Poker Sites punish Online poker cheaters

Cheating has always been a concern for both live and online poker. There is no shortage of players trying to get an unfair advantage and thus every poker site has to develop its own policies to deal with that. Recently, however, multiple sites have been taking new measures, including banning blacklisted players in online poker from live events and talking about a global poker blacklist. Read the full article to know more.

Poker Sites punish Online poker cheaters image

Online Poker Sites take measures to combat cheating

Online poker cheating has always been a concern, and most online poker sites have mechanisms to deal with these cases.

What's new, however, is that both GGPoker and PokerStars have taken steps to assure this and are also helping enforce bans of those caught in any form of cheating from live events as well.

A global poker blacklist has been the topic of intense discussion this year in order to stop poker players caught cheating in online poker rooms from playing live games, live poker tournaments, and vice versa. Data protection regulations made it seem unattainable for a long time, but steps were taken during this month in order to fulfill those goals.

A Poker Integrity Council (PIC) has been established by the combined efforts of multiple online poker sites, according to a statement from GGPoker, to look into claims of cheating (such as multiple accounts, collusion, and poker bots). The stated goal of the Poker Integrity Council is to carry out impartial evaluations and punish cheaters.

Poker Integrity Council

The Poker Integrity Council (PIC), established by the current largest online poker site, GGPoker, will lead an industry-wide initiative to safeguard both live and online poker integrity by looking into cheating-related charges, conducting impartial reviews, and imposing punishments against the most egregious cheats.

Notably, the Poker Integrity Council was also established so that GGPoker may evaluate the status of players who had been banned from the online poker room upon their request and, in some cases, lift or lighten the restrictions that are now in place.

Poker Integrity Council Members

The Poker Integrity Council members are:

  • Jason Koon
  • Andrew ‘LuckyChewy’
  • Fedor Holz
  • Seth Davies – Run It Once
  • Nick Petrangelo – Upswing Poker

The council, which is made up of reputable members of the community, including members associated with multiple online poker rooms, will independently look into any suspicious activity reported at the tables.

Jason Koon and his fellow PIC members will assess cases presented to the council while keeping the identities of the parties anonymous. They will be in charge of warning, prohibiting, and seizing the funds of online poker players who have been exposed as cheaters.

“I joined GGPoker with an important objective in mind; to help the GGPoker team make their poker games more secure and fair than ever. It’s an honor to launch the Poker Integrity Council and take another massive step in ensuring online poker is safe for all players. Our long list of allies also means that the wider community will be better protected via the industry-wide blacklist; we’re sending a united message that there’s no place in this game for cheaters.”

Said Jason Koon, GGPoker Integrity Ambassador.

Poker Integrity Council Procedures

The following procedure shall be applied in each case brought before the Poker Integrity Council:

Detection: behavior that is suspicious of poker cheating is identified for evaluation, such as ghosting, poker bots, multi-accounting for collusion, or the usage of real-time assistance (RTA).
For this purpose, Jason Koon, the GGPoker Integrity Ambassador, and the Poker Integrity Council members will evaluate the pertinent hand histories (with information about the poker players and their identities removed from the records).

Decision: The council members will decide whether or not to take disciplinary action.
If disciplinary action is necessary, it may involve warning the involved poker player about the irregular conduct, suspending or permanently banning their account from playing online poker, or imposing a permanent ban together with money confiscation.

In the most extreme circumstances, it may also be decided to add the responsible poker players to a blacklist for the sector. The World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT), Triton Poker, Poker After Dark, Kings Casino, Asian Poker Tour (APT), and many other major live poker tours and venues have partnered with GGPoker's PIC to enforce the ban and guarantee that anyone involved in any severe form of cheating is also banned from live events.

In order to better safeguard the larger poker community, participants on the blacklist will not be permitted entrance to events run by PIC allies. Other online poker sites had already taken similar measures in the past few weeks.

We shall closely observe the results of the Poker Integrity Council and its procedures during the next months and hope it works as intended to improve the online poker game environment as a whole, ideally ridding poker sites of cheating and malpractices both in cash games and on online poker tournaments.

Poker sites banning online poker cheaters from live tournaments

Not only is the Poker Integrity Council enforcing bans from live tournaments for the most severe cases of cheating on online poker sites, but other independent poker rooms that also host live events are taking the same measures: at the moment, PokerStars and Party Poker have confirmed to ban blacklisted players from their live events. They both seem to do so according to their own blacklists, not a global default blacklist.

