Archive for the ‘Online Poker’ Category

Gordon Vayo Sues PokerStars for $692k SCOOP Prize

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

gordon-vayo-pokerstars-lawsuitGordon Vayo thought he was in for a big payday after winning $692,461 in a 2017 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) event. But PokerStars has been withholding the money under grounds that Vayo violated their terms by playing from the US.

The online poker pro has filed a lawsuit against the world’s largest poker site in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Vayo claims that he actually won the event from Canada, and PokStars is acting in bad faith.

He offered the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed it has come to this, but feel that taking legal action is necessary to protect my rights as well as those of other PokerStars players who are in my situation, but may not have the means to get their message out and protect themselves against the unwarranted bullying tactics that I have experienced during this ordeal.”

Vayo Accused of Winning SCOOP Event from LA

Vayo is a Los Angeles-based poker pro who’s won over $6.23 million in live tournaments along with another $2.43 million in online poker tournaments. He took down the PokerStars SCOOP-01-H: $1,050 NLHE Phased event last spring. The top payout was $1 million, but he worked out a five-way deal beforehand that paid him $692k.

Vayo lives part-time in Ottawa, Canada so he can play at PokerStars and other large sites that are off limits to Americans. But Stars believes that he may have used a virtual private network (VPN) to play from his LA home.

The 2016 WSOP Main Event runner-up, meanwhile, claims that he was indeed playing from Ottawa. Unlike Americans, Canadians are still welcome at PokerStars. The poker site states that they conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that he was using a VPN.

Vayo Claims PokerStars Harassed Him During Investigation

The 29-year-old’s civil suit claims that PokerStars froze his account on grounds of suspicious activity. They then launched an intrusive investigation that may have crossed the lines of harassment. Here’s more from the lawsuit:

“What ensued was a nearly year-long inquest, during which Defendant engaged in an appalling campaign of harassment, prying into every aspect of Mr. Vayo’s record, demanding Mr. Vayo produce detailed retroactive proof of his location, and even opening meritless investigations into his friends’ accounts, in order to gin up a pretext for not paying Mr. Vayo what he had won.”

America’s Cardroom Called to Deal with Cheaters

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

americas-cardroom-closes-accountsAmericas Cardroom has thrived under the United States’ unregulated online poker market. But lately, they’ve been taking heat from players who are unhappy with superusing, collusion, and multi-accounting.

Poker YouTuber Joe Ingram recently attacked this very issue, railing on how America’s Cardroom is home to rampant cheating. He made claims that a group of cheaters has been taking advantage of a loophole in ACR’s late registration tournaments.

ACR Claims that They’re Investigating Cheating Incidents

ACR is trying to protect their brand. And their network, the Winning Poker Network (WPN), is committed to “thoroughly investigating all claims recently brought to our attention through social media channels regarding alleged unfair gameplay practices from certain accounts on network brands.”

The WPN has also identified a player who clearly violated their terms and has had their account closed. Ingram claims that refunds could soon be issues for affected players:

“The Winning Poker Network Game Integrity Department has investigated and recently uncovered unfair gameplay practices carried out by a player on the WPN that breached our terms and conditions. While we cannot publicly disclose the name, specific activity, or account associated with this offense, we have closed access to this player’s account. This email reflects that we are currently refunding any account that was potentially affected, including yours.”

America’s Cardroom Also Dealing with DDoS Attacks

As if things aren’t bad enough for ACR, they’re also the target of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. These DDoS attacks are being carried out by criminals who want to blackmail the company into giving them money.

ACR is trying to avoid giving into these demands. They’ve done their best to keep tournaments running in the meantime. But they’ve also had to cancel other events. And this has drawn the ire of players who are already questioning the site.

Bertrand Grospellier Signs with Partypoker

Friday, April 20th, 2018

bertrand-elky-grospellierFrench poker pro Bertrand Grospellier has signed a deal to represent partypoker. He joins an impressive roster that also includes Fedor Holz, Isaac Haxton, Phillip Gruissem, and Patrick Leonard.

His new duties include helping the brand launch their dot-eu platform, which will share liquidity between France and Spain. Considering that he has the most tournament winnings of any French player with 13,580,523, Grospellier will be perfect for this role. He’ll also interact with customers and see what features/changes they want implemented at partypoker.

“I am extremely enthusiastic about joining partypoker to actively support their efforts to bring back the ‘Poker First’ mentality, live and online,” said Grospellier.

“Our goal is to provide players and fans with an experience they deserve worldwide. Partypoker will be aiming to bring their ambition, expertise and successful model to the .eu market with some big announcements coming soon.”

