andy’s Platinum Angel tech before your round so you could make sure your deck had a two-outer in it. Life is so much easier when you don’t remember what decklist you registered. Plausible deniability is a beautiful thing, right?

I bought Alex’s side of the story.

Here, I’ll write it again.

I bought Alex’s side of the story. After all, my narcissistic (very dumb) paradigm went a little something like this:

  • I am an excellent judge of character.
  • I judge Alex to be a Good Person because He Is My Friend and I Am Friends With Good People.
  • If he’s a Good Person and I like him, he can’t be a cheater! Cheaters are evil people and immediately identifiable by their tendencies to kick puppies and randomly attack people. Cheaters are not charming or in any way kind.
  • Cheating is totally, completely, irrevocably related to personality. Since I trust him, he’s not a cheater.
  • I know how to catch a cheater, so if Alex were to cheat, I would be able to figure it out.

If you just take the opposite of all of those statements, you would have a good idea of what was actually going on. Funny how that seems to happen. Anyway, I remained Alex’s close friend through 2010, eventually spending the time between Christmas and New Year’s with him.

The Kira Cheat
Fast forward a bit. It’s 2011, I’d decided to spend a bit of time on the SCG Open Circuit, and so I hung out with Alex a lot. He and several other players stayed at my house for SCG: DC, which took place in February. I had no inkling of what had transpired in San Jose, and for a long time, the events of Alex’s Round 7 feature match stayed pretty far under the radar.

It was only over the summer that I came across the Kira video. This happened well after he and I had fallen out of sorts with each other. While I was researching several players’ claims that Alex was a perpetual cheater, a friend asked me if I’d seen “the Cursed Scroll/Kira cheat.” No, I hadn’t, and would he mind sending me a video? Sure, it’s Round 7 of the San Jose Legacy Open from January, take a look.

The video playlist can be found here. Around 32 minutes in, the important stuff starts happening. To summarize:

Vidianto Wijaya is playing a UW Counterbalance deck with Cursed Scroll, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and a bunch of counters. He probably isn’t playing a ton of removal, but Cursed Scroll is supposed to play the part of Grim Lavamancer against Merfolk. Kira’s job is to stop that, protect the troops as they deploy, and attack for two in the air while this is happening.

Alex is stuck on three lands. From the looks of it, it’s pretty late in the game. Vidianto has a commanding advantage with Sensei’s Divining Top, Jace, and Cursed Scroll in play, since he can kill Kira by breaking its shield with Jace’s -1 and then shoot it down with Cursed Scroll.

Gavin Verhey, Brian Kibler, and Patrick Chapin are commentating on the match. Vidianto untaps with Jace in play on two counters, a Cursed Scroll, six lands, and two cards in hand – Vendilion Clique and Spell Snare. Vidi untaps, draws a land, plays it, and activates Jace to break Kira’s shield. He Vendilion Cliques Alex, sees two Coralhelm Commanders, a Lord of Atlantis, and a Merrow Reejerey. He leaves them, Scrolls the Kira revealing Spell Snare, and passes the turn. To review:

Vidi: Jace on 1, seven land, Top in play, Scroll in play, 1 card (Spell Snare) in hand.

Alex: Island, Island, Mutavault in play, three Grizzly Bears and one Grey Ogre in hand.

Alex draws his second Kira, plays it, and passes. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Vidi draws a Brainstorm. He casts it, drawing two lands and a Jace. He puts a land and a Spell Snare back, keeping his eighth land and a second Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Although it’s obvious to us at home, consider the following chain of events from Alex’s position, where you don’t know that the last card in his hand is a Jace. Vidi plays his eighth land, moves his six-sider off of his Jace, and taps the Kira with it – a clear “Unsummon your Kira, my Jace dies, this ability is countered.” Before the Jace flips over in Vidi’s hand as the Cursed Scroll reveal, though, the Kira is…

…wait, you didn’t see? Took your eye off of it for a sec? Believed that when you saw it sliding toward the  graveyard, the motion would carry through and the Kira would, y’know, actually hit the bin?

Go back and watch it again. Don’t watch Vidi show Alex the Jace this time. Watch Alex. Watch him slide the Kira toward the bin – you know, the same one that isn’t splayed and has Kira on top and then pull his hand – Kira and all – back off the table, slipping his last chance at victory back into his grip.

Let’s note the amazing execution of the cheat. In the first game, Alex splays his graveyard, displaying every single card at once. As he executes this cheat, he has it piled, showing only the Kira at the top of the pile. How many Kiras are in your graveyard? I don’t know, but there’s a Kira on top of it, just like there’s supposed to be. Don’t worry about it.

It’s so well-executed that three commentators – none of them slouches – all missed it. In fact, the only indication that something might be amiss is from poor Gavin Verhey, who notes:

“Is that another Kira? That’s the third Kira…he only has two, right?”

But Chapin keeps rolling, and Gavin falls back into conversation with him about what sorts of runner-runner outs Alex has to the situation at hand. Confusion forgotten, Vidi crushes him anyway, and Vidi wins the game a few turns later anyway.

This was the moment that I was totally, irrevocably sold. I must have watched those two minutes a dozen times, just dissecting every nuance of Alex’s cheat execution – the minute changes in how he displayed his cards, his temperament, how he shuffled his hand before and after he cheated, the way he induced Vidi into a mental shortcut that led Vidi to assume that Kira had been put in the graveyard – the list goes on and on. At its core, though, Alex ran a cheat and lost.

Now what? I saw this video and went a little nuts. I started asking everyone I knew if they had any stories about Alex cheating. I found several and collected them, planning on writing an article excoriating Alex for his dastardly ways. I went on a podcast and told every story I could remember of how big of a cheat Alex had been in the last year.

Then, I slowed down. “What if,” I thought, “this isn’t about catching a cheater, but instead it’s about ‘getting’ him in some way? What if you’re not noble and you’re just some kid using a rules institution to antagonize a onetime friend? What if you’re just full of shit? Maybe you should slow down.

So I slowed down. I questioned myself, my motives, my assumptions, my data, my friends, and everything else that I could question. I held off on the article. I talked to every smart person I could find at Grand Prix: Pittsburgh, asking their advice about what I should do. My survey of intelligent human beings came back with three strong pieces of advice:

  • I had done a fair bit of messing up already by discussing this publicly, but going further would be even more damaging to my goals. This is about him cheating. Treat it like that instead of as a witch hunt.
  • In following with #1, go through the DCI (and specifically, Sheldon Menery) instead of through the public square.
  • None of the smart people I talked to thought for a moment that Alex wasn’t a cheater, but I still had to prove it. So, prove it.

I took their advice to heart and kept looking for strong examples. I could share some of the stories I collected with you, but word of mouth is less meaningful than hard evidence.

Magic’s Greatest Explorer
Fortunately, Twitter was on my side, and one Matt Pratser had quite the video for me to look at. He told me that it was a short clip from Kansas City, the first Open Weekend of the year.

His video can be found here.

Yet again, I didn’t catch the cheat the first time. I closed it out and had my email half-typed:

“What sort of joke is this? There’s no cheat here! He just casts some Explores and you miscounted!”

Then I watched it again and realized that Alex was playing with the best Summer Blooms in existence. His sequence?

Draw, land 4, tank.

Explore, land 5 (second of the turn), tank.

Preordain, tank.

Push both (doing so in a way that probably gave him a peek at the bottom of his deck), draw.

Tank. Visibly count the number of Explores in your graveyard.

Play your third land for the turn – land six in total – and immediately pass.

When questioned about what turn it is, brush the inquisitor off with “Two Explores.”

Alex’s dedication to the cheat is very professional: he never breaks rapport with his opponent, never treats Matthew – the person filming the game – as a legitimate concern, and makes sure that his opponent is happy with how the game is going. By the end of it, the guy who just got cheated stands up for Alex, who just cheated him.

This was the third piece of recorded evidence that I sent Sheldon Menery, back in late August. I had collected stories and hard proof and sent them off to official that ran the Investigative Committee for the DCI. I had a lot of people asking me for an article on Alex’s habits, but I wanted to let the DCI run its investigative course. So I sat on my hands and waited for several months.

When it became clear that Alex would play in the Invitational, I knew that I had to get my letter to Sheldon out to as many people as possible. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for Alex to cheat a bunch of people who have no idea what cheats he’s capable of running. Although I couldn’t get this article to Ted in time for the Invitational, I sent my letter to Sheldon to over 300 people in the span of a day and a half. I regret not moving faster on the issue sooner in the week, but I would rather turn in a good, well-written article late than turn in a half-assed smear job early.

Still, you may be left unconvinced of Alex’s faults. “Drew, people make mistakes. Alex has told me that he’s a bumbling idiot, he’s sloppy, he’s not malicious, and I believe him. All you’ve done is show me a bunch of things that I’m sure plenty of people have done before. I don’t think any of these are that bad. Besides, if the DCI saw anything really egregious, they would’ve banned him.”

A Word of Caution
I have my own story to add to the pile of evidence. It’s from SCG Nashville. Alex and I planned on spending a week testing and hanging out with Adam Cai in Tuscaloosa, Alabama between SCGs Nashville and Dallas.

It’s Round Six, I’m playing Team America (a UBG disruption deck with Stifle, Daze, Force of Will, Hymn to Tourach, Tarmogoyf, and Tombstalker) and he’s playing Mono-Blue Merfolk. It’s a pretty good matchup for him, but he needs to kill me before I draw too many huge threats. On his turn, he Vials in a Merrow Reejerey and puts both his hands on his creatures, turning them all sideways with a flick of his wrists. I stop him:

“You just Vialed in that Reejerey.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry, my bad.”

[raising my hand to call for a judge] “Judge!”

“Oh, come on, man, I said I’m sorry, we don’t need to involve a judge, we can just back up.”

I held my ground on this one. How many people had he said that to? How many people are afraid of a warning enough to shame a friend for calling a judge to appropriately discipline sloppy play? After all, a Warning isn’t a Game Loss – it’s a Warning. Don’t do it again.

The judge came over and I explained the situation. Alex agreed, but, in a moment indelibly etched in my mind, Alex then asked for the Warning to be downgraded to a Caution. This may not seem like a big deal or even something worth mentioning, but how many of your opponents have ever asked for a Warning to be downgraded to a Caution? Who is the sort of person who asks for Warnings to be downgraded to Cautions? Maybe we should start with the simplest point: what’s the difference between a Warning and a Caution?

A Caution doesn’t go on your DCI record and a Warning does. If you accumulate enough Warnings in a tournament, you get a Game Loss. If you accumulate enough Warnings and Game Losses for the same offense, you get investigated for cheating. If you get a bunch of Warnings downgraded to Cautions, you effectively prevent the DCI from noticing that you are getting warned for something a lot.

Think again about the sort of person who asks for a Warning to be downgraded to a Caution. I have never and will never do that. Neither will anyone else I know, with the exception of Alex. Want to know why? Because my friends and I don’t cheat, so we don’t make a habit of accumulating Warnings. Since Alex plans to get a lot of Warnings, he habitually asks for the downgrade. Doesn’t hurt him at all, there’s no opportunity cost, and sometimes he gets to freeroll a tiny little bit of a small cheat that he got caught trying to pull. That adds up.

The reason that Alex is so successful with this variety of cheat is that he is a very nice and friendly person. In the past couple of days, I’ve heard a lot of the same argument from people all over the community. It goes,

“Alex is a really nice guy. I’ve met him, he was really cool, and we played a few games and he didn’t cheat me. There’s no way that someone that nice can be a cheater!”

I don’t really understand these people. They’re the same people who vote for awful Presidential candidates because they would like to have a beer with them. Do they really not understand the difference between personality and substance? They are people who don’t understand what is being discussed, and so they conflate the actual issue – Alex’s capacity and willingness to play honest games of Magic – with a perceived issue – in this case, Alex’s capacity to be a charismatic person. At least, I hope that people are just mixing the two up. The other possibility is that those people believe that no cheater is a kind person.

