We’ve already warned our readers about the dangers of the PPPoker app, like when we informed you of the “NYPokerKing” scandal several months ago. Now there’s another disheartening situation brewing: V-Pokere.ru, a major Russia-focused affiliate, claims to have been stolen from to the tune of about $35,000 by PPPoker. The poker app provider says that V-Pokere’s customers used prohibited bot software to make illicit profits in the games.
V-Pokere.ru works with around 20 clubs on PPPoker. Using several agent accounts, V-Pokere signs up players to clubs in exchange for a percentage of the rake they generate. The company also does business as PokerBroz in English-speaking markets, and it partners with many other poker rooms besides PPPoker.
In early June, members of 11 of the clubs that V-Pokere represents received a message accusing this affiliate’s players of running bots. This communication went out both to regular players as well as the club administrators. Here’s an example of the message that was sent:
Poker bots are automated pieces of software that are capable of playing winning (or at least breakeven) online poker without any human intervention required. Botters run these programs so that they can make a steady earn at the tables without having to do anything themselves other than keeping the bots updated and properly configured. Bots are banned at virtually every poker room.
Owners of three of the PPPoker clubs at which V-Pokere.ru has players are now refusing to pay out balances and affiliate commissions based upon the information they received from PPPoker. The Kings Micro club was the first where V-Pokere suspected that the integrity of its funds was in doubt. On June 9, V-Pokere made a withdrawal request from Kings Micro for a little bit less than $2,000 out of a total balance of approximately $14,000, but this request was ignored, and the club soon cut off all communication.
The Search for Answers
V-Pokere’s founder Vitaliy made a post on the twoplustwo forums explaining what happened, and we also reached out to him and his team to get their perspective on these events.
Following the lack of communication from the Kings Micro club, V-Pokere staff decided to go straight to PPPoker for answers. To this end, they got in touch with Leo Ahn who is a representative of the firm for the region of Asia.
Leo informed V-Pokere that there were four reasons why the affiliate’s players were determined to be bots:
- Long hours spent grinding the tables, more than the typical user
- Good win rates
- Logins from Windows and Android machines
- “Other factors which we use to identify if the account is bot or not”
Clearly, the first three of these indicators of bots are common to many competent poker players. It’s certainly normal for solid players to play more hours than casual poker fans, and it goes without saying that they tend to post better win rates than the average participant too. While most of PPPoker’s customer base probably accesses the games strictly from mobile devices, it’s hardly unusual that a few more dedicated individuals opt to partake in the full desktop poker experience on their Windows systems.
Thus, the first three reasons given by Leo for suspecting certain users of running bots actually do very little to differentiate bots from honestly winning players. And the fourth reason – “other factors” – is so broad and all-encompassing that it can mean anything that PPPoker wants.
Stunned by the explanation provided by Leo, the principals at V-Pokere nevertheless had the presence of mind to offer to prove that their customers were not bots. They proposed having their players record their poker sessions or stream them over Skype.
This would allow PPPoker to compare the playing styles from these real-time recordings with the statistics of the accounts in question to identify any discrepancies. If it was really a bot that had been making decisions during the games, then it would be next to impossible for the cheater to replicate the same style of gameplay himself with the bot software deactivated. PPPoker refused to consider this course of action.
More Money Stolen?
A few weeks after this conversation with Leo, the clubs Legends and GoPro also decided to suspend cash outs to V-Pokere. The balance held at Legends was around $10K while that owed by GoPro was in the ballpark of $11K. Added together with the $14K of V-Pokere’s tied up at the Kings Micro club, the total balance outstanding to V-Pokere is about $35,000.
These clubs claimed that the decision was out of their hands and they were waiting for clarification from PPPoker before resuming any payments. Yet, the other clubs with which V-Pokere has dealings had no problems paying out what was owed despite the fact that many of them had received nearly identical warnings about some of V-Pokere’s users being bots.
More About PPPoker’s Business Model
All this talk about clubs and agents may have you confused if you’re not familiar with the way PPPoker works. Therefore, it might be best at this point to go over some of the basics.
PPPoker alleges that its games use only “virtual goods” that cannot be exchanged for real money. In essence, the organization states that it offers only play-money games.
It sells play chips to club owners/administrators who are responsible for inviting people to join the clubs and distributing chips to them. Each club has its own tables, which are run by the club admin, although there are also large “unions” of clubs that share tables with each other.
Real Money Play in All But Name
Clearly, there are some clubs that really are virtual rooms for engaging in poker competition among friends for practice chips only. However, many club owners are actually hosting what amounts to real money gaming.