Partypoker also Happy about Deal

Partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters is ecstatic about adding the top French poker pro of all time to his team.

“We are delighted that ElkY is joining us at partypoker. ElkY has a fantastic profile and has great experience both in France and across the world and this makes him a perfect ambassador for us ahead of the shared liquidity launch,” said Waters.

“We will be looking to translate recent successes we have seen in our dotcom market to the new .eu market and ElkY will be instrumental in helping us to achieve our goals.”

Grospellier Picks Up New Deal After Leaving PokerStars

Bertrand Grospellier has been playing poker for well over a decade. And he’s amassed some impressive accomplishments during this span, including a WPT Festa al Lago win ($1,411,015) and a 2011 WSOP $10k Seven Card Stud Championship victory ($331,639). He’s also won over $1.9 million playing in PokerStars tournaments.

But given that PokerStars has shifted its marketing strategy away from live tournament pro sponsorships, Grospellier split from his long-time sponsor. It only took him a few months to find a new sponsor in partypoker.

Guy Laliberte Lost $31 Million in Online Poker

Friday, April 20th, 2018

guy-laliberte-selling-cirqueGus Hansen is often believed to be the biggest online poker loser ever with $21 million. But Guy Laliberte actually holds this title with $31 million in losses.

But why is it Hansen that takes all the heat in this department? According to HighStakesDB, the former Cirque Du Soleil owner multi-accounted at Full Tilt Poker. And this allowed Laliberte’s losses to largely fly under the radar.

Laliberte’s Losses Are Spread Across Multiple Accounts

You won’t find Laliberte’s losses piled under a single account. Instead, he used 6 different accounts – sometimes at the same time – to accrue losses.

Here’s a breakdown of his different accounts and the losses associated with each:

  • $7,067,935 in losses as “noataima.”
  • $5,924,546 in losses as “patatino.”
  • $6,632,177 in losses as “lady marmelade.”
  • $4,161,884 in losses as “elmariachimacho.”
  • $2,685,018 in losses as “Esvedra.”
  • $4,607,380 in losses as “Zypherin.”

Full Tilt Probably Let Laliberte’s Multi-Accounting Slide

HSDB notes that the Canadian “seemed to be able to multi-account with impunity at Full Tilt.”

Certain Full Tilt high stakes players weren’t happy that Laliberte was given special treatment with regard to multi-accounting. But it’s very likely that Full Tilt’s management turned a blind eye, because much of the action centered on him.

The biggest names in poker during the late 2000s and early 2010s followed Guy to the $500/$1,000 stakes. This is likely why he multi-accounted, hoping to play online poker without being constantly stalked.

But given how much money he spewed to elite pros, it’s very possible that players like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, and Patrik Antonius knew whom they were up against.

Staggering Losses – But Acceptable to Laliberte

Many wealthy people would be bankrupted by a $31 million loss. But considering that Laliberte is estimated to be worth $1.37 billion, he wasn’t hurting too badly after the six-year downswing.

Even still, it should be noted that he’s lost over $10 million more than Gus Hansen. And the only reason that it’s not widely discussed is because he multi-accounted with so many different accounts.

Washington State Poker Players File Lawsuit Against Play Money Sites

Friday, April 13th, 2018

washington-play-money-poker-lawsuit-1Online poker players from Washington state have filed a class action lawsuit against four play-money sites, including DoubleDown Interactive, Huuuge Games, Playtika and High 5 Games.

This case follows a similar lawsuit filed by Cheryl Kater, who sued Big Fish Casino for charging for play-money poker services.

Kater wanted $1,000 back that she spent at Big Fish. And she was successful in recouping her funds through a Washington Courtroom.

New Lawsuit Brings Forth Same Argument Against Washington Play Money Sites

Adrienne Benson, who’s part of the new class-action lawsuit, spent around $1,000 in play money chips at DoubleDown. Here’s an excerpt from Benson:

“Double Down Casino games are illegal gambling games because they are online games at which players wager things of value (the chips) and by an element of chance (e.g., by spinning an online slot machine) are able to obtain additional entertainment and extend gameplay (by winning additional chips.”

Sean Wilson, another plaintiff, is seeking $20 that he spent on High 5, Huuuge, and Playtika. This shows that anybody can go after these poker sites, no matter how little they’ve spent.

Washington Isn’t an Online Poker Friendly State

washington-play-money-poker-lawsuitThe play-money sites operating in Washington state don’t seem to be doing anything differently than other US social online poker rooms and casinos. But Washington residents have a good case, because the Evergreen is staunchly against internet poker.

Washington is the only state that makes it a felony to play poker. And while nobody has been arrested for this crime, the felony designation explains everything one needs to know about the poker situation here.

