Poker Player Accused of Hiding COVID-19 from Opponents in WSOP Spat

Posted on: November 9, 2021, 04:25h. 

Last updated on: November 9, 2021, 04:48h.

Following the pandemic-driven virtual tournaments and “hybrid” Main Event of last year, the World Series of Poker is now in full swing at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen, pictured during a recent WPT event, has recovered from COVID-19 and was quick to defend himself from a fellow pro’s allegations. (Image: WPT)

Well, it’s trying.

The Series is adjusting to life in a mid-pandemic world. That’s no easy feat for an event that involves packing thousands of people together in one, albeit very large, room to pass cards and chips back and forth.

Disturbingly, after touching those chips, some of these players also touch their mouths or their noses. They can’t help it. It’s involuntary. It’s called a tell.

It’s little surprise, then, that some of this nervousness should spill out into the Twittersphere, where three-time bracelet winner Justin Bonomo has accused a fellow high-stakes pro of breaching health and safety rules.

Pro Bonomo

Bonomo did not name the player he claimed had exhibited COVID-19 symptoms while playing at the same table as him for two days. But he was motivated to complain after learning the same player “tested positive for COVID immediately after the tournament.”

Players negotiating the new WSOP landscape are understandably a little jumpy, especially about the guy in seat 3 who is wheezing and sneezing. Proof of vaccination is a requirement for participants this year. But masks are not, at least while players are seated, although face coverings do have obvious advantages at the poker table.

Back in the Twittersphere, poker fans didn’t have to wait long to find out who Bonomo was talking about. That’s because the accused player, Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen, outed himself.

Justin is talking about me here!” chirped Hunichen. “First, this is very dramatic and overblown. I didn’t know I had Covid until after the 50k [event]. After playing, I hung out with 7-8 of my best friends, as well as my wife and cousin. I smoked hookah, blunts, joints, etc, with everyone.”

“Every single of one of my friends/wife/kids/cousin tested negative the next couple of days. I bought 40 rapid tests, and everyone tested constantly. If just one of them had tested positive, then I understand the point here. But if all of them are negative, there is no way anybody from the 50k was infected by me.

“I also was very f****d up from COVID and was focused on staying alive and out of the hospital. In hindsight, I probably should’ve said something,” he added.

Big Huni’s Big Bet

Hunichen caused immediate controversy in April 2020. He offered to bet his Twitter followers that more than 100,000 people would die from COVID-19 in the US by the following September.

He comfortably won the $10,000 bet he said he hoped he would lose. Hunichen told The LA Times at the time he was asthmatic, with a weak respiratory system, and was particularly vulnerable to the disease. It probably also means he should be careful about ” hookah, blunts, joints, etc.”

Hunichen said he just wanted to raise awareness about COVID-19 among people he felt were not taking it seriously enough.

The US reached 100,000 deaths in late May 2020. To date, there have been more than 777,000.

Thankfully, Hunichen has recovered from his nasty bout of COVID-19 and did not become a statistic in his own twisted bet.