Online Poker Giants Take Steps to Protect Game Integrity

1 year ago
Online Poker Giants Take Steps to Protect Game Integrity
06 Jul

It’s been a trying time for online poker over the last few months. Cheating scandals amongst the high-stakes community have tarnished the reputation of the game along with that of many players.

Even when poker online games were still in infancy, there was always a fear of a breach of game integrity. One such concern was that of real-time assistance (RTA).

Now, back then it was understood that so called “bots” were not strong enough to challenge a skilled player but times have changed rapidly with the advent of GTO solvers that give a perfect, unexploitable solution for each situation in isolation.

Such software is too resource intensive to run in-game but solutions can be saved and stored in a quickly retrievable format for common yet complex spots. It is exactly this which some high-profile players have been accused of doing.

But the sites continue the fight against unethical play and have even taken the step of using this technology against cheaters. All top players have at least tested GTO solved pre-flop ranges with exact frequencies for a choice of actions but now this can be picked up by defensive software.

Sergei Reixach found himself banned from GGPoker for using these ranges which are determined to be a form of RTA.

Ali Imsirovic is another player who was publicly accused of using RTA while playing by high-stakes pro Alex Foxen.

“Poker black-list can't come soon enough. Ali is banned from GG for Multi-accounting and RTA. I have witnessed numerous chip dumps to horses, and many suspicious changes in play from people known to be his horses when deep in online MTTs.”
Jake Schindler also finds himself accused with similar allegations.

So, What Is Being Done About it?

After three months of online poker being dragged through mud, it looks like the big hitters in the online poker industry are ready to take a stand. Now, bear in mind that they are already doing everything they can to catch cheaters on their sites, they are still aiming at ways to increase the consequences of getting caught.

It’s worth pointing out that this issue of RTA cheating is only thought to exist in high-stakes games but the overall reputational damage to the game makes this a serious issue for everyone who plays the online game. So, with that in mind, it makes sense to target these players who will want to play in prestigious live series.

PokerStars has now announced that anybody caught cheating will be automatically barred from competing in a PokerStars live series.

Scott Goodall, Commercial Director for PokerStars, said:

“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.”
This idea of setting an industry standard gives us hope that the main players in poker can work together to maintain the integrity of the game.

GGPoker’s stance is to try and set up a Poker Integrity Council to investigate integrity issues on a case-by-case basis.

Jason Koon and Fedor Holz , Andrew "LuckyChewy" Lichtenberger , Seth Davies, and Nick Petrangelo are all high-profile players who reached the pinnacle of the game that will be a part of a team to help determine if an accusation about a particular account is true or not.

Jason Koon said:

“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.”
Partypoker is also on board with creating a global blacklist for cheaters to block those found guilty from playing in live events and possibly cross-network banning online too.

The next few months will tell us a lot about how feasible these bans are and whether or not the WSOP organisers can be convinced to take the same stance.

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Mark from London in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.Read more


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