JP Morgan has referred to social online gaming as a $3.8 billion industry. These companies commonly offer free games. But players must pay to add more chips and obtain other special features like badges and new poker backgrounds.

Kater may have started a chain reaction of lawsuits that could be leveled at getting money back from social poker sites.


PokerStars Increases Rake For Low Stakes Tournaments

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

pokerstars-higher-rake-low-stakes-tournamentsPokerStars has slowly been making moves to increase their profit margin. And the latest involves increasing rake on all micro stakes tournaments, or those with buy-ins worth less than $20. PokerStars claims that the move was made an effort to keep up with a constantly changing global internet poker market.

The Stars Group, PokerStars’ parent company, officially raised low-stakes tournament rake on Monday, March 26.

Severin Rasset, who’s Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at Stars Group, said that the company’s decision was influenced by “customer behavior, commercial and promotional considerations, and the overall long-term sustainable health of the ecosystem.”

Time Tourney Rake Lowered

Low stakes players certainly aren’t happy with the higher rake. But PokerStars did make one move in players’ favor by reducing rake for Time Tournaments.

These events run at a faster pace, meaning players are more likely to spend extra rake anyways. Therefore, the discount helps keep Time Tourneys more attractive to the average player.

Rasset alluded to the fact that PokerStars is considering other moves in the future to keep the world’s largest poker site profitable:

“Pricing is a key commercial consideration for every business and we will increasingly use a dynamic pricing model that gives the greatest flexibility to respond to market dynamics. Therefore, we will be reviewing and adjusting our pricing, bonusing and promotions, and our Stars Rewards program on an ongoing basis.”

Online Poker Community Reacts

doug-polk-cryptocurrencyDoug Polk, who’s been a major critic of PokerStars over the years, was quick to bash Stars over the recent rake increase. He also referenced PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu, who once claimed that higher rake can benefit players.

“Many companies struggle to put together a cohesive message, but @Pokerstars has succeeded on that front in spades,” Polk tweeted.

“Micro stakes recreational players are being protected with yet another rake increase, which will further increase everyone’s profitability.”

PokerFuse’s Nick Jones also made a good point in that PokerStars now charges higher rake than its competitors. It’ll be interesting to see if some of Stars’ current customers begin examining their online poker options.

Chris Moorman Offers Tips on Becoming a World Class Poker Pro

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

chris-moorman-pokerChris Moorman, the all-time leader in online poker tournament winnings with $14.65 million, was recently featured in a piece with British news outlet Essex Live.

He discussed his poker journey from the early days until now and also offered tidbits on becoming a poker champion. It turns out that Moorman started out just as badly as the rest of us at poker.

“I did not know anything about it to begin with,” he says of himself and his university friends. “We were all pretty bad.”

Moorman quickly improved, though, by using the resources available to him.

“I met a couple of players who coached me and gave me tips,” he explains. “I also read and researched a lot on the game so I could get better.”

Moorman’s Tips for Improving Your Poker Game

You can’t learn everything that Chris Moorman knows about poker in a single article. However, he did offer some good wisdom when speaking with Essex Live.

Here are some of his tips:

  • “You have to be able to deal with losing.”
  • “Most of the time you are going to lose – you have to be prepared and not let it affect you mentally.”
  • “At the same time, just because you have won one tournament, don’t put your eggs in on basket.”
  • “Talk to players who are better than you and never give up your day job after winning a couple of tournaments.”

Don’t Quit Your Day Job – At Least Not Yet

Moorman himself had to work a day job stocking shelves before he quit and took on poker full-time.

“I had a dead-end job at the local Asda in first year but I realized I could make at least the same amount playing online,” he says. […] “But I was starting to win some money playing online and so I was able to cover my tracks [with his mom] by saying I had a job stacking shelves in a supermarket near the university campus.”

Moorman eventually made it to the top of poker through a mixture of grinding on internet tables and making ends meet at Asda. That said, you can use him as an inspiration when trying to meet your poker goals.

Doug Polk Has No Sympathy for PPA and Lack of Funds

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

doug-polk-cryptocurrencyThe Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is low on funds and in danger of folding. As I reported last month, they need to raise $25,000 or risk of becoming extinct.

$25k isn’t much money when compared to what a regulated US online poker industry can bring in. But it also seems that some people have lost interest in the PPA’s fight for legalized poker.

High stakes poker pro and current cryptocurrency enthusiast Doug Polk is one of those who question the PPA’s fundraising efforts. Specifically, he feels that the organization leans too far to the benefit of PokerStars.