The way it works is as follows. After purchasing chips from PPPoker for a nominal fee, club administrators sell them to their invited players for much more than the club paid for them. The users then play in the games, and if they make a profit, they sell the chips back to the admin who then processes and sends the customers their money.
All these financial arrangements are outside the hands of PPPoker management, which disclaims all knowledge and responsibility for these kinds of deals. Indeed, in the terms of service for the company, we find the following:
You are not allowed to transfer Virtual Items outside of the Services (e.g., in the “real world”), for example by selling, gifting, or trading them. We won’t recognize those transfers as legitimate. You are not allowed to sublicense, trade, sell, or attempt to sell Virtual Items for “real” money, or exchange Virtual Items for value of any kind outside of a game. Any such transfer or attempted transfer is prohibited and void, and we may terminate your Account because of it.
Yet, it’s common knowledge that many people are playing basically for real money on the PPPoker platform. The above language is just a way for the business to deny responsibility for anything that happens as a result of unscrupulous club owners or their agents.
Speaking of agents, like V-Pokere, they occupy a role at PPPoker similar to that performed by affiliates of mainstream poker sites. However, there are important differences.
The agents work under club owners to draw players into their clubs. In exchange, they are entitled to a portion of the proceeds derived from the gaming. So far, this arrangement is pretty much the same as with any other affiliate relationship.
However, cashier functionality is where we begin to see some differences from the regular affiliate model. In almost all cases, deposits and withdrawals for PPPoker customers are handled through agents. When a customer wants to add money to his account, he gives the funds to the agent who then transfers them to the club owner. The appropriate number of chips is then added to the account.
When it’s time for a withdrawal, the user informs the agent, and chips are transferred to the agent’s “bank” from the player account. The agent tells the club admin that they would like to cash out for a specified amount, and the administrator issues payment and debits the corresponding number of chips from the agent’s “bank.” The agent is then responsible for paying the player.
Any online poker rakeback that’s given to players is handled at the agent level. They pay it out from the share of the rake that the club owners turn over to them.
At every step of the way, PPPoker burns off a percentage of the chips being transferred. This is another mechanism allowing it to make money in addition to the fact that chips are removed as a result of the rake in the poker games.
Too Many Intermediaries
At most internet poker rooms, you have to deal with one entity, the cardroom itself, for all problems and issues involving deposits and withdrawals. However, at PPPoker, there are the multiple levels of the company, club owners, and agents that you have to deal with.
This means that any issue that would ordinarily be resolved directly with a single party at a normal poker site can instead become a muddled confusion involving multiple people at various levels in PPPoker. This can lead to “he said, she said” incidents where it’s not clear who’s ultimately responsible.
In V-Pokere’s case, it seems that it’s PPPoker itself that made the determination that bots were involved. Yet, it’s the clubs that actually handle the financial end of things, and it is to them that V-Pokere turned to for the restoration of funds. Most club owners faithfully honored the balances owed, but three of them are refusing to do so. V-Pokere’s customers are caught in the middle of this dispute.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
Reports of botters abound at virtually every poker room, like the Winning Poker Network, but many of these allegations are baseless. In the case of the accusations against V-Pokere’s customers, there are particular reasons to be suspicious of PPPoker’s story.
For starters, some accounts have been banned from certain clubs – but these same users are still allowed to play in other clubs! If PPPoker really thought that someone was using bots, then surely the account should be prohibited from playing on any of the tables in all clubs at PPPoker.
Next, some of the suspected botters have reported that they can run the PPPoker app just fine from certain hardware but are not allowed to play on other systems. For example, a user might be not be able to log in from a PC while having complete access to the site from his smartphone.
Again, this makes no sense whatsoever. If someone were legitimately breaking the rules, then they should have been kicked off the site entirely regardless of the specific devices they’re using.
Better Sites Available
PPPoker’s “anti-cheating engineers” appear to be performing their tasks with the assistance of a deck of tarot cards or perhaps by searching for clues in the arrangement of celestial objects. Moreover, the convoluted club/agent setup leaves users exposed to potentially shady goings-on unless they know and trust the people they are transacting with.
It’s easier to evaluate the trustworthiness of traditional online poker sites, and this is just what we’ve done for you. Whichever of our recommended offshore poker rooms you elect to play at, you’ll receive speedy payouts, fair gameplay, and competent customer support.
Retrieved from: professionalrakeback.com
Original post here.