When Italy's Gaetano Preite decided to play a prank on his friend, Nicola Luigi Abrusci, right at the very end of Day 3 of the People's Poker Tour Main Event in Malta, he certainly had no idea the price he'd ultimately pay for it.
The incredible episode happened on Sunday, September 6 at the Portomaso Casino, where the players were busy with a People's Poker Tour €990 buy-in Main Event that had begun two days earlier. Overall, the event attracted a field of 153 and generated a total prize pool of €133,000.
"After a perfect tournament, I am here to communicate that I will not be allowed to join the final table at the People's Poker Tour in Malta because of something unfortunate and surreal," Preite wrote on Facebook on Monday.
I respect the decision taken by the event's management - but I also think they have been too strict.
Talking about the episode, Preite explained that once the table played to the last hand of the day, he decided to play a prank on his friend by hiding a stack of the chips he just won from a player he busted.
"When we got to the last hand of the Day 3, I decided to play a prank on Abrusci and I moved away a pile of the chips he just won from the player he eliminated. Then, I went to my supporters to tell them about the trick I played on our friend."
However, things did not go the way Preite expected and the people at the casino did not show much appreciation for his prank.
"I have been asked to pose for some photos, and once I got back to the table I have noticed that Abrusci had already bagged all his chips. I immediately try to explain everything to the tournament director, but I have been told that although it was obvious that I did not attempt to steal the chips, my behavior was strongly against the rules."
"I know I have risked too much for a stupid joke, and I respect the decision taken by the event's management - but I also think they have been too strict." Preite continued. "They know my, my personality, and how professional I am as a player - therefore I am sure we could find a 'lighter' sanction to punish my behavior."
In commenting on the episode, a representative from the People's Poker Tour confirmed that the events developed exactly as Preite described, but added that "through his behavior, the player violated the rules of the competition," and, therefore, he will not be allowed to join the event's final table that will start at 2 p.m. on Monday.
"[Preite's] stack, which has been already bagged before any decision was taken, will be subtracted from the total amount of chips in play, with this leading to a final table that will count only eight players."
What do you think, does the punishment fit the crime? Let us know on Twitter @PokerNews.