I have some bad news for all of the people reading this who think that you can either cheat or be a nice person: you’re wrong. Not all scumbags look, talk, and act like Snidely Whiplash. Mike Long was probably a really nice guy. That doesn’t mean he didn’t stack his deck, stack his opponents’ decks, draw extras, and run every other cheat in the book. It does mean that a lot of people probably defended him precisely because he was a nice guy. It’s just not useful to be disliked and also be a cheater – people are far less likely to look the other way when you “make a mistake,” people are far less likely to defend you when you’re not present, and you might even have a few people who actively dislike you and try to mount a case to prove that you’re a cheater.

Since Alex is a guy who isn’t going to no-pay on a team draft, isn’t going to short you on a hotel room, and isn’t going to steal your stuff, it’s that much more unbelievable that he would cheat you in a game of Magic. Still, even beyond the Kira video, the Explore video, and the Sower coverage story, there are dozens of stories I’ve collected from credible sources over the few months I’ve been looking for them. As some of these people have asked to remain anonymous, I won’t recount their stories in full or quote them, but the list of cheats I’ve heard them tell me of is as follows (and there are surely more out there):

  • Drawing eight cards in his opening hand
  • Drawing an extra card off of Ponder following a mulligan
  • Casting spells that he doesn’t have correct mana for
  • Pre-sideboarding against an unfavorable matchup
  • Free-casting Submerge against an opponent without Forests
  • Playing a Merfolk deck with all-foil spells and Mutavaults and all non-foil Aether Vials and Islands
  • Brainstorming with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and not putting two cards back

I have no way of communicating with the entire Magic community and finding every story of Alex cheating, but I’m confident in calling him a cheater based on the evidence I’ve gathered. There are other videos that I’m less than confident about the malice of. One such example is his Round Six video feature match against Alex Smith in SCG Atlanta just a few months ago, where the community has raised concerns about both his Brainstorm-as-Ancestral in the second minute and his potentially four-card Brainstorm in the seventh minute.

It is possible that Alex is a sloppy player. I would almost believe that, but for one thing: in the long history of Alex playing under a very public eye, I have never once heard of him making a sloppy play or error that was not in his favor. When people are sloppy, they occasionally give away percentage points in doing so – consider Luis Scott-Vargas’s “land, go; Preordain, pass the turn with a second land in hand.” I have never seen Alex make a mistake that doesn’t favor him. The case for Alex-as-sloppy-player would be a lot more convincing if he didn’t gain every time his sloppiness went unnoticed. And finally, a bit of sage advice from a member of Magic’s old school:

A little history lesson: when there’s a ton of momentum about someone being a cheater and a bunch of “misunderstandings” and “weird situations” that have occurred, the guilty rate is 100000000000%.

This isn’t an article meant to crucify Alex Bertoncini. All I want to do – all I’ve wanted him to do since the moment I knew he was a cheater – was for him to either stop cheating or get caught and banned. Either way, I just want a cheater to leave the Magic community and never come back. If a clean player replaces him, so be it. If his seat remains empty, so be it. Cheating has no place in Magic.

I look forward to a lively discussion.

Drew Levin
@drew_levin on Twitter

170 responses to “Unlocking the Cheats of SCG Player of the Year, Alex Bertoncini

  1. This player needs to be removed from the game with extreme prejudice.

    I noticed the Sower cheats back when it happened, but complaining and arguing with people didn’t get anywhere so I dropped it. I’m glad you took up the banner on this, I hope it works out the way the community needs it to.

  2. That Ancestral Recall-Brainstorm followed up by drawing 4 cards off of a Brainstorm after he’s been given a warning shows that he’s used to cheating.

    You’d make sure you weren’t making any errors after you’ve been corrected.

    This is psycopathic behaviour. He thinks that he’s invulnerable.

  3. If this doesn’t convince people that Bertoncini is a straight-up cheater, then I don’t know what will. That should be fairly uncontroversial at this point, and props to Drew for making this clear to the community.

    What is shocking is that neither the DCI or Star City have acted to date, hence – I can only imagine – forcing the publication of this article. Drew first aired a number of these allegations in good detail way back in August of this year on the Crazy Talk podcast (I think that’s right), which even included a story or two that aren’t included here (an extra Timely Reinforcements presideboarded against mono-Red, for instance).

    That Star City knew full well there were serious credibility issues hanging over one of their circuit’s top stars and yet seemingly did nothing, allowing him to pick up their Player of the Year race along with 10,000 dollars in cash, is outrageous. It’s not good enough to say that they needed to wait for the DCI to act. The DCI are not perfect, and where they slip up Star City have both the right and responsibility as a TO to protect players at their tournaments from getting scammed out of wins, PWP and serious cash by people like AB. Star City simply do not need the DCI’s approval to ban a player from their circuit, and nor should they require it when presented with sufficient evidence – which was easily available to anyone who looked for it, as someone at Star City should have done.

    As for the DCI, it’s actually slightly more understandable why they haven’t moved to date; I can imagine their procedure takes time, particularly if a player has been systematically getting Warnings downgraded into Cautions, as Drew suggest here. At this point, however, I can’t imagine they’re left with any alternative other than a very lengthy ban, which would be thoroughly deserved.

    Thanks again to Drew and Ted.

  4. The DCI runs at the speed of the British Civil Service when it comes to actually doing something about cheats (ie: super super slow) because they are always too willing to give the benefit of the doubt in case they lose a valuable customer.

    Only in the face of overwhelming evidence do they actually act, and I hope this will be one of those cases….

    In sport if you get caught cheating after the tournament is over, you’re stripped of your medal and prize money. It’s up to StarCity now not to pay this scumbag, since the cheating is right there on video and then take him to court for damages.

  5. Just wanted to point out something I found funny:

    “I bought Alex’s side of the story. After all, my narcissistic (very dumb) paradigm went a little something like this:

    -I am an excellent judge of character.
    -I judge Alex to be a Good Person because He Is My Friend and I Am Friends With Good People.
    -If he’s a Good Person and I like him, he can’t be a cheater!”

    “I have never and will never do that. Neither will anyone else I know, with the exception of Alex. Want to know why? Because my friends and I don’t cheat, so we don’t make a habit of accumulating Warnings.”

      • The point, I think (I was about to point out the same thing), is that _only_ Alex is excepted. It sounds like the lesson he’s taken away is not so much “don’t believe your friends are clean just because their your friends” as it is “don’t believe that of this particular friend”. I’m sure it’s not concious, but maybe it’s worse if it isn’t.

  6. As both a TO and a Judge, I see no reason for Star City to prevent Alex from entering events until/unless the DCI does something that would make him ineligible. The game has a governing body to enforce the rules and for an entity outside of the DCI to effectively ban a player from competition based on allegations, no matter how well founded they may appear, isn’t needed. Let the DCI handle the investigation and the TOs handle running tournaments within the DCI’s guidelines.

    • As a judge you may see no reason to prevent AB from entering events. But as a TO, you should be well aware that people hate competing in environments where cheating is tolerated, and hate dealing with companies that (they feel) cheat / betray their trust.
      That’s enough incentives for SCG to act. They don’t want to lose their customer’s trust.

      • I appreciate that people don’t want to play against cheaters. However, as a TO, I see no reason to preemptively take action before the DCI. This could be construed as being discriminatory if AB were a member of a protected class (which I know he isn’t). The point being, preventing his entry could cause legal issues for a TO, which aren’t worth it.
        Secondarily, the calls for SCG to “do something” to AB in order to recover prizes are unlikely to be fruitful. The only recourse SCG has is to sue AB in civil court which would be costly and they may not win.

      • A TO is always allowed to refuse entry to their events. It’s not a legal consideration, it’s because they don’t believe that Alex was cheating – as Drew said, he seems like a nice guy (and very believable)

    • good statement
      Until something happens that gets him banned (i.e. caught cheating at an event) players should not witch hunt and instead just exercise caution while playing him

      He will probably stop cheating and if he does cheat – after this article he will probably get caught

      • wrong.

        Tournament Organisers can stop people from playing for any reason they want. He was caught cheating, we all saw it on camera, first not putting cards back from a brainstorm and secondly drawing 4 cards off another brainstorm.

        If I was a tournament organiser I would ban him from all of my tournaments immediately, because there would be a mass backlash otherwiise and I don’t want to have to give him a personal judge to table judge each round.

      • Remember, it isn’t SCG responsibility to ensure you don’t get cheated at their event, it’s yours. They have to provide judges, which they do. It’s up to each player to maintain the game state. It’s up to the DCI to keep known cheaters out of tournaments. I would not, as a TO, ban him from an event. I would not, as a TO, assign him a personal floor judge. I would, as a TO, make sure that the HJ of the event knew that he was participating in the event. I would not, as a judge, spend 1 second more at his table than any other during the tournament. We, as judges, don’t deal with reputations or accusations or worry about previous behavior. We deal with each situation based upon it’s own merits and investigate each situation in a vacuum in regards to other tournaments.

      • Yes, the judges that “caught” him at feature tables while sitting there ‘observing’ the game under the camera. They’ve done a splendid job on their own as it is. Leave them out of it at this point.

        These games were however recorded and retro action should be taken by the DCI because there is sufficient evidence to prove a pattern of cheating more than there is to prove they were all “mistakes.”

    • There was a TO in New zealand that banned people from tournaments because he didn’t like them, had nothing to do with mtg…

    • There are multiple videos on youtube of Alex cheating at sanctioned tournaments. If that’s not enough of a reason to take action then nothing is!

    • Its an issue of mark cards, as the foils will be slightly different thickness to normal cards and warp slightly, so when a foil is on top you will see a slight bend then when a non-foil is on the top it will have no bend. Which if all your land and aether vials are non-foil and the rest are foil and the top card isnt warped you can tell its either a land or aether vial.

      But I do have a question about this part, didn’t he play Force of Wills in his Merfolk deck?

      • I believe he did and you can foil any card, even tokens. You have to run it through a foiling process. It is possible to have foil FoW

  7. This is all very depressing, I too would like to think the best of people especially at high level events. I am somewhat timid and not wanting to cause problems so probably would be easily cheated in such a way before I read this article. Now I’ll try to be a bit more aware of opponents just in case. Hopefully the DCI and SCG take some action on these allegations, there is video evidence I mean who wants to shell out the cash to go to GP’s and Opens when it’s hard enough to play fair and succeed but have a known cheater as your POY and champion? As for GP’s WOTC does a good job. I’ll probably avoid SCG events if they remain silent on this, there’s absolutely no incentive to go.

  8. Pingback: Magic Round Up: Special Edition [Champion Cheater] | FinalSmash

  9. I was not convinced of anything other than him being a sloppy player. Then I saw the brainstorm video and was convinced 100%. Its easy to draw 4 off brainstorm if youre playing sloppy, but there is no way to not notice you drew 4 instead of 3 when looking through your hand and deciding what to get rid of.

    • This is still under investigation. Lucas Florent threatened to rape someone and admitted to it. Sorry, but some sicko posting about rape on a french forum is still worse than a cheater.

      • Clarification: Bertoncini should probably be banned, but on the degrees fo severity, Florent is as bad if not worse than Bertoncini.

  10. Personally if you need to cheat to win at the game of magic, this shows you have no skill period and should be barred from ever playing.

    He should be forced to give back the winnings and the power 9 of all things, stripped of his title as well as be banned by both SCG and the DCI for this, i cannot stand seeing the photo of him holding the most prestigous cards in the game of magic having won via cheating, that title should be in the hands of Adam Prosak who played a fair and clean year of magic, not this chump of a cheater.

    • this is ignorant. if a pro is playing a control deck and plays phenomenally but draws bad, and their scrub opponent playing aggro gets a bad draw the pro will lose. Alex is a good player cheating or no.

      I have to say: cheating is ballsy: cheating on camera is just dumb.


  11. SCG Opens (and the invitational) are DCI sanctioned tournaments right? So they must have judges and they must be DCI judges. In which case it isn’t up to SCG to do anything. The onus is on the DCI and I guess the issue is that he has to be caught in the act. There is no precedence of retroactive bans for cheating (correct me if I’m wrong). Take the Saito case for example – there was a lot of evidence that he was up to no good but they waited to catch him in the act to ban him (and the ban was pretty hefty compared to the infraction so they must have taken previous behavior into account).

    Overall I feel sorry for SCG because this is distracting from what should be a celebration of an awesome end to the Open season. But then all publicity is good publicity right?

    • There have been several bans based on accumulated problems and weren’t triggered by a particular recent incident or DQ. Dan Clegg for slow play and procedural errors, Ryan Fuller for accumulated incidents that showed a pattern of likely systematic cheats, etc.

