Hand holding credit card playing online gambling

Poker Tells Author Elwood Finds Promotional Page Banned from Facebook

Zachary Elwood, the Oregon-based author of a well-received series of visual and verbal “poker tells” books, has found his online Facebook page promoting the books to have been “unpublished” by Facebook in what may well have been the end result of a politically motivated revenge attack enacted through the mechanisms of the social-media giant.

Though not a major poker story, it’s nonetheless an interesting one, as it cuts right to the heart of the huge flaws that are part and parcel of Facebook as we know it. In this case, Elwood’s ban appears to be permanent after a supposed re-review of his page following its initial unpublishing determined that his site “still promotes online gambling or lotteries that involve the exchange of real money.”

That’s an interesting finding, since Elwood isn’t an online affiliate, doesn’t have any promotional banners or links, and his tells books are applicable to live rather than online poker. We reviewed one of Elwood’s books, Verbal Poker Tells, back in 2014. You can read that review here.

Elwood took his problem to the 2+2 forums, where he frequently posts — sorry, we won’t link to 4 — and he described the situation as follows:

I got a notice that my Facebook biz page for my poker tells books/videos (previously facebook.com/readingpokertells) was removed. Note that this content was about behavior/tells, and not promoting any specific sites/platforms, and especially not online sites/platforms. I mainly post about interesting poker psychology stuff and just psychology/behavior stuff in general.

The notice said “Your page has been unpublished. Promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sports books, bingo or poker, unless the Page has obtained prior authorization from Facebook.”

When I appealed it, with an explanation, I fairly quickly received a rejection that said:

“We’ve reviewed your Page and found that it still promotes online gambling or lotteries that involve the exchange of real money. As a result, your Page remains unpublished. If you’d like to advertise Real Money Gaming (RMG) on Facebook or Instagram, you can apply to become an approved gambling partner: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/691814950897009. We’ll review your application as soon as we can, but it may take up to 45 days to complete process.”

The link Elwood provided goes nowhere, but a little digging around on Facebook leads one to its page on “Real Money Gambling“, which is one of numerous categories that Facebook may deem “Restricted Content”. That page offers this:

3. Real Money Gambling


Ads that promote or facilitate online real money gambling, real money games of skill or real money lotteries, including online real money casino, sports books, bingo, or poker, are only allowed with prior written permission. Authorized gambling, games of skill or lottery ads must target people 18 years or older who are in jurisdictions for which permission has been granted.


  • Portraying or encouraging irresponsible gambling behavior
  • Presenting gambling as an income opportunity or employment alternative
  • Content using currency symbols unrelated to a specific monetary amount

Again, though, this explanation applies to online gambling rather than live-casino poker. Yet Elwood remains unsuccessful in getting his ban lifted.

Ahh, but there’s more to this tale. Besides his poker writing, Elwood has been very active in posting on social media his work in uncovering the fraudulent ways in which social-media platforms have been infiltrated by bad actors seeking to spew political propaganda across the online scene. The left-leaning Elwood played a role in outing the notorious True Pundit — who also called himself “Thomas Paine”, as if — a high-profile disseminator of outright fake news targeting everything from left-wing politicians to the FBI.

As a Buzzfeed News investigation later revealed, “Thomas Paine is, in fact, Michael D. Moore, 51, a Pennsylvania man with a background in journalism, a criminal record as a result of an FBI investigation, and a long history of shady and illegal business practices.” So much for truth, punditry, and the whole Thomas Paine thing.

Yet Elwood turned his attention to outing other disinformation generators, ranging from the faux-Christian evangelical right to the unending plague of Russian bot accounts that continue to plague Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Either the anti-gambling evangelicals or the Russian bot operators provide the likeliest explanation for what happened to Elwood; on Twitter, for example, he posts as @apokerplayer, and it’s not too hard to dox that and get to Elwood’s now-nuked Facebook site. A Russian bot operator / fake-news disseminator on Facebook may well control many hundreds of bogus Facebook accounts, and it’s likely not that hard to fire off dozens of complaints targeting someone perceived as a problem, a/k/a Mr. Elwood.

To think this shit doesn’t actually happen is foolhardy. One episode from the long-ago poker past, which I relayed to Elwood via Twitter, was the time during the 2008 WSOP when some untold number of complaints were logged with Google claiming that PokerNews.com was a kiddie-porn site. Whoever did it, and I’ve always suspected some group such as the Family Research Council as being behind it, flooded Google with enough complaints that Google reacted by de-linking PN for nearly 24 hours. Yes, this really happened, though there aren’t likely too many people at today’s PN who would talk about or even know that it occurred. It took less than a day to get PN unblocked and re-linked throughout Google, but the obvious goal of whoever was behind the false reports was to inflict damage via lies. It’s likely Elwood was a victim of a similar scheme.


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