PokerStars bans

PokerStars has made significant efforts to guarantee the security of its live poker events. Players who have been banned from PokerStars online due to concerns about game integrity will not be permitted entry to PokerStars live events. The decision by the online poker site and giant of the industry was announced last week.

Scott Goodall, Commercial Director for PokerStars, on that occasion, stated that:

"We are open to finding ways to work with other live operators, where it is possible, and with our players and ambassadors, to set an industry standard on this topic. Our ultimate goal is to deter those who do not have the pure love of our game at heart from sitting alongside those who do, by creating an environment that makes it impossible for malintent to exist. PokerStars has always been the reference point for offering a fair and safe game, and we will continue to ensure we keep the bar as high as possible."

There is widespread speculation that this began at the EPT Monte Carlo, where Jake Schindler and Ali Imsirovic allegedly had their High Roller entries denied. The incident certainly re-ignited the discussion about whether bans from online poker could or should apply to live poker tournaments. Now it seems that a blacklist from live events based on any form of cheating detected by online poker sites is starting to become the norm.

It is yet unclear if this affects other versions of PokerStars such as the Italian version,

PartyPoker Bans

Over the past few months, cheating in online poker and its potential impact on live tournament play have been hot topics in the poker community. Several well-known poker players have accused other well-known poker players of cheating, raising the issue of how to deal with online cheaters at live tournaments.

Juha Pasanen, Partypoker's director of game integrity, declared that cheaters would also be barred from participating in partypoker LIVE tournaments, including the MILLIONS, PPC, and Grand Prix Tours.

“One of our core philosophies at partypoker is to recreate the thrill of a live poker experience when you play online,” wrote Pasanen, “In the same manner, it would be remiss of us to promise a fun and fair playing environment in our online events, if those same cheaters are able to sit down opposite you at our live tables.”

Pasanen continued by saying that he and his integrity team are very appreciative of the players who report shady behavior at the tables. He claimed that although his team's methods detect over 90% of "fraudulent activity," it would be helpful if gamers could fill in the remaining 10%.

“It does not matter how trivial a potential issue seems, report it to the Game Integrity team, and we guarantee we will thoroughly investigate the matter,” added Pasanen, “Any information can be useful information to my teams and your reports help us build a more complete picture of the players or groups we are investigating.”.

Is a global blacklist of online poker cheaters possible?

In a recent blog entry on the PartyPoker website, titled "Is A Global Poker Blacklist Possible? What Are The Restrictions?" the idea of a global blacklist for online poker cheating was discussed.

The general idea is that although a global poker blacklist would be desirable, there are multiple challenges to making this idea work in practice.

The first challenge would be to define what constitutes a serious enough offense to warrant an entry on the black list. Multi accounting, use of poker bots, RTA software? Being blacklisted on a global blacklist is a very serious punishment that should not be applied lightly.

Second, the multiple jurisdictions where online poker rooms operate, all with different rules. Often the same poker room operates in multiple countries with different laws.

The third is the question of if the bans should apply to live poker as well. As seen above, however, multiple online poker sites are already enforcing those bans, so this point seems to be moving towards a majority agreement.

Suprema Poker Game Integrity

The concern with the online poker game integrity does not come only from the big names of the industry. Suprema Poker, a popular Brazilian poker app, has approached the problem in a new light.

Since its inception, the Suprema app was created after a dispute with the popular Chinese app PPPoker and fraud accusations. Both poker apps work with private Clubs that set up their private games, therefore there shouldn't be much the poker app could do for game integrity besides making sure the RNG is fair. Or should there?

Suprema Poker has decided to work closely with its local community, relying mostly on its player base and shared responsibility between players, agents, club owners, and the app. Reports are investigated and screenshots and hand histories are requested as needed.

This model seems to have been working for them so far but probably wouldn't work for poker sites with millions of players. Those continue to mostly rely on bigger teams and councils to detect cheating.

However, this isn't without problems. Recently, Suprema Poker decided to ban and confiscate funds from players detected using VPNs. The worst part is that it came without much of a warning and therefore many players have lost their funds by surprise, who were not involved with cheating at all.

Still, Suprema Poker continues to be a reliable and trustworthy place to play poker and proof that game integrity does not necessarily require a global poker blacklist or ban from live events (since it doesn't host any) to be enforced, at least for smaller poker rooms.

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Author: Charles F Jr is a poker and crypto enthusiast who writes about online poker since 2020, also a translator for Portuguese & Spanish.

Instagram: @charles.f.jr