    • When the photo showed up of the guy with his eyes on his neighbours pack during a draft?

      Or was that just a retroactive DQ, not a ban?

      But why wouldn’t multiple retroactive DQ’s result in a ban? (how many videos are we talking about in this case?)

  12. Thanks for the article Drew and Ted.

    I kinda know what you feel like when you decided to set out and do what you felt had to be done. It sucks. I had friends too who were notorious cheaters, but then I never thought much of it too and always assumed the best, until one day i got cheated.

    After that, it’s just never the same. Props to you for being able to write an article like this. It’s tough.

  13. If he isn’t banned or it takes a while, is it allowed to request a judge to watch a match if you get paired against him? I can imagine that by now anyone who gets paired against him just wants to relax and play a real game of Magic rather than spend the whole time watching him like a hawk and end up poorly concentrating on your own game.

    • Seriously that would be my biggest concern. It takes away from the game when you have to ask to see how many cards they have before they draw and then ask to see how many they have after they draw. Having to ask a judge to check their sideboard game one. Keep track of what turn your actually on to and note any turns where no lands were played or where an extra card was played. It seems like a giant problem. Also why would anyone want to play at an event where you know one of the people likely to win cheated to get there. Its almost like saying there is only 7 top spots at the opens cause 1 guy is guaranteed a spot if he comes. And it would be one thing if this was all speculation but there is video evidence.

  14. I am a casual Magic player, but I was deep into the Vs. System Pro Circuit while it lasted. We had lots of these problems. Mostly, we handled them within the community itself.

    One of the issues that becomes even more relevant today is the ability and responsibility of the audience to alter a judge immediately when they see these shenanigans occur.

    Twitter allows this effect on a global scale, but so far it is failing. Take yesterday for example.

    (Before I recap the situation, I must preface. David Bauer is a friend and testing partner from the glory days of Vs. System. If he had not carried the Miami flavor to the top tables of the Invitational, I would have not been paying attention and I probably would not be so outraged.)

    In the deciding game of a match with Gerry Thompson, Bauer got jobbed by an illegal play that was caught immediately and broadcast loudly on Twitter by the audience. The announcers on SCGlive ignored it. We know they were paying attention, because they mentioned another tweet at the same time.

    Gerry T used his Shimmering Grotto twice, after shifting it on the table. Smooth move. The judges later issued a warning, but the tainted victory was allowed to stand.

    Bauer was pure class, as always. He accepted the judges decision and won his way into the Top 8 anyway. The judge decided to believe Gerry T “made a mistake” by accidentally finding the red mana he needed.

    Here is my question: With a global audience on Twitter, can cheaters be caught DURING a match so they don’t win the prizes?

    • Not every mistake is a cheat, and it’s really hard to conduct an investigation from more than about twenty feet away. I wasn’t in on the Shimmering Grotto investigation, but I spoke with the HJ of the event, who was involved, and while it was unfortunate and certainly seemed shady, the judgment call was that Gerry wasn’t cheating. We all make mistakes, after all, and that’s what this was deemed.

      There’s a lot of increased scrutiny after Bertoncini’s actions, but it’s important to let the judges on the scene take care of the game and conduct their own investigation. Viewership comments are great in that they can help identify issues and bring them to the judges’ attention, but they can’t diagnose whether a problem is cheating or accident.

      • It is hard for me to fathom how a player of his caliber can “accidentally” use the same card twice in a row to “accidentally” get the red mana he needed. He knows the cards, he had obviously thought through his plays. The spell he was going to use needed red, and he was conscious of the fact he had already used the Grotto.

        That cannot seriously be a mistake.

    • Though Gerry doesn’t have quite the history that Bertoncini has, making his claim to an honest mistake much more credible. Remember, not all SCG guys are the same!

      • One thing to keep in mind is that if the player of the year is openly cheating and everybody knows it, but nobody is enforcing it, if you want to win, cheating yourself becomes _very_ tempting.

        How else are you supposed to compete, seriously? And if GerryT is anything, he’s a competitor.

        This is why you have to be tough on cheaters – not because of justice, not to preserve the integrity of your results, but because it is a broken-window problem — and letting it stand unpunished encourages other people to cheat, which makes all the other attendant problems much worse.

    • I will stand up for GerryT here. Gerry has a long history of clean play, and he is a fantastic ambassador for all aspect of the game, including fair play. In our top 8 match at the invitational, Gerry made a very similar mistake. He tapped 4 lands, none of which produced white, to flashback Unburial Rites. However, he had two white sources untapped through both of our turns. GerryT was even hurt in this situation, because he tapped out of red mana, so he couldn’t cast his Desperate Ravings that turn. GerryT made a sloppy mistake. Contrary to popular belief, GerryT isn’t perfect, and is perfectly capable of making mistakes.

      Drew’s comment about Alex’s accidental cheats never going against him is probably one of the most damning pieces of evidence against him.

  15. It amazes me that he was able to get away with such things on camera. The fact he gave us enough proof is indicative of the fact he has an Impulse Control Disorder – the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. As in, he simply can’t stop.

    The moment arises where he suddenly feels he can take advantage of the system and then goes for it.


  16. I think it should be noted that SCG has dismissed the Brainstorm incident by the following comment

    ‎(Jared) The brainstorm play was analyzed in the HD version from our archives frame by frame to count and track the individual cards drawn. What seems to be a fourth card is actually a shadow caused by a bend in the sleeve. Sorry guys, but this one is on the up and up.

    This was posted on their Facebook page not even a hour ago, they’ve dismissed the one case of this

    • I obviously dont have access to the HD version, but everytime I watch that clip I see 4 cards. This shadow caused by a bend in the sleeve explanation …I can’t buy it sorry. I definitely could be wrong, but that is not what I see.

      • I wasn’t aware SCG reviewed this, but I came to the same conclusion after repeatedly watching the video. I took a series of quick captures from the video: http://imgur.com/28E7j

        It’s not HD, but even in these quick and dirty images you can see three cards on the table as he pulls them off, the botttom card bends and creates the ilusion of a fourth card.

        Hope that helps.

    • Didnt he miss a sphinx trigger during a match against medina n tried to draw later before medina stopped him ( 2nd open after innistrad)

  17. I’ll add my story of AB cheating to the pile, Drew, you can do with this story as you wish. It was at the Chicago $75 Championship. I was playing UB Control and he was playing UW Squadron Hawks/Swords, etc. In this matchup, it’s all about Squadron Hawk, if he lands a T2 Hawk I am really behind the 8-ball. I T1 Inquisition of Kozilek him and take his Squadron Hawk. He rips…. Squadron Hawk off the top and drops it into play. A few turns later I am facing 4 Squadron Hawks on the table and I look through my graveyard and see my Inquisition and try to think back to what I took, I took a Hawk! How are there 4 Hawks on the table!? I tanked for a bit and thought to myself, “Did I take a Hawk or a Mana Leak?” I was trying to replay the scenario in my mind and I was SURE I took the Hawk because I knew it was vital to my success. I lost to those Hawks. He must have palmed it or placed it on top of his library or something to get it back. This is the honest truth.

  18. It matters very little to the game whether Alex is actually cheating or not. Mr. Levin did provide significant evidence and write an article very much worth reading, and I thank him for that.

    However, I think he missed the point by a mile. Cheaters exist, and rule enforcement organizations are not going to be able to eliminate them. Levin, whether he intends to or not, is crucifying Bertoncini, a nice person and someone who seems generally well liked by the community. This forces people to take sides . That is bad. What he should be doing is calling for vigilance in the community, and provide tools for people to fight and spot cheating. Maybe we need to start a Magic Players Alliance where the players can post reviews on match-ups with each other and such? Perhaps run workshops at Opens to teach how to spot cheaters? Remove the stigma associated with calling a judge. It’s scary for many players! We as players have the ability to improve our game and community, we don’t have to rely on the corporations that own it! Removing Bertoncini does nothing, but shielding up the community can change the game.

    • “a nice person and someone who seems generally well liked by the community. ”

      You just said exactly what Levin was talking about. Why do you bring up that he is a nice person? AB, like many of his ilk, will be nice to you right in your face to gain an advantage. This is part of the reason Bertoncheaty has been allowed to get away with so much for so long. A car salesman will pretend to be your best friend to sell you a car, etc etc etc. It’s a facade, designed to disarm you.

      Jared Sylvia = Earl Hebner and the SCG Judges are basically like WWE refs. They hardly see anything, and don’t do anything when they actually do see something happening. I don’t expect SCG will do anything to put their golden boy in a bad light.

      • Of course they won’t, that would undercut SCG’s validity, and that’s not good business practice.

        Please don’t take my earlier comment as a defense of Bertoncini, this article makes me extremely wary of him in any game I would ever play, to the point that I would ask a judge to watch the whole match. I just was trying to illustrate that theres a problem with the system, not just one person, and that the player community needs to stand up.

      • The “Star City Judges” are judges. They come from all over the region to judge these events. They do not work directly for SCG in most cases. Please do not blame the judges for things they weren’t called to check (two Explores) or for simply making a mistake. I have judged multiple SCG events and look forward to judging more. We can’t fix what we aren’t called to.

    • A workshop on how to catch cheaters would be basically be telling people how to cheat. I also don’t find “taking sides” is a bad thing when you look at the evidence presented.

      The thing that scares me the most is the presiding. How does a player determine when an opponent did so? Some cards are obvious, like specific hate cards like Perish, but something like Sower is much less obvious.

      • No, a “workshop” on how to catch cheaters puts all players on an equal playing field. People who are looking to cheat will find out how to cheat.

      • I agree with Mike. If only cheaters knew how to cheat, they would rarely be caught. Many, maybe all, cheats require an informational imbalance to be successful. The knowledge of how to cheat empowers the honest.

    • We have these. They’re called Judge Conferences. At the one at Worlds, there was actually a very good seminar on how to spot sleight of hand cheats. Did I mention WotC gives judge promos to judges who attend/participate? Yea that base is already covered.

  19. Here Bertoncini in G1 Brainstormed didn’t put 2 back and then proceeded to draw 2 more cards off of Jin-Gitaxis. Result was a warning for both players and rewind to put cards back. Then his next brainstorm he draws 4 cards and doesn’t get called out.

  20. Others have taken screenshots of the cards in his hand as he drew them, and the card with the shadow (caused by what they dismissed as a bend in the sleeve) looks far too wide to be just one card:


    It might not be from a HD source (like the ones SCG would use to investigate it), but that definitely looks too big of a card for the shadow to be a bend in the sleeve, and looks much more like two cards clumped together.

    Difficult to say for sure, but it looks pretty damning.

  21. it was round 4(not 6) and i was a table down at the open in memphis(not nashville) when the vial, attack incident occurred. i did not directly witness the act but did witness alex talk his way out of the warning and then berate drew afterwards for calling the judge saying how he would never call a judge on a play like that.

  22. I think one thing that people don’t realize about a cheater’s psychographic is that pulling off the cheat is part of the purpose of cheating. If cheating was easy it wouldn’t gratify the act in and of itself. Since cheating is hard, and cheating with an audience is even harder, getting away with it in such a public arena is a very gratifying act.
    Cheaters cheat not just to win but to be above the person that they are cheating. When someone fools 2000+ people by cheating on camera that is A LOT of gratification for the cheater.
    A cheater’s mind frame isn’t ever “oh I shouldn’t cheat here because I might get caught” it’s always “how can I cheat here without getting caught”.

  23. Dear Drew,

    Your fervor and zeal to out Alex from the MTG community is matched only by the most faithful knights of the crusades long past. You tell us that this isn’t an article meant to crucify Alex. Yet you paint a story that your once dearest friend, who so wrongfully deceived you, has taken advantage of these poor, unsuspecting players for his own want and greed. You even go so far as to throw in your own personal turmoil and dilemma to draw the readers in to your cause, appealing to their sense of honor and justice. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you had a better career in creative writing than you do in whistle blowing.