Here’s his tweet on the matter:

“The @ppapoker desperately needs money and might collapse. I’d feel better trying to help if these weren’t some of the same people who lobbied AGAINST online poker in California 2 years ago. Why’d they do that? It would’ve shut out PokerStars from the market if passed.”

Polk Still Unhappy about PokerStars Raising Rake

Doug Polk has been unhappy with PokerStars ever since they changed their rewards program and increased rake in 2016. Stars thinks that these changes were necessary in an evolving online poker world. But Polk feels that PokerStars screwed over their customers.

The tweet clearly shows that he doesn’t like how the PPA is only willing to support legal California online poker if Stars is involved.

It’s unclear whether or not the PPA’s lobbying efforts (or lack thereof) are really the reason why legal internet poker failed in the Golden State. Tribal gaming interests, which have a powerful voice in the state, also want PokerStars out under the “bad actor clause.”

In any case, Polk dislikes the fact that they didn’t support legal internet poker efforts when PokerStars wasn’t included in the plans.

PPA Efforts Have Resulted in Little So Far

I’m sure that the PPA is working hard to lobby US gov’t officials to expand online poker. But their efforts have produced few results so far, with only Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania legalizing the game.

More than anything, the lack of progress is hurting the PPA’s ability to get funding. Again, $25k isn’t a tremendous amount compared to what the regulated online poker industry could be worth. But it’s also hard to see many players having faith right now with so few states involved.

Jao Poker Closes – Player Funds Likely Gone

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

jao-pokerJao Poker, an offshore US-facing online poker site, has announced that they’re closing. And the worst part is that it doesn’t look like players will receive their funds back.

Concerns have been raised about Jao Poker for months, many of which are listed in this TwoPlusTwo thread. One of the initial complaints is that the affiliate program essentially amounted to scammy multi-level marketing. The affiliates, who frequently spammed poker-related Facebook groups, had to pay $250 to join. They then turned around and recruited others to become affiliates.

Some players also dealt with a site promoter named Tam Nguyen, who was extremely unprofessional. In a story where a tournament player complained about losing $27 after being disconnected, Nguyen him a “low life bitch” after refunding the money.

More recently, a TwoPlusTwo posted named “zxjaexz” posted concerns over not receiving their withdrawal:

“I requested a $1550 withdrawal via bitcoin on 2/3 and received an e-mail back saying it will be processed in 3 business days. Several e-mails later and 2-3 weeks have gone by with no bitcoin received nor any replys back.”

jao-poker-customer-serviceOnce the site announced their closure, Nguyen was very dismissive of the matter, noting that he “didn’t own the site” and didn’t “have anyone’s money.” He added that the promoters aren’t “the poker site’s bank, we just promote and get paid.”

While this may have been true, Jao Poker has all the signs of a classic Ponzi scheme. And it’s illegal to profit off a Ponzi scheme in many countries.

Unfortunately, Jao Poker operates in the world of offshore online poker sites. Therefore, those affected by this matter have little-to-no recourse to get their money back.

Jao Poker joins the likes of Lock Poker, Absolute Poker, and UB Poker and shutting down without refunding players’ money.

Poker Players Alliance on Brink of Extinction

Friday, February 16th, 2018

ppa-donationsThe Poker Players Alliance (PPA) was formed in 2005 to help legalize online poker across the United States. And the PPA has received funding from over 1 million members, along with online poker sites like PokerStars over the years. Unfortunately, it now seems that the PPA is struggling to make ends meet.

We covered how former PPA Executive Director John Pappas stepped down from the organization earlier this month. And vice president Rich Muny has now taken his place.

Through TwoPlusTwo, Muny revealed that the PPA needs funding badly or they’re in danger of shutting down. Here’s a comment he made when responding to criticism over the PPA fighting for sports betting:

“Thanks. TBH, though, I don’t see future corporate donations from poker-only entities and, without that, I don’t know that we have a path to continued viability. Even with me back to being an unpaid volunteer as of the beginning of this year, it’s a narrowing opportunity in terms of funding we need to continue operations.”

Specifically, the PPA needs $25,000 in funding by April to stay afloat. Muny is already an unpaid volunteer, so the $25k would simply go to the group’s lobbying efforts and expenses.

Is there a Need for the PPA Right Now?

One of the biggest issues raised in the TwoPlusTwo forum is whether the PPA should continue if it’s becoming an all-around gambling advocacy group. In other words, some poker players would rather see the group stop operating, rather than lose its identity.

The PPA has played a large role in helping get poker legalized in four states. But this process is much slower than people had hoped for. This is why poker sites have largely stopped funding the organization.

With just over a month left to gather enough donations, we’ll soon see if the PPA can continue as either a poker-focused organization or an all-around gambling lobbying group.