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Is Three Years A Long Enough Suspension for Known Cheaters?

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At Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir Steven Speck was caught presenting a 53 card card with the seven cards that he wanted in his opening hand tucked somewhere out of sight. This is a clear and blatant cheat, and as such the investigation of Speck was open and shut.


Speck was given a three year ban for his cheat, which by many accounts is too light.

Speck

Known cheater Alex Bertoncini famously came off a three-year ban and immediately started cheating again. This makes one wonder- how likely is it that somebody who commits a cheat heinous enough to deserve a three year ban would ever come back and play a straight game?

Lifetime bans sound extreme, but at the end of the day playing Magic isn't a right. Minimally, I support the camp that says that three years isn't a long enough suspension, especially when you consider the thousands of dollars of prizes that were more or less taken out of the pockets of honest players.

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Ryan Overturf

Ryan has been playing Magic since Legions and playing competitively since Lorwyn. While he fancies himself a Legacy specialist, you'll always find him with strong opinions on every constructed format.

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17 thoughts on “Is Three Years A Long Enough Suspension for Known Cheaters?

  1. I’m a firm believer in second chances, and I’d say 3 years for a first-time cheating offense sounds like a fitting punishment (3 years is a long time in competitive MTG).

    But for a second time offense like Bertoncini did ? Lifetime ban.

  2. 3 years is a nice first step. It’s a strong discipline for first time cheater, 3 years is a long time. Second chances are often deserved in all aspects of life.

    I think a way to make it a pseudo ‘self imposed’ lifetime ban is to say if he came back to play competitive tournaments, his winnings would be forfeited until his past winnings were ‘collected’.

  3. I think cheating on the Pro Tour level should be an insta-lifetime ban. It’s basically the most egregious thing you can do. I understand 3 years is a long time, but you cheated at the brands highest level. You disparage the game in front of many old/new/potential players, and that should be made an example of.

    It’s a privilege to play, not a right. Especially on the Pro Tour.

  4. I don’t think the issue should be “known cheater” or not. It should be premeditated cheater or not. If you’re caught cheating multiple times, you quickly will fall into the premeditated category regardless.

    If you show up planning to cheat, you shouldn’t be welcomed back. Ever.

    If you make a really bad moral judgment when an opportunity presents itself, you should be allowed to learn from that mistake after an appropriate punishment.

    It’s for the investigation committee to determine which is which with the help of judges and testimony, but most of these cases are pretty easy to determine which side of the line it falls on.

      1. Incorrect. It is cheating if you have INTENT. AKA “knowingly cheat by drawing a extra card” vs “accidentally picking up two cards”.

        In this case premeditated vs opportunity cheat seems huge to me.

        1. You’re using a limiting definition of premeditation. Even if it’s an act of opportunity, thinking about it before you do it makes it premeditated.

  5. 3 Years doesn’t seem long enough given the severity of the infraction. The guy cheated at the highest level of play and disgraced Magic players everywhere. He reinforced a negative stereotype that many casual players have: that you have to cheat to win. I personally know some players who refuse to go to any event higher than FNM or prerelease because of the perception of rampant cheating. This is horrible for the future of the game because we need as many players as possible. I say ban this guy for life to set an example to others.

  6. The bigger problem is that Wizards doesn’t have a mechanism in place to financially punish cheaters once they are caught. That is, the cheater who gets away with it in three events and is caught once keeps the bank they made in the first three.

    I don’t know how you’d roll this back, but perhaps there could be a policy where intentional, premeditated, practiced cheats and some evidence of a long-term pattern of cheating required the cheater to return some amount of past winnings for the year prior in order to finish their rehabilitation?

    1. That’s…..actually a really good idea.

      Would be just like other “pro” level punishments. Fines are usually in there, now, that gets a little dicey, but hey, could be over the course of a year, or something. Payment plans could be set up.

      I won’t go into the logistics, but yeah, makes sense.

      The only issue is, they can’t really determine they were cheating during those events, so, that’s the big issue. Many people will assume it, but has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. Assumptions don’t mean anything. Even if they’re true, they have to prove it.

      1. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to make them do that anyway. I’d envision some sort of determination that the cheat in question was more likely than not something that the player had done over time without having to prove each prior attempt. For example, a history of numerous turn 1 wins with a combo deck combined with being caught doing a very smooth cheat that clearly involved practice and premeditation would be enough.

        Having done that, I dunno if Wizards can “fine” people exactly, but it certainly could refuse to reinstate the player unless Amount X was paid back. After they serve the normal time of the ban, of course.

        So, like, maybe you catch someone shuffling cards to mana screw their opponent, which is a practiced skill. You then review their history and notice they are doing extremely well and winning lots of money , and collect anecdotal evidence from opponents that this cheat may have been used in prior matches. Under this concept, that player could be told that a consequence of their cheating is now that they forfeit everything they have won in the last 12 months, and until they pay it back, the ban will not be lifted.

        This seems fair because if you’re engaging in practiced, premeditated cheating, then you accept the consequence that all your earlier winnings will be considered cheating as well. It’s all in the control of the person who chooses to cheat.

  7. How is this different from what athletes do when using performance enhancing drugs?

    Almost none are banned for life at the first offense, and WotC’ reaction is on par with the punishment most athletes face for their first offense.

    I think the punishment is correct, its punishment not revenge.

    1. In general, I’m not a fan of sports analogies for how we should manage the world of gaming. There are definitely other relevant factors here, but a performance enhancing drug is at least evidence of an athlete trying to be good at their game. Cheating in Magic is more akin to a pitcher bribing the umpire than a batter juicing.

      1. Well, not an American so a a quick google gave me the baseball terms, and a little more google-fu made me understand that baseball and performing enhancing drugs go hand in hand.

        They should perhaps do drug tests at MtG events. Modafinil is a wonderful helper in long days. There are instances of fraudulent gear (ski jumpers with suits that give more lift, javelin with incorrect weight, chessplayers that have outside assistance. No matter if its drugs or cheating, still no life time bam.

        And I disagree with you on the fact that professional gaming and professional sports are so different. In both cases skilled individuals perform for the spectators enjoyment.

        1. Drug tests at MtG events? LOL No, I like when I sometimes run into opponents who try to play while high or drunk. Usually makes for an easy win. That’s actually not a joke, either. I’ve beaten many players at FNM who were obviously somewhat intoxicated at the time.

        2. I agree that there are going to be a lot of similarities in the spirit of the rules for sports and games, but most commonly I see the letter of sports rules argued instead of trying to apply the principle in a way that accounts for the differences between games and sports. There are just a lot of lurking variables.

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