    I’m going to be blunt though, Magic isn’t or should ever be a witch hunt. You handled this in the poorest way possible. I’d dare say that you don’t have an ounce of compassion in you for your former friend. Did you even once try and confront him with the information you’ve gathered? Did you try going straight to SCG first? I’m guessing not, no in fact I’m guessing that you were too scared to confront him or SCG. Instead, you gathered this information for months, bordering on obsession, and took it straight to the DCI (who very well may still be following up on this). When the DCI failed to act quickly enough you took matters into your own hands.

    The fact of the matter, is that regardless of whether Alex cheated or not, all parties are at fault here. This whole debauchery is playing out like a sex scandal gone wrong, and now we have dozens of women all accusing Arnold of sexual harassment.

    Last note: Kudos to Jared of SCG for explaining why and how the situation is being handled and not resorting to conjecture and mob mentality.

    • SCG already passed the buck on this. They have no responsibility for it and did exactly what they should. Why should Drew bring this to SCG?

      It is clear that either Alex is a sloppy player or a cheater. It is difficult to believe that the SCG PotY can be sloppier with both technical play and rules knowledge than most FNM players.

      • If Drew had been compiling data for months as he said in his post, the first logical step after confronting Alex would be to take it to SCG and then finally up the DCI for review, never should he have called for this witch hunt against Alex.

    • I doubt confronting someone with all this information would actually, you know, help. If he is too ‘scared’ to confront a former friend about it, would you rather he keep silent? If authorities are taking too long to act, would you rather he do nothing instead?

      Excluding the SCG video, there are three documented evidence of Alex ‘cheating’. At this point, you don’t confront a burglar, friend or otherwise, that he had been caught with his hand in the jewelry case, you go straight to the police. It has gone past ‘conjecture’.

      Even if Alex is not stripped of his SGC prizes and title, I would hope that, based on past evidence of cheating, some action is taken.

      • “If authorities are taking too long to act, would you rather he do nothing instead? ”

        No, by all means batman, take justice into your own hands. We all know how well that ends up for people.

        You don’t think it would have helped to confront him? Clearly you have no faith in people. Shoot first, ask questions later is never the way to go, sorry to say. You’d do well to learn that.

      • For some reason can’t reply to monte, so replying to the parent.

        Friend of the accused are we? OR enemy of the accuser?

        Regardless, you should attempt to conceal how blatantly biased you are by a couple fewer egregious logical falacies.

        By the way, yeah, there’s a difference between “the law is taking too long and someone is getting away with too much in the mean time so I’m going to go all physical batman on their asses” and “the law is taking too long and someone is getting away with too much in the meantime so I’m going to the press”

        The first, despite being batman, is make believe… the second is protected by actual, generally vaunted, rights. See: Deepthroat.

        Of course, the scale is slightly off… but just taking a queue from the utter inanity of your assertions… with the advantage of being right on the proper scale.

      • @Majiqman, don’t try and affiliate me with any party for expressing my opinion, please. Just because I don’t jump on the lemming bandwagon like most people and try and explore all the angles, doesn’t mean I have some ties with Alex.

        The fact is, I don’t agree with how Drew is handling the situation. I expressed that in my reply to this article. I think Drew is far too personally invested in this to be an accurate source of news. It’s like watching Fox News report on a democratic candidate. The facts and tone of the article are skewed by personal feelings, which makes the source not credible.

    • “The fact of the matter, is that regardless of whether Alex cheated or not, all parties are at fault here. This whole debauchery is playing out like a sex scandal gone wrong, and now we have dozens of women all accusing Arnold of sexual harassment.”

      Read this slowly again to yourself. And again. If you still haven’t figured out what’s wrong, you’re a terrible person.

      • I’m not following, sorry. Maybe if you dropped the not so subtle sarcasm act and put up an actual defense, we could have an intelligent conversation here. Until then, keep trolling I guess.

      • @Monte Are…are you serious?

        Ok, here: “all parties are at fault here…and now we have dozens of women all accusing Arnold of sexual harassment.”

        That. That is horribly wrong. It’s victim blaming at its very finest.

      • Here, let’s put this into terms you might understand:

        Crime Victims are the worst kinds of people. To allow themselves to be put into that situation is just disgraceful!

        And if you can’t catch a cheater cheating, well you deserved it! Shouldn’t have bothered playing you noob!

        Yes, all parties are at fault here. Not only the perpetrator. All of them. Even the victims.

      • These aren’t crime victims, though. It’s your right and duty as a magic the gathering player to watch to your opponent and maintain the game state. Why do you think both players get a warning for a missed trigger, or putting a card in the wrong zone? It’s called failure to maintain the game state and both players are responsible for it. There’s no such things as victims in magic, only lazy players. If Alex’s intent was to cheat (which I’m still not convinced it is), his opponents should have kept a closer eye.

        I’ve had numerous players try to cheat me, hell just the other week I had one guy try and draw a card off the bottom of his library when I turned around. If you read coverage all the time, like I do, these mistakes happen all the time. I remember reading some coverage from this past year where Kibler played a grasp of darkness on a 4/4, not realizing it had been pumped and immediately put it back in his hand. The players around him reminded him that it went to the graveyard on resolution, not back to his hand. His opponent and the players watching him did their job. Was he trying to cheat? Maybe…or maybe it was just an honest mistake that was caught.

        So in conclusion, both players, the judges, and even the people watching the match are responsible for maintaining the proper game state. If something gets messed up, it’s up to all parties involved to correct it. There are no victims in Magic, only lazy or inattentive players.

    • He’s cheating. When you cheat whether on camera or not, you must be punished. When we run an investigation on a player YOU SHOULD TAKE ALL THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO A DCI JUDGE BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE.

      This is not a witch hunt, this is a player talking about another player who cheats. I don’t remember anyone telling that Saito was hunted down when he got DQ’ed for Stalling, moreover, all people got behind the acusations.

      Now there’s gonna be an investigation, and it can get AB banned. If not, just be careful and focus on the game state.

      • My post wasn’t about him cheating, it was about the way Drew and the community is handling the situation, which is poor (and you’ll find that Chapin, PVDDR, and Finkel all agree with my sentiments if you follow twitter).

      • Ok, time to back off guys! Finkel, PVDDR and Chapin agrees with Monte’s sentiments.

        Seriously thought, I hear what you’re saying and I agree to some extent. The tone isn’t the best etc but it’s also pretty clear that AB is cheating, and that even the people who criticize the article are like “Now Im not saying he’s not cheating but MAYBE..” and yeah sure maybe. There was a so called witch hunt against Mike Long for years. He was eventually banned. There was a so called witch hunt against Ryan Fuller for years before he was banned too(numerous other examples).

        The fact of the matter is that the DCI does not seem to have the resources to investigate and act in these matters swiftly enough and TO’s can’t afford to pay enough judges to ensure that cheating does not occur at their events and at the end of the day these “witch hunts” while not an optimal solution are really the only solution to the problem.

        Also the body of proof is more than enough, Trey Van Cleave got banned off a jpg.

    • How is it even remotely conjecture when there is documented evidence to show AB was in the wrong not once, not twice, but bunches of times.

      So he is either the most bumbling MtG player of the year I have ever seen (And as such a horrible ambassador for the skill required to play this game) or he’s a cheater who tries to get out of the situations he gets caught in or just plain doesn’t get caught.

      If I was a betting man… I’d say the 2nd one was the obvious choice

    • This is one of the worst responses I have ever read. I hope you are just a player, because if you are a TO/judge/store owner/ etc. I am very afraid for the future of the game.

  24. I don’t know whether Bertoncini is or isn’t a cheater, but the “evidence” presented here is not conclusive. The purpose of raising awareness that someone is at best a sloppy player and at worst a serial cheater to preserve the integrity of the game is a fair one. What’s presented here, however, is a witch hunt, perpetuating the worst tendencies of the Magic community.

    First I will address the examples themselves and then I will comment on the general method of argumentation used and why it is problematic.

    My object isn’t to disprove the accusations, but only to point out the areas in which what is concluded depends on a distorted representation.

    1. The Sower example is the most convincing of the bunch, depending on the accuracy of its parameters. If Bertoncini had heard about the Platinum Angel tech beforehand, and given that a tournament player should know their deck inside out, it’s plausible that he at worst intentionally pre-boarded or at best capitalized on a mistake – both constituting a cheat. But:

    a. Do we have any reason to believe that Bertoncini had foreknowledge of his opponent’s deck, or Platinum Angels, or is this induction?

    b. Given that Bertoncini sometimes maindecks Sower and sometimes doesn’t, a bit more weight must be given to the possibility of an honest mistake. Many things in Magic “aren’t rocket science” but get screwed up all the time – pro players have misregistered decklists playing for the Top 8 of Pro Tours. It’s not out of the question that someone could play a variation of a deck week after week and draw a card owing to one variation and not realize it.

    Still, this example does warrant attention.

    2. The Kira example is superficially convincing. The Glass-Spinner seems valuable given the opponent’s Cursed Scroll, 1 card in hand, and 10 life.

    a. The argument in the paragraph on how Bertoncini’s graveyard is stacked relatively to the previous game is utterly fallacious. Bertoncini’s graveyard was stacked this way since the beginning of the game, well before the incident could have been anticipated. This argument is meant to help substantiate the observational claim that Bertoncini’s mannerisms changed in preparation for and in reaction to the incident.

    b. The EV of this cheat must be put into perspective:
    i. If you could replay this game from Bertoncini’s position with a mystery card in Wijaya’s hand, his win rate jumps from about <1% (if Kira dies) to maybe 10% (if Kira is returned to your hand). The position is still bad – your hope of winning would be if his top 4-5 cards were non-fetch blanks.
    ii. Moreover, Wijaya would have used his Clique to defend a charged Jace if he had blanked, severely reducing any likelihood the cheat would be relevant (i.e. that Wijaya had blanked).
    iii. You're on video and, not knowing the state of the commentary, no matter how slick you are, there's a great chance you will be noticed, at the very least by someone in the chat.

    As such, this comes off as an honest mistake.

    3. The Explore example again seems plausible, but:

    a. The EV of such a cheat must again be put into perspective. The difference between 6 and 7 land on Turn 4 in RUG is difficult to quantify. There's no great motivation for the cheat (e.g. as in the first example) – it would've had to be a calculated angle spotted and taken with disregard to the filming spectator. Certainly possible, but psychologically harder to believe.

    b. How he speaks to the inquisitor, as any tournament player knows from experience, is characteristic of how one might respond to an onlooker or judge who notices something superficially unusual but who doesn't grasp some subtlety on the board.

    The incident is demystified as least relative the sorts of things inferred in the description. It's possible that it's more than sloppy play, but not deducible.

    The claim that he Preordains in such a way as to probably see the bottom of his deck is a feeble and far-fetched.

    The example of Bertoncini's trying to get a Warning changed to a Caution is also not nearly as damning a character detail as is presented. Judges make mistakes and exercise judgement (at least sometimes) in administering penalties for errors: a player is within his rights to negotiate – how a judge responds is his responsibility. As a regular tournament player, one needs to make sure they make the case for themselves when they feel they are justified in doing so. In my tournament experience, this is the sort of thing you ask if you feel the judge is in error to make sure what may only be bad habits or unfortunate consequences of your manner aren't misconstrued. Bertonini's decision to ask here may have been weakly justified, but it doesn't really amount to anything.

    Still, the author "would almost believe" Bertoncini is just "a sloppy player" except for the fact that only favorable alleged errors have been recorded. Isn't the simple fact that only favorable errors tend to come out of the woodwork because they're the only ones that are possibly cheats? Unfavorable errors fade from consciousness quickly, and don't motivate research or gossip. If any of the examples given in the article happened in reverse, you'd never know about them.

    Similarly, his good rapport with opponents and nice character outside the game, while rightly argued as irrelevant relevant to the question of his guilt or innocence, should not then be smuggled into the argument as implying his slickness.

    These expressive, distorted representations are propped up by argumentum ad populum, hearsay, and a false "nice guy" image. On questioning your motivations, you relate the sound advice you received to "avoid the public square," and then when Wizards doesn't react in time, you disregard the advice. So be it, but the nice guy narrative is still included as if it amounted to anything.

    The arguments in the article are like arguments in Werewolf. They're not reasoned out and fairly done justice, they're rhetorical and constructed, misproportioned for effect.

    The reason I bother with such a long, tedious response is that witch hunting is a special danger of Magic, with its rules complexities and ambiguities of intention, and its relatively high constitution of stunted, misanthropic, misfits. In the Internet era momentum and spite can easily be created on the basis of shallow reasoning and hearsay. If the player is innocent, this is a terrible result. I don't know whether or not Alex Bertoncini is a cheater but regardless this article, because of the model of argumentation it uses and perpetuates, is a detriment to the community.

    • I agree that the danger of a witch hunt is ever-present here, though I disagree about the severity of the Explore example. To me, this one is one of the most blatant and damning, and for a reason that no one (at least that I’ve read) have mentioned yet. When asked, “What turn is it?” by the inquisitor, how odd is the response, “Two Explores”? Bertoncini knows what the inquisitor is referring to, and by responding with “Two Explores” and then nothing for a while, he avoids the obvious line, “It’s my Turn 3.” which would be met with “How can you have 6 lands on T3 having only cast 2 Explores?”

      He knew what the inquisitor was after, and expertly acknowledged the con going South and avoided it. He then knowingly lied and claimed that it was Turn 4.

      He also checks with his opponent in a way that is very +EV, allowing his opponent to go, “No, you’ve already played a land.”, avoiding the con but also any consequences – it seems like you’re asking him before you’ve forgotten or something. Once his opponent gives him the go ahead, he obviously goes ahead with it. He was screening his opponent for competence in the game state.

      The Explore example is really, really obvious.

      • Not to mention the way he tanks on the turn. SO many decisions to make. How many lands do I play this turn? How long do I have to tank in order to get away with it?

        Okay, maybe I just don’t like consistent tanking when a player has few moves of consequence and already knows what they will do. Hang me up for witch hunting.

    • Really? Really?

      Explore example: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an honest player making multiple land drops in a turn. The first thing that happens in most mainphases is “play a land”, normally announced verbally. I’ve seen people screw up and accidentally miss land drops – particularly late-game, or when they’re trying to get cute for some reason – but never make two. Then again, his replies to the cameraman are highly suspect: instead of replying “two explores” to the question “what turn is it” – itself a rather dubious response, when you think about it – why does not answer the question, and, when challenged retrace thoroughly how he got that number of lands in play? That would be the psychologically normal response if someone flags up an abnormal game state – explaining how you got there, rather than trying to cloud the issue.

      Kira example: so what if he gets caught on camera? He can just say it was a genuine mistake, and quite probably get away with it. I don’t know who would believe him, seeing as I’ve never, ever, ever seen anyone return a dead creature to their hand (I’ve seen people leave dead creatures out on the battlefield by mistake, but never take it back to their hand), but he’s clearly a highly persuasive person.

      Nor are the examples listed here conclusive: if you listen to the Crazy Talk podcast from August, where these allegations were originally aired, there’s an interesting story of Bertoncini getting a game loss for presideboarding an extra Timely Reinforcements against Mono-Red. The card taken out? A Spell Pierce, one of the worse cards in the mono-red/caw-blade matchup. An accident? Could be, but a rather dubious one. If it looks like a duck…

      To be banned by the DCI, magic players do not need to be found guilty beyond a shadow of doubt, as that’s almost impossible to do, given the nature of the available evidence – which doesn’t get much better than this really. Nor even necessarily beyond reasonable doubt. If, on the balance of probability the DCI has reason to believe that X is a cheater, then they should act. The evidence against Saito, for instance, was not conclusive – how could it be, given the offence he was eventually busted for? – but his long record of dubious conduct, including prior stalling incidents, was clearly taken into account. As indeed it should have been, making the DQ and ban the correct actions.

      We can’t look inside people’s heads to assess their motivations, but we can assess their actions and try to figure out their motivations that way. How, for instance, do you accidentally return a dead creature to your hand AND THEN REPLAY it? Even if the returning was an accident – something that’s very hard to believe – he unquestionably replayed a Kira he knew he should not have access to. It’s hard to argue away the charge of cheating at this point. This isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we can do, and the cheaters do need to be banned.

      • The way he would get away with the Kira example. Is that his opponent is commonly using jace’s bounce effect to “break the shield” of Kira, then following it with the Cursed Scroll activation to kill it. This is clearly cheating, but he is very good at setting himself up to look like he is just “making a mistake.”

      • I don’t think arguments like “Explore example: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an honest player making multiple land drops in a turn” are valid. It’s fundamentally a black swan argument.

        I’ve had turns at FNM where I honestly didn’t remember whether I dropped a land pre-combat, and decided I’d rather not bother working it out and just not make the post-combat land drop because it didn’t really matter that much. I think there’s a non-zero probability that I’ve accidentally dropped two in a turn at some point.

        Now, that said – I *would* expect an honest player to run through the turns and try to figure it out if there was a question. There’s also the point that someone who is grinding could reasonably be expected to be tracking that sort of thing much more tightly than someone who is really just whiling away a few hours on a friday night.

    • Jeff Cunningham,

      I just want to offer you some views to consider. You can interpret them however you like.

      You agree that the Sower situation is horribly damning. Having only been to 1 SCG event, and having dropped quickly, I don’t know if he spends a lot of time hovering around the top tables scouting. In either event, this should have been a game loss.

      As for the explore cheat:

      The difference between 6 mana and 7 mana in RUG was huge. Its impossible to know whats in Alex’s hand based on the video, but being able to deploy Avenger of Zendikar (7 drop) + drop a fetchland on his next turn turn is HUGE. He may have had Avenger of Zendikar in his hand – or he may have given himself a situation to rip a sick topdeck if it happened to come off the top.

      Also, we shouldn’t overlook being able to activate raging ravine + cast another card. The “EV” as you put it, is all contextual. If he has AoZ in hand, or rips one off the top, or has an opportunity to activate + cast spell, the EV is remarkable.

      And to finish: you insert that simply gaining an additional 10% is not high enough EV to justify a cheat. 10% is huge. In Magic, theres a huge difference between a 50% winrate and a 60% winrate. At 50%, you’re just an average player. At 60%, you’re a pro.

      I dont recall reading it in the article, but I feel its important to consider:

      We have several suspicious (at best) actions caught on camera. Even with Alex Bertoncini being a top player on the SCG circuit, I’m doubtful that even 20% of his matches were feature matches. It’s hard to not begin to question what HASNT been caught on tape.

      • What’s not been caught on tape is a thought that repeatedly went through my mind. Psychological thrill of getting away with something may be a motive for cheating on camera. However, as non-feature matches constitute a higher % of games played, as well as a lower % quality of opponent, it makes sense that these matches have a higher probability of cheating (especially the kind of things that would get you caught for warnings unless your opponent is ‘nice’ or the judge lets you get away with a caution).

    • What, then, is your opinion of the proper way to expose a savage, repeat cheater? When “proper” channels have been exhausted, or are otherwise ineffective, should we just throw our hands up and sigh? It’s important to not only out known cheaters like Bertoncini and Pozsgay, but to make it known that the community will not tolerate these cheaters.

      That his cheats were or were not effective does not matter. That he was losing badly does not excuse the fact that he cheated on-camera by pulling Kira back to his hand. With the Sower example, it’s assuming Bertoncini’s a complete idiot if he’s ignorant of whether Sower’s in the SB or MD this week. Even if it were an accident, once he draws it and sees it, it’s a cheat to not call the judge immediately, much less play the card out.

    • His decklist apparently had two Kiras, yet he played a third. How is this an honest mistake? And if he thought the Jace actually bounced it, why didn’t it bounce it the last turn, and why did he fake it toward the graveyard?

      I disagree with all the witchhunt bullshit. If Alex is an honest player, let him prove it. He’s innocent until proven guilty, but do enough shady stuff and you’ll have the eye of the community on you, as you should. If he really is just sloppy, then he doesn’t deserve his wins anyway.

    • Explore example was the most blatant I thought. I mean who pulls up their deck like that to look at the bottom? Not that the bottom of his deck is all that relevant but he DOES look at it.

      The most damning part about it is, as others have said, in how he replies. If it was an honest mistake the obvious reply is “that was my turn three, how so?” or whatever. You don’t just go “two explores” and ignore the spectator and when the inquisitor actually says “I think you played too many lands” then I would certainly hope that any sort of honest player would at least be like “ok let’s count just to be sure”. If there is need for extra time to do so, call a judge.

    • And one more thing re: explore situation- the last land he plays that turn comes into play tapped, so he’s not going from 6 to 7 on turn 4 but 5 to 6-7. Obviously quite big difference given how many titans the archetype typically ran.

    • We all can give AB the benefit of doubt time and time again. This article, cruxifying AB for not, is a eye opener. And after this reading this, I not only know who AB is, I also plan to check every single play if I were to play him.

      It doesn’t matter what the result of the so-called “cheatings” or how it may or may not affect the game state. I think you are missing the point of someone cheating. Cheating is illegal win or loose. You can go and analyize every tape from top to bottom. It doesn’t change the fact that he isn’t playing by the rules.

      Lastly comment refers to the Vidi video, it shows AB faking Kira into the graveyard and drawing and playing a third Kira. This is not a mere sloppy play. This act is blantantly cheating. The percentage of winning after another Kira is played is not relevant. The point is that he cheated to give himself a better chance of pulling an upset.

      Good job to Mr. Levin and his hard work to show the community that this is going on.

    • “b. How he speaks to the inquisitor, as any tournament player knows from experience, is characteristic of how one might respond to an onlooker or judge who notices something superficially unusual but who doesn’t grasp some subtlety on the board. ”

      The Inquisitor doesn’t mention why he’s asking what turn it is and Alex instantly mentions the two explores. I think that’s indicative of him cheating. Also, at the point that he “checks” to see how many explores he has played this turn he only has 3 lands tapped, 2 for 1 explore and 1 for the preordain.

    • You have to remember, Jeff, that your argument if fatally flawed. You’re arguing from a perspective of someone who hasn’t been present at any of these events and despite what you might think, a bias. You’re tackling this situation as a lawyer would instead of an analyst in my opinion.

      I feel like you can analyze it from a very statistical point and come up with a solid conclusion. There are absurd amount of instances where he “slips up” but throughout all of this “witch hunting” as people are trying to deem it, we fail to hear the story about how he retracts something prior to being caught for it. Also, Adam Prosak has a great analysis about his none of the alleged incidents were working against him throughout all of the tape we have of him playing. 100/0 odds aren’t statistical and no one has come forward with evidence that states, “He made a mistake I didn’t catch and pointed it out.”

      If you want my opinion though then I would suggest looking no further than understanding top level play. If he is able to stay on top for 2 years in a row at the SCG events, this is no coincidence. He knows his Merfolk list like the back of his hands and has been interviewed multiple times on it. By withholding the Sower information we can determine he is cheating by not being forthcoming and issuing himself a loss at bare minimum; This isn’t even including the possibility of pre-sideboarding. The explore incident is the same thing. Someone pointed out on turn 3 that he had 6 lands and he lied saying it was turn 4 – His opponent went first and had 3 lands down.

      Now, I am not claiming to be a pro but I’ve been above 2k ELO and know how to compete hard at this game. He plays much more than I do. View this like chess. A chess player doesn’t ‘accidentally’ move a piece in an illegal fashion. They always know the board state and parameters of the game at a high level. I’ve played enough to know when I’ve ‘accidentally’ done something the moment it happens. The only type of accident that I would be prone to believing would be misttapping mana sources.

      To me, there just isn’t a grey area on these issues as much as I wish there was. He is too knowledgeable to make these mistakes. Drew is an intelligent person and despite his bias, he has remained very accurate in his assertions. He wouldn’t bring this video forward unless it was compelling enough to show something wrong has happened. You have to remember that he is jeopardizing his position at SCG and writing for them now more than ever. I am sure he has thought this through and not let his mission to expose this consume him.

      • I didn’t read ‘acidentally’ remark and don’t want it to ever be misconstrued as me slighting anyone I’ve played against; Which in turn would discredit me. I have never cheated at Magic, competitive or even casual. I figure there isn’t a point to playing a game if you defy the rules. It defeats the entire purpose of a game for me.

  25. It’s pretty clear that Bertoncini is a chronic cheater; god only knows how many times he’s cheated when he hasn’t been on camera. The people who have obviously dropped the buck, though, are the SCG judges. If he has a pattern of making mistakes like this, they should have been watching him extra carefully, and warnings and game loss penalties should have accumulated, and he should have been suspended by the DCI. Let’s look at this announcement regarding the suspension of Mori (written by Ted Knutson, incidentally):


    When sloppy mistakes like this abound, you don’t need to prove intent. When you play in relatively competitive events, it’s your responsibility to pay enough attention that you play by the rules.

  26. I played Alex at Round 3 of an SCG Draft Open in Indianapolis earlier this year. We were pretty low on time in game 3 so both of us were trying to play fast. From what I remember, here’s how the game went down:

    Alex mulligans to 5 on the play and I keep my original 7 on the draw.
    Turn one we both play lands and pass.
    Turn two he plays Gatstaf Shepherd and passes.
    I play a spell turn two so that the werewolf doesn’t flip.
    Turn three he plays Mayor of Avabruck, attacks with Shepherd, and passes.
    I play another spell on my turn three.
    Turn four he attacks and passes, flips both werewolves and puts a wolf token into play.
    I do something on my turn, and he does something on his. During his end step he moves to put another wolf token into play and I stop him, realizing that he should only have one wolf in play (Mayor flipped in my upkeeep). We call a judge and tell him what happened. He gives us both warnings and rules that the game state stands (with the extra wolf in play) because we’ve already played a full turn cycle. I appeal to the head judge who makes the same ruling.

    After the match I told my friends what had happened and they immediately assumed Alex was cheating. I–the loser, the cheated, the victim–insisted that he was innocent. After reading this article I believe that he was cheating, but I really think he deserves credit for pulling off such an elegant cheat. He was very talkative, friendly, and apologetic throughout the round. Before we started playing he admitted (or perhaps lied) to me that this was the first Innistrad draft he had done, which was believable because the set had been released just the week before. It seems like a reasonable misinterpretation of the Mayor’s text; not many things happen at the beginning of the end step, but lots of stuff happens in the upkeep. He seemed indignant at both judges’ rulings, as if he just wanted to play a fair match of Magic.

    I’m fairly certain I was possibly cheated out of winning money, but I’m not really mad. It seems like Alex is just playing the rulings game better than anyone else in Magic right now. He put another wolf token into play knowing that at worse he would get a warning. At best it would help him win the match, putting him into top 8, and making him money. He tricked me and he beat me. Good for him.

    I’m not saying it’s not shitty for him to cheat, but it’s obvious that the system is flawed if such simple, obvious cheating goes without being punished. If he gets away with all this nonsense, more power to him. He’s just playing to win in the most dishonest, ruthless way possible.

    • If he was consistent with the friendly backsies, then he would have not required a judge and just forgone the 2nd wolf. Pretty obvious that he knows judges are very hesitant to reverse game states that haven’t just happened.

  27. I don’t know if Ted will leave this comment in here, but the number of visitors I’ve had to my own site indicates a solid response to my own article, so I wanted to link it again. In honor of Bertoncini’s win and PotY title, I updated something I wrote several years ago here: http://t.co/pwhW9nM9

    I will be following up again, hopefully with some interviews, but in the meantime, I just wanted to make sure I thank Drew for the article and his honesty. I believe naming names is perhaps more than is necessary in this instance, but we all need to be aware of the issues.

    • I agree 100% with your shuffle argument. I was at a sealed PTQ with M12 a while back, and I had JaceMA in my deck, along with several search and shuffle effects (rampant growth and 2x Solemn Simulacrum). Every time I played a search effect in that match, my Jace was on the bottom of my deck when I picked it up to search. I hadn’t played tournament level magic for some time, and the old rules used to be that you could cut your deck after your opponent shuffled. So I cut the deck, and he called the judge saying I shouldn’t be able to cut. I took the judge to the side, explained how my opponent was manipulating my deck, and all they could do was have the Judge shuffle my deck. No warning or anything. So I’m sure he just runs the cheat another time and nothing even gets reorted.

  28. Sorry Jeff I can’t Agree with you at all

    1) The best player on the SCG tour doesn’t know his own decklist and has the exact card from his sideboard necessary to beat a combo he can’t beat maindeck?

    Possible mistake but extremely unlikely, you’d figure a quality player would know his decklist, I’ve only ever once been on the Pro Tour (Worlds 06) and I can tell you I’ve NEVER not known the exact 60 in my deck when I’ve had to deck-reg for a constructed tournament.

    2) The “EV arguement” is complete crap. Even using your own figures his cheat multiplied his chances of winning by over 10!! If that isn’t artificially increasing your EV, ie. cheating, I don’t knw what is.

    There’s nothing “honest” about grabbing a card from your bin and putting it back into your hand in order to increase your EV and then casting your 3rd copy of a spell when you only have 2 in your deck.

    3) The Explore cheat is a little more subtle as it’s defeinitely something that happens (The “mutli-land a turn cheat is an old one and Explore/Summer Bloom/Exploration style cards do make it easier to do/harder to spot) but it does mean he can do things like

    a) Cast an Avenger of Zendikar
    b) Cast a Jace through a Mana Leak if he doesn’t have one of his own
    c) Preordain/Ponder into a Titan giving himself an extra shot.
    d) Cast Acidic Slime with Mana Leak Backup

    All of which he can’t do on 6.

    I agree that Magic Players do have a witch-hunt mentality sometimes but on this occasion the amount of evidence building up is pretty damning. I’m not calling for his head but to try and defend these things as “slip-ups” when there’s the amount of money there is on the line along with the sheer number of stories coming out of the woodwork seems naive.

    • The idea that one of the best players on the SCG tour might not know his own decklist just isn’t true. Answer me this: did he just get passed the deck that morning – surely not! Did he playtest it all week long before the event – surely did! Was this the first week he was introduced to Merfolk – surely you jest!

      There is a reason (beyond any cheating) that someone like Bertoncini is one of the best SCG open players – these reasons preclude an event that would be highly unlikely for a normal magic player and make it impossiblefor someon of his stature.

      • That wasn’t what JC said though. AB ran Merfolk a ton and In multiple cases ran Sower in the main. Is it plausible that he didn’t notice that he was pre-boarded because it wasn’t unusual to have access to that card in the main? It is plausible. Is it also plausible that we are only hearing about mistakes advantaging AB because no one ever remembers the one time that dude didn’t play a land one turn (never knowing that he had one and forgot to play it)? No one tells that story because it doesn’t even register as a story when it happens accross the table.

        Might he be a cheat? Sure. Was this piece very likely motivated by personal bias and a desire to see AB hurt/damaged? Certainly plausible.

  29. “I do not know what happened after the video ended, but I agree with the above that a judge should have been called. I do not know any of the people involved(either players or bystanders) and am not trying to join a ‘witch hunt’ to go after any specific player.

    But this looks like cheating to me.

    If you are playing or watching a match and something seems fishy…Call A Judge.

    If you don’t understand something that is going on or how things interact….Call A Judge.”

    ^^Reposting my response to the ‘Explore’ Video.

    While I agree with several other judges that I have talked to and feel that the word of the day should be VIGILANCE and I would have preferred the subsequent article to have not focused on an individual, I do hope that players read the article, view the videos make the conscious decision to CALL A JUDGE whenever there is a problem.

    So that is what I tell to any person that asks me about this recent chain of events.


    Things have gotten a lot better over the years, but players are still way too hesitant to get a judge involved in a match.

    To the author, I appreciate the effort that went into the article and what had to be a difficult decision to go public with your article. It is an easy thing to be a part of the screaming, faceless mass that is the internet and another altogether to put your name and reputation behind your words. I may not agree with you on all points, but I think that we can both agree that cheaters should not be tolerated.

    To the publisher, thank you for allowing both(all?) parties a forum to discuss. I hope to see the next article soon.

  30. The problem with people who cheat is that they are of a culture where it is okay to be cheating as long as you don’t get caught. Some of us (players) realize that the game has an integrity that needs to be upheld, others realize there is a system ripe to be taken advantage of. It is all a matter of perspective, or as Bobby Fisher would have said: “Anything to win.” (Forgive me if I got that quote wrong; I’m not a native speaker). People like that exist and the more professional a competition gets, the more people would try to gain an unfair advantage. Just compare it to football (that’s soccer for you Americans), where foul play has evolved to the grade were players are being fined for trying to take advantage of the rules (diving comes to mind). All you can do is trust the officials and make sure they have the resources to handle all infractions; why don’t you join them?

  31. Contrary to some belief, this is the perfect forum to call someone out for cheating. If SCG won’t take care of it and passes the buck, then perhaps as a community we should pass the buck on SCG. The only way to get these idiots to wake up and realize that they are running a business is to speak with the almighty dollar.

    SCG does enough to cheat players out of winnings as it is. They make almost $25,000 per Open. I’m not saying it’s not their right to do so, but how about putting some of that back into the players. The World Series of Poker only takes 10% off entry fees and puts 90% back to the players. If you calculate what SCG pays out to the players you would see they are taking home a little over 40% of the entry fees. I guess when you have a monopoly on the big tournament scene, you can do that… it’s just not favorable.

    I’ve seen cheaters, I’ve caught cheaters. What is presented here is foolproof evidence is that Alex is a cheat.

    Perhaps the “witch hunt”, though rightfully aimed at Alex, should also take into account SCG’s lack of accountability. Alex is not the DCI’s player of the year… he’s SCG’s player of the year. This is the man, a cheat, is someone they want to hold in high regard and promote him as something for other players should strive to be. Hmmm, something is flawed with their logic.

    As a community the only way to get SCG to wake up is not to use them. There are plenty of other merchants out there, that are actually better priced. Many of SCG’s premium articles lately are a joke. Let’s wake them up and make them respect us, the players, as a community.

    • In what world do you live that they make 25k a tournament? Or nearly? You would have to only count entry fees (at a minimum 833 people) and ignore the cost of venue, prizes, judges and staff payments, etc. to come up with that number.

  32. DCI , you need to ban this cheater asap. I just wonder how many other times when he wasnt on camera that he cheated. No wonder he gets some many top 8 wins. I cant stand cheaters. LOL if he got banned I dont know what he would do without magic, he’ll prolly be a bus boy cleaning tables for the rest of his stupid life. Cheaters should never win and he should be stripped of his title as the invitational champion. The SCG should put a Hold on that check they sent to him. I would love to see him go to the bank and try to cash it and the bank teller says “Sorry sir but we have a problem , the holder has put a hold on this check untill further notice.” LOL i would pay to see that. Fuck bertoncheats and everything he stands for. The best part is when I beat him on a 3on3 draft and took him for 20. what a sweet victory. Ban the bertoncheats. BAN BAN BAN. BAN him for at least 1 to 2 years. By cheating he has won multiple events and winning money that he should of never won,. GIVE IT ALL BACK BERTONCHEATS and maybe we’ll forgive you. OH WAIT , no we won’t. the less cheaters the better. I cant wait till he gets in the mail from WOTC saying the reasons they are banning him , and watch him cry like a little $#@& head that he is. He’ll probably cry everyday that he is banned. Serves you right cheater mc CHEATS. cant believe this has gone on this long.

    I wished he would cheat against me again, Cause if i caught he ill prolly flip out and get banned for #$#$#$#$# him in the face. go to hell bertoncheats GO TO HELL.

  33. Okay, well… I’m a bit mixed on this issue. On the one hand, I know how easy it can be for a player to get a reputation as a “cheater,” then have a whole bunch of players “me too” the sentiment without much evidence, so I want to give Alex Bertoncini the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, it does seem like there is a lot of evidence in this matter.

    For better or worse, it seems like both SCG and the DCI are dragging their feet on the investigation. SCG wants to protect their rep, and they don’t have much reason to keep their star off their circuit. In fact, it’s in SCG’s best interest that their biggest start NOT be brought up on charges of cheating, effectively branding the SCG circuit as a haven for cheaters. As far as the DCI, it’s much harder for them. There’s a ton of heresay and some incidents of recorded plausibly deniable acts of cheating. Sure, people have been DQ’d from events for less. But it’s at the SCG opens. There’s less directness there, and even with all the evidence you’ve presented, and the countless witness testimonies(including Chris Pregent, who will post his story for anyone who will listen), but that’s not enough to go on to damn a player, right?

    The bottom line is that this probably isn’t the best way to resolve this situation, but we don’t really have any other outs, do we? The DCI and SCG judges have allowed his shady behavior to go on to win two consecutive SCG POY titles. The precedent being set here is that the REL at SCG events is low, and if you want to shady things, keep off the pro tour and just go to SCG events. The DCI is going to keep its hands clean of it and the SCG judges are complicit.

    SCG Open – Play the game, see the world, and occasionally, an extra card or two.

    • I take offense to your false attacks against the DCI and Judges in general. We are neutral rule enforcers, but we can’t be everywhere at once. If we never get called by a player, we can’t exactly help.

      In my experience, the rulings at SCG are spot on competitive level IPG. That is the same rules enforcement level as day 1 of a grand prix or a PTQ. We have to be a little more lenient at competitive than at professional, and we, as judges, cannot allow our personal biases or knowledge of a player’s professional status effect our rulings. Everyone is equally treated in the eyes of the DCI

      • It’s not an attack, it’s just what it is. Whether or not the SCG judges in particular are complicit in allowing Alex’s cheating, the SCG circuit has developed the reputation for allowing these cheats because of a lower standard of rules enforcement. Thus, anyone who is willing to bend the rules now has a place where they can feel more comfortable cheating. The DCI aren’t directly involved with the rules enforcement at the SCG events, obviously, which is why they are taking so long with the Bertoncini investigation(it’s all second hand information because it wasn’t directly a DCI event) and therefore now any shady players feel like they are one more step removed from being able to be banned from tournaments.

        Also, I just read the official SCG statement about why Bertoncini wasn’t banned and how they’re “leaving it to the DCI,” but obviously they’ve DQ’d people in the past without a whole DCI inquest(I’m looking at you, Chris Pregent) so why would they make an exception for Bertoncini? Well, it stands to reason that it’s because he’s their star player. It is what it is and it sucks and the only way to change anything is to air it out like this, because obviously Alex is a good enough cheater to “get away with it” for two years straight.

      • @TeamSpooky – the “SCG Judges” are DCI judges and the DCI is the sanctioning org of the SCG Open (although not the prize sponsor or TO – just like the DCI isnt the prize sponsor or TO of any of the PT’s). Drawing a line of demarcation here doesnt make any sense.

        If the point is that the DCI should enforce Pro REL at non-PT events with a large number of players who cannot perform at a professional level of competition, then I suppose the underlying assumption is that the body of players at an Open are roughly equiv to the body of players at a PT, which seems objectively false.

  34. Once he cheats YOU out of a top 8 berth, you start to care a little more. It’s easy to look at some of these posts and say “they are taking this too seriously.” Having been one of those people he has cheated out of a chance at the money at the TCGPlayer $75k Championship, I don’t feel that I am overreacting when I say he needs to be banned. He is stealing from the other players, stealing their money, stealing their time, stealing their chance at hitting it big. If I saw him in person I’d have a few things to say right to his face. Some of you place the blame for his cheating on his opponents, that’s like blaming yourself for being fooled by a magician. He has trained himself to fool people, trick them, lull them to sleep, make them trust him, meanwhile he is robbing them blind. If I were to play against Kibler or Chapin and they cheated (not misplayed by accident), I would lose all respect for the pros that are leading our Magic community. Maybe these players shouldn’t garner the amount of respect the community has for them, maybe these players shouldn’t be held in such awe. When Bertoncini cheats, he is ruining the game, he is disrespecting everyone in the room and everyone watching. I can’t imagine cheating, let alone having the balls to do it on camera. He is addicted to cheating, this forum won’t stop him from cheating, he is a cheater at heart and he always will be. Ban him. He’d better hope we never get paired again.

  35. The SCG circuit will be branded as a haven for cheaters if nothing is done to keep cheating players from getting away with it.

    Rembember Nick Eisel? MTGO Poster boy when mtgo first started out. Cheated at a tournament, got the ban. Easy as that. Ban this Bertoncini fool.

  36. If any single person feels that this is a witch hunt, they are doing so simply to play devil’s advocate.

    This man walked away with a 10,000$ check with his name on it by perpetrating multiple instance of fraud and cheating. If you’ve ever either:

    A- Played with someone who is a grinder


    B- Been a SCG grinder

    You are well-versed on the fact that he takes beneficial shortcuts, tries to rules-lawyer when it’s in his favor, “cheats,” but reverts to “opps” when he is caught, and is generally considered a shady character. Often, the most convincing con artists are the ones that put flowers in your hand while trying to stick knives in your back. His cheats wouldn’t work if he wasn’t pleasant. If he was growling at his opponent, scowling, and just being unsavory- who WOULDN’T hawk him? If my opponent was being a huge asshole, it would be in my best interests to tilt him by pointing out his mistakes and cheats- call judges and have them watch him or basically just point out the obvious. But no, not to a person who is laughing and joking with me- trying to use his circuit-celebrity to his every advantage.

    The truth of what Drew says is very basic, and derived (I’m mostly assuming) out of hurt. You don’t just share experiences and friendships with a person for years for no reason. Clearly they had a rapport! But when you find out that person you trusted for so long is a ratfink, it’s pretty easy to see that all the trust you put in them can melt into dislike, and by proxy forge itself into a weapon against them.

    I commend you, Drew- for making this known. I think aside from the community, SCG is a huge victim in this. The credibility of having your POTY and invitational winner branded a cheater is damning. Remember Worlds last year? How harmful was it to the game to have your world champion banned for cheating? It’s a huge detriment to the game. What Alex did will have repercussions. It will have ripples. I just hope that action is taken, because it makes me sad to think that such a recent hallmark on our community such as the open series could be tarnished.

    ^ tl;dr

    • SCG is not a victim. They’ve been advised of this in the past, as discussed in the article. They decide to pass the buck. They are just as much to blame as the cheater with the trophy.

  37. If a compilation of filmed evidence like this isn’t enough to ban a player, how has anyone ever been banned? How many cheats can you cover up with ‘ooops’ before you get banned?

    As for Jeff, I read what you wrote but you destroyed all credibility when you said increasing your chances of winning tenfold isn’t enough ‘motivation’ to cheat. Especially when chronic cheaters don’t choose to cheat based on leverage, they cheat more and more each time simply to win.

    As for SCG, they have the right to deny any player, it’s part of being both a host to a sanctioned tournament, and a right to refusal as a business.

    As a final thought, if you’re waiting on Mr. Menery to get a job done, you may be retired from the game before you see any work done.

    All you can do is continue to enforce ‘warnings’ during your matches. This is the only way the community will be able to get the job done.

  38. This page is already on the first page when you google “Alex Bertoncini”. We can enforce our own justice right here. Let’s make sure this page is top of the first page in google so any future employers/ potential girlfriends find out what a lying cheat this guy is. 20 k in cards and cash isn’t worth a google top search hit “unlocking the cheats of scg player of the year Alex Bertoncini”.

    Let’s get him people.

  39. Drew,
    I played against you in the legacy open and, meanwhile, had two friends lose to Alex in the invitational. As I was busy playing, I obviously couldn’t watch their entire matches, but I can’t help but wonder if either was cheated-especially in a late legacy round, when Alex saw four wastelands in something like the first five turns.

  40. I posted this on the link to the “Kira incident”. I will say that this is not defending all of the allegations against Alex, merely this specific case. Those other allegations may be more convincing, however I do not believe this incident to be evidence of cheating and this is why:

    I feel that in this specific instance he may not have been cheating, it may have been a mental shortcut. Vidi points at jace then at kira and Alex immediately begins to pick up before 2 things happen: Jace wasnt even put in the graveyard yet, and the scroll nor mana to use scroll had been tapped. It is possible that Alex mental shortcuts and doesnt think about the ability getting countered, because he is frustrated. The only reason I say this is because he goes to do the exact same thing the next turn. Vidi points at Jace, points at Kira and then Alex immediately goes to put it back in his hand. Only this time Vidi notices, and points out the actual sequence of plays.

    If he was cheating why would he have tried to play the Kira again? He knows he is on camera, he knows the commentators have his deck list. He also knows that the Kira would be bounced and shot again the next turn if he played it. Had the same thing happened the following turn where his Kira went back to his hand do you believe if he were cheating he would have played the same Kira for the 3rd time? Clearly he didnt have 4 in his deck and Vidi knew the other cards in his hand. Do you think Alex would have thought that Vidi would believe he just top decked 2 Kiras in a row after 2 others had died? So why would he have tried to cheat the same way 2 turns in a row unless he was just making a mental error?

    The only way the cheat (if it was a cheat) would have worked was with Vidi not having another Jace in hand. We know Alex didnt know this when he picked Kira up the first time. So it is possible that he may have been thinking he could gain the advantage he need to win with another Kira on the board with no Jace in play. The only thing wrong with this line of thinking is that he played the Kira again into the second Jace. This doesnt seem like the action of a cheater in this particular case. Why risk getting caught on the cheat when you are in the same position you were just in the turn before? I believe a reasonable person who cheats would just concede that his plan didnt work and not follow through any further.

    I cant say for sure one way or the other simply because Alex is the only person who really knows what he was thinking at the time. I do believe however, that there is a logical thought process that can be taken in breaking down the entire sequence of events that could show that it was possibly an honest mistake.

  41. I am surprised that someone who has been video tapped multiple times and has dozens of cheating accusations lobbied against them has been allowed to win the SCG Invitational and become player of the year.

  42. Ha! Alex just defriended me on FB for leaving this as a comment on the ongoing debate on his page:
    There is a very easy way to settle this. The video’s can’t prove if there was intentional cheating done. The only thing to be sure of without a doubt is that mistakes were made. Mistakes that cost people who put just as much time and energy into this game as Alex does. We are part of a community. If anyone remembers the name Dan Herd, he was a prominent member of the vintage community when it was at it’s height on the east coast. He even won player of the year, the was diagnosed with leukemia and died without ever getting to enjoy his reward which was a year of free events.
    What the community did for him was run a !00% charity event in his honor, with all proceeds going to his widow. That’s community, that’s something more than a card game, and the fact that people I probably know very well and care much about missed a chanced to win it big because of “misplays”. And yes I know it’s up to both players.
    The point I’m making is, mistakes were made and restitution should be made.
    Now Alex can wait for someone else to penalize him, or he can do it himself.
    Some of that prize should go back into the community, since the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t earned in the true sense of the word.
    Am I calling him names, making accusations no. I’m looking at this as an upset member of a community I love and have loved for years.
    This is a matter of honor and owning up to your mistakes like a man, so do the right thing and give back to the community is all I’m saying :
    I think I was being as fair and objective as possible, but I guess he didn’t like that.
    So he looks even worse now.

  43. I never liked this guy. Always got a bad feeling from him when he was on the SCGLive stream. After watching and rewatching those videos, my jaw DROPPED. Especially in the Explore into Preordain video. He defended himself so calmly and his opponent even backed him up. It’s so sad. A lot of people don’t pay attention to the game state or watch their opponents. This just goes to show that you really have to.

  44. He cheats. And not for most of the reasons stated here. I will tell you how I know. See, I have a friend who does magic card tricks at bars and stuff for extra money. He taught me a few moves, but mostly what to look for when someone is cheating (He plays magic with me sometimes and shows me stuff)
    The video of the Explore cheat is clear evidence of his cheating. At one point he puts the Explore he just cast under neath his deck. It is subtle so look for it. The next turn he starts to manipulate his deck. If you carefully watch, it looks like he puts a card from the bottom of his deck to the top when he ponders. He also definately gets a peek at the bottom card ( I can see his eyes)You will also notice he may be drawing the card off the bottom of the deck. Hence why he puts the Explore underneath. This raises the deck so he can draw off the bottom. He is good, but to a trained eye….
    I showed this to my buddy and he was like… “Yeah he is manipulating the deck.”
    I also watched the “brainstorm” video to. There are 3 separate illegal deck manipulations in that video alone. He “shuffles” with 3 of his fingers inter woven into the cards. This is called a Flourish cut. You can see how it is done here:

    What this does is sets up the cut so that 1 of 3 cards you want will go to the top. Look at his fingers closely when shuffling. Also notice he does it somewhat below the table?

    He also pulls the cards off the edge of the table near his “hand”. It is hard to see, but he may have mixed the cards. He does this alot when drawing multiple cards. This is to distract you from him drawing to many cards.

    Lastly he changes the direction of his deck 3 times? Why? My friend explained that this is to tell him what section of the deck may be coming up that he stacked. Or a way for him to see cards on the top of the deck that are marked.

    I think Alex is a good card handler. He may have been trained or practiced ALOT. He is very daring to be doing this with cameras on. I do not even want to know how many people he has tricked off camera. I think he mastered card tricks (cheating) and never got caught and now he is delving into straight play cheating. This isnt sloppy play. Watch his hands and face. He is focused and relaxed. Not anxious or twitchy. Most of your judges do not know what to look for. SCG has a huge problem on there hands. I for one WAS going to play in one of these tournaments, but not now if they let this go on.

    If you play this guy, this is how you can prevent him from cheating.
    1. Have the judge re sleeve his deck.
    2. Have the judge make sure his graveyard is in the proper place and at least 4-6 inches away from his library. Not just above his deck where he has to reach over his deck to get to it.
    3. Have him count out EVERY draw one at a time.
    4. Call him out if you even see him do ANYTHING fishy.

    This is how Magicians, con artists and cheats get you to miss what they are doing. They are nice to you. Talkative. Polite. Magic is the art of redirection. Stop looking at what is in front of you and start looking what is in front of you.
    Hope it helps.

  45. “Levin, whether he intends to or not, is crucifying Bertoncini, a nice person ” Let’s make one thing clear. Cheaters can be nice people in that they are often nice to other people. However, the characterization of ‘nice’ implies something about the general attitude of the person, an implication of spirit that seem to hold true in this case. Therefore, let’s not call him nice (except when characterizing how he comes across and how that helps his cheat), as that is dishonest.

  46. Considering that Bertoncini just won his 2nd straight POY title after months of investigation with nothing being done it seems like the least Drew could do was to display his compilation of cheats to the public so that people playing against him will do the following: watch him like a hawk, call a judge when he makes ‘innocent’ mistakes that are caught instead of free backsies.

    To whack Drew seems whack to me – after all, Drew never spills the beans on why Bertoncini is no longer his best friend. I guarantee you it has nothing to do with Magic and Drew is doing well to hold it in.

  47. There is zero chance that all of the SCG live (video) cheats were sloppy play. Perhaps some of the issues brought up were carelessness and not purposeful. Perhaps (though probably not) Bertoncini has not made a career of being a purposeful cheater. However, conclusive evidence of him in one instance of being a purposeful cheater is on display (Sower). There is no way you play a sideboard Sower (I believe his only out) and not know it. This just isn’t something that a reasonable person would believe.

  48. Let me preface this by stating that I am a Judge who has done floor judging/feature match coverage in 4 events that Alex has played in.

    During that time, I have seen some highly competitive play coming from him, but I have not actually witnessed anything that could be construed as cheating.

    As a matter of fact, the only play mistake I’ve seen him make was against himself. In a feature match, he was playing Illusions and seemed to forget that his phantasmal image copying a lord of the unreal gives itself a +1/+1 due to the wording of the ability. It wasn’t relevant to the game’s outcome as he still won it, but he did attack with it and try to do less damage than he should have.

    I honestly have no opinion whatsoever on whether he is a cheater or not. I know he plays very quickly, and occasionally sloppily. If he does something wrong, call a judge. Cheaters can’t be caught unless we judges are called into a situation that warrants investigation. Be vigilant against everyone, but lets not make a witchhunt out of what should be a DCI matter.

  49. I’ve played against Alex for the first time ever at GP DC which was when Jund was still legal. I was playing Jund and we mirror matched, except I don’t know if he cheated against me. I’ve heard these nasty things and recently witnessed it on a live stream. The same person who is also responsible for this type of cheating is Calosso Fuentes who I am pretty sure is the one who they caught on tape palming an extra card after a ponder draw. This apparently was the Legacy Open he won, and him and Alex are friends. Calosso has cheated in JSS, and other events and hasn’t gotten caught. I think both Alex and Calosso need to be investigated into due to their string of dishonest plays. Calosso recently got DQed from a PTQ for cheating. I think Magic is more fun when there’s no cheating. I agree with you Drew about it and think a nice person can be a deceiving person. The best way to counteract cheating is to call a judge if something doesn’t look right. I’ve done it multiple times against good players and they bitched and moaned. Don’t let someone intimidate you when you know something is up.

  50. Let’s just say for the sake of argument these are “just” play mistakes.

    Play mistakes made so often should get the DCI suspicious.

    Then, considering how many mistakes have been documented, the DCI should probably consider the extreme possibility that it’s not play mistakes but blatant cheating.

    Then, based on interviews and video evidence, it becomes even more clear that all the reported mistakes are in Alex’s favor.

    Therefore, he doesn’t make mistakes. He cheats and makes it look like an accident.

    Bye bye Alex. Go play Yu-Gi-Oh! where I understand cheaters run rampant and get paid handsomely for it.

  51. In Drew’s eg1 (Sower) – I read that particular report (at the time) & thought that the writer was confusing G1 with a later game, typed up from post-notes. A mistake I have seen before …

    In the [+4] Brainstorm example – someone has slowed it down enough to be able to view – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3vR3a0d7jg

    …and the ReAnimator [Brainstorm+3 straight into Force]; [eg4] http://blip.tv/scglive/scgatl-leg-rd-6-alex-bertoncini-vs-alex-smith-5554549 – I saw this live and it became a mess rather quickly and I was indeed surprised at the time that the action cut away from the table, as the matter seemed quite unresolved …

  52. I’m not really taking a stance here, or defending anyone, but i have an Alex B. story that’s sort of counter to this. I played him in round 5 or 6 or 7 or something of SGC: Baltimore earlier this year. It was the last week before Stoneforge and Jace were banned in Standard. We do our prematch shuffling and cutting. He’s a very nice guy, as am I, so we joke a little bit and have small talk. We draw our cards for our opening hand. I look at my hand without yet glancing up at him. Alex says ‘Crap! I accidentally drew 8’ before i even looked at him. I say ‘oh, whats the protocol here?’ Alex calmly says something along the lines of ‘no worries, I’ll just call a judge.’ He explains the situation and the judge Sim mulligans him, which is the proper protocol. Now maybe he was trying to set me up so i wouldn’t think him likely to cheat later. Or maybe he really made a sloppy move and called himself out on it, like a person with integrity. I don’t know. For the record, I didn’t notice anything fishy from him, and I won that match. I’m just stating the facts. You say you’ve never heard any story where ‘play error’ didn’t benefit Alex. I have one.

  53. He’s generating buzz (I don’t even play the game and I wanted to know what this kid did) and has likely spent far more than $10,000 on MTG – why would Star City do anything? Then again, I’m cynical.

  54. Pingback: Alex Bertoncini – ein Cheater? | MagicBlogs.de – News

  55. The explore cheat is the worst, to me. You simply don’t do that. Two explores on turn three with only three mana tapped??? Even if he had played two explores on turn three, that still makes only 5 land. I can’t believe it didn’t blow up in front of him right there. Whoever’s filming is spot on to call it out, and then it goes under the bridge by the opponent not being vigilant. Plus, the body language and the other tells, I’m not a great poker player, but he knew what he was doing. People say the Sower cheat was the most obvious b/c he should know his deck list in and out, but how do you lose count on land ON TURN THREE!!!

    A guy I know recently got banned a year for playing a pre-release with cards he had opened the day before, at a local, no money tourney. If that merits a year, this guy should be out on his ass.


  56. The sower cheat cannot be explained by the writer making a mistake and switching game 1 and either games 2 or 3 because the coverage talks about the Reanimator guy playing a Pithing Needle on game 2 and Alex playing a tormod’s crypt game 3….

  57. Alex is just a sloppy person. I’ve sat across from him at a couple Star City tourneys and he always gets to the players’ meeting at the last minute, with his deck reg sheet crumpled to hell and proceeds to scribble down his deck list (from memory) two minutes before the judges come around to pick them up. This guy is not precise or especially careful with these things, by no means.

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  59. Pingback: Rule of Law – Should Alex Bertoncini be Banned? : Magic: The Gathering – Strategy, Singles, Cards, Decks

  60. There is anger in his article, and Levin tries to mislead people by saying it’s not his intention. Well, if it’s not your intention, tell the facts, keep yourself out of the story, and for godsakes don’t write of list of reported cheats without verification of your source. It means nothing.

    Plus, the presented evidence really isn’t strong. In fact, most of it can be misconstrued as mental mistakes. Hell, I’ve made monumental mistakes at every tournament I’ve gone too (including not discarding during my clean-up at a States which got me a warning, registering wrong cards which caused me to drop, and playing spells with mana I don’t have which when I noticed it I scooped, giving my opponent a 2-0 win). Each time either I caught it and called a judge or my opponent caught it (perhaps players on a Pro level should be more observant). Once, I even scooped to a certain mistake because I wasn’t sure how long I had been doing it and I wanted to be as fair as possible, even though my opponent said it was okay to go back a couple steps. All of my mistakes are from nerves. Then again, I used to play Magic to have fun and I’m not a competitor.

    Maybe Alex is a cheater. The only video that really says so is the Explore video, as it seems he’s taking advantage of a distracted opponent. I just can’t agree with the other videos posted because there is enough evidence that also says it could simply be a mistake. And I have to discount the rest of the article because there is nothing backing it. Also, making claims that you’ve only seen him make “play mistakes in his favor” is a little extreme. I haven’t read what the other comments were, but I’m sure that some are saying that they’ve played Alex or seen him play and have witnessed him make play mistaked disfavorably.

    Finally, I must leave with this. Perhaps it’s old-fashioned, but let the people who are supposed to deal with this stuff deal with it, or find a way to do it yourself without involving the entire community. What Levin has done is show himself to be a rat who clearly has issues with Alex. I personally think Alex may (MAY) be a cheater, do mostly to the Explore video, but I won’t endorse this article as legitimate evidence against the guy. It’s personal; either be a man and take it up with Alex, or keep your mouth shut and turn it in.

  61. Pingback: The Alex Bertoncini conspiracy « Spudlicious MTG

  62. monte you are a completely ignorant to the views of other, its called a forum for a reason, you are indignant and ignorant

  63. Dude,

    No offense, this is so american reaction…
    Look at the bldy book you wrote.

    Come and play tournaments in Europe, you MUST pay attention to whatever you opp is doing.
    Every tournaments has cheaters or sloppy players or exp players taking advantage on new players mistakes.

    It’s life man, and u just overreacting…

    Paying attention is part of the bldy game.
    Cheaters are always nice, Colombo.

    Btw calling a judge on anything is so sweet american.
    Just look the man in the eye an male sure he understands you know what he was trying to do.
    He won’t try the same again.

    • I’m going to go ahead and agree, as an American, that the American game is cluttered with cry-babies. I’ve seen people call judge for the tiniest thing (such as a card slipping off the top of their deck during the draw phase). It’s why I don’t care to play anymore.

      By the way, Bertoncini was given an 18 months suspension.

  64. You know, I’m bothered by the suspension….

    Not because he may have deserved it, but because it came just a couple days after this article posted. If DCI used this rather hateful blog entry as evidence, then I as a player would question the validity of DCI. I mean, if all I had to do was write an article about a player I no longer got along with (because of some nerd-spat that was had) to start an investigation and blacken his eye, then I’ve got a few blog entries I’d like to submit.

    Man, I’m extraordinarily happy I no longer compete.

  65. Suprisingly enough I played this player whose name I didn’t recognize. It wasn’t until the decks were broken down and I searched his picture did I realize my folly. It was round 2 of richmond SCG, he repeatedly when shuffling my deck flipped cards revealing parts of the deck. To which I warned him repeatedly not to do, I eventually called a judge over who gave him a warning which he downgraded to a caution. At the time I didn’t think much of it in addition he had an entire foil deck. But the thing that caught my eye was islands and vials were not foil. I wondered if this was illegal or if I was overreacting and never pursued the venture. Throughout the game he tried many illegal moves and I called him and each time he recapped, these moves included making 2 land drops, attacking with a mutavault he had just played, trying to vail in a monster and then trigger merrows effect. All illegal but he just seemed so kind at the time I thought alex was new I don’t read this coverage often so to my suprise when I matched the name to the face I couldn’t believe it. This shows me in the future no matter how small I’m calling a judge this should never happen in a serious